Juna Akhara's first Dalit priest Shivanand Giri says lack of religious gurus among Dalits make them vulnerable to conversion
Kanahiya Kashyap alias Prabhu Nand says that the practice of converting Dalits to other religions will stop when more like him will become ‘sanyasi’ to show the path of virtue to deprived sections.
LUCKNOW: While the raging Dalit agenda is dominating country’s current political narrative, it has sneaked in into one of the most prominent of Akharas – Juna Akhara where for the first time a dalit seer Kanahiya Kashyap alias Prabhu Nand has been given ‘diksha’ (baptism) and rechristened as Shivanand Giri. Moreover, he will be declared a ‘Mahamandleshwar’ in the upcoming Kumbh 2019.
Shivanand, who was given the padavi (title) of ‘Gosai’ in 2016 is a native of village Barauli Diwakar Patti, around 22 kilometers from district headquarter of Azamgarh.
As per his own claims, Shivanand Giri who was denied admission in a gurukul near his village, later secured his degree of ‘Joytishacharya’ at Bhartiya Joytish Vigyan Kendra Chandigarh and later inducted into the Juna Akhara.
“Authorities of Sanskrit pathshala refused me admission several times as I was not an upper caste (read Brahmin), but as I was determined to guide people of my community by attaining sanyas (sainthood)as there were hardly any ‘guru’ in our society,” he avers. He feels lack of religious gurus among Dalits made them vulnerable to conversion. He says that the practice of converting Dalits to other religions will stop when more like him will become ‘sanyasi’ to show the path of virtue to deprived and downtrodden sections of society.
Commenting on the percolating impact of such moves wherein a Dalit rises to ‘Mahamendaleshwar’, Swami Shivanand Giri says: “When people like me, who had been the victim of caste system, will be entrusted with such an important responsibility, it will bring the marginalized people to the mainstream.” “A day will come when casteism will end in ‘Sanathan dharma’ wherein all are treated equally,” he states.
Meanwhile, Juna Akhara’s Jagadguru Panchanandgiriji Maharaj says, “Shivanand will raise to the postion of Mahamendaleshwar of Akhara for his knowledge. Being Dalit or an upper caste is immaterial. Time has come when all are treated equally in the country and the caste boundaries should melt and dissipate.”
He added that when political leaders visit houses of Dalit, eat with them etc, they are in fact dividing people and not uniting them. He calls it a modern kranti that the saints and seers are bringing all sections of society on a common platform. “Only saints can do it. It’s the modern ‘kranti’ (revolution),” he adds.
Apart from Shivanand Giri, two other people were conferred with the title of ‘sanyasi’ of Juna Akhara by Panchanand Giri Maharaj, on Tuesday. These included Renu Sharma, rechristened as Sadhwi Durga Giri and Amit Joshi who will now be known as Swami Tufan Giri. While the former had been the student of the department of Music of Allahabad University, the latter has a long association with RSS and ABVP (Akhil Bhartiya Vidyarathi Parishad).