Temple Administration Out to Appease Shankaracharya

Ahead of Nabakalebara in July, the Jagannath Temple Administration in Puri has decided not to repeat last year’s “embarrassing mistake”, which forced the Shankaracharya to boycott age-old ritual on chariots during Rath Yatra on June 29, 2014.

During the last car festival, the seer, Swami Nischalananda Saraswati, skipped his rituals as the state government extended him a conditional invitation to come to the chariots “alone”.

“On December 7, the temple’s managing committee unanimously adopted a resolution to retain the role and respect of the Shankaracharya during Rath Yatra. Proceedings of the resolution would be made public in a day or two,” said a temple officer. “We will approach the seer and urge him to resume his ritual on chariots. He would also be requested to take his disciples onto chariots,” the officer said.

While the Shankaracharya could not be contacted for comment, his spokesperson said the seer would participate in Nabakalebara. “Guruji (Shankaracharya) has forgiven those people, who humiliated him and asked him to come alone onto chariots,” said Manoj Mohapatra, spokesperson of Goverdhan Peeth, the seat of Puri Shankaracharya.

Controversy started in the run-up to the Rath Yatra as the temple administration sought Shankaracharya’s opinion on whether or not pilgrims should be allowed onto chariots. The seer recommended blanket ban on the pilgrims’ access onto the chariots, much to the chagrin of servitors.

A section of servitors, belonging to Daitapati nijog, questioned the role of Shankaracharya. Under pressure from servitors, the temple body restricted the seer’s disciples from climbing onto chariots. The temple administration’s decision triggered widespread resentment among saints across the state.

The row reached a political pitch as opposition Congress and BJP demanded the government to apologize to the seer. Several ruling BJD leaders too reacted sharply and said the government had no right to interfere in temple’s rituals and the age-old practices, though it can monitor the shrine’s administrative functioning.

Saints and seers took out rallies and condemned the government after the age-old practice was broken due to Shankaracharya’s absence on chariots. Some saints demanded arrest of some influential servitors, who criticized the Shankaracharya and questioned his role on chariots.

(Source: Times of india)

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