PURI, INDIA, June 29, 2014 (The Telegraph): In a break from tradition, Puri Shankaracharya Swami Nischalananda Saraswati did not turn up to offer prayers to the Deities on their chariots during the rath yatra today. Back channel negotiations to persuade the seer failed as he stuck to his decision of not taking part in the yatra, the first such instance, sources said.
The tussle began around 3pm yesterday when the temple administration communicated to him that he could visit the chariots with three of his followers. But two hours later, it dispatched another letter to him requesting him to come alone in keeping with a recent Orissa High Court verdict that had actually upheld the opinion of the Shankaracharya that none except those associated with the rituals of the Deities should be allowed to climb the chariots.
The seer, however, took the letter as a personal affront and declared that he won't take part in the yatra as he was being humiliated. "I will not go to participate in the car festival. The government has humiliated me. Some people have used objectionable words against me. The state government has no guts to take any action against me. If it takes any action, it would face the consequences from tomorrow," the seer told reporters here.
While Shankarcharya kept away, the scion of the Puri royal family Gajapati Dibyasingha Deb came to sweep the chariot decks with a handful of supporters. In tune with the court's order, he climbed the chariots alone to perform the customary ritual.