Odisha Rath Yatra row: RSS, VHP demand apology from SJTA, state govt

Taking strong exception to the manner in which the Odisha government and the Sri Jagannath Temple Administration (SJTA) have treated top Hindu seer and Jagadguru Shankaracharya of Puri Gobardhan Peeth, the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) and the Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP) have, in separate statements, have threatened to take to agitation unless the government apologises to the religious leader.

Shankaracharya Swami Nischalananda Saraswati

In a strongly worded statement, the secretary of the Srikshetra unit of the VHP Pramod Kumar Dash has threatened to launch an agitation if the SJTA, an agency of the state government, does not apologise for insulting the Jagadguru Shankaracharya and thereby causing a deep sense of hurt among crores of Hindus.

Terming the SJTA’s letter to the Puri seer asking him to visit the chariots all alone without his assistants as an irresponsible and arrogant act, Dash has asked the temple administration to apologise to the Shankaracharya at the earliest.

Dash said as per the record of rights, the Shankaracharya is the chief advisor and supervisor of the Sri Jagannath temple in all religious matters.

“Like the Gajapati, who visits the chariots along with his team of assistants, the Shankaracharya too is accompanied by his disciples when he visits the deities,” Dash said.

” The Sanatani Hindus will not allow anyone to diminish the authority of the institution of the Shankaracharya,” he said while threatening that the VHP will not hesitate to take to agitation if the government and SJTA do not mend their ways.

The state executive body member of the RSS Sameer Kumar Mohanty, in a separate statement, has asked the state administration to apologise to the Puri seer for overstepping their jurisdiction and imposing restrictions on his customary visit to the chariots during the Rath Yatra.

Describing the Shankaracharya as the ‘Dharma Guru’of all Hindus and the final arbiter in religious affairs of the Sri Mandir, Mohanty, in his statement, has condemned the SJTA’s insulting letter dictating terms to the ‘revered seer’. He has also warned of a backlash if the administration does not tender its apology for the goof-up.

Source: Odisha Sun Times