Shirdi, Apr 11: Devotees of Saibaba have taken a dim view of Shankaracharya Swami Swaroopanand Saraswati's statement in which he linked worship of the "fakir" to prevalence of drought-like conditions in Maharashtra.
Though Shirdi Saibaba Trust officials did not entertain queries on the controversy, a former Trustee said the seer made such remarks out of feeling of insecurity.
"It seems Swaroopanand is disturbed and feeling insecure as devotees are not turning up for his darshan but queueing up to take darshan of Saibaba in Shirdi.
"If he feels that drought in the State is indeed due to worship of Saibaba, then he should answer why there is flood or earthquake in Uttarakhand," said ex-Trustee Eknath Gondkar.
Kicking off a row, the Shankaracharya of Dwarka-Sharda peeth had stated in Haridwar, "the unworthy Sai is being worshipped while the real Gods are ignored. This is happening in Maharashtra and particularly in Shirdi.
Hence, Maharashtra is facing drought". When asked about his reaction, a devotee Aditya Damale said such remarks are being made with the only objective to gain publicity.
"Saibaba had propagated unity during his lifetime, but unfortunately people like Shankaracharya could not understand this message of Saibaba," he said.
Another devotee termed the seer's statement as "ridiculous". "Shankaracharya's statement is ridiculous. Drought is also prevailing in Gujarat, Punjab, Haryana, Madhya Pradesh...what about that?" he said.
A local social worker, Sachin Tambe said the Saibaba Trust had donated crores of rupees as aid whenever calamities like flood, earthquake etc. had struck Maharashtra and other parts of country.
"Shankaracharya should tour country and talk about Hindu religion and various issues concerning it," he added. Meanwhile, Shani Shingnapur Temple Trust chairperson Anita Shetye refused to comment on Swaroopanand's statement that "entry of women in the Shani temple will lead to rise in crimes against them like rape".