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August 28, 2000
Rival shankaracharya claimant projects modern outlook
M I Khan in Puri
The rival claimant to the seat of Shankaracharya of Puri Govardhan Peeth Swami Adhokshajananda Deva Teerth is projecting himself as a 'modern' shankaracharya with revolutionary ideas.
Unlike Swami Nischalananda Saraswati, who is considered the real shankaracharya, Swami Adhokshajananda Deva Teerth pleads for recital of the Vedas by women. "Vedas belong to all and nobody should restrict women from reading the ancient scriptures," he told rediff.com.
He feels that if Vedas are God's scriptures, women have every right to read them. "What is wrong with that?" he asked.
It may be recalled that the shankaracharyas of Puri are known for their conservative and medieval ideas. The present shankaracharya, Swami Nischalananda Saraswati, got embroiled in a controversy in 1994 when he reportedly prevented a Bengali woman from reciting Vedic hymns. He even ordered her off the dais asserting that 'only men have the right to recite the Vedas'.
This statement had then caused widespread resentment amongst the womenfolk in the country.
Even the previous shankaracharya, Swami Niranjan Deva Teerth's, remarks on 'sati' and his hunger strike to ban 'cow slaughter' had placed him in the centre of some controversies.
Swami Adhokshajananda Deva Teerth, who is observing chaturmasya brata in the calm and serene environment of Beleswar temple outside Puri town near the Puri-Konark marine drive, has a liberal outlook towards several issues concerning society and the country.
He has a peaceful solution for the Kashmir problem. He thinks that the Centre's policy towards the Kashmir problem is not proper. He visited Kashmir two months ago for discussion with Hurriyat leaders to evolve a peaceful solution. He proposes to visit Pakistan and talk to General Pervez Musharraf, the military ruler of Pakistan, in this connection.
Lastly, he believes in praying for the good of all human beings, irrespective of their religion.
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