Prayagraj: A Dalit sadhu, right after getting the title of Mahamandaleshwar of an akhara, has announced he would endeavour to bring all members of the Scheduled Caste, Scheduled Tribe and OBC communities who converted to Islam and Christianity back into the Hindu fold.
The Akhil Bhartiya Akhara Parishad gave Saint Kanhaiya Prabhunand Giri the title of the first Dalit Mahamandaleshwar (first saint from the Scheduled Caste fold and one of the heads of the akhara). Kanhaiya Prabhu, while taking the holy dip by sadhus called the shahi snan at the Sangam in Prayagraj on the first day of Kumbh Mela, expressed his desire to make all Dalits, STs and OBCs who, after fear of exploitation, have left the sanatana dharma (meaning “eternal values”, a reference to Hinduism, which some object to due to its foreign etymology) and adopted Buddhism, Christianity or Islam.
Kanhaiya Prabhunand had been inducted into the Juna Akhara following the sect’s tradition last year. He said, “I want all those members of my community who adopted Islam, Christianity and Buddhism due to inequality to be back to the sanatana dharma. I want to show them how the old akhara has embraced me. ‘ Kanhaiya Prabhunand said, whatever casteist slur and exploitation they have faced in their entire life is a pain that could be overcome. Because of the discrimination, once even he had contemplated leaving Hinduism. he said.
The Mahamandaleshwar recalled an incident. “In the year 1999, I was in Chandigarh where a meeting of Sikh preachers was going on. When they came to know of my caste, the sadhus asked me to stand at the entrance. I wanted to take the blessings by touching the feet of the gurus but they said that a Shudra was not allowed to do this. But now I am in a position where people of all races bow before me. I am a religious leader and I will fight against this caste mentality.”
The Dalit saint head said, “It is difficult for me to recall that moment when I was placed on a chariot for the royal bath. All the devotees around me were dancing on the tune of a dhol. My community has been away from such rituals for a long time while we have proven ourselves physically and mentally by writing the Constitution (a reference to BR Ambedkar) and fighting against the Mughals and the British.”
Kanhaiya Prabhunand said, after the tenth grade in the school, he wanted to study Sanskrit but, due to his being from a Scheduled Caste, he did not get the admission. He said, “Then I came to the shelter of my guru, Jagatguru Panchanandi Maharaj, who gave me the education and made a priest of the temple but after some days some goons attacked me. A finger of my hand fractured in the attack and the temple got destroyed, too. I was subjected to caste slurs.”
Ekalavya was a Dalit, so was Karna, the saint recalls
Kanhaiya Prabhunand said, “Leaders and the media should not use the word ‘Dalit’. We should call the names given by the Constitution: SC, ST or OBC. We are Ekalavya and Karna, Ashoka and Chandragupta Maurya. We have proved ourselves but are still excommunicated. I want to change this mentality.”