Sri Sri Ravishankar and Yogi Adityanath represent the generational shift on Ayodhya issue
Spiritual leader and founder of Art of Living Sri Sri Ravi Shankar was on a three-day tour of UP recently.
The three-day trip also called Anugrah Yatra saw the Guru and his disciples travel in Indian railways between Varanasi and Lucknow. The most crucial leg of this trip was a stopover on 27th Feb in Gorakhpur where Sri Sri Ravi and his devotees visited the Gorakhpur math. Gorakhpur math is one of the ancient shrines of Nath sampradaya. The Math is held in special reverence by Hindus all over the world. Also, the math is held in particular esteem by the local Muslims as well.
Sri Sri was personally received by the pontiff of Gorakhnath temple, and CM of Uttar Pradesh Yogi Adityanath. The significance of this gesture was not missed and national media widely reported on it. Adityanath carved out this time from his busy calendar as CM of UP and received Sri Sri in Gorakhpur. Though both Sri Sri and Yogi have denied any political connotation to the meeting, it is quite likely that Ram temple dispute did figure in the discussions.
Yogi represents a generational shift on the Ram temple agitation issue. Yogis' guru Mahant Avaidyanath led the Ram temple agitation quite vociferously through his active years in politics and religious life. Avaidyanath was a leading light and founding members of various committees which was to work towards the building of Ram temple. Avaidyanath is known to have prophecised that Ram temple construction will see the light of day when Yogi becomes the pontiff of the Math. It's been three years since Yogi has become the pontiff of the math and one year since he assumed the role of UP Chief Minister. In this dual role, Yogi would be keen to solve the 500-year-old Ram temple matter and fulfil his Guru's wish.
The current title suit is almost 70 years old. With the passage of time, most of the principal litigants, agitators and negotiators are dead. Key personalities from Hindu bodies like Mahant Bhaskar Das(Nirmohi Akhara), Mahant Paramhansa Ram Chandra Das(Nirmohi Akhara), Mahant Avaidyanath, Ashok Singhal(VHP), Giriraj Kishore(VHP) are long dead. Likewise, from Muslim community, Hashim Ansari, Bade Miyan is not alive. In each of these case, the new generation from these maths and families are battling out the issue in courts and streets. While the previous generation was ready to battle it out, the newer generation has indicated a will to settle the matters out of court. And that is where Sri Sri's mediation overtures assume a lot of significance.
In the late 80s, 90s and early 2000s head of Kanchi Peetham, Late Shri Jayendra Saraswathi played an active role in mediating the Ram temple issue. His most initial forays date back to 1989. By the time 2000 came, the pontiff known for his endearing smile was the face of all the negotiations on Ramjanma Bhoomi temple until 2003 when these discussions fell apart due to machinations of an anti-resolution faction of AIMPLB and Sunni Waqf board.
After the recent demise of Shri Jayendra Saraswathi, Sri Sri remains the only spiritual/religious leader who has tried to resolve Ayodhya matter peacefully and has a history of engaging various parties on the issue. In some way, a generational shift has happened to the mediation process of Ram Mandir with Sri Sri leading the peaceful resolution. Sri Sri made a pitch for Ram temple construction in Ayodhya on major news channels today. He has asked all the stakeholders to look at the Ram temple issue in a new light and not remain hostage to 25-year-old biases. Sri Sri also hinted out the irrelevance of Owaisi like Muslim leaders at ground level in Uttar Pradesh where both communities want a temple on Janmasthan through peaceful negotiations.
(Vijay is an engineer by profession and writer by passion. He is Singapore based and has a keen interest in Indian politics and foreign affairs of the region)
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