Temple row: Sri Sri Ravi Shankar negotiates solution for Shani Shingnapur issue

NEW DELHI: The Art of Living guru Sri Sri Ravi Shankar has now stepped into the Shani Shingnapur temple issue to resolve it. According to a leading daily, he became the mediator-in-chief after opposing views on allowing women into the sanctum sanctorum inside the temple. The report says the meeting took place in Bengaluru.

The temple trustees have stuck to the tradition of not allowing women into the sanctum sanctorum of the deity and Sri Sri Ravi Shankar is trying to find an amicable solution. The daily quotes sources as saying that he has proposed two solutions to them – one is to allow both men and women into the sanctum sanctorum like how they do at Kashi Vishwanath. The other is not allow both men and women into the sanctum sanctorum like the way it is in Tirumala.

According to the report, Sri Sri Ravi Shankar’s good relationships with senior politicos means that what he has proposed has approval from senior ministers in the central government as well. However, the Maharashtra state government does not seem to be in a hurry to meet with the temple authorities to settle the issue, adds the report.

One of the people present at the meeting has told the daily that Sri Sri has agreed to visit Shani Shingnapur next week to hold a dialogue with the town’s residents. The town’s residents are against opening the temple’s inner sanctum to women. Sri Sri has a scheduled programme in Balewadi and Alandi in Pune on February 7 so he will also make a trip to Shani Shingnapur during the visit.

It’s not just tradition, but also economy that is linked to this temple. Men can reportedly enter the sanctum sanctorum and perform an ‘aarti’ if they pay Rs 11,000. There are hundreds of shops here that sell oil and other pooja material for this aarti.

One of the trustees has told the daily that they fear a clash would take place between protesters and those who support the government. The Nationalist Congress Party, which controls the shrine (the party has nine nominees on the trust), seems to favour allowing women into the inner sanctum says the daily.

Meanwhile, Trupti Desai announced that Wednesday’s attempt by her group to enter the temple is not her last. She has stated that she has given a letter to CM Fadnavis and is waiting for him to reply. If the situation does not change she said they will use force. Also, a PIL has now been filed by Dr Vasudha Pawar at the Aurangabad bench of the Bombay High Court on Thursday. The next hearing is scheduled for February 16.