• The First Servant of the Lord strongly supports Guru Shankaracharya, says, “there should not be any debate or discussion on the issue”
  • Criticises Govt.’s decision on the issue, opines that the Govt. will follow Guru’s advise in true letter and spirit
  • Says, the advice of the Hindu Guru is final, Govt. can’t interfere in religious matters
  • Admits that allowing ladders on the chariots, in the past, was a mistake
  • Appeals to the devotees not be climb on the Rathas or touch the Deities

By Nilambar Rath

Dibyasingha Deb PicBhubaneswar, 20 June 2014: “The State Govt. should implement the advice of Hindu Guru Shankaracharya in the matter of climbing of devotees on the chariots of the Lords during Car Festival at Puri. There should not be any more debate or discussion on the issue. It is because, allowing devotees atop the chariots is neither supported by the scriptures nor by any tradition”, said Shri Dibyasingha Deb, the King of Puri and the Chairman of Shree Jagannath Temple Managing Committee, Odisha.

Amidst the controversy on the issue on allowing devotees to climb on the chariots of the Lords, the statement of Gajapati, the first servant of the Lord, seems to be very important. Shri Dibyasingha Deb, here in a press conference at the capital city, expressed his opinion saying the High Court of Odisha has also given ruling to follow the advice of Guru Shankaracharya of Govardhan Peeth, Puri. “Thus I expect that the Govt. shall follow advice of the spiritual Guru and carry out the process of Car festival in a smooth and peaceful manner.” The devotees should also do not get into the chariots and have the holy glance of the Lord and give opportunity to others who would be watching the God’s festival through television and different media across the globe, he appealed.

While sharing his opinion with the media, Shri Divyasingha Deb said that the matter was referred to Jagadgugu Shankaracharya. The Guru after reviewing the scriptures and the traditions and with due consultation with the Pundits of the Mukti Mandap Sabha of the Temple and the Sevayats and Nijogs, put forth his final decision. All the members, with exception to Daitapatis, welcomed the decision of the Guru during the Shree Jagannath Temple Managing Committee meeting dated 7 November 2013, he added.

The question of ascending the chariots and touching the Deities also raise serious security issues. Thus the devotees should have darshan of the Lord in a very disciplined manner. “From the security viewpoint too, having regard to threats from terrorist groups, it will be advisable to protect the Rathas by security cordon and not allow any unauthorized person to ascend the Rathas”, he made clear.

“According to long established tradition and practice of Srimandira as recorded in the Record-of-Rights, Param Pujyapad Jagadguru Shankaracharya of Govardhan Peeth has the rights to offer his advice with regard to the religious matters of the Temple,” he described. “Madala-Panji of Srimandira mentions about a proclamation (ajna-patra) of Maharaja Jajati Keshari more than 1000 years ago conferring this rights and privilege upon the then Shankaracharya which has been honoured and followed by successive rulers of Odisha down the centuries. Parampujyapada Shankaracharya of Govardhan Peeth is therefore the right authority for deciding religious matters relating to Srimandira and having regard to decisions of honourable Supreme Court of India neither the Govt. nor any other body has any jurisdiction to review, modify or in any manner interfere with the religious decision of Shankaracharya”, the Gajapati claimed.

The Govt., in a recent decision, has agreed to allow devotees to the chariots in with certain conditions. Upon question on the issue the Gajapati said that, the Govt.’s decision was wrong. When the Shankaracharya, after due consultation with the key stakeholders, gave a judgement on the issue, the Govt. has nothing to interfere. “The Govt. cannot take calls in such spiritual matters”, he spoke in a clear voice.

“In compliance with the order issued today by Hon’ble High Court of Odisha, I request the State Govt. to take appropriate steps for implementing the decision of Pujyapad Shankaracharya in letter and spirit during the ensuing Ratha-Yatra and prohibit devotees from ascending the Rathas or touching the Deities”, he added. “Non-compliance of the decision of Shankaracharya by the State Govt. will not only violate Section 15(1) of Shri Jagannath Temple Act 1955 but also infringe the constitutional guarantees of ‘Freedom of Religion’ enshrined in Articles 25 and 26 of our Constitution”, the King highlighted.

While being questioned on how did the Temple Managing Committee allowed putting ladder on the chariots in the past few years the Gajapati said that it was a mistake. Such practice was followed only for the convenience of the devotees. “But when we realised that it was a wrong tradition we referred the matter to the Jagadguru Shankaracharya and this is the outcome what we see today”, he admitted.

Through the media Gajapati Dibyasingha Deb appealed to all devotees as well as to all Sevayats of Shree Mandir, in particular to the Daitapati Sevaks, to abide by the decision of Shankaracharya of Puri Govardhan Peeth. “As devotees of the Lord, we must faithfully follow and abide by our sacred scriptures and traditions as interpreted by Parampujyapad Jagadguru Shankaracharya, our highest spiritual and religious preceptor,” he advised.

He further appealed to all sevayats of Srimandira, concerned agencies of the State Govt. and the general public to ensure that the great festival of the Lord is performed peacefully and smoothly and in true devotional spirit.

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