LUCKNOW: After years of failed attempts to settle the Ram temple dispute and with age catching on him, Gorakshpeethadheeswar Mahant Avaidyanath saw a ray of hope in his disciple Yogi Aditya Nath. “Hum ashwast hain ki hamaare adhoore kaam Chhotey Maharaj (Yogi) poore karenge (I am assured that my unfulfilled tasks will be completed by Yogi),” the former head priest of Gorakhnath Temple would often say during his final years to everyone wanting to know what he thought of the fate of the Ram temple at Ayodhya.
This desire of his guru must be weighing on chief minister Aditya Nath Yogi’s mind, all the more after Supreme Court’s observation that the issue was a matter of faith and should be settled through peaceful negotiation.
Mahant Avaidyanath became the chairperson of Ramjanmabhoomi Mukti Yagya Samiti in early 1984. A known moderate, he made several attempts to find amicable solutions to the issue. In mid 1990s, he became the chairperson of Ram Mandir Nirman Uchchadhikar Prapt Samiti, backed by Vishwa Hindu Parishad.
Around that time, Late Syed Ahmed Asghar Rizvi had floated the Ayodhya Jama Masjid Trust, believing that it could replace the All-India Muslim Personal Law Board and the Babri Masjid Action Committee on the negotiating table. Rizvi called up Avaidyanath with a request to support his endeavour. Agreeing to the proposal, the Mahant began talking to prominent Hindu leaders about the initiative and even convinced some of them.
“I did hear from Bade Maharaj (Avaidynath) about Rizvi’s efforts,” a man close to the Mahant said, requesting anonymity and adding that Rizvi even visited Gorakhnath Temple to meet him. Always ready to support anyone trying for an amicable solution, Mahant remained cooperative.
Admitting that Rizvi used to call up the Mahant, Ram Pratap Chand, who was very close to him as editor of ‘Yogvani’, a magazine published from the temple from 2004 to 2014, said at least on one instance he was witness to Rizvi calling up and said that though he could not hear what Rizvi said, he remembered what “Bade Maharaj” said. “I heard the mahant asking Rizvi sahab why he had failed to convince prominent leaders from the Muslim side,” said Chand.
The formula that worked out was that Hindus would be allowed to construct a temple on the disputed site, while a masjid could be built outside the periphery of the 22-kosi parikrama ambit, a man close to Mahant told TOI.
By 2004, after NDA-led by Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee’s lost in Lok Sabha elections, Rizvi’s calls reduced from two in a month to one or two in several months. By that time, Avaidyanath grew older.
Times of India
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