For the first time in the history of Juna Akhara, a Dalit sanyasi will be designated as ‘Mahamandaleswar’, the presiding position in the akhara which is considered one of India’s oldest and largest order of sanyasis. According to reports, 32-year-old Kanhaiya Kumar Kashyap will be declared Mahamandaleshwar during the 2019 Kumbh.
Kanhaiya Kumar Kashyap was reportedly honoured in a Pattabhishek ceremony by all senior seers of the Akhara and was named as Shivanand Giri.
According to reports, Shivanand Giri was given the title of ‘Gosai’ in 2016. He hails from the village of Barauli Diwakar Patti, about 22 kilometres away from Azamgarh. He has stated that as a child he was denied admission into a gurukul near his village and later went ahead to obtain the degree of Jyotishacharya from the Bharatiya Jyotish Vigyan Kendra in Chandigarh. He was later inducted into the Juna Akhara. On being named Mahamandaleshwar, he has stated that with more people like him being given such important responsibility, the day will soon come when caste discriminations will end. Juna Akhara reportedly follows the sanyasi tradition and has always been inclusive of all castes.
Shivanand Giri has reportedly stated that the lack of religious gurus in the Dalit communities makes them vulnerable to conversion and the practice of converting Dalits to other religions will stop when more sanyasis like him will come forward to show them the light of virtue. Juna Akhara has reportedly given Deeksha to two more people on Tuesday. They are Renu Sharma, a student from Allahabad University and Amit Joshi, an RSS worker.
Juna Akhara’s Jagadguru Panchanandgiriji Maharaj has reportedly stated that Shivanand will rise to the position of Mahamandaleshwar for his knowledge and his caste is immaterial. He added that the time has come when caste boundaries should dissipate.
We had recently reported how in Telangana, a priest had recently carried a Dalit man on his shoulders to enact a 2700-year-old ritual in a bid to promote equality and end discrimination.
With Temples taking the lead, tackling caste discrimination will be an easier path to tread.