Daijiworld Media Network- Mangaluru (ANK)

Mangauru, Jul 10: Paryaya Sri Vishweshateertha Swamiji of Pejawar Math was in the news after he organised an Iftar Koota and allowed Muslims to offer Namaz at Sri Krishna Math premises at Udupi. Several Hindu organisations including Sri Rama Sene leader Pramod Muthalik, outraged by the move of Pejawar Swamiji in organising the Iftar get-together, criticised Swamiji by calling it an 'insult' to the Hindu community.

Pejawar Swamiji spoke in an exclusive interview to editor-in-chief Walter Nandalike on Daijiworld 24X7 channel's 'Public Challenge' programme.

Q: June 24 was a historic day. You became an inspiration to many after you held the Iftar Koota at Sri Krishna Math. What made you organise the programme?

A: I treat everyone equally. As usual it was celebration time for the members of the Muslim community. Muslims had shown keen interest during the time of Paryaya and lend us a helping hand in the offertory procession. They even took part in the 'Udupi chalo' protest. So I decided to organize Iftar get-together. Thirty years ago during my third Paryaya, Hindu-Muslim convention was held at Rajangana.

Q: Some claim that organizing Iftar get-together at Anna Brahma hall has hurt the sentiments of Hindu community. What is your say on this?

A: Even Rajangana belongs to Sri Krishna Math. There is no difference between organizing Iftar get-together at Rajangana and at Anna Brahma. Some opposed allowing Muslims to offer Namaz in the premises. Before dinner, they (Muslims) have to follow their rituals. So, a provision was made for them to offer Namaz at a public dining hall which is outside the temple. It has not demeaned the Hindu religion in any way. Some are intentionally creating controversy.

Q: Before organizing the Iftar get-together, did you ever think this would lead to such a huge controversy?

A: No. I never thought this would become such a big issue. Iftar Koota was organised for peace and harmony between communities and to bring them closer.

Q: Sri Rama Sene leader Pramod Muthalik called this an insult to Hindu community and some say that you are playing politics.

A: Everyone has their own point of view. But, this was not an insult. How can it be an insult to Hindu community when we try to encourage peace between communities?

Q: Some even protested through Bhajans. Have these incidents hurt you?

A: I was not hurt by these incidents as I took this as a challenge.

Q: As per media reports, even RSS were deeply hurt by this move. They also claimed that you should have taken suggestions from them before organizing the Iftar get-together.

A: They might have felt embarrassed, but never came forward to oppose it. I personally spoke to them and clarified on the issue. They were satisfied with my explanation.

Q: Do you think, after this incident, people who criticised you, have become close to you and people who were close to you, are keeping distance from you?

A: Followers are always close to me and they clearly understood the situation. Some did not understand, but did not oppose it either. I have clarified the issue even on Facebook and people were satisfied by it. No Hindu or followers showed dissatisfaction over the issue after my clarification. But some are intentionally trying to make it a big issue.

Q: You had spoken to media about the close bonding with Haji Abdullah. Hindu and Muslim communities have shared great bond with each other. But some critics say that you should have taken a neutral stand during the demolition of Babri Masjid at Ayodhya.

A: There is enough proof that Ram Mandir had existed at Ayodhya. If we are in a cordial relationship with Muslims, it does not mean that we should back off from the Ayodhya issue. Even though, both the religions have different ideologies, values and rituals, we have peaceful coexistence. Everyone wants to build Ram Mandir at Ayodhya but it does not mean that we should go against or hate Muslims. I was neutral during the demolition of Babri Masjid and was not supporting it. I had even advised not to demolish the Babri Masjid, but still it was demolished.

Q: Recently BJP MP Sakshi Maharaj had visited the Math and he stated that the muhurat of Ram Mandir construction will be held in November.

A: We have not decided about the issue. He alone cannot decide on the muhurat. Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP) committee has to decide about it and preparation is going on for the convention.

Q: After the Iftar get-together ran into controversy, you have said that Iftar Koota will be organised even next year.

A: Next year there is no Paryaya for me. We can call Muslims wherever we want, but offering Namaz will be omitted as even they hesitate to offer Namaz at the Math premises. There is nothing wrong in arranging Namaz in the public dining hall which is outside the temple, but it hurt some Hindus. But next year, we will organize everything in a different manner.

Q: Some questioned whether you were invited to mosques.

A: Yes, they have called me for Pejawar mosque's inauguration. Even if they do not call, we will show peace from our side. This has nothing to do with organizing Iftar get-together.

Q: Is chief minister Siddaramaiah angry with you or are you angry with Siddaramaiah? He did not visit the temple even after you invited him.

A: You should ask him why he did not visit the temple. After Siddaramaiah joined the Congress, he visited the temple during the first election. He also accepted the prasad and spoke in a good way.

Q: What are your views on the central government’s decision to ban cattle trade for slaughter? People look unhappy with the decision. Lot of violence is taking place across the country.

A: Cow slaughter should be stopped and for that purpose, people are taking law into their hands. This should be legally done and in a peaceful way. Cow smuggling needs to be stopped. The government should be strong enough and not favour anyone.

Q: You are close to Prime Minister Narendra Modi and have even personally met him. If you meet him the next time, what suggestions you will give him on the cow slaughter issue?

A: The Prime Minister has brought a new rule and now the state government should implement them.

Q: A few of the religious leaders are stepping into politics and also seen interfering in political issues. What are your views on it?

A: It is their choice as they are the citizens of this country. If they are willing to join politics, there is nothing wrong in it.

Q: The coastal region is known for maintaining peace between religions. But, in the recent times there has been a lot of friction among communities. Beings a senior religious leader, what advice do you have for people?

A: If there is any difference between communities, we should not resort to violence, but handle the situation peacefully. There should be no scope for communal clashes. I will be stressing more on peace.

Q: Do you favour any political party?

A: I am not in favour of any political party. Being a citizen of this country, if incidents of violence occur pertaining to Hindu community or any other religion, I will bring it to the notice of all political leaders to solve the issue.


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