Didn’t prompt Rahul Gandhi for gotra: Pushkar lake priest

Rahul Gandhi revealed his 'gotra' on Sunday at the Brahma temple on Pushkar Lake.

Published: 03rd December 2018 03:15 AM  |   Last Updated: 03rd December 2018 03:15 AM   |  A+A-

Congress president Rahul Gandhi visited the Brahma Temple in Pushkar, Rajasthan in November where he performed a puja | twitter

Express News Service

PUSHKAR: For a temple priest to figure in the centre of a raging political debate, even if innocently, is rare. But then the Brahma temple on the Pushkar Lake, which traces out a near-circular shape in the heart of this holy town, is a rare and precious thing. 

It is one of the few existing temples dedicated to the Hindu god of creation, certainly the most prominent one, and is embroidered with a rich weave of myth and lore. And ever since Congress president Rahul Gandhi decided to declare his ‘gotra’ at the temple, it has also become part of India’s political lore. 

Rahul’s religion has long been the target of jibes and grist to the rumour mill, thanks to his political opponents. His temple-hopping during recent elections is in ways a response to that — it turned into the topic of such an intense political slugfest that his party recently came out to assert, controversially, that he’s not just a Brahmin, but a ‘janeudhaari’ (sacred thread-wearing) one.  

What is your gotra, his opponents had asked, derisively. The next step came here at the Brahma temple in Pushkar. The priest asked the same question of him, as part of ritual formalities this time. And Rahul said he’s from the Dattatreya gotra of Kaul (Kashmiri) Brahmins.

The priest who asked the question incidentally, carries the Kaul title too. This paper spoke to Pandit Rajnath Kaul, the man who found himself in the centre of a national debate, on Sunday. “It was just an incidental question from me and an incidental reply from Rahul Gandhiji, without any prior prompting,” he said. The issue has since snowballed into the topic of major sparring, with allegations of invalid caste genealogies as well as of casteism, coming as it did, in the midst of the Rajasthan elections, where the BJP and the Congress are pitted against each other.

Many see Rahul’s declaration as an attempt to scotch all speculation regarding his caste lineage, without which clinching membership in the Hindu religious order still seems a daunting task today. 

But it has fuelled a further unsavoury debate on whether he can be entitled to be a true-blue Dattatreya or not, through matrilineal descent. But the jibes over whether he is a Hindu (recall the Somnath temple controversy last year) have now been replaced by whether he can claim his grandmother Indira Gandhi’s father’s Dattatreya gotra!

Kaul, a Parashar Brahmin whose family earned the title for being family priests to the Kaul-Nehru family from Motilal Nehru onwards, will have none of that. “Since Jawaharlal Nehru did not have a son and Indira did his ‘mukhagni’ (last writ), by our old shastras, she was the inheritor of his property, name and gotra. I did not do anything wrong, our family has all the supporting documents.”  

What’s more, he adds that the gotra question is what had been put to Rajiv Gandhi when he came to perform puja at the temple too. “And the answer was the same.”

The priest, in fact, went on to add that the issue would not have blown up had Rahul not known or remembered. “But he knew and he said Dattatreya.”

The priest claimed he has been getting several threatening calls asking him how he sanctioned the gotra for Rahul. “I did not prompt him, he said it himself!” All that he claims he did was introduce his family to Rahul.

Stay up to date on all the latest Nation news with The New Indian Express App. Download now
(Get the news that matters from New Indian Express on WhatsApp. Click this link and hit 'Click to Subscribe'. Follow the instructions after that.)

Comments

Disclaimer : We respect your thoughts and views! But we need to be judicious while moderating your comments. All the comments will be moderated by the newindianexpress.com editorial. Abstain from posting comments that are obscene, defamatory or inflammatory, and do not indulge in personal attacks. Try to avoid outside hyperlinks inside the comment. Help us delete comments that do not follow these guidelines.

The views expressed in comments published on newindianexpress.com are those of the comment writers alone. They do not represent the views or opinions of newindianexpress.com or its staff, nor do they represent the views or opinions of The New Indian Express Group, or any entity of, or affiliated with, The New Indian Express Group. newindianexpress.com reserves the right to take any or all comments down at any time.

flipboard facebook twitter whatsapp