Reaffirming his stance against participating in the ‘Pran Pratishtha’ of the Ram Temple in Ayodhya on January 22, Puri Shankaracharya Swami Nischalananda Saraswati emphasized the undesirability of political interference in religious and spiritual matters. He asserted that even the Constitution does not permit such intrusion. The Shankaracharya spoke out against the encroachment of politicians into realms governed by religious and spiritual regulations, labeling it as both irrational and a violation of constitutional principles.
In a statement made at the Ganga Sagar Mela in West Bengal, where he attended the annual ritualistic bath for Makar Sankranti, Swami Nischalananda Saraswati elaborated on the need for politicians to respect their constitutional limits. He stressed, “Politicians have their limits and they have responsibility under the Constitution. There are rules and restrictions in religious and spiritual domain and these rules should be followed. Interfering in every area by politicians is insanity. This is also a heinous crime according to the Constitution.”
Acknowledging his own limitations as a Shankaracharya, he explained the boundaries that dictate where he can go, what he can involve himself in, and even what he can eat. He specifically addressed the ‘murti pratishtha’ (consecration of idols) and underscored that established rules based on scriptures should be adhered to, especially by the head of state or the Prime Minister.
“Overstepping these rules for propagating one’s name is an act of rebellion against God… and going down the path of destruction,” Puri Shankaracharya warned. Despite clarifying that he harbors no resentment towards Ayodhya and occasionally visits, he firmly stated his decision not to partake in the ‘Pran Pratishtha’ of the Ram Mandir on January 22.
Swami Nischalananda Saraswati emphasized that there exists unanimity among the four Shankaracharyas regarding attending the inauguration ceremony of the Ram Mandir on August 22. He clarified that he does not dissuade anyone from participating in the event.
While expressing his lack of displeasure with the central government, the religious leader did express regret over the invitation to the inauguration ceremony of the Ram Temple. He revealed that he was asked to attend with a colleague, a condition he found disagreeable. The Shankaracharya lamented the fact that despite the religious and spiritual eminence of the Shankaracharyas, they were not granted access to the ‘garbhgriha sanctum sanctorum’ of the temple but were instructed to stay outside. “This is not acceptable to me. I do not like the prospect of watching the inauguration of the Ram Temple by sitting at the event and clapping,” he asserted.
Swami Nischalananda Saraswati also drew attention to certain irregularities within the country’s political system, highlighting how politicians often seek votes by capitalizing on the distress of the population.
When asked about the Ganga Sagar Mela potentially receiving the status of a ‘National Mela,’ the religious leader responded humorously, suggesting that West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee’s habit of gifting kurtas to the Prime Minister might influence such a decision. He remarked, “If she makes the requests while offering these gifts, the Prime Minister might agree and declare the Ganga Sagar Mela a National Mela.”