Aug 2, 2008

Mewat Muslim Jogis Return to Hindu Fold

Amidst slogans like Garva se kaho hum Hindu hain, Guru Goraksha Nath maharaj ki jai, over 2500 Muslim jogis of Mewat region (Rajasthan) returned to their original roots, i.e., the Hindu fold, on January 5. An impressive public function was held at Nagar town of Bharatpur district to welcome them back to the community from which their ancestors had been lured away in the past.

As many as 471 families were initiated into the Nath sect by the President of Akhil Bharatiya Avadhooti Jogi Mahasabha and Gorakhapeethadhishwar Mahant Avedyanath who himself belongs to the Nath sect. In order to save the expenses involved in the journey by every member of the families, only the parivar pramukhs (heads of the families) from 40 villages of Bharatpur, Alwar (Rajasthan) and Gurgaon (Haryana) districts, participated in the ceremony. The return of the jogis to their ancestral faith and culture was made possible with the efforts of Vishwa Hindu Parishad, Rajasthan. The ceremony began with all the parivar pramukhs along with other people of the jogi community who are born Hindus, performing a yajna and sipping holy Ganga water. Later, Mahant Avedyanath presented each of them a rosary of rudraksh, a saffron dupatta and Ganga water and similar sets for other members of their families.

Welcoming them to the Nath sect, Mahant Avedyanath also gave them a gurumantra. The Jogis pledged to work for and serve Hindu Dharma throughout their life.According to a local jogi, Shri Molhad Singh, an ex-serviceman who played an important role in this "home-coming", there are about two and a half lakh people of jogi community in Bharatpur, Alwar, Gurgaon (Haryana) and some parts of Uttar Pradesh. About 30 per cent of them are Muslim. All the Jogis including those who are Muslim, are followers of Guru Gorakshanath who is regarded by them as an avatar of Lord Shiva. Worshipping in the temples and singing songs in praise of Shiva and Bharthai has been their traditional job. Shri Molhad Singh said that a large number of jogis had been converted to Islam during Aurangzeb's times.

But despite their conversion to Islam they continued to follow the Hindu customs which prevented them from losing their identity. They could not completely assimilate themselves with Islam. The Muslim community too did not accept them wholeheartedly and they were contemptuously called jogana by the Muslims."We have not returned to the Nath sect under any pressure or allurement. We have come here with our own will", says Rabbad Singh, a 50-year old re-converted jogi. When asked if other Muslims of his village objected to his decision of returning to the Nath sect, Rilli Nath (55) says, "we hope nobody will object as it is our own decision. But if somebody objects we can answer him very well". He said that he did not bother about his safety.

Talking to Organiser, the Associate Organising Secretary of VHP, Rajasthan, Shri Jugal Kishore pointed out that various other communities of Mewat like Gujjar, Jat, Rajput, Teli, Dhobi, Jogi, Meena, Nayi and others who had to adopt Islam due to reasons of their own, were also interested to come back to their original roots. But some casteist elements within the Hindu society did not accommodate them in their original ancestral communities. Therefore, he added, before preparing other people to come back to the Hindu fold, there is need to prepare their communities within the Hindu society to accept them.

He said that the jogi community had set an ideal precedent in this regard. He pointed out that the VHP would launch an extensive campaign to welcome back those who had, due to some reasons, to go away from the Hindu society.Speaking on the occasion Mahant Avedyanath called upon the Hindu society to come forward to accept their brothers who had been weaned away in the past. He pointed out that because of untouchability and other social evils, a large number of Hindus in the country had been converted to Islam or Christianity.

Today the situation has changed and the people who had gone away from the Hindu society wanted to come back to their original faith. Therefore, the Hindu society will have to come forward to accept them in their community, he said, adding that the Shastras pose on problems in this regard. The people of jogi community will also have to adjust themselves by allowing the new entrants of participate in their religious and cultural activities. Criticising those who oppose the home-coming of people in their own communities, he said that they were harming the Hindu society.

Appealing to those Muslims and Christians who are originally Hindus to come back to the Hindu fold, the Mahant said it was the right time to correct past mistakes.The Akhil Bharatiya Dharma Prasar Pramukh of VHP, Shri Mohan Joshi who is the guiding spirit behind this endeavour assured the newly re-converted people not to consider themselves isolated as the entire Hindu society was with them.A resolution was also adopted at the function in which the people of the jogi community welcomed the newly re-converted families in their community and assured them of all social and customary dealings with the born Hindu jogis. The resolution also appealed to other members of the jogi community to come back to their original faith. After the function all the participating people joined in a samarasata bhoj (community lunch).