Akharas threaten to boycott Kumbh over camping site row

The week-long controversy over allotment of land to Shankaracharyas in the Kumbh 2013 Mela area deepened further on Friday with all 13 akharas deciding to boycott Kumbh if the Shankaracharyas are given land that belonged to other saints.

A meeting of all 13 akharas was held at Math Baghambari Gaddi here, in which it was decided that if the administration agreed to the demand of Swami Swaroopanand Saraswati, head of Dwarka and Badri peeths, then the akharas would boycott the Mela.

"The akharas were of the view that there has been no tradition of a Shankaracharya chatushpath (an intersection on four corners of which the Shankaracharyas' camps would be located) during Kumbh. Only Swami Swaroopanand is making such a demand," said Swami Narendra Giri, head of the Baghambari Math and spokesperson for Akhara Parishad.

Narendra Giri added that the administration has been following the practice of allotting land to the prominent akharas and ashrams at the same spots they had been allotted earlier.

"The place where Swami Avimukteshwaranand (disciple of Swami Swaroopanand Saraswati) wants to set up his camp has traditionally been allotted to Tikar Mafi Ashram, headed by Swami Hari Chaitanya Brahmchari," he said.

On December 22, Swami Avimukteshwaranand had held a press conference and threatened to boycott Kumbh Mela if the demand for placing all the four Shankaracharyas in one block (Chatushpath) was not met. He had claimed that the representatives of the other two Shankaracharyas — Swami Nischalanand Saraswati, who heads the Puri peeth, and Swami Bharati Teerth, who heads the Shringeri peeth —too had wanted that all four Shankaracharyas be placed in one block.

Swami Avimukteshwaranand said: "We are yet to inform our Guru Shankaracharya about this development. The matter will be discussed once we inform him. A decision will be taken thereafter." Swami Swaroopanand has been camping in Allahabad for the past three days.

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