Govardhan Peeth Shankaracharya Swami Nischalananda Saraswati speaks to ‘Organiser’ on the whole controversy related to rituals at Jagannath Chariots
You could not perform the rituals on the chariots this time. What you say?
Shankaracharya is not a person, but the successor of a glorious institution or custodian of Dharma. It is a tradition under Sanatan Dharma started by Adi Shankaracharya for protection, propagation and purification of Hinduism. The Govardhan Peeth was assigned the task of proper management of Sri Jagannath Temple by Adi Shankaracharaya who had renovated the idols here, as the existing idols then had lost their sanctity due to repeated invasions by the Muslims. The present Shankaracharya is the 145th Shankaracharya in that tradition. Before 1975, the Shankaracharya had direct control over the management of the temple. But then some people with vested interest took over the administration. They created certain unholy practices in temple rituals. One of such unhealthy traditions is climbing upon the holy chariots and to touch the divine idols thereon. This practice was basically started to make money even at the cost of sanctity of the Lords.
In 2012, the State Government sought our opinion on this point. After extensively discussing the issue with learned people of different states as well as the legal experts we rejected it. We knew this decision would not be tolerated by the vested interests. It is of no wonder when one tries to cleanse years’ old filth he is also likely to be affected by it—less or more. This is what exactly happened in this case.
Who is responsible for this incident?
The holy institutions of Hindus like Sri Jagannath Temple are reeling under conspiracies. There are two types of conspiracies. One is external i.e. non-Hindus who want to create disturbances to shake the faith of Hindus. Second is internal i.e. our own people try to sabotage the institutions. In Odisha, a third force is also active. It is the administration. We thought the head of the State administration being a man having no family obligations will deliver good to the people. But this man possesses neither values nor capacity for good governance. He neither knows what is dharma nor knows how to behave with the Shankaracharya. When the administration ‘instructed’ us to come alone for performing rituals on the chariots, they did not examine whether a Guru (Shankaracharya) can be ‘instructed’ at all? Our rituals cannot be performed without the accompanied sanyasis. When we received the letter we immediately sought clarification, which never came. Can one believe it was a clerical mistake and Head of the State did not know about it? The simple reason behind these such acts is that we do not support their party in power. That is why they miss no opportunity to humiliate us. But we will not bend before any such force. We have seen many politicians including Prime Ministers starting from Nehru. You know, former Prime Minister Narasimha Rao had offered us Rs 58 crore to accept his government’s proposal for construction of both Mandir and Masjid in Ayodhya. But we rejected that proposal. Smt Sonia Gandhi too offered us money to withdraw Ram Sethu campaign. But we did not bend before them. Hindus live for their values and die for their Dharma, but can never compromise on such things.
What will be the consequences of such acts and what is the solution?
The first outcome during Samudra Manthan was poison. Then only came out the nectar. When you try to do something reformative you are likely to encounter with some shocking results. But later good results also come. So, patience should be maintained. We have just put one step ahead for reforms in the rituals as per the Shastras. Surely good things will come out and the temple of Lord Jagannath will surely re-emerge as the centre of learning, place of salvation, abode of discipline and a spectacular replica of the Sanatan culture.
What do you say about the new government which took over at the Centre?
The country has got a noble man as Prime Minister. Whether the government will be able to deliver as per the expectations of the people or not, it all depend upon the fate of the government and also on the prevalent circumstances. The new government should fix up its initial priority whether it is Common Civil Code, withdrawal of Article 370 from J&K, Ram Mandir issue or to combat inflation. —Debasis Tripathy
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