Ahmedabad/Dehradun, July 1(): Shirdi Sai Baba has become the bone of contention between Gujarat’s Dwarka Peeth’s seer Swaroopananda Saraswati and Uma Bharti, the Union minister for Water resources.
Sankaracharya Swaroopanand Saraswati who has a tilt towards Congress has asked Bharti to make it public whether she is a follower of Shirdi Sai Baba or Lord Ram. According to seer, those who worship Shiridi Sai Baba cannot bathe in Ganga and chant hymns praising Lord Ram.
The reason being that Shirdi Sai Baba is a Muslim fakir. Bharti as minister of water resources has been given the task of cleaning Ganga. The Gujarat Dwarkapeeth Sankaracharya had sparked off a controversy saying that Shirdi Sai Baba worship should be condemned as he was a Muslim saint, was not a God and alleged that the worship of Shirdi Sai Baba was an international conspiracy to divide the Hindus.
Swaroopanand wanted Bharti who was in the forefront of building the Ram temple in Ayodhya to clarify if she had shifted her stance to the Muslim saint Shirdi Sai Baba. The seer said that Bharti failed in her goal to build the Ram temple as she was now a follower of a Muslim God.
The Seer said that Lord Rama will not shower his blessings on her to build the Ram Temple in Ayodhya because she worships a Muslim God. That has not deterred Bharti, who said that she continues to be a strong pro- temple leader, but she worships Sai Baba and it is a subject of her personal faith. She declined to give a reply to Swaroopanand’s statement and said that she would not speak against him.
The Sankaracharya had called upon Sai Baba disciples to do a purification by taking a dip in Ganga and undertake a fast on ‘ Ekadashi’ day.
Cases were filed against him in Shirdi and in other places like Indore and Hyderabad where temples of the saint exist. The complaint says that the seer’s remarks on Shirdi Sai Baba’s eating habits had hurt religious sentiments. The seer said Bharti had opposed hydro-power projects but she is now supporting such projects in the name of development. The seer was speaking at his Haridwar ashram where Bharat Sadhu Sant Samaj, a body of Hindu spiritual leaders organized a function.
Resolutions condemned Bharti for her being a devotee of Lord Ram and Sai Baba; the presence of Vishnu and Krishna idols at Shirdi Sai Baba temples were also condemned. The controversy erupted after local administration prevented Sai devotees from taking a dip at Haridwar’s Har- ki- Pauri in order to maintain religious harmony and so the Sai Baba devotees took a dip in the Ganga at Govind Ghat. The seer also wanted Narendra Modi to abolish Article 370.