Swaroopananda is probably interested in playing the role of a modern Keechaka. Let us come to Swaroopananda later and analyze the glorious Vedic civilization of ours first. The fact that many greatest civilizations have disappeared has something to do with the psyche and quality of the leaders of those civilizations, when they are at their peaks. And when people who was supposed to guide the society misguide them, they are bound to be doomed. Though the Indian civilization had seen a down trend past its peak during ancient days, the fact that it survived and became the only ancient society that had preserved many a scriptures is a testimony in itself that there exist an alternative view to even the voice of those who enjoyed power. Still, it can be deduced that the alternative views might have been vetoed out bringing the downfall of the society. And History, with a capital H repeats itself.
Post Vedic period there were few philosophers who tried to resurrect the ancient civilization and one of them was Adi Sankaracharya. Though he died young, he had in his short span of life could travel the length and breadth of India and established the Char Dham. These four peethas are supposed to guide the population and live the values they preach. However, with time it appears human values have fallen and the land of Karma had become the land of greed only due to the egoistic nature of those who enjoyed power. Here, power is not only the power that is with the rulers, but the power to guide even the rulers and masses.
Sankaracharyas, however could not influence the Indian rulers and the discordance amongst Indian rulers had enhanced the efficacy of the invaders from the west. It appears even after thousand years of invasion, even those who are entrusted upon the responsibility of inculcating values in the society have not learnt any lessons.
The latest glaring example was the utterances of Swaroopananda, Sankaracharya of Dwarka. He felt the worship of Saibaba of Shirdi is causing the drought in Maharashtra. When people are suffering from the drought, there shall be technical analysis why and how the ground water table of the region had gone down. Of course, Swaroopananda was not qualified to talk on such technical topics. Then, if possible, he should use his influence to help the suffering population. Rather, he was commenting on the worship of Saibaba by Maharashtrians in fact showed how insensitive he had become, sitting in the chair of high priest. Worship of Saibaba was not something new. It was there for nearly one century. Of late in the last three or four decades, people from states other than Maharashtra also started worshipping him. And, Saibaba lived the life of a Fakir. Swaroopananda, in his nineties had witnessed the rise and rise of Saibaba’s influence. Yet, he remained silent all these years and started at the age of ninety to question the worship of Saibaba. Now, Indian way of worship had changed from the times when the nature was worshipped to the days when mortals like Rama and Krishna were immortalized, for the way they have made themselves as superior human beings. The same could be said of Buddha. Of late, when Sadhus and Sanyasis encouraged the practice of receiving prayers from the masses, instead of taking only alms that were needed for physical sustenance. If people started worshipping Saibaba, so were thousands of many other sadhus. And when the high priests of many akharas come over elephants and give darshan to commoners from the comforts of cushions over silver chairs, the meaning and purpose of the ‘Sanyasi’ had evaporated into thin air.
As a Sankaracharya, if Swaroopananda wants to streamline the practices of Indians, he shall get all Sadhus and Sanyasis to renounce all physical comforts from air travel to cooling glasses. The original Sankara didn’t need any aero plane to travel from Kaledi to Kedarnath. The comment of Swaroopananda on Sai worshippers could be expressing a sort of jealousy, at best and hypocrisy at worst.
The other comment of Swaroopananda was even more ridiculous, even by his standards. When the women struggled for a right to enter the sanctum sanctorum of Shani temple in Shinganapur, he did not explain why women were not allowed. In fact, some of the sane members have explained about the adverse effects of the Shani on women, especially pregnant women. Some even tried to reason out that Shani affects only men and not women; and so women need not offer any prayers to Shani. After all, religion is a belief of human on his/her own god. Finally, the women were allowed to enter the temple. Swaroopananda, who slept during entire episode made a comment, on the entry of women into the Shani temple that can only come from a leader of Daesh, and not from a person who occupies the position of Sankaracharya. He said rapes on women would increase if women are allowed into Shani temple. It appears whoever had selected him to the position of Sankaracharya had taken a wrong decision.
Swaroopananda had forgotten that this is the land that is called mother land and not father land, like in some western countries.
The people here worship goddesses Saraswati, Lakshmi and Durga, who represent knowledge, wealth and power. This is the land where mother comes before everyone else, including god as exalted in the saying ‘Matru Devo Bhava’. In fact the Sankaracharya, who is powerful amongst the existing ones, represent ‘Kanchi’ that was not part of the original char dhams.
As said in “Yatra naryastu pujyate, ramante tatra devah”, which means ‘Gods live there, where women are respected”. Through his utterances, Swaroopananda displayed his lack of understanding of ancient scriptures and talked nonsense. In fact, if Rahul Gandhi talks nonsense, we feel entertained. But, the nonsensical talk of Swaroopananda irritates one from the core of self. He had the option of explaining his position on why they should not enter the shrine, in a better way.
I just saw another news bulletin wherein he claimed that because of women entered the shrine, tragedy stuck in Kollam temple killing more than one hundred people. In the same breath he claimed it was due to honeymooners, flash floods of Kedarnath had occurred. It appears he is determined to break his own records by stooping further. I really pity him, for the sickness in his mind and hope the gods forgive him.
As said in the Bhagavad Gita, Chapter 5, Verse 18, the ‘Pandit’ or the wise man is the one, who treats Brahman, a cow, an elephant, a dog and a dog-eater.
By speaking about women of India in so vulgar way, Swaroopananda proved he doesn’t deserve to be where he is now. Alas, it is Kaliyuga and so these things happen.
Hope there shall prevail good sense amongst other Sadhus, who can correct the wrong words and deeds of some of their brethren.
Now, this Indian civilization will survive even the intrinsic threats from the gurus and protectors, the same way it survived so many others. It may even thrive also. As long as a common man like me could write something against someone like the Sankaracharya, the diverse nature of the nation remains established. And it is the innate intolerance embedded in us that makes us to come out against such intolerant remarks.