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Uttar Pradesh

Three mahants of Gorakhnath Math and their role in Ram temple movement

August 05, 2020 07:25 AM

COURTESY HT AUG 5

Three mahants of Gorakhnath Math and their role in Ram temple movement

Mahant Avaidyanath with Yogi Adityanath at Gorakhnath Math. FILE PHOTO

Mahant Digvijay Nath (right in dhoti-kurta) with former President of India Sarvepalli Radhakrishnan. FILE PHOTO
Rajesh Kumar Singh

rajesh.singh@htlive.com

LUCKNOW : When chief minister Yogi Adityanath visits Ayodhya to participate in the ‘bhumi pujan’ on August 5, the event will also mark the culmination of a long struggle launched by mahants (head priests) of the Gorakhnath Math (monastery) in Gorakhpur for construction of the Ram temple.

Located 137 kilometres east of Ayodhya, the Gorakhnath Math has been at the centre of the Ram temple movement since British rule. It played a pivotal role in the Ayodhya movement under three mahants —-Digvijay Nath, Avaidyanath and Yogi Adityanath.

Digvijay Nath, who became mahant in 1935 not only made the math a centre of right-wing political activities, but also became a leading light of the temple movement. After joining the Hindu Mahasabha in 1937, he started mobilising the Hindu community for the Ram temple in Ayodhya. He led a team of volunteers to Ayodhya in 1949, held a meeting with the then Raja of Balrampur, Pateshwari Prasad Singh and Swami Karpatri Maharaj, a prominent seer.

On the intervening night of December 22-23, 1949, when Ram idol was placed in the then disputed structure, Digvijay Nath was present in Ayodhya. He motivated volunteers to start prayers. Although the state government directed then district magistrate to remove the idol, he refused to execute the order, stating that the move may lead to communal violence in the area.

Pradeep Rao, a teacher at Gorakhpur’s MP Post Graduate College who has done research on the Nath tradition of monasticism and the Goraknath Math, said, “The placing of the idol inside the mosque worked as a catalyst in the Ram temple movement. Till his death in 1969, Digvijay Nath gave the momentum to the Ram temple movement.”

The next mahant, Avaidyanath, continued the movement for the Ram temple. In 1984, he constituted the Shri Ram Janmabhoomi Mukti Yagya Samiti to bring all the Hindu organisations and sadhus associated with the Ram temple movement on a single platform. He organised a march for liberation of the Ram temple in September 1984.

In Udupi, Karnataka, on October 31, 1985, Avaidyanath and Ramchandra Das Paramhans, a mahant of the Digambar Akhara, demanded opening of the lock of the disputed structure so that devotees could offer prayers to the idol.

On February 1, 1986, when the then district judge of Faizabad gave the order for opening of the lock, Avaidyanath was present in Ayodhya. In a Delhi rally on September 22, 1989, Avaidyanath announced ‘shilanyas’ at Ram Janmabhoomi on November 9, 1989.

A few years later, inspired by the temple movement, Yogi Adityanath, a fresh graduate, then known as Ajay Singh Bisht, visited Gorakhpur in 1992 to meet Avaidyanth. He renounced family life to become a monk.

As Avaidyanath’s disciple, he started participating in meetings of the Shri Ram Janmabhoomi Mukti Yagya Samiti headed by his guru. The young Adityanath was tasked with organising the meetings. Impressed with his capabilities, Avaidyanth appointed him his successor in 1996.

In 1998, Adityanath was elected to the Lok Sabha from Gorakhpur. He raised the Ram temple as well as Hindutva issues in the House. Adityanath kept the issue alive in east UP in the late 1990s.

After being appointed chief minister on March 19, 2017, Yogi Adityanath has visited Ayodhya several times.

The state government declared Ayodhya a municipal corporation, launched projects to promote tourism and amenities for pilgrims, organised Deepotsav on the Diwali eve in 2017, 2018 and 2019.

 

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