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‘Businessman’ priest kicks up row, banned from Nashik Kumbh

It was alleged that the businessman was suddenly inducted into the hierarchy on the basis of his ‘money power’.

By: Express News Service | Allahabad | Updated: August 6, 2015 7:29:49 am
Devotees take holy dip at the Maha Kumbh in Nashik. (Source: PTI photo) Devotees take holy dip at the Maha Kumbh in Nashik. (Source: PTI photo)

After the row over the induction of a Noida-based businessman — having alleged interests in real estate and hospitality industry — as a “Mahamandaleshwar” in one of the Akharas (sects of Hindu priestdom), the person in question was stopped from using his title for any religious functions, particularly, during the Kumbh festival being held in Nashik.

On July 31, the day of the Guru Purnima, Sachin Dutta was re-christened Sachhidanand Giri and granted the title of “Mahamandaleshwar” by the Niranjani Akhara. This was done in the presence of the head of the Baghambari Gaddi Math, which is headed by Mahant Narendra Giri. Currently, Narendra Giri is the head of the Akhara Parishad.

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The induction was later opposed by other saints, including Mahant Gyan Das over allegations of a lack of formal background in Hindu sainthood.

It was alleged that the businessman was suddenly inducted into the hierarchy on the basis of his ‘money power’.

During his induction, helicopters were reportedly brought in for floral tribute to his Gurus and at the Lord Hanuman temple at Sangam.

Subsequently, the Akhara Parishad swung into action and stopped Sachhidanand Giri from participating in any religious function.

“A four-member committee has been formed to look into the allegation and action would be taken accordingly,” said a source close to the Akhara Parishad. The move, however, has got many saints, including Shankaracharyas, criticising the entire exercise.

“Nashik Kumbh is near. It is during such celebrations that Mahamandaleshwars are inducted. What was the hurry? Also, why the antecedents were not checked? There is obviously more to it than what meets the eye. The saints are not going to rest unless requisite action is taken,” said a source close to a Shankaracharya.

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