Puri Shankaracharya Smells Conspiracy on Chariot Climb Row

BY: SUN STAFF CORRESPONDENT

Jul 02, 2014 — JAGANNATHA PURI, ORISSA Shankaracharya of Puri Swami Nischalananda Saraswati on Wednesday dropped a bombshell and accused the state government of having made a well-oiled conspiracy to keep him away from the car festival and defame him. The top seer boycotted the June 29th Rath Yatra, aggrieved over the state government's unpalatable invitation, asking him to come to the chariots "alone" whereas the spiritual guru used to take the assistance of seven disciples to perform his ritual on the chariots.

"I learned the state government had planned to cause stampede like situation during my visit to chariots. The motive was to defame me. By not going to the chariots, I saved lives of scores of devotees," Shankaracharya said. "There was a conspiracy to misbehave with me in the backdrop of some priests opposing my advice of blanket ban on pilgrims' access onto chariots. This would have led to tussle between my followers and priests, leading to the possible stampede," he added.

Coming down heavily on the state government, the Shankaracharya said: "The government will face terrible consequence for hatching conspiracy against me." "The Orissa high court upheld my advice of ban on pilgrims' access onto chariots and asked the government to implement it. Did the high court ask the government to impose restriction on Shankaracharya's entourage," he asked.

The seer was equally vocal against the Jagannath Temple administration. "As per tradition, seven of my disciples used to accompany me onto chariots. This year, the temple body axed my disciples. During Nabakalebar festival next year, the temple administration might omit me," the Shankaracharya said. "The temple administration deliberately humiliated me under pressure from some unscrupulous people. I did not want to beg before the administration to climb the chariots," he added.

The seer said he was pained that not a single government officer has so far met him, notwithstanding the widespread condemnation of the administration's "ill-treatment" to him. "Is it not a controversy? Why has not any officer approached me," he asked.

His disciples demanded the temple administration beg unconditional apology. "We want the administration to write to the seer to resume his ritual on chariots from next year," said Manoj Rath, his disciple. Earlier Gajapti Dibyasingha Deb and senior minister Damodar Rout also ventilated their ire on the temple administration over the issue.

Temple's spokesperson Laxmidhar Pujapanda said: "We have highest regards for the Shankaracharya. The issue would be discussed in the temple's managing committee meeting when it is fully constituted. Now the committee lacks quorum due to absence of requisite number of members."


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