Simhastha Confluence of Culture, Spiritualism & Social Harmony
The famous spiritual city of Madhya Pradesh, Ujjain, is in news for two important reasons now. One, the Mahakumbh festival is on, where four Jagadguru Shankaracharyas, Mahamandaleshwars, chiefs of akharas and saints from different communities are having spiritual discourses with holy baths in Shipra river and then Mahakali darshan. Second, important development in Simhastha is the Madhya Pradesh government-organised International Vichar Mahakumbh. In fact, along with the Mahakumbh celebrations, the saints and leaders from different communities from India, Sri Lanka, Bhutan, Nepal, Bangladesh and Malaysia have participated in the Vichar Mahakumbh. The seriousness of the event increased manifold as the Prime Minister Narendra Modi, RSS Chief Mohan Bhagwat, RSS leader Bhaiyajee Joshi, Home Minister Rajnath Singh, Dr Pranav Pandya of Gayatri Pariwar, Swami Avadheshnandji, Chidanand Muni, Swami Ramdev, all the chief ministers of the BJP-ruled states and many senior ministers of Union Government have participated in the brainstorming sessions. The Vichar Mahakumbh aims at bringing best brains together, study the Indian thought and ideology to strengthen the social harmony. In India, there is always a division of thoughts and are classified into several categories. Even one small instance of it one can mark at the Ram Ghat of the Shipra river, where there are separate places marked for Shaivas and Vaishnavs. The Dalit saints are having holy baths at Valmiki Ghat. Otherwise, the Mahakumbh has always been a great leveller. The holy water of Shipra river never discriminate between lakhs and lakhs of saints and devotees thronged there during the auspicious days. Since time immemorial, one sees discrimination in the society, some are neglected, some are in advantage position and there is a feeling of inequality, which is not exactly our culture. Our culture believes in Vasudhaiva Kutumbakam. Justice to all and development of all is what our culture believes in.
The BJP government took advantage of the Simhastha Mahakumbh to use it as a tool for social change and establish social harmony on a bigger platform. In every twelve year, this Mahakumbh comes and Ujjain is one city among the four cities–Hardwar, Nasik and Allahabad. Earlier, it was like a congregation of saints performing traditional rituals, but this time the BJP under the guidance of RSS leaders has given a new shape and meaning to it, of course, for a good cause. Different issues like clean Ganga, environment, climate change, agriculture and cottage industries have been discussed in different sessions.
BJP President Amit Shah played a master stroke by attending the Mahakumbh by taking time out from his busy election schedule. The BJP opponents and the secular media were in full swing blaming Shah for giving a political colour to the holy occasion. Amit Shah straightaway reached Valmiki Dham, Ujjain, along with Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chauhan, Avadheshanandji, Satyamitranandji, Chidanand Muni, three Mahamandaleswars, Shankaracharyas, Peethadhis and other dalit saints. Amit Shah’s message is clear and loud to reach the Dalits. The Valmiki Dham till now was only stood up as a symbol of spirituality for Dalits, who could stand up in defiance to the upper caste dominance in the Hindu society. In previous all Kumbhs, the Ashram never had seen such famous saints and senior political leaders. The lone Valmiki ghat was well decorated with proper arrangements for holy bath at the Shipra river. There was a huge stage for the guests and the pictures of Maharshi Valmiki, Ravi Das, Kabir, B.R. Ambedkar, Shankaracharyas were prominently seen in the venue. Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister and Amit Shah both honoured all the saints on the dais from different communities. Amit Shah offered a huge garland to the picture of Maharshi Valmiki. There was a common message that was in agreement of samarasta, and it was pronounced with honour by all the speakers that Dalits were as much part of Hindu society as others. That is not to say that the social stratification that has existed in the Hindu society for ages would be gone, but yes it was an occasion to convey the message in a meaningful way, not merely a tokenism. It was a good endeavour to adhere more to them in the Hindu society, of which already they are part of. But some divisive forces have an agenda to dislocate them and misguide them for obvious purposes. A section of political scientists, and of course media, were shouting from the rooftop and in live shows—for them it was a political Simhastha to attract Dalits, which may affect Mayawati in coming assembly election in Uttar Pradesh. But the Swamiji of the Valmiki Dham Umeshnathji Maharaj was very cordial and happy to see the new move of the BJP and he asked how many people from Dalit Samaj have contributed for the spiritual upliftment like Maharshi Valmiki
and Guru Ravi Das. Amit Shah also paid tribute to Sohandasji Maharaj, a Dalit religious icon of yesteryears, who was also from Gujarat. The BJP put things in right perspective so that the religion, politics and the society could go together in the Simhastha Mahakumbh. Amit Shah said that the real problems and challenges for the community are how to bring the neglected in to the mainstream. He a suggested that the onus was on them and other Hindu spiritual leaders present there to carry the samarasta spirit forward and to see that this is practised, and did not remain as a mere photo-op at a talking shop. Shah also said that as there is a Modi government at the Centre, which is working to strengthen cultural and social traditions of Bharat, to achieve this goal he needed the blessings of all. Not only at Valmiki Dham, Amit Shah followed the rich Indian culture by honouring the senior saints from different akharas, Mahamandalesswaras and many famous saints. Along with Shivraj Singh Chauhan, Amit Shah honoured the saints at another venue called Deendayal Puram.
Wah, Wah Shivraj Bhaiya
When taking a tour along the temple lanes of Ujjain, the infrastructure development and facility centres were very much visible along with his officers who were at vigil point for the devotees. All the roads to Ujjain are wide and every where there is plenty of facilities for drinking water and sanitation. On every alternative day, Shivraj visits the Simhastha venue so that everything should be in order for the auspicious event. The nature has created some trouble for some saints, who were staying in the taints. Due to heavy rain there is little problem in the Mela area. One should salute all the spiritual communities from different places, which are providing enormous facilities for the devotees’ stay arrangement. Lakhs of devotees are enjoying spiritual discourses organised by different saints. The entire area of the Mela is resonated with the sound of spiritualism. In fact, the Ujain city has been converted into Energy Centre. It’s really worthwhile to see, to know, how great our country is and how rich our tradition is!
By our Special correspondent from Ujjain