Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Swami Achhutananda and his Adi-dharma movement

SWAMI ACHHUTANAND HARIHAR (1869--1933): A VOICE AGAINST SOCIAL EXCLUSION, ECONOMIC AND POLITICAL MARGINALIZATION By Dr. Mahendra Pratap Rana INTRODUCTION: The emergence of untouchable consciousness and political voice spread across the country during the last quarter of the 19th century is a phenomenon that has received a very little attention by non-Dalits and Dalit scholars. Swami Achhutanand Harihar (original name Hirala) was born on 6th May, 1869 in District-Mainpuri in Uttar Pradesh State. He was well worse in eight languages such as Hindi, Sanskrit, Pharsi, Marathi, Bangla, Gurumukhi, Urdu and English. Hiralal worked for Arya Samaj from 1905 to 1917 was honoured with the title of “Pandit Hariharanand” and made chief of Madhya Pradesh, Gujarat and Rajasthan unit. Witnessing the existing untouchability practiced by Arya Samaj, he not only resigned but also returned the title of Pandit Hariharanand to Arya Samaj and adopted a title of “Swami Achchutanand Harihar” as a mark of identity of the untouchables. He formed “Bharatiya Achhut Mahasabha” to address social, political and economic issues of untouchables and edited a monthly magazine ‘Achhut’ from Delhi in November, 1917 to awaken his people at village level. The untouchables can achieve everything if they are educated and Hindus have already closed the door of education for them. Therefore, untouchables should open schools. They should not leave their children uneducated if they want to live a human life. Adi-Dharma: An alternative to Hindu religion Swami Achchutanand Harihar was convinced that the Untouchables continue to suffer social, political and economic subjugation as long as they are Hindu. Therefore, he launched Adi-Dharma (a religion for original race of Bharat-Native Indians) an alternative religion for untouchables to uplift them socially, culturally, religiously and economically. He challenged every customs and laws which placed untouchables as lower castes in the society. Instead of worshiping Hindu gods, they should dedicate themselves to Bhakti (prayer) or devotion as alternative religious rites which had been practiced prior to the advent of the Aryans. The untouchables believe in a philosophy or dharma which they understand is Vyavaharik, Tarksangat or scientifically logical. Achhutanand Harihar focus on Truth and scientific philosophy seems he preaches the philosophy propounded by Gautam Buddha. Instead of throwing dead animals, carrying night soil and digging Hindu’s graveyards, they should adopt other means to come out from poverty and hunger. The untouchables and Shudra castes have to burry their differences if they want to rule the country. You have to demolish the exploitative structure and it will be possible only when you become a ruling race. Prince of Wales: 17 Points demands presented by Swami Achhutanand Harihar Achhutanand saw British rule, with the possibility of political representation and a source of salvation for the untouchables. Prince of Wales was on official visit to India in 1922. Swamiji utilized the opportunity and organized a conference” at Purana Quila (Old Fort) where more then ten thousands untouchables and Shudras attended. Prince of Wales was the Chief Guest in the conference. While welcoming the chief guest, Swami Achhutanand presented 17 point demands before Prince of Wales. Those demands were such as: 1. The Untouchable communities will progress with education only, therefore, it is most urgent that schools to be opened for them. 2. Law should be enacted and implemented in true spirit to eradicate Untouchability. 3. Separate Electorate granted political representation untouchables to be introduced and ensure their representation in proportion to their population. 4. Legal provisions to be made to ensure representation of untouchable communities/ native Indian communities in local bodies such as Municipal Corporations, District Boards, Town areas and Notified areas. 5. Educated Untouchables be appointed on Gazetted posts. 6. It should be made an official policy to promote native Indian communities to start their own trade and business. In addition, they must be given financial support from government to start that business. 7. Begar Pratha should be abolished. 8. The social, political and economic rights in terms of progress of Untouchable communities should not be left any more on Hindus and British Government should take extra care to protect their rights. 9. Representation to be given to them in proportion to their population in every Government and private controlled businesses. 10. The Untouchable communities are extremely poor and can not afford the cost of education; therefore, scholarship must be given to every child. 11. Separate school to be opened in villages where Untouchable communities live in majority. 12. The untouchable castes were not recruited to the subordinate ranks of the police force because of lack of awareness as well as social restrictions. Swami Achchutanand Harihar demanded that they must be recruited in police and armed forces. 13. There is need to enhance in wages. 14. The Chaukidar in the villages shall be appointed from the untouchable castes. 15. The untouchable communities should be given the Government lands belong to the Gram Sabhas. 16. The untouchable communities should be given representation in State Assemblies. 17. Women belong to the Brahmins and Kshatriyas have been exploited by their males only, therefore, provisions be made to ensure basic rights to them. Simon Commission: An alternative plans for socio-economic development of untouchables: Swami Acchutanand Harihar presented the “socio-economic conditions and alternative plans for the liberation of untouchables” before Simon Commission. He convinced the members that Congress and its leaders as Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru and Gandhi are representing Hindus; they can’t be representative of untouchables at national as well as international forums. Letters to the organisors of Round Table Conference, London to invite leaders of Untouchable Community: Acchutanand Harihar and his supporters sent several letters and Telegraphs to the organisors of Round Table Conference in London to extend official invitation to the untouchable leaders separately. He stated in one of his letter stated that untouchables have no faith in the leadership of Gandhi and Congress led movement in India and abroad as far as the issues of untouchables are concerned. It was a matter of a great satisfaction for him when he got a message that Dr. Ambedkar was officially invited for the Round Table Conference. Before living for Round Table Conference in 1930, Dr. Ambedkar met and discussed all those issues related to untouchables were raised in the conference. Separate Electorate, Gandhi’s Fast unto Death: A reply to Gandhi by Swami Acchutanand Harihar The British Premier granted separate seats in the Provincial Legislatures, and the right of double vote to the Untouchables under which they were to elect their own representatives under Communal Award on 20 August 1932. Gandhi sat on fast unto death 20 September, 1932 against the grant of separate electorate to the Untouchables Swami Acchutanand Harihar organized protest rallies in Prayag, Etawah, Lucknow and Kanpur against the fast of Gandhi. Addressing the rally as a chief guest Harihar said that “Gandhi’s fast unto death is a mischievous act against untouchables being granted political rights. We can not accept joint electorate at any cost. If Hindus consider untouchables their brother then why not they give some seats in Vidhan Sabhas and local wards. Joint electorate is a death nail for untouchables and we will go to any extent to ensure that separate electorate is to be given to them. Email : paus_india@hotmail.com> --

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