The four Shankracharyas, prominent spiritual figures within Sanatan Hindu Dharma have decided to abstain from the ‘pran prathistha’ (consecration) ceremony for the idol of Lord Ram in Ayodhya scheduled for January 22. Despite three of them expressing support for the ceremony, they simultaneously voiced their opposition to specific rituals being followed in the event.
Critics from the opposition have questioned the ruling BJP government over the absence of the revered spiritual leaders from the grand ceremony even as the Shankaracharyas have asserted that their reluctance to participate is neither a rejection of reverence for Lord Ram nor are they “anti-Modi”.
The issue first came to light, when Swami Nishchalanand Saraswati, the Shankaracharya of Puri’s Govardhan Math, “conscious of the dignity of his position” stated his intention in an undated video to skip the Ram temple event, citing concerns that the rituals for consecration were” against the scriptures.
“If maryada purushottam Ram is to be honoured, then it should be in accordance with the scriptures… I will not protest, but I will not go either… It is a matter of happiness. There should be respect and worship as per the scriptures… What will I do by going to that program?” he said.
Days later, Jyotir Math Shankaracharya Avimukteshwaranand Saraswati said the rituals for the temple inauguration were not being followed as per the shastras.
Taking objection to remarks by Champat Rai, general secretary of the Shri Ram Janmabhoomi Teerth Kshetra that is overseeing the construction of the Ayodhya temple, Avimukteshwaranand Saraswati said the management of the temple should be handed over to the Ramanand community before the consecration event.
Recently, in an interview with a media house, Rai said the Ram temple belonged to Ramananda Sampradaya, a Vaishnavite sect, and “not to sanyasis or to the Shaiva or Shakti sects”, triggering a controversy.
The Jyotir math Shankaracharya said “the biggest act of ignorance” of shashtras was the installation of idols of Lord Ram while the temple was still under construction.
While the first floor and sanctum sanctorum of the Ram temple are complete, it will require another two years for the temple to be fully ready.
“False Information Being Shared”
With the Opposition using the issue to hit out at the ruling BJP, the Shankaracharya of Shringeri Peeth, Swami Bharati Teerth, and Shankaracharya of Dwarka Peeth, Swami Sadananda Sarswati, said false information was being spread by a section of media that they were against the ‘pran prathistha’ ceremony.
In a statement, the Sringeri Math Shankaracharya said the inauguration of the Ram temple was a matter of joy for followers of Sanatan Dharma.
“It’s a pious occasion, which everybody should attend and enjoy. Few people are spreading false information related to me, which is incorrect. We have never opposed this function in Ayodhya, and people should not give any importance to such false propaganda,” the statement said.
Who are Shankaracharyas?
Shankaracharyas head the four principal monasteries or mutts that were established by the eighth-century Hindu saint Adi Shankara, who was a follower of Hinduism’s Advaita Vedanta tradition.
The four mutts are Jyotir Math (Joshimath, Uttarakhand), Govardhan Math (Puri, Odiha), Sringeri Sharada Peetham (Sringeri, Karnataka), and Dwarka Sharada Peetham (Dwarka, Gujarat).
Their ashrams are situated in the four cardinal directions and are among the most revered pilgrim destinations in India.