“I will wash the feet off past lives of all my community members who embraced Islam, Christianity, and Buddhism due to inequality and bring them back to Sanatan Dharm”
Kanhaiya Prabhunand Giri, a 32-year-old, first scheduled caste Mahamandaleshwar of Juna Akhara in 2019 Kumbh Mela has called for “Gharwapsi” of those scheduled caste/scheduled tribe and other backward castes’ Hindus, who left Sanatan Dharma and adopted other religions due to inequality and fear of exploitation.
Mahamandaleshwar is one of the first scheduled caste heads of the Juna Akhara in Kumbh Mela, who took his first dip as a part of “Shahi Snan” at Triveni Sangam in Prayagraj. He considers this dip as a long due act in the wake of equality of his community. He called for the members of his community who had left Sanatan Dharm due to the practice of inequality and apprehension of exploitation, and converted to religions like Buddhism, Christianity, and Islam.
Embrace Hinduism again
Mahamandaleshwar Giri said, “I will wash the feet off the past lives of all my community members who embraced Islam, Christianity, and Buddhism due to inequality and bring them back to Sanatan Dharm. I will show them how the Juna Akhara has been inclusive of me.” reported The Times of India.
Giri shared his experiences of injustice and inequality faced by him in his childhood because of the community he belongs to. The extreme remarks that he received hit him so hard that, at one point in time, he even thought of renouncing Hinduism.
Recollecting an incident that he faced in the year 1999 in Chandigarh, at a congregation of Sikh gurus where he was denied the entrance, he said, “When they got to know my caste, the seers asked me to stand at the entrance. I wanted to touch the feet and toes of the gurus who are said to give divine strength”. But he said that he was not allowed to do so because he was a Shudra (Scheduled Caste).
Commenting on his current status in the society he told The Times of India, “Now, here I am at a position where people of all castes and creed come and bow in front of me. I am a religious leader who will keep fighting this casteist mentality.”
Born as Kanahaiya Kumar Kashyap, he was awarded the title of one of the Mahamandaleshwars of Juna Akhara in April the previous year after he completed his Deeksha. ‘Shahi Snan’ takes place when the Sadhus and other Hindu religious leaders perform an act of dipping themselves into the holy river water as a customary practice.
Kumbh Mela is one of largest religious congregations of the people in the world. It is held after every 12 years in four cities namely Prayagraj (earlier Allahabad), Nasik, Ujjain, and Haridwar. The Ardh Kumbh Mela is held every six years.