Swaroopanand Saraswati

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His Holiness Jagadguru Shankaracharya

Swami Shri Swaroopanand Saraswati

Ji Maharaj
Swarupananda Saraswati.JPG
Swami Swarupananda Saraswati, public audience in Madhya Pradesh
Pothiram Upadhyay

(1924-09-02)2 September 1924
Died11 September 2022(2022-09-11) (aged 98)
Jyotish Peetham
In office
Preceded byBrahmananda Saraswati
Succeeded bySwami Avimukteshwaranand Saraswati
Religious career
GuruBrahmananda Saraswati and Swami Karpatri
Dwarka Sharada Peetham
In office
Preceded byAbhinava Saccidananda Tirtha
Succeeded bySwami Sadanand Saraswati

Swami Swaroopanand Saraswati (2 September 1924 – 11 September 2022) was an Indian religious leader. In 1982, he became the Shankaracharya of Dwarka Sharada Peetham in Dwaraka, Gujarat and also caretaker of the Jyotir Math in Badrinath.[1][2]


Swaroopanand Saraswati was born Pothiram Upadhyay on 2 September, 1924 at Dighori village of Seoni district, Madhya Pradesh. A direct disciple of Shankaracharya Brahmananda Saraswati of Jyotir Math (1941–1953) and of Shankaracharya (disputed) Krishnabodha Ashrama of Jyotir Math (1953–1973), in 1950 his Guru Brahmananda made him a Dandi Sannyasi. Swami Swaroopanand became president of the Akhil Bharatiya Ram Rajya Parishad, established by Swami Karpatri. On Swami Krishnabodha Ashrama's demise in 1973 the title of Shankaracharya (disputed) of Jyotir Math, Badrinath passed to Swami Swaroopanand. Later he also became the Shankaracharya of Dwarka peeth in 1982. To date (2021) Swami Swaroopanand's claim to title of Shankaracharya of Jyotir Math remains disputed.[3]

He was at the forefront of the anti-Congress movement in 1950s. He served as the president of Ram Rajya Parishad. He was jailed three times between 1954 and 1970 in relation to the movement to ban cow slaughter.[4]

He ran ashrams in various parts of India.[5] His ashram in Singhbhum district of Bihar engaged in re-conversion of Christians to Hinduism.[6]

Regarding his relationship with Maharishi Mahesh Yogi (who was Brahmanand Saraswati's personal assistant for more than a decade), Swaroopananda Ji once commented: "It would be nice if the Maharishi once flies from America to India without any airplane. Then perhaps what he says can be accepted".[7]

Saraswati died in Narsinghpur on 11 September 2022, at the age of 98.[8] Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath,[9] Congress leader Priyanka Gandhi,[10] Chhattisgarh Chief Minister Bhupesh Baghel,[11] and others expressed their condolences. Around 300,000 people attended Shankaraachaarya ji's last rite held in Jhoteshwar(MP).

Freedom struggle[edit]

At 19 years old he became a freedom fighter in the Quit India movement in 1942, and was known as "Revolutionary Sadhu". He was jailed for this, serving a prison sentence of nine months and another of six months.[12]


On River Ganga pollution[edit]

Swami Swaroopanand in June 2012 [13] told Uttarakhand CM Vijay Bahuguna of his stance against having hydro projects, dams, and barrages on the River Ganga. He also organised a protest at Jantar Mantar against such projects. Hydro projects at Panch Prayag, Deo Prayag, Rudra Prayag, Karan Prayag, Nand Prayag, and Vishnu Prayag, were affecting local ecology and sanctity of the Ganga; since it was being dammed at numerous sites and being confined into cemented tunnels, natural, mineral quality ingredients and anti-bacterial elements in the waters of the Ganga were being lost.

Swami Swaroopanand in January 2016 noted the pitiable condition of the River Ganga and stated that the proposed dams in Uttarakhand should not be constructed to ensure the free flow of the pure water from the sources of the River. Only the free flow is required for a clean Ganga, he said.[14]

On Jammu and Kashmir and Article 370[edit]

On 30 June 2014, Swami Swaroopanand said that Article 370 should be removed from Jammu and Kashmir (J&K). He said that the abrogation of the Article would be beneficial for the people in the valley, and that a demographic balance is necessary to end recurring strife in J&K. "Tension does not erupt in places where there is a demographic balance of communities. Take Punjab for instance. Hindus and Sikhs are in equal number there. They need each other and so there is no room for a clash between them. The growing morale of anti-national elements in Kashmir is a result of the country's weak laws. The Union government should revoke article 370 in Kashmir which will permit influx of people from outside the state into the state's population and end its strife-torn atmosphere. The return of Kashmiri Pandits to their home state alone can counter the growing morale of anti-national elements in the state."[15][16]

Uniform civil code[edit]

He also advocated a uniform civil law for Hindus and Muslims in India, to maintain a balance in their population.[15]

Cow, bull, and bullock protection and export of beef[edit]

Swami Swaroopanand in May 2015 welcomed the decision of the Maharashtra government to extend ban on cow slaughter to bulls and bullocks in the state and opined that it would increase the production of milk which will in turn help feed children in the country. He stated that more than twelve crore (120 million) cows were being slaughtered in the entire country every year, which needed to be stopped. "This Act should be implemented throughout the country. India is a Hindu majority country still we produce a huge quantity of beef. India is the biggest exporter of beef which is shameful for us. The government should ban export of beef and we must protect cows by all means. Some political leaders opposed the law banning cow slaughter just to appease Muslims and other minority groups. Providing beef in the name of cheap source of protein to minority and depriving the majority from milk is against both the democratic and Indian values. Milk is a rich source of protein, and to ensure availability of milk it is essential to put a blanket ban on cow slaughter across the country."[17][18][14]

He said in February 2016 that the RSS claimed to be working for Hinduism but thousands of RSS workers in Arunachal Pradesh ate beef.[19]

On women worshipping Shani[edit]

When feminists tried to enter the sanctum of Shani Shingnapur temple, Ahmednagar, Maharashtra, in January 2016, Swami Swaroopanand stated, "Shani is a kroor (cruel) graha, hence women should beware of worshipping the deity. Since the effect of Shani is harmful for women, they should be away from the deity".[14] Swami Swaroopanand added that due to teaching through intense suffering, the entry of women into Shani Shingnapur temple will lead to more assaults on women and incidents of rapes.[20]

On Shirdi Sai Baba[edit]

Swami Swaroopanand in July 2014 caused controversy due to his remarks against Shirdi Sai Baba and his followers. After government minister Uma Bharti publicly claimed devotion to Shirdi Sai Baba, Swaroopanand demanded an apology from her and wrote, "There is no mention of Sai Baba in the Shastras and the Vedas", so he "should not be worshiped with Hindu gods. He was not god, he was just a Muslim Fakir" (referring to Shirdi Sai Baba's Muslim origins). He also said that Shirdi Sai Baba was one "who used to eat meat and worship Allah, a man like that can never be a Hindu god", that he "used to refrain from taking a dip in the river Ganga and asked people to keep him away from Ganga", that "worshiping Sai Baba was part of a conspiracy hatched by people to divide Hindus as the saint was not a God but a human being", that "followers of Sai Baba should not worship Lord Rama", and that "Sai Baba used to say Sabka Malik Ek (god is one for all). If so, why do the Buddhists and Jains worship separate gods?" while acknowledging Shirdi Sai Baba as a great man. He also mobilised the Naga sadhus in enforcing his order that Sai devotees should not be allowed to worship Rama or bathe in the Ganga. In 2016 he said that worship of Sai Baba is responsible for the drought that affected Maharashtra [21][22][23][24][25][26]

After these remarks, several formal FIR and PIL complaints were filed against Swami Swaroopanand. In September 2015, he gave in writing to the court that his statements were not intended to hurt the religious sentiments of people, and was apologetic if his statements had hurt the sentiments of the people.[27]

On ISKCON[edit]

Swami Swaroopanand in February 2016 questioned the claim of ISKCON to be a part of Sanatana Dharma and accused it of being a front for money-laundering, it being used to send money from India to USA and other foreign countries. Money donated by Indians were being shunted to the USA. He questioned the growing number of their temples in India and said that if they were sincere they should have built them in Assam and Chhattisgarh which had fewer temples. Their aim was not religion or spirituality but something else, he claimed.[19]

On RSS, BJP, Congress and Narendra Modi[edit]

Swami Swaroopanand in May 2015 said, "Despite Prime Minister Narendra Modi's assertion to curb corruption, bribe taking is rampant in the country. This is because of degradation of moral values and ethics in society."[18]

Swami Swaroopanand in March 2016 said on the RSS, "RSS takes the name of the Hindus, but they have no commitment towards Hindutva. They are trying to deceive people by telling that they have come to protect the Hindus. This is more deadly. BJP rules this country now. Before this, it was Congress. But under both the governments, cow slaughter has been continuously happening. Then what is the difference between BJP and Congress?"[28]

Swami Swaroopanand in May 2017 asked Congress leaders involved in a beef party in Kerala to be jailed under NSA act. He also asked Congress party to clear their stance over cow slaughter.[29][30]

On intolerance debate and JNU agitations of 2016[edit]

In the context of the 2015 Dadri mob lynching alleging cow slaughter and consumption of beef, Swami Swaroopanand in March 2016 said, people should be permitted to eat and serve pork to test tolerance of other communities before putting a blame on certain group of Hindus for being intolerant.[31]

In the context of the 2016 JNU sedition controversy he said, "College students these days are disjoint from spirituality. This lack of spiritual & cultural knowledge leads them into becoming anti-national."[28]

On youth and spirituality[edit]

Swami Swaroopanand in March 2016 said, "There is an increasing feeling of 'detachment from faith' among the Hindu youths as compared to those of other religions. There is a need to include Hindu scriptures in the curriculum of schools and colleges to prevent the long-term mental degeneration of Hindus due to influence from anti-Hindu propaganda that has its clutches deep into almost every socio-cultural sphere of India. While 'they' have their religious schools to spread fundamentalism, terrorism and hate preaching, we don't have a medium to reach out the Hindu youth about the richness and greatness of our scriptures and cultural values. It's the central government's responsibility to ensure the traditions of this nation are preserved."[28]

Against Movie 'PK'[edit]

Swami Swaroopanand in January 2015 raised questions with the Censor Board about the film 'PK', demanding that the CBI investigate how the film received its certification from the Censor Board despite several members of the Board requesting that the film be reviewed again.[32]


  1. ^ "Shri Jagat Guru Swaroopanand". jagadgurushankaracharya.org. Archived from the original on 12 May 2015.{{cite news}}: CS1 maint: unfit URL (link)
  2. ^ "Thumbnail sketch biography of Swami Swaroopanand Saraswati". Paul Mason. n.d. Retrieved 26 January 2015.
  3. ^ Srivastava, Piyush (24 September 2017). "Badrinath shrine dispute ends". The Telegraph (India). Archived from the original on 18 December 2021.
  4. ^ "Controversial Shankaracharya, Swaroopanand challenges VHP's role in building Ram temple".
  5. ^ "Digvijay Singh visits shrines to shed anti-Hindu image". 29 March 2019.
  6. ^ "Controversial Shankaracharya, Swaroopanand challenges VHP's role in building Ram temple".
  7. ^ Shankaracharya Swaroopanand Saraswati (Summer 1992) [From TM-EX Newsletter, Volume 4, Number 4, Summer, 1992]. "A Visit to the Shankaracharya, Part III" (Interview). Interviewed by Robert Kropinski.
  8. ^ Singh, Neha (11 September 2022). "Swami Swaroopanand Saraswati passes away". Newsroom Post. Retrieved 11 September 2022.
  9. ^ "Shankaracharya Swaroopanand Saraswati passes away at 99; PM Modi, Yogi grieve". 11 September 2022.
  10. ^ "Shankaracharya Swaroopanand Saraswati Passes Away at 99". 11 September 2022.
  11. ^ "Shankaracharya Swami Swaroopanand Was Great Saint: Chhattisgarh CM". 11 September 2022.
  12. ^ "Navratri, hot garba, Shankaracharya, Shankaracharya, scam, Shankaracharya MMS, High Court,Allahabad High Court,allahabad high court news,vasudevanand saraswati,allahbad news,High Court of UP,up high court,shankaracharya swaroopanand sarswati,shankaracharya swaroopanand,Swami Swaroopanand,swami swaroopnand sarswati. Swami swaroopanand saraswati in mp,Shankaracharya Swaroopanand Saraswati,Swami Swaroopanand Saraswati,Shankaracharya,swaroopanand saraswati controversy,Shank". 23 September 2017.
  13. ^ Hydropower projects on Ganga not acceptable: Shankaracharya; Go for alternative generation measures, jagad guru tells CM
  14. ^ a b c Singh, Binay (28 January 2016). "Varanasi News - Worshipping Shani not good for women, says Shankaracharya Swaroopanand Saraswati". The Times of India.
  15. ^ a b Abrogate Art 370 for demographic balance in J-K: Swaroopanand
  16. ^ "Now, Swaroopannad wants Article 370 scrapped". Haridwar. Archived from the original on 7 July 2014. Retrieved 30 June 2014.
  17. ^ Shankaracharya Saraswati hails beef ban decision in Maha
  18. ^ a b Govt should ban beef export: Shankaracharya
  19. ^ a b ISKCON front for money laundering: Swami Swaroopanand Saraswati
  20. ^ "Shani worship by women will increase rapes, says Swaroopanand". Hindustan Times. 11 April 2016.
  21. ^ "Drought in Maharashtra due to worshipping the unworthy Sai Baba: Swami Swaroopanand Saraswati". Business Standard India. 11 April 2016.
  22. ^ "Complaint filed against Shankaracharya Swaroopanand". The Economic Times. Jaipur.
  23. ^ "Complaint filed against Shankaracharya Swaroopanand in Jaipur". Jaipur: ABP News. Retrieved 3 July 2014.
  24. ^ Chaubey, Bhupendra (3 July 2014). "Shankaracharya Swaroopanand takes on Sai Baba: Is it a battle for religious supremacy?" (video). IBN Live/CNN IBN. Archived from the original on 7 July 2014.
  25. ^ Attre, Neha (30 June 2014). "Now, Shankaracharya calls Sai Baba 'Muslim', stokes controversy". New Delhi: Zee News.
  26. ^ Naidu, Chandrakant (3 July 2014). "Shankaracharya wages war on Sai Baba, backed by Naga sadhus". First Post. Retrieved 21 August 2014.
  27. ^ "Swaroopanand Saraswati tenders apology for remarks against Sai Baba". Free Press Journal. 31 May 2019 [Updated, original 25 September 2015].
  28. ^ a b c Pork, Intolerance, RSS & JNU – Opening up with The Dwaraka Shankaracharya
  29. ^ "Book calf butchers of Kerala under NSA: Shankaracharya | Varanasi News - Times of India". The Times of India.
  30. ^ "Hindu leader dials Rahul Gandhi over Kerala beef party". Business Standard India. 30 May 2017.
  31. ^ "Meet Swaroopanand: The Shankaracharya who thinks women in temples will increase rapes".
  32. ^ "Censor Board member claims objected to scenes in 'PK'; Shankaracharya Swaroopanand demands CBI probe". DNA India. 6 January 2015.

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