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Puri's Gobardhan Math To Function Independently

16 November 2019

Debashish Maharana

Bhubaneswar: The State Government on Saturday approved the Odisha Hindu Religious Endowments (Amendment) Bill, 2019 which allows the Gobardhan Math at Puri to function as independent religious institution in parity with three other Maths in different regions of India.

By virtue of the proposed amendment the Gobardhan Math at Puri headed by Jagatguru Adi Sankaracharya is excluded from the definition of religious institution.  As a consequence, the Gobardhan Math, Puri will no longer be governed by the provisions of the Odisha Hindu Religious Endowments (OHRE) Act, 1951.

Gobardhan Math is one of the four Maths believed to have been established by Adi Sankaracharya with the objective of propagating traditional Sanatana Dharma. Each of this Maths is headed by Sankaracharya who is considered the top-most religious and spiritual leader in his own right among the Hindu public.

The position of Sankaracharya of Gobardhan Math at Puri is even more important having regard to his involvement with the affairs of Shri Jagannath Temple. The Sankaracharya heads the Mukti Mandap Pandit Sabha which renders valuable advices on complicated questions on religious affairs.

Further, the Sankaracharya is granted a special right of worship during the Rath Yatra of Lord Jagannath. The general Hindu public look upon the institution of Sankaracharya with utmost respect as the highest platform of Hindu religion in the State.

The other three Maths i.e. Sarada Math at Shringeri in the State of Karnataka, Dwaraka Math at Dwaraka in the State of Gujurat and Jyotir Math at Joshi Math in the State of Uttarakhand have been allowed to function as independent religious institutions and are kept beyond the purview of their respective State Endowment Acts. In other words, the governance and administration of this Maths have been kept out of the purview of the respective State Endowment Acts.

Having regard to the above factors and the long pending request made on behalf of Gobardhan Math establishment as also different quarters, it was decided to confer similar status on Gobardhan Math as is accorded to the other three Maths established by Adi Sankaracharya.

As a consequence, the OHRE Act, 1951 was amended suitably by excluding the Gobardhan Math from the meaning of religious institution as defined under Section 3 (xiii) of the Act.

Pratap Jena, Law Minister, Odisha