All of us who have been following the news are aware of the recent controversy that has arisen over the decision of the Pejavar Swami to invite members of Udupi’s Muslim community. People from far and wide, who do not have full knowledge of the local situation or the background of the Swami, are unsure of how to approach this issue or what position to take.
This is a report by some of us, who are completely neutral in
- Not having any political affiliation
- Not being members of the Madhva, Muslim or the Dakshina Kanara communities
The reason we state our lack of affiliation up front is to establish that none of the respondents have any interest or anything to gain or lose from either side.
To understand the events playing out currently, we must rewind events from the recent past as well as upcoming events in the future. This will help place the situation in context.
We will discuss in 3 parts:
- The Chalo Udupi campaign of the recent past and the position taken by each of the players in this current situation
- The players arrayed in today’s issues and their respective positions
- The upcoming Karnataka elections and how it affects all of the people involved in this issue
The Facts of the Matter
What Really Happened At The Mutt?
Muslims from the town of Udupi and its outskirts were invited by the Acharya of the Pejavar Math, who is currently leading the regular worship at the Udupi Sri Krishna Temple, to break their fast at a dining hall run by the Krishna Math.
This is a hall where people of all castes and religions are served food on a daily basis. After breaking fast, the invited guests had to perform namaaz immediately. The attic of the dining hall, which is not part of the temple itself (just as the hall itself is outside the temple complex proper), was provided for the purpose.
Certain fringe elements within the Vishwa Hindu Parishad and the Sri Rama Sene, have protested this event and have decided to agitate against the Pejavar Swami.
Rewind – Chalo Udupi
In the aftermath of the success of the Chalo Una movement, which was led by a certain Jignesh Mevani, the modus operandi was sought to be replicated elsewhere.
Jignesh Mevani is a protege of the controversial activist Martin Macwan of Navsarjan Trust, Gujarat. Martin Macwan can be called as de-facto leader for Breaking India forces in Gujarat and has presence & contacts in various other states of India, including North-East. A new face, Huchangi Prasad, was sought. Unlike the middle-class Mevani, Huchangi Prasad had emerged from genuine adversity. He was immediately adopted by India’s prominent faces in the NGO circuit including the Indian Writer’s Forum, which is led by such Leftist heavyweights as Romila Thapar, Githa Hariharan, Indira Jaising, A.R. Venkatachalapathy, Nayantara Sahgal, Paul Zacharia and T.M. Krishna, among others.
An interesting individual in this forum is Lawrence Liang, who was associated with the enigmatic billionaire George Soros’ Open Society Foundation. One may note that OSF has been accused of fomenting agitations such as the Arab Spring and Euromaidan, in recent years. The chaos unleashed by these two events found some measure of resonance with the impact of the Chalo Una movement
Now that a new face had been chosen, why Udupi? In both Gujarat and Kerala, the Chalo campaigns were against the government. But in Udupi, it was targeting a particular matha and its seer. Why this peculiar selection?
The Most Dangerous Man
It is well known that the Pejavar Swami had taken over the paryaya, a rotating Chief Priest position at the Udupi Sri Krishna Temple. The Pejavar Swami, who has been a sannyasi for close to 80 years, has been one of the leading lights of re-mobilization of Hindus and at the forefront of forging a reconciliation between upper castes, the dominant middle castes and the scheduled castes, who have faced a lot of discrimination.
He has also been quite vocal about the need for a resurgent Hindu identity that is also at peace with the Muslim and Christian populations of India. Be it gauraksha or ghar wapsi or giving Vaishnava deeksha to innumerable Dalits, Pejavar Swami has been in the forefront in fighting for Hindu causes as well as bringing unity among the various communities. He has been one of the most vocal seers protesting against the practice of untouchability against Dalits. He acts as a bridge between traditional Hindu dharma and the modern society.
In short, the Swami is the most dangerous man. For Breaking India forces, that is.
The Real Chalo Udupi Plan
Based on facile and exaggerated excuses, claiming discrimination in the Krishna Temple, the agitators of Chalo Udupi were planning to march to Udupi and storm the temple premises. People of all communities have the privilege of darshan and prasad at the matha temple. No caste/religion is barred from darshan or having prasad. Thus, the purpose of these anarchists cannot have been anything less than rioting and causing damage to the centuries old matha with its Krishna temple. Such an incident, had it occurred, would have caused rift between various Hindu communities, the very need of the Breaking India forces.
Close on the heels of Chalo Una, the BJP Government and the Sangh Parivar had become wary of agitations with a Dalit face, since it has historically been seen as an Achilles Heel of the Sangh Parivar. The last thing any member of the Sangh Parivar would want is to be accused of anti-Dalit bigotry. Given this situation, the Sangh Parivar decided to wait this round out.
On the other hand, the Sri Rama Sene offered to support the Swami, but in the end, not much help was forthcoming on the ground. One wonders what compulsions stopped this group from following through on its promise.
Muslims of Udupi have always been supporting the matha and have shown devotion to Pejavar Swami as well as Krishna. During the recent paryayotsava where the Pejavar Swami was installed as Chief Priest, they participated in the celebration in a grand way and submitted huge ‘hore kanikke’ (donations) to the matha. Many local Muslims have also taken Vaishnava deeksha from Swamiji and thus can be compared to Raskhan, the Muslim Haribhakta from medieval times.
During the precarious situation of Chalo Udupi Andolan, it was the Udupi Muslim Souharda Vedike, a local Muslim organization, that put paid to the threats by launching a demonstration on the ground, and eventually prevented an escalation that was feared. In the aftermath of this support by Muslims, and after the recent iftar held in the dining hall, prominent members of Udupi’s Muslim community have even received death threats. It has to be kept in mind that this behavior of local Muslims is hated by Islamist extremists and thus death threats to local Muslim leaders, who support the matha, is certainly not unknown.
The Future – Upcoming Karnataka Elections
After the UP election, a specter is haunting Indian politicians. The specter of Hindu consolidation. It began with the unravelling of KHAM formula in Gujarat, more than 20 years ago, and has reached its apogee with the recently concluded UP elections.
It is easiest to drive a wedge in Hindu consolidation by exploiting the genuine grievances of India’s Dalit communities. In this context, taking aim at the Pejavar Swami would be most effective and a double gain, since he has consistently worked for reconciliation with Dalit people and a genuine reconstitution of their dignity. Cutting shim down to size would be most preferred by certain political circles who would prefer unravelling of Hindu unity.
To the Breaking India forces, a message they would want to give the Dalit community is this – ‘The Brahminical Hindu establishment would rather consort with Muslims than give you your rights’. Given that Pejavar Swami has been in forefront of including Dalits in Hindu mainstream, a high pitch false propaganda seems to have been planted and many who are gullible have fallen for this propaganda. Pejavar Swami has repeatedly visited Dalit colonies and offered Vaishnava deeksha to innumerable Dalits. These are not acts of an anti-Dalit. But the truth is being eclipsed by hysterical reaction without knowledge of ground reality – playing right into hands of Breaking India forces.
It is truly unfortunate that forces from fringe elements within the Sangh Parivar which have done such signal work towards Hindu unity and confidence would eventually end up playing into divisive forces’ hands here – by not understanding the ground reality of Udupi and allowing dissonance to foster between various Hindu communities due to their blind acceptance of the planted narrative as truth.
Note: This article has been jointly written by Trasadasyu (@dasyavevrka) and Generally Speaking (@zeneraalstuff)
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