Pandit Dhirendra Krishna Shastri, the Mahant of Bageshwar Dham, has said that Sai Baba can be called a saint or fakir, but he cannot be called a Bhagwan. He has also said that no vulture can pretend to be a lion.
During his programme in Jabalpur, a person named Shailendra Rajput questioned him about the worship of Sai Baba. While answering his question, Dhirendra Shastri said, “Shankaracharya ji of our Dharma has not given Sai Baba the place of a deity. Shankaracharya is the Prime Minister of the Hindu Dharma.
Therefore, obeying him is the duty of every Sanatani. Any saint of our Dharma, be it Goswami Tulsidas ji or Surdas ji, is a saint, a great man, a Yug Purush, a Kalpa Purush but not a God.”
“People have their faith. We cannot hurt anyone’s faith. Sai Baba can be a saint, a fakir but cannot be a God”, Dhirendra Shastri added.
He further said that Bhagwan Ram is the most revered God in the world. He is the creator of the world. Who does not believe in him cannot be believed by anyone. Devotees have protested against the statue of Sai Baba in the temples of Jagadguru Shankaracharya Swami Swaroopanand Saraswati Maharaj. Shankaracharya ji holds the highest position of Sanatan Dharma. Therefore, Sanatanis should obey them.
Giving his own example, he further said, “If I dress up like Shankaracharya, take the throne, etc., and say that I am Shankaracharya, will I become Shankaracharya? I cannot. Bhagwan is Bhagwan and saints are just saints. One should keep it as one believes. But Sai is not Bhagwan, our Shankaracharya says.”
On the worship of Sai Baba, according to Vedic customs, he said, “If someone is coming to Vedic Dharma, then Gharwapasi is our campaign, there is no problem.”
Earlier, citing a judgment by a court, he had said, “The court has said that Sai Baba is not a Sanatani, is not a Hindu, and has also apologized to Shankaracharya. Sai Baba is not God. Man can never be God. A human being can be a guru, a saint, or a great man, but he cannot be a God.”
Meanwhile, Maharashtra minister and senior BJP leader Radhakrishna Vikhe Patil slammed the Bagheswar Dham chief over his controversial remarks and demanded that legal action be taken against him.
“A criminal complaint should be filed and strict action should be taken against him for his irresponsible statement,” the BJP leader said.
Earlier in 2014, Shankaracharya Swami Swaroopanand said that Sai Baba of Shirdi is not a symbol of Hindu-Muslim unity and should not be worshipped because he was a human being and not a God.
“Muslims would have had the same amount of faith in Sai Baba if he really was a symbol of unity between the Hindus and Muslims,” he said.