Akhil Bharatiya Akhara Parishad
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The Akhil Bharatiya Akhara Parishad (All India Akhara Council) is the apex organisation of Hindu Sants (saints) and Sadhus (ascetics) in India. The ABAP is composed of 14 Akharas, or organisations of Hindu sants and sadhus. Nirmohi Akhara (involved in the Ram Janmabhoomi dispute in Ayodhya) and Shri Dattatreya Akhara are two of the prominent akharas which are part of it.
The Akhil Bharatiya Akhara Parishad is based on the system of Akharas in Hindu society. An Akhara literally means a wrestling ring in Hindi, but also stands for a place of debate. There are 14 such organisations based on the form of Hinduism and Hindu philosophy they adhere to. Most Akharas are Shaivite (followers of Lord Shiva), followed by Vaishnavas (followers of Lord Vishnu).
The system of Akharas may date as far back as circa 2500 BCE, when Adi Shankaracharya is believed to have established seven Akharas (possibly 10 as they are also known as Dasnaami): Mahanirvani, Niranjani, Juna, Atal, Avahan, Agni and Anand Akhara. The earliest recorded founding of an Akhara was that of the Abhana in 547 CE. During periods of Muslim rule in India and later British rule, the Akharas congregated and organised together, especially during the Kumbha Mela to work for the preservation of Hindu religion and culture. In 1565, Madhusudana Sarasvati started preparing Akharas as an armed military force to resist invasions and protect Hindus.
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While the ABAP does not participate in electoral politics, it has a position of great importance in Hindu society as a leading Hindu leadership organisation. At times, it has cooperated with the Vishva Hindu Parishad (VHP), a Hindu religious organisation more openly involved in politics and part of the Sangh Parivar of Hindu nationalist organisations. However, the ABAP has also openly criticised the VHP for raising unncessary controversies and refused to follow an agenda set by the VHP. In the past, the ABAP refused to endorse the Sangh Parivar-affiliated Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) for elections.
The Akhil Bharatiya Akhara Parishad has encouraged and supported the movement for the construction of a Ram Janmabhumi Temple on the site where the now-demolished Babri Mosque stood in Ayodhya. The place is believed to be the site of birth of Rama, the eighth and one of the most popular Avatars of Vishnu. In 1989, the Nirmohi Akhara filed litigation regarding the site, and in 2010 their claim was upheld by the Allahabad High Court, which gave the Akhara control of one-third of the site. The ABAP welcomed the verdict, asserting that it would prevent further exploitation of the issue by political parties.
- "Akhara Parishad welcomes verdict on Ayodhya". The Hindustan Times. 2010-09-30. Archived from the original on 4 October 2010. Retrieved 2010-10-02.
- "Akhara Parishad do not see eye-to-eye with VHP". The Hindu. 2005-06-14. Retrieved 2010-10-01.
- Editors of Hinduism Today (2007). What Is Hinduism?: Modern Adventures Into A Profound Global Faith. Himalayan Academy Publications. p. 244. ISBN 978-1-934145-00-5.
- Mahendra Singh Rana (2000). India Votes: Lok Sabha and Vidhan Sabha Elections 1999, 2000: Poll Analysis, Election Data, and Party Manifestos. B.R. Pub. Corp. ISBN 978-81-7646-139-9.