Swami Shree Swaroopanand Saraswati talks to the New Indian Express Editorial Director Prabhu Chawla on his objections to the worship of Sai Baba, the Ram Temple, the scrapping of Article 370, and the promises made by PM Narendra Modi on Sachchi Baat on News X.
PC: Why did you raise the question on the worship of Sai Baba?
SS: We have been raising the issue for long. But the media wasn’t giving it attention. This time they have given it attention. We really have been saying this (for long).
PC: When did you last raise the issue?
SS: We had raised it during my visit to Mumbai.
PC: Did you say that people should stop worshipping Sai Baba?
SS: We believe in what AdiShankaracharyahad said – he had said that Shiva, Shakti, Vishnu, Ganesh, and Surya should be worshipped in the temples. They all are one in Brahma Roop.
PC: What about the 24 avatars?
SS: There are 24 avatars of Vishnu. For Shatki there are 10 MahaVidya and NauDurgas. The same way there are many avatars of Ganesh and Shiv.
PC: There are 33 crore deities in the Sanatan Dharma. Aren’t people free to worship the deity they want to?
SS: There are yantra,mantra and the method of worship related to the deities. The reward or fruit of Karma comes from the Lord. Sri Krishna has said in the Geeta that “I am the one who gives the worshippers of other Gods the fruit of their worship and devotion.”
PC: But you raised the question….
SS: Krishna in BhagvatGeeta says, “I am the ‘Avinashi’. Main sab praniyonkaishwarhun.Tab bhi main apniSachchinandRachnaprakritikabinatyagkiye hue apniyogmaya se avatarletahun.”
PC: Were Ram and Krishna not born? Is being born of Ram from Kaushalya mere imagination?
SS: It’s written in the Ramayana, ‘BhayPrakatKripala, DeenDayala…”Tulsidasji says in Ramayana, “Ram prakat hue, he wasn’t born out of Kaushalya.” Coming to Krishna, he was the Lord.He took an avatar out of his own wish.
PC: Has your raising the issue on Sai Baba’s worship divided the Hindus?
SS: We are not dividing the Hindus. People of the Hindu society who consider themselves part of the SanatanDharm were drifting. They were worshipping a man who was, by birth and deeds, a Muslim.
PC: Where is it written?
SS: It is written in their granths (holy books). I can show it to you.
PC: Is it written in the granthsthat he was born in a Muslim family?
SS: Yes. His devotees say it in his aarati.
PC:His devotees worship him. He never asked anyone to worship him. People considerShankaracharya God. You never asked people to address you as God.
SS:I would never ask devotees to establish my statue at a temple. Why are people doing what he hasn’t asked them to? A Sikh man told me yesterday, that Guru Nanak has saidthat he serves the Lord and that, he is here to see the world,people who address him as the “Lord” will be consigned to hell. There is a difference between God and Guru. A Guru is the one who guides us towards the devotion to the Lord,the one who makes us relate with the Lord. He is not the guru if he starts addressing himself as the “Lord”. In the SanatanDharm, we believe that the Saints and the Mahatamasshow us the path towards the Lord, and they direct us towards the worship of Lord. People are worshipping a person who never took the name of anyone but “Allah”, the one who said no to Ganga Snaan. People have made a God out him.
PC: You accepted Gautam Buddha as Lord.
SS: No. They don’t consider themselves part of the Sanatan Dharma.
PC: What about the Jains?
SS: Jains have 24 Teerthankars. They can’t consider Sai Baba the 25Teerthankar.
PC: Sikhs worship their Gurus.
SS: Yes. They do. We have no issues with that. I am referring to people of my religion. In our religion, it is said that you would be accepted by the Lord whom you remember in your last moments. Hence, be devoted to Krishna, to Ram.
PC: You have issues with the size of Sai Baba’s statue as well.
SS: We are being duped. Sri Krishna showed Arjun his viraatroop. They are showing Sai Baba’s viraatroop and not Sri Krishna’s.
PC: Do you want to say that there should be no other idol in a Sai Baba temple?
SS: There is no need for it.
PC: But there are temples dedicated to certain deities where the idols of other deities are much smaller in size.
SS: It doesn’t matter in that case. We are talking about the statues and idols of a person claiming to be God. He is showing our deities smaller in size. He shows Lord Ganeshaseated in his feet.
PC: But does he show Lord Ram in his feet?
SS: Such images are objectionable.
PC: Do you feel that the worship of Sai Baba should stop?
SS: Yes. The people from Puri and the society are supporting us.
PC: Will you convince the people of the Sanatan Dharma on this issue?
SS: Yes. I am doing that.
PC: Has the Ram Temple issue taken a back seat?
SS: The issue and path of Ram Temple will be pursued once the building of new Sai Baba temples is stopped.
PC: But you played a role in the laying of the Ram Mandirfoundation.Buta Singh was present. The matter became controversial later. The building of the Temple hasn’t begun.
SS: The matter was in the High Court. We disputed on the subject for 45 days in the court. Our advocate proved it that Mughal emperor Babar never came to the land, thatit has been Ram Janmabhumi since the beginning.
PC: Your critics say that you reflect the views of the Congress.
SS:You are calling me a Congressman. I will answer this. When TR Balu was in the Congress, former PM Manmohan Singh had said that Ram Setu is a symbol of the victory over the Aryas. We objected to it. The matter reached the court. We said that the Setu shouldn’t be broken. The central government gave the affidavit that there is no historical evidence to establish the fact that the Setu was built by Ram.
PC: They made changes to it.
SS:That was because I objected to it. Had I been a Congressman, I wouldn’t object to it.
PC: You criticisedUma Bhartiji. You said that she is a Sai Baba devotee.
SS: She said that it’s a personal matter. It was said that there is devotion towards the parents. How can we stop that? We had said that we can’t let it be established as the parental faith and devotion of the other people. They are establishing those statues instead of the deities’ in the temples. We said that there are people who haven’t gone to worship Sai Baba. Why does one need Sai Baba if the Ganga, their Krishna, Ram and deities accept them? We don’t need them. They need us.
PC: What about the Sai Baba of Puttaparthi?
SS: The guru of Uma Bharti, he gave me a telephone call. He said that he agrees with me completely. Her guru agrees with me.
PC: Has he supported your views on Sai Baba or your views on Uma Bharti?
SS:He has supported my views on Sai Baba.
PC: Will everyone protest on this issue?
SS: Yes. The core issue is that if we are occupied with the devotion towards Sai Baba and his temples, how will people have the devotion for the Ram Temple?
PC: What is your agenda?
SS: Our agenda is to increase and strengthen people’s faith and devotion in the deities of the (Sanatan Dharma). People who are talking about Sai Babaare actually not devoted to him. They are occupied with their ambitions.
PC: Is it a conspiracy against the Hindu religion?
PC: You also made statements on the impact ofWesternisation on our society.
SS: Our sisters and mothers are being ill-treated. They are being raped despite the tough laws. Alcoholism and drugs are the core issues. The youth is falling into the trap of alcoholism and drugs. They are not in their senses. They don’t realise what they are doing. In Kottayam in Kerala, a man allegedly assaulted his mother in the state of intoxication. People should get alcohol and drug rehabilitation. The supply of drugs from abroad should stop. The sale of alcohol should stop.Drugs are being sold outside schools. That should stop. In China, there was a movement against drugs. The dictatorialcommunist rule in China stopped the use of drugs. There should a movement against drugs and alcoholism in India. China curbed the use of drugs. China encouraged the long hours of hard work among people. People in our country don’t want to work hard. The country will develop only through hard work and by stopping the use of drugs and alcohol.
PC: Did the Hindus of the country consolidate their vote for Modi?
SS: We had said before the polls that we want a “Majboot” (strong) and not “Majboor” (weak) government. We have got a strong government.
PC: Will he fulfil all the promises made?
SS: He must.
PC: What do you think?
SS: It’s a test. If he scraps Article 370, if herenews the free flow of a clean Ganga, if he builds the Ram Temple, people will appreciate him.
PC: Until when will you wait?
SS: We will see. I will open my mouth when I need to. But let me tell you, I am not a Modi critic.
PC: What are your expectations from Modi?
SS: People have trusted him.
PC: Should he make a Hindu Rashtra?
SS: I am not talking about that. He must fulfil his promises. Article 370 should be scrapped. The Kahmiris will benefit from it. They will be accepted in India. Otherwise, they will be limited to …
PC: But the RSS talks about making a Hindu Rashtra. Do you agree with them?
SS: We want a Ram Rajya. We don’t want HinduRashtra. We are people of principles.
PC: Thanks for coming to our studio.