Akhilesh gets Shankaracharya back at Kumbh

After threatening a boycott of the Mahakumbh on account of a dispute over land allotment, shankaracharya of Dwarka Peeth swami Swaroopananda Saraswati has relented and decided to take part in the congregation following a conciliatory gesture by the Uttar Pradesh government.

The shankaracharya, who had left the city last month after a tiff over setting up a proposed ‘sankaracharya chatushpad’ at the congregation, returned to the city on Friday night.

His return followed a visit by a ruling Samajwadi Party MLA Ajay Kumar, who met him at his ashram in Madhya Pradesh and presented him a letter from chief minister Akhilesh Yadav, in which he was requested to “bless the congregation with his presence”.

According to supporters of the shankaracharya, who holds the additional charge of jyotirpeeth badrikashram, Swaroopanand is likely to enter his assigned camp at the Kumbh ground on February 1 “in a grand procession” a week ahead of the main bathing festival of mauni amavasya on February 10, which usually attracts the largest crowd.

The shankaracharya had been miffed over the Kumbh administration’s refusal to allot land, where pontiffs of all the four peeths set up by adi-sankara could stay at camps located close to each other and around a statue of the 8th century advaita vedanta seer.

The administration had expressed its inability to accept the demand, saying it would amount to “starting a new tradition”. On December 30, the shankaracharya left Allahabad which was considered a major letdown for the administration.

Later, a symbolic chatushpad was set up by the influential prayagwal group of priests on the land allotted to them in an attempt to pacify the pontiff.  The presence of shankaracharyas of all the four peeths is considered vital for the congregation.

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