In the sacred traditions of Hindu Dharma, it is mandated that once a person takes the vows of a Sanyasi, he ceases to be the individual he was until that moment. He takes a new name, shreds all ties with his family and dedicates the remainder of his life to the Gods above and Dharma.
Different sects within Hinduism have different rules and regulations, however, Sanyasis across all sects must adhere to the norms listed above. Where the sects differ is the manner in which its adherents are permitted to interact with worldly affairs whilst they are alive. For instance, adherents of certain sects abandon all earthly matters and must live out their lives in isolation while there are sects such as the Nath Sampradaya in which monks can be seen participating in politics and related matters.
Yogi Adityanath, the Chief Minister of Uttar Pradesh, belongs to the Nath Sampradaya and like his Guru before him, he is an active politician in Uttar Pradesh. In history as well, there have been instances where monks of the Nath Sampradaya have taken up arms for the protection of Dharma in the sacred land of Bharata. He may be a politician but his foremost identity is that of a revered Saint of the Nath Sampradaya and the Mahant of Gorakhnath Muth, one of the most important Temples of the sect.
Certain political players in the garb of journalists and neutral commentators do not seem to understand this basic fact. According to them, it is dishonest on the part of Yogi Adityanath to not refer to himself by his first name. Some of them have even dared to compare his chosen name with the confusion that exists over Rahul Gandhi’s name. Apparently, Yogi Adityanath taking a new name as per the customs of Hindu traditions is equivalent to Rahul Gandhi attempting to hide his supposedly real name ‘Raul Vinci’.
You mean like how a certain Ajay Bisht named himself Yogi Adityanath? https://t.co/5dQpsfJhUu
— Rohini Singh (@rohini_sgh) April 21, 2019
It’s a grave insult to the Mahant of Gorakhnath Muth and sacred Hindu traditions. For all practical purposes, Ajay Singh Bisht died when he took the sacred vows of a Sanyasi and was reborn as Yogi Adityanath. There is great significance associated with that ritual. When Ajay Singh Bisht chose to forsake his name, he surrendered his ties with his family, he surrendered his attachment with his parents, his siblings, his friends and every person he had ever loved and cherished until that point. He gave it all up for Dharma as every Sanyasi does. Therefore, associating him with the name he was given at birth is a grave insult to the numerous sacrifices Yogi Adityanath and other saints like him have made in the service of Dharma.
Of course, it’s not too difficult to understand why efforts are being made to associate Yogi Adityanath with his previous name. A Sanyasi is an individual who has transcended the barriers of caste, creed, language and various other fissures within Hindu society. In Uttar Pradesh politics, where caste plays a great role, the appointment of Yogi Adityanath as the Chief Minister of the state helped the Bharatiya Janata Party avoid disturbing caste equations and further cement its efforts towards creating a coalition of Hindu votes.
Thus, political players at the behest of their masters seek to associate Yogi Adityanath with who he was before he took the sacred vows. Because Ajay Singh Bisht had a caste that could be used to tilt caste equations against the BJP. Yogi Adityanath, on the other hand, doesn’t. Unfortunately for them, every rooted Hindu understands the simple fact that a man or a woman in saffron has no caste, has no creed, has no other motive apart from serving the cause of Dharma. Thus, despite consistent attempts to brand him as Ajay Singh Bisht, Hindus on the ground are not buying it. And it’s extremely unlikely that they ever will.
Several other attempts have been made in the past as well to undermine the sacred vows of Yogi Adityanath but none as deplorable as the effort to equate Yogi Adityanath’s birth name with the confusion that surrounds the name of the Congress President. For instance, there was the occasion when a journalist was chastised for touching Yogi’s feet and taking his blessings. That gesture by the journalist was consistent with his faith as a Hindu. It does not imply that he cannot still perform his duty as a journalist.
Then, there was the incident when the Congress party and their sympathizers had mocked B.S. Yeddyurappa for bowing down to Yogi Adityanath at a rally. They do not seem to understand that Yogi Adityanath’s primary identity is that of a Monk and a Hindu bows down to Monks in respect regardless of their age.
Then there are some ’eminent citizens’ who have claimed that Yogi Adityanath does not have a clue about Hinduism. As educated citizens, we are asked to believe that a Sanyasi and the Mahant of Gorakhnath Muth does not have enough knowledge about Hinduism but people who make a living out of lecturing others on principles they themselves fail to adhere to do.
These are the same people who waste no opportunity in screeching from the very rooftops that Hindutva does not equate to Hinduism. They will spread negativity during every Hindu festival, denigrate every Hindu tradition, consume beef and insult Hindu religious beliefs every opportunity they get. And yet, we are supposed to take them seriously when they say, “I am a Hindu but I do not support Hindutva!”
The elevation of Yogi Adityanath to the seat of Chief Minister of India’s most populous state ruffled many feathers and it’s hardly surprising that they are throwing everything at him in the desperate hope that something will stick. However, insulting Yogi’s sacred vows and denigrating Hindu traditions by addressing Yogi Adityanath with his birth name does not appear, to me, to be a smart strategy.
While Western liberals believe that people are despicable bigots and ought to be jailed for hate speech for calling Caitlyn Jenner ‘Bruce’, their Indian counterparts cannot even respect Hindu traditions and observe the minimum courtesy of addressing a Saffron-Clad monk by his true name.