Shankaracharyas explain why they will not attend the Ram temple inauguration

Two of the four Shankaracharyas have claimed that none of the four would attend the consecration of the Ram temple at Ayodhya on 22 January by the Prime Minister

An artist's impression of the Ram Temple in Ayodhya. The temple is set to be inaugurated on 22 January by PM Modi, who will perform the first aarti in the temple (photo: National Herald archives)
An artist's impression of the Ram Temple in Ayodhya. The temple is set to be inaugurated on 22 January by PM Modi, who will perform the first aarti in the temple (photo: National Herald archives)

NH Digital

Echoing the views of the opposition that the inauguration of the Ram Temple by the Prime Minister at Ayodhya on 22 January is a political and not religious event, two of the four Shankaracharyas have come out in the open and said they would not be in Ayodhya despite having received the invitation.

“In India, the king [political leaders] and the religious leaders have always been separate, but now the political leader is being made the religious leader. This is against traditions and is being done for political gains,” said Avimukteshwaranand Saraswati, said the shankaracharya of Jyotishpeeth in Uttarakhand, to the media on Wednesday.

Swami Bharatikrishna Tirtha of Sringeri Sarada Peeth and Swami Sadanand Saraswati of Dwarikapeeth are the other two shankaracharyas. They have not clarified their stand yet.

Swami Muktanand, a disciple of Avimukteshwaranand, said: “The four seats of shankaracharyas are the most qualified religious centres for the last 2,500 years and their heads have the responsibility to oppose those who violate Sanatan Dharma. We have interacted with the other shankaracharyas and they all have shown their disinterest in attending the function when the temple is still under construction.”

“It is a bad idea to inaugurate an incomplete temple and install the idol of the god there,” said Avimukteshwaranand, who became the shankaracharya after the death of his guru Swami Swaroopanand Saraswati in 2022.

Avimukteshwaranand told reporters in Haridwar on Wednesday, 10 January: “None of the four shankaracharyas is going to attend the programme on January 22…They (those involved in the construction of the temple and organisation of the function) are ignoring the established norms in Hindu religion. The holding of the Pran Pratishtha ceremony of Lord Ram without completing the construction of the temple was the first violation of the tenets of the Hindu religion, there was no need for such a hurry”.

“If the Ram temple belongs to the people associated with the Ramanand sect (as Champak Rai of the Ram Temple Trust has said), then this temple should be given to the people associated with the Ramanand sect before consecration. No one will have any objection to this,” the seer said, adding that he is not against Prime Minister Modi but just want to warn him to not participate in anything which is ‘anti-dharma’, he added.

Swami Nischalananda Saraswati – the Shankaracharya of Govardhana Peeth in Puri – one of prominent Hindu seers in the country has also announced that he will not go for the 22 January installation of Lord Ram’s idol at sanctum sanctorum of Ram Temple in Ayodhya.

Talking to journalists at Ratlam in Madhya Pradesh on Wednesday, the Shankaracharya (who heads one of the four Mutts established by Adi Shankaracharya) informed, “Our Mutt has received the invite for the January 22 event in Ayodhya, which says that if I want to come there, I can go there with one person. Even if I was allowed to be there with 100 people, I wouldn’t have gone there that day.”

“I’ve been going to Ayodhya in the past and will visit the same religious city in future also…but the installation of Ramlala’s idol in the temple should be done according to Shastriya Vidhi (principles of our Shastras).”

“The pilgrimages are now being turned into centers of tourism in the name of development which means that Teerth Sthals are being turned into Bhog Sthals, perhaps this what is being lapped up by the people also in the name of development.”

“Politicians will interfere in religion in future and publicise themselves as yogis and dharmacharyas,” he added. “Modi ji Lokarpan Karenge, Moorti Ka sparsh Karenge aur fir mai wahan kya tali bajaunga, [when Modi ji will do the consecration at the temple and will touch the idol, will I be going there to clap],” Nischalananda Saraswati wondered aloud. “The Prime Minister is doing everything, be it teaching yoga and now doing ‘pran pratistha’, which is done by seers and saints…”, he went on to exclaim.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi will be the chief guest at the ceremony and will perform the first aarti in the temple

Sri Ram Janmbhoomi Teerth Kshetra — a trust involved in the construction of the temple — has said that the first floor of the three-storey temple was ready but the rest of it will be completed in the next two years. The temple will open for devotees after 22 January.

Trying to downplay the expected absence of the shankaracharyas from the function, Champat Rai, general secretary of the temple trust, said: “The temple belongs to Ramanand Sampradaya and not to the Shaiva, Shakya and Sanyasis.”

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