From 27th August 2019, the Puri district administration has been on a demolition spree of old structures within 75 meters radius of the Jagannath Temple, in the name of development.
A Rs 500 crore mega plan to turn Puri into a world heritage city and to prevent any threat of terrorism. The demolitions were conducted based on the report of a committee headed by retired judge of Orissa High Court BP Das who recommended the removal of such structures.
Odisha Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik had approved the demolition drive and had urged people to cooperate so that security of the Jagannath temple could be ensured.
Odias have made tremendous sacrifices for the safety of Jagannath temple and the presiding deities. Their tradition is centered around Jagannath culture. But global terrorism is a big challenge. Terror groups are targeting religious institutions. So, it is imperative to implement various security related suggestions in the temple said the district administration.
The Languli Mutt, a 14th century Hindu monastery of Dasanami Naga sampradaya, and the 12th century Emar Mutt were demolished citing security reasons.
It was these Ramanandi Naga Sadhus who gave their lives to protect Srimandira from the barbaric hands of Kalapahad during the middle ages.
The Emar Math belonging to the Ramanujacharya sect is one of the oldest Hindu Mutt of Puri and provided food during the time of Odisha famine in 1866. The 900 year old Emar Mutt was established by Sri Ramanujacharya himself.
Raghunandan Library, established by the Mahant of Emar Matha in 1921, to promote Odia literature has been totally demolished.
People of Orissa, or for that instant non of the progressive people didn’t seem to mind the demolition of a structure that was home to old Odia manuscripts.
Ironically the State Government has sanctioned Rs 5 crore for a modern library to be set up in the land of the 900 year-old Mutt. The library will be equipped with all modern facilities for readers and its name will be retained as the Raghunandan Library. Then why destroy a structure which should have been otherwise protected as a heritage site?!!
These ancient Mutts have a huge Dharmic significance for practicing Hindus of Orissa. These Mutts have preserved rare murals, manuscripts, sculptures and numerous other historical artifacts.
While conducting the demolition drive, Official stumbled upon an underground chamber under the Emar Mutt monastery that was about 12-15 feet deep and 50 feet wide. Immediately a Snake Helpline NGO was called to see if there were any snakes inside.
Mathadhipathi of Emar Mutt, Mahanta Rajgopal Ramanuj Das, said the chambers served as granaries during times of distress and store food for distribution during the 1866 Odisha famine.
The security of Jagannath temple is most important but at the cost of demolition of a historic site is unacceptable.
2 petitions were filed in the Supreme Court for the stay the demolition. One was from a Chennai resident, and another by the Intercontinental Lawyers’ Association. Both were dismissed by the Supreme Court. The Supreme Court of India which many times has exhibited keen interest in petty issues like Slippers, which preaches on marital relationships don’t even have half the interest to listen to the stake holders in this issue.
Shankaracharya of Puri, Swami Nischalananda Saraswati alleged a conspiracy behind demolition of mutts and other religious institutions in Puri.
He stated that the BP Das Commission which was set up to study the project, had not taken any suggestions and feedback from the stakeholders in this connection. He also criticized the Supreme Court, that the appointined Amicus Curiae(impartial advisor) Ranjit Kumar had not taken any advice or suggestions from Puri Shri before taking any decision or submitting the report to the apex court in this connection.
The Shankaracharya insisted that all this was an attempted to secularize what are clearly Dharmic spaces, and this demolition and control by the State is not acceptable.
Shankaracharya further pointed out that this is part of a larger project to secularization, trivialize and commercialize all aspects of Hindu Dharma.
We have already seen this kind of action in cases like Sabarimala, Jallikattu, Made Snana, Diwali and Dahi Handi, where judiciary and executive together have started taking unilateral decisions on Hindu/ Dharmic practices.
So in the context of Rath Yatra timings, the Shankaracharya made a very important point,
“As per the Skanda Purana, chariots of the deities should reach Gundicha temple on the same day during Rath Yatra. But now it is being said that chariots should not be pulled after sunset. I want to question whether Samiti, CM or Law Minister are the right persons to decide on such religious traditions”
Puri MLA Jayant Sarangi has opposed the demolition drive.
The eviction of houses and temples near the Jagannath Temple was carried out without proper basis and it strongly smells of a conspiracy.
No blueprint of the project planned by the city administration has been made public.
Puri Jagannath temple must be protected and developed because lakh and crore if devotees attend Ratha Yatra and also the temple every year.
But it is very much clear to the whole country from where the threat of terrorism comes from.
In this backdrop, the official reason of these mutts being unsafe as a reason for demolition is very fishy.
The Odisha chapter of Indian National Trust for Art and Cultural Heritage (Intach) expressed its reservation on the demolition and suggested that many of the old structures could easily have been restored with proper conservation.
In any other country these temples would have been declared as heritage monuments, and been carefully preserved and maintained.
But that is not so in India were temples are treated as expendable structures by the Hinduphobic and ultra-secular State Administration.
The same state will however never do such “demolition drives” for churches and mosques and will instead choose the way of appeasement.
Odisha CM promised to “rehabilitate” the Mutt. Rather than repairing, rebuilding and preserving such ancient heritage structures, he would have them demolished. This is a peculiarly strange stance.
Deities are not mere stone idols, and the temple are not just stone structures. The gods reside there, since prana pratishtha been done centuries ago. They cannot simply be moved at will as if they were some museum artifacts. In Dharmic traditions such movement is not allowed under normal circumstances.
Moreover these rehabilitation lead to loss of cultural heritage. The Mutts are protecting these without ever asking for state support or revenue.
Those hearts which cried for burning Notre Dam are silently witnessing the bleeding hearts of Hindus.
Wake up Hindus, our rich heritage is at stake now.
Source: Hindu Jagrathi