As tens of millions of Shirdi Saibaba devotees begin Thursday with their morning worship and bhajans, the Sai Temple authority in Lucknow has filed a petition in the Allahabad High Court seeking legal action against Shankaracharya of Dwarkapeeth Swaroopananda Saraswati for hurting their religious sentiments.
Swaroopanada Saraswati has irked Saibaba devotees across the country saying the Sufi saint was a Muslim and should not be worshipped by Hindus, the way they do worship other gods.
The court will take up the case for hearing on July 04.
The Shankaracharya said that the increasing number of Hindus worshipping Saibaba and building temples for him all over the country smacks of the divide being perpetrated among the Hindus in India.
Moreover, being a human, Sai Baba should not be worshipped as god and no temples should be built for him in keeping with the Hindu tradition.
One major group supporting the Sankaracharya was the Naga Sadhus who said they would come on to the streets if the Dwarkapeeth seer is insulted and said the spat would turn into a ‘religious war’.
The Shankaracharya deplored the fact that Muslims do not worship him with the same devotion as Hindus and that the saying that he was a reincarnation of Vishnu was ill-found.
Citing the Sanatan Dharma, he said there are said to be 24 avataars of Lord Vishnu and in Kali Yug, only Kalki avatar was mentioned. He said even if one includes Buddha, there it is and not Sai Baba.
Another factor he said was that Sai Baba was a meat-eater or a non-vegetarian and advocated the practice of circumcision.
Shankaracharya has also pointed out a number of temples mushrooming in the country for Sai Baba were to deviate attention from Ram Temple movement in Ayodhya.
Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) minister Uma Bharti, however, defended her faith in Sai Baba, saying he never claimed he was god but when people revere him as god out of devotion, it was their choice and there is no harm in it.