Sudarshan News started another controversy on May 3, 2022 after it announced that Shankarachrya of Puri Nischalananda Saraswati will publicly resolve to turn India into a “Hindu Rashtra”.
The news channel reported that an event is scheduled to take place at Talkatora stadium in central Delhi, some distance away from the Supreme Court on Tilak Marg on the evening of May 5, where, Saraswati along with three other gurus will allegedly proclaim and affirm a resolution that India be turned into a Hindu state.
Leaving aside the cold hard fact that these gurus have no authority to challenge the secular values of the Constitution, it is, however, true that an event has been organised in Delhi on Thursday. Equally true is the fact that Saraswati, who also enjoys the title ‘Mahant’ of the Sri Govardhan Math, has propagated extremist values of Hindutva over the years.
The influential ascetic attended a Sant Sammellan in January 2022 to discuss ways to “counter Islamic jihad” and “help create a Hindu nation”. The organisers of this event were the same people who organised the Dharm Sansad in December 2021. However, Saraswati’s communal convictions run deeper.
Even during anti-CAA and NRC-NPR protests, the Jagadguru made the same demand for a religion-based nation. In 2020, Hindustan Times reported how Saraswati told reports that there was no country for Hindus although many countries are declared as Muslim and Christian nations. He claimed that it was the responsibility of the United Nations to declare India, Nepal and Bhutan as Hindu nations.
Similarly on June 18, 2006, he said, “Hindutva is facing severe jolts all over the world. Muslim fundamentalists and Christian missionaries are the age-old enemies of Hinduism. Next to them the communists have come forward to squeeze the throat of this great way of life. They have also walked a long way in this deadly mission.”
Adherence to caste system
Saraswati has also repeatedly voiced his support for the caste system. In 2020, SabrangIndia reported how the Shankaracharya said that people’s “fate” is determined at birth. During Lok Sabha elections, he earned the anger of the Akhil Bharatiya Sant Samiti in Ranchi, Jharkhand for saying that ‘Dalits should not enter temples’.
His views about caste are especially dangerous considering he talks about ‘alternative-castes’ who do the opposite of what is expected of ‘khandani caste’ community. He argues that the caste determines the work and Indian education and the army suffers because non-Brahmins and non-Kshatriyas enter these fields.
Regarding his own background, Saraswati was born in Darbhanga in 1943 as the son of the raj-Pandita of Maharaja of Darabhanga. Despite learning mathematics in the Tibbia College, he later studied the shastras at Kashi, Vrindavan, Naimisaranya, Shringeri among other places.
Around 1994, India Today reported how Odisha Law Minister Narasingha Mishra challenged the Swami’s succession. Mishra produced government files and other documents to accuse Nischalananda of wrongfully usurping the Shankaracharya’s mantle. This controversy came after a sexist comment by the saint wherein he said “women did not have religious sanction to recite the Vedas.”