Shankaracharya of Jyotishpeeth Swami Swaroopanand Saraswati has triggered a controversy by describing as “inauspicious” the August 5 mahurat of the ‘bhoomipujan’ of the Ram Mandir in Ayodhya. The foundation of the temple will be laid by Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

In a three-stage elaborate bhoomipujan PM Modi is expected to place an estimated 40-kg silver brick to symbolically begin the construction work on the grand Ram Mandir in Ayodhya.

However, the Shankaracharya has contested the ceremony on grounds that the time is most inauspicious. He claimed that the mahurat hour at 1.15 pm on Wednesday August 5, happened to be the second of Krishna Paksh (moonless fortnight) of Dakshiayan of Bhadr Paksh.

Citing the Vishnu Dharma Shastra and Naivagya Balabh Granth as supportive evidence the Shankaracharya asserted that during Bhadra Paksh starting the construction of a mandir or house is considered inauspicious.

This runs counter to the support extended to the bhoomipujan ceremony by all other saints in Ayodhya and Varanasi.

The 95-year old Shankaracharya of Jyotishpeeth Swami Swaroopanand Saraswati, is a known critic of PM Modi. He is a freedom fighter who participated in the Quit India movement and was jailed twice during the freedom struggle.

While he has admitted to having fought under the Congress party flag , he nevertheless, refused to be labeled a ‘Congressi Shankaracharya’ saying that a Shankaracharya belongs to humanity and not to any particular political party.

He has suffered for his controversial stand on several occasions during the Ram Mandir movement.

He is perhaps the only Shankarcharya who was jailed at the Chunar fort in Mirzapur in 1991 by the then Kalyan Singh government of Uttar Pradesh. He had loudly criticised the Vishwa Hindu Parishad sponsored 1989 Shilayanas at Ayodhya at the time, as having been performed in an inauspicious mahurat.

On the eve of the 2019 general elections, he had once again challenged the Modi government when during the Kumbh in Prayagraj on January 30, 2019 he had given a call for a march to Ayodhya on February 21 to lay the foundation for the Ram Mandir.

On the concluding day of a 3-day Param Dharam Sansad the Shankaracharya had given a call for the foundation laying ceremony in Ayodhya.

“The time has come to sacrifice for the Ram Janambhoomi. A peaceful and non-violent march from Prayagraj to Ayodhya would be launched for the construction of the Ram Mandir after Basant Panchami on February 10. We are ready to face bullets if we are stopped”, he had said.

He had assured that four groups of four persons each carrying four sacred stones would enter the second tier yellow zone security ring of Ayodhya in a peaceful manner so that the CrPC Section 144 promulgated there would not be violated.

The four sacred stones named Purna, Jaya, Bhadra and Nanda have been brought from Kiskindha Parbat which Lord Ram is believed to have visited during his search for Sita.

Swaroopanand’s announcement to lay the foundation stone for a Ram Mandir in Ayodhya came as a bombshell on the eve of the VHP sponsored Dharam Sansad at the Kumbh to deliberate on the Ram Mandir issue. It ended by becoming the context of the two-day VHP proceedings.

Keeping his word on February 21, the Shankaracharya had made a symbolic gesture in Kashi when he displayed the map of the proposed Ram Mandir to come up in Ayodhya.

He had however, postponed the proposed march from Prayagraj to Ayodhya in view of the February 14 Pulwama terrorist attack killing 42 jawans.

Instead he had moved to Kashi where he had symbolically laid the foundation stone of the Ram Mandir on the promised day.