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regular-article-logo Saturday, 13 April 2024

‘Can’t go against our Dharma Shastra’: Shankaracharyas to not attend Ram temple inauguration

'We cannot remain silent now and must say that it is a bad idea to inaugurate an incomplete temple and install the idol of the god there'

Piyush Srivastava Lucknow Published 11.01.24, 04:54 AM
Ram temple.

Ram temple. File Photo.

Swami Avimukteshwaranand Saraswati, the shankaracharya of Jyotishpeeth in Uttarakhand, has said the four shankaracharyas will not attend the January 22 inauguration of the Ram temple in Ayodhya because it is being held in violation of the rules of Sanatan Dharma.

Swami Nishchalanand Saraswati, the shankaracharya of Puri Gowardhanpeeth, had said at Ratlam in Madhya Pradesh two days ago that he wouldn’t attend a religious function that was against the scriptures.

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Avimukteshwaranand told reporters in Haridwar on Wednesday: “None of the four shankaracharyas is going to attend the programme on January 22. We don’t have any ill-will against anybody. But it is the responsibility of the shankaracharyas to follow the norms of the Hindu religion and suggest that others do so. They (those involved in the construction of the temple and organisation of the function) are ignoring the established norms in Hindu religion.”

The holding of the Pran Pratishtha ceremony of Lord Ram without completing the construction of the temple was the first violation of the tenets of the Hindu religion, he said. “There was no need for such a hurry,” he added.

“There was an emergency situation when the idol (of Lord Ram) was placed there (in Babri Masjid) at the midnight of December 22, 1949, and the structure (Babri Masjid) was demolished in 1992. These incidents happened spontaneously because of certain situations and so none of the shankaracharyas raised any questions at that time. But today there was no such emergency. We had enough time to complete the construction of the Ram temple and then do Pran Pratishtha,” Avimukteshwaranand said.

“We cannot remain silent now and must say that it is a bad idea to inaugurate an incomplete temple and install the idol of the god there. Maybe they (those organising the programme) will call us anti-Modi. We are not anti-Modi but at the same time we also can’t go against our Dharma Shastra,” said Avimukteshwaranand, who became the shankaracharya after the death of his guru Swami Swaroopanand Saraswati in 2022.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi will be the chief guest at the ceremony and will perform the first aarti in the temple

Sri Ram Janmbhoomi Teerth Kshetra — a trust involved in the construction of the temple — has said that the first floor of the three-storey temple was ready but the rest of it will be completed in the next two years. The temple will open for devotees after January 22.

Nishchalanand had said it would be “against his dignity” to attend an event where the religious norms were not being followed.

“Don’t think that I am angry with them because they have not taken any suggestion from me. However, as per Skanda Purana, bad omens enter an idol and destroy the area if such rituals are not done properly. I participate in a programme only when it is pure and as per the Sanatan Dharma,” he said.

“Politicians will interfere in religion in future and publicise themselves as yogis and dharmacharyas,” he added.

Nishchalanand said he had received an invitation to attend the programme along with one person.

“I often visit Ayodhya and pay obeisance at (the temporary) Ram temple. I’ll visit again at the right time,” the shankaracharya of Puri added.

Swami Muktanand, a disciple of Avimukteshwaranand, said: “The four seats of shankaracharyas are the most qualified religious centres for the last 2,500 years and their heads have the responsibility to oppose those who violate Sanatan Dharma. We have interacted with the other shankaracharyas and they all have shown their disinterest in attending the function when the temple is still under construction.”

Swami Bharatikrishna Tirtha of Sringeri Sarada Peeth and Swami Sadanand Saraswati of Dwarikapeeth are the other two shankaracharyas. They have not clarified their stand yet.

Trying to downplay the expected absence of the shankaracharyas from the function, Champat Rai, general secretary of the temple trust, said: “The temple belongs to Ramanand Sampradaya and not to the Shaiva, Shakya and Sanyasis.”

Rai didn’t elaborate but added: “The ground floor of the temple is complete and the sanctum sanctorum is ready there. The idol to be installed there is ready. Decoration work is going on.”

The disciples of Swami Ramanand, a Vaishnava saint of the 18th century, had established three Akharas — Nirmohi Ani, Digambar Ani and Nirvani Ani. They also founded four sub-sects — Nimbark, Ramanand and Madhwagodeshwar.

The Ramanand sect exclusively followed the tradition of Rama, the incarnation of Vishnu, and assimilated all castes in Sanatan Dharma.

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