Allahabad: Unresolved differences over land allotment between the administration and the pontiffs of the four seats (peeths) established by Adi Sankaracharya today took a turn for worse as one of the influential religious leaders left the city vowing not to attend the congregation.
Swami Swaroopanand Saraswati, Shankaracharya of the Dwarka `peeth` in the west, left for his ashram in Madhya Pradesh following the administration`s refusal to allot land for `Sankaracharya Chatushpad`, for which the pontiffs of Puri in the east and Shringeri in the south have also extended their in-principle support.
According to Swaroopanand`s key disciple Swami Avimukteswarananda, who is camping at a temple on the banks of river Yamuna, "the proposed move was aimed at distinguishing the genuine Shankaracharyas from the self-styled ones who have mushroomed all over and have been misleading people".
The `Sankaracharya Chatushpad` was to have been established by installing an idol of Adi Sankaracharya and allotting land at the four corners of its platform for camps of Shankaracharyas of the four seats (peeths).
"It was Swaroopanandaji`s view that fighting such elements through other means such as lawsuits would have been cumbersome. So having all the Shankaracharyas in one place would have proved to be an effective foil against those who take devotees for a ride," Avimukteswarananda said.
"However, the administration took an inexplicably stubborn stand. They refused the demand, saying it went against tradition, which is not exactly true. For the past three decades, the camps of Shankaracharyas have been in the vicinity of each other. We are not able to understand what harm could have been caused by setting up a statue of Adi Sankara," he said.
Officials entrusted with allotment of land for Maha Kumbh claim that the proposal was struck down following opposition from the `akharas`, a militant order of ascetics, also set up by Adi Sankara, whose presence is considered pivotal to the 12-yearly Kumbh congregation starting from January 14.
While office-bearers of `akharas` are tight-lipped over the controversy, Swaroopananda yesterday rubbished the administration`s claim as "a mischievous attempt to drive a wedge between the Shankaracharyas and the akharas".