After Hathras incident, Akhara Parishad to identify ‘black sheep’ in saint community

Prayagraj (UP)  : For the second time in three years, the Akhil Bharatiya Akhara Parishad (ABAP) — the apex decision-making body of the ancient Hindu monastic orders — is gearing up to weed out “black sheep” among saints.

In 2021, following the suicide of Mahant Narendra Giri, ABAP had resolved that to identify fake saints and seers. Some members of the community, including his own disciples, were allegedly involved in the suicide of Narendra Giri.

Akhara Parishad president Mahant Ravindra Puri told IANS on Sunday: “ABAP has convened a meeting here on July 17 and 18 to discuss the preparations for the forthcoming mega religious fair of Maha Kumbh, 2025. In the meeting, the body also plans to issue guidelines and could even come out with a list of fake saints and seers.”

“A call would also be given that such fake and self-styled seers may not be allowed to demand land and other facilities to set up camps during the once-in-12-year fair on Sangam banks, ” he added.

Acharya Devendra Shastri, a member of the executive committee of the Akhara Parishad and of Nirmal Anand Akhara, said that such incidents like the one that took place in Hathras affect the reputation of all saints and seers. “All 13 akharas will have to come forward unitedly on the issue and take a stand against fake saints, ” he said.

Shastri said the government should also have a discussion on the issue because the saints at their front do not have any agency through which they can identify such fake babas and take action against them.

“A few years ago also, we had prepared guidelines and identified fake saints under the aegis of Akhara Parishad but after releasing the list of fake saints a few times, no further action was taken on it, ” he added.

Shri Mahant Durgadas of Shri Panchayati Akhara Bada Udasin is also upset over the Hathras incident. He said that many people have come out as self-styled saints by adding ‘baba’ before their names with an aim to mislead the common man and get a crowd of followers.

He wants that there should be a debate and discussion on the issue in Parliament too.