BHUBANESWAR: The Odisha Legislative Assembly on Saturday passed an important legislation to keep Gobardhan Math, Puri, one of the four Hindu religious seats set up by Adi Sankaracharya, out of the administrative purview of the State Government.
Piloting the Odisha Hindu Religious Endowments (Amendment) Bill, 2019 which seeks to amend Section 3 (xiii) of the original Act, Law Minister Pratap Jena said the proposed amendment sought to exclude the Gobardhan Math from the definition of religious institution.
With this amendment, the mutt will no longer be governed by the provisions of the OHRE Act, 1951, he added. There are more than 18,000 Hindu public religious institutions in the State which are governed by the provisions of the OHRE Act.
“The Gobardhan Math cannot be equated with other Maths of the State because of the unique position it occupies in the Hindu religion. The position of Sankaracharya of Gobardhan Math is even more important having regard to his involvement in the affairs of Shri Jagannth Temple,” the Minister said.
While the Sankaracharya heads the Mukti Mandap Pandit Sabha which renders valuable advices on complicated questions on religious affairs, he is also granted a special right of worship during the Rath Yatra of Lord Jagannath. “The Hindus look upon the institution of Sankaracharya with utmost respect as the highest platform of Hindu religion in the State,” Jena said.
Apart from Gobardhan Math, the Minister said there has been demands from different quarters to confer similar status on the Hindu religious seat as is accorded to three other mutts established by Adi Sankaracharya.
As a consequence, the OHRE Act, 1951 is proposed to be amended suitably by excluding the Gobardhan Math from the meaning of religious institution as defined under Section 3 (xiii) of the Act.
The four mutts had been established by Adi Sankaracharya with the objective of propagating traditional Sanatana Dharma.
The three other mutts are kept beyond the purview of their respective State Endowment Acts. Those are Sarada Math at Shringeri in Karnataka, Dwaraka Math in Gujurat and Jyotir Math in Uttarakhand.
Swami Nischalananda Saraswati is the current Sankaracharya of Goardhan Peeth, Puri.