A religious meeting convened in Maharashtra's Nashik on Tuesday to settle the controversy over the birthplace of Hindu god Hanuman had to be postponed after sadhus at the event clashed, leading to police intervention to restore peace and order.
The 'dharmasabha' was called after spiritual leader Kishkindha Mathadhipati Swami Govindanand Saraswati recently claimed that Kishkindha —believed to be in Hampi area in Karnataka— was the birthplace of Hanuman and not Anjneri in Nashik as is widely believed.
Govindanand Saraswati had challenged those disagreeing with him to present proof, after which sadhus and mahants from Nashik decided to convene a religious meet.
However, the plan by Govindanand Saraswati to arrive in Anjneri from Trimbakeshwar leading a procession was opposed by Anjneri residents and sadhus who believed this could vitiate the atmosphere. Officials said people had blocked the Nashik-Trimbakeshwar road on Monday to register their protest on the arrival of Govindanand Saraswati.
On Tuesday, the 'dharmasabha' started off on a heated note first over seating arrangements, and then on other issues, including taunts aimed at each other, they said.
When one spiritual leader was introducing himself, Mahant Sudhirdas of Lord Kalaram temple in Nashik reportedly called him a "Congressi", leading to verbal clashes between two groups, resulting in Mahant Sudhirdas raising a mike stand threateningly.
Meanwhile, followers of Govindanand Saraswati claimed he was not allowed to place his views at the meet, leading to further verbal clashes that threatened to spiral out of control, which forced the police to intervene to restore normalcy, said some participants.
Among those who attended were Kailas Swami Mutt's Swami Samvidanand Saraswati, Shauche Guruji, and Purohit Sangh president Satish Shukla.
Several sadhus confirmed the 'dharmasabha' has been deferred and a fresh date would be announced later.
(With PTI inputs)