Sai Devotees Outraged by Dwaraka Pontiff’s Remarks
MUMBAI: Outraged at Dwarkapeeth Shankaracharya Swami Swaroopanand’s controversial comments on their ‘deity’, devotees of Shirdi Sai Baba on Tuesday burned the seer in effigy at Shirdi, some 296 km from here, where the Shirdi Sai Baba temple is located.
Besides, the livid followers lodged a complaint against him at the police station there for “hurting religious sentiments” and “spreading hatred”.
Swaroopanand had on Tuesday said that those who worship Shirdi Sai Baba should not worship Lord Rama and take a dip in the Ganga. And the seer’s comments followed his observations on Monday, when he said that Shirdi Sai was not a symbol of Hindu-Muslim unity and should not be worshipped because he was a human being and not God.
In a further indication of the deep veneration for the saint-fakir, who is regarded as god incarnate by believers,the residents of Shirdi took out a march to the Sai Baba temple and demanded stern action against Swaroopanand. They rang the bells in the temples and submitted a memorandum to the temple trust condemning his statements.
Ashok Kate, a Sai Baba devotee, has filed a police complaint against Swaroopanand. In his complaint, Kate said that the seer had hurt the sentiments of several lakh people. “Shirdi is a symbol of religious harmony. We perform pooja at Sai temple with Hindu rituals. At the same time, Muslims too offer prayers there. Swaroopanand is creating a rift in the society,” said the complaint.
Jayant Sasane, former chairman of Shirdi Temple Trust, alleged that Swaroopanand had made the statement out of sheer frustration.
“Shirdi Sai Baba never claimed that he was God or an angel. He lived a simple life. It is the devotees’ faith, which has made him a God. Swaroopanand is frustrated because no one seeks his blessings,” Sasane said.
Saimohan Khadpe, president of an NGO Saisevak Pratishthan, claimed that many people had experienced Shirdi Sai’s miracles. “His devotees include Hindus and Muslims, as well. I doubt whether Swaroopanand has any public support,” he said.