Women saints form their own akhara

It is against tradition, say male sadhus 

The move to form a separate akhara by some women saints for themselves has triggered a controversy among male saints and other religious heads with a section of the religious community terming it as against tradition.

Trikal Bhavanta, a woman Shankaracharya based at Allahabad, had announced that she and many other women saints had decided to form a separate grouping for women ascetics. 

She had said a large number of saints, who had arrived at Allahabad to take part in the annual Magh Mela on the bank of the Sangam in Allahabad, will take out a procession on Thursday and formally announce the formation of the women’s akhara after paying obeisance to the holy Ganges.Bhavanta said though the women saints had to work more than their male counterparts, they do not have their own identity.Recognition issue

“A separate akhara for the women saints is essential for giving them due recognition,” she had said.

While a few saints, including some women saints, welcomed the move, many other reacted sharply and denounced it terming it against the traditions.“There is no point in forming a separate akhara by the women saints. There is no such thing as a woman shankaracharya in the country,” said All India Akhara Parishad president Mahant Gyan Das.

“No one has the authority to change the existing system,” he said.However, Devya Giri, the mahant of Dashnami Akhara welcomed it.“It is a good move and should be welcomed. The new akhara should work to safeguard the dignity of the womenfolk,” she said. 

The shankaracharyas also differed on the issue with the Dwarika Peethadheeshwar Shankaracharya Swami Swaroopanand Saraswati coming in its favour while another shankaracharya Swami Vasudevananad Sarsawati opposing it.An akhara is an organisation of the different sects of saints, vairaghis and yogis who have renounced the world. 

Akharas came into existence during the 8th century AD when Adi Shankaracharya established seven akharas, namely Mahanirvani, Niranjani, Juna, Atal, Avahan, Agni and Anand Akhara with an aim to strengthen the Hindu religion and unite those practicing different rituals, customs and beliefs.

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