In a departure from its centuries-old tradition, a Dalit Sanyasi will be designated ‘Mahamandalesawar’ during the Kumbh 2019. According to media reports, the Juna Akhara will confer the title on him. Juna Akhara is a part of All India Akhara Parishad. It is considered the oldest and largest order of sadhus in the country.
The new ‘Mahamandaleswar’ Kanhaiya Prabhunand Giri hails from Azamgarh in Uttar Pradesh. He is 32. In 2013, he obtained the degree of ‘Jyotishacharya’ from Bharatiya Jyotish Vigyan Kendra in Chandigarh. After completing his degree, Prabhunand plunged himself in social works and reached out to people across the country to spread the message of spirituality and religion.
On Tuesday, Prabhunand completed his ‘diksha’ ceremony. His earlier name was Kanhaiya Kumar Kashyap, but after Tuesday’s ‘diksha’ ceremony, his name was changed to Kanhaiya Prabhunand Giri. He said that he was always attracted to the Junda Akhada. He said that he went to the Panchanan Giri of Juna Akhada to take shiksha from him.
Speaking on the ongoing debate over atrocities against Dalits, he told CNN-News 18 that Dalits should focus on Vedas and Purans, and by doing this they can rise to a higher position in the society.
The position of ‘Mahamandaleshwar’ is very influential in the Akhara. The development is historic and comes at a time when political parties are trying to project themselves as the biggest caretaker of the Dalits. It also sends a strong message that the Indian society is gradually accepting people belonging to all caste and creed, thus moving a step ahead towards equality.
The Ardh Kumbh will be held between January 15 and March 4 next year in Allahabad.