Sunday, June 18, 2017

ACHHUTANAND SWAMI JI 1879 tO-1933) His 84 th Death Anniversary falls on 20th July 2017 ( Corrected and updated.

Image result for swami achhutanandWith the dawn of nineteenth century the clouds of suppression and ignorance on Indian Dalits started receding. This gave way to emergence of untouchable consciousness and a feeble political voice to these millions of soul covering skeletons. The polite challenge put to Hindu religion laws of scriptures by the Bhagti Movement Saints like Namdev, Guru Ravidas, Kabir Sahib, Guru Nanak Chokhamela started  spouting now into clear resistance by their Dalit followers. This gave way to uprising by Dalits under the guidance of new religious and political leaders. Emergence on the scene of the leaders like Mahatma Jyotiba Phule, Swami Achhutanand 'Harihar', and Narayana Guru, Guru Ghasidas Ji Maharaj, Vitthal Ramji Shinde Dr. Ambedkar and others gave directions to the upturning masses. The roll player in this uprising by Swami Achhutanand 'Harihar', was marvelous.
Besides being a poet, dramatist, historian and propagandist Swami Achhutanand founded the Adi Hindu Mahasabha , an organization of the Depressed Classes. Swami Achhutanand also founded the news paper Adi- Hindu. There was similarity in the opinions of Swami Achhutanand and Bharat Ratna Baba Saheb Dr. B.R. Ambedkar about Dalit literature and Dalit empowerment. Both worked for the cooperative partnership in associations and agitations that took up the causes of the Dalits. Both worked for the empowerment of Dalits believing that Dalit problem  struggle was not only for equality of political, economic status but social, cultural, educational  partnership in state finance affairs besides providing them dignified employment opportunities.
Swami Achhutanand, a chamar( leather crafts man) by caste, was born on 6th May, 1879 at his maternal grandfather's village Saurikh Tehsil Chhibramau District Farukhabad (U.P.) Swami Ji’s father revered Shri Moti Ram and mother Shrimati Ram Piari. Hira Lal was his childhood name. His parents and uncle had left the village due to some quarrel with the Brahmins on caste basis before the mutiny of 1857. They migrated to village Umari Tehsil Sirsaganj of District Mainpuri, situated to the north-east of Agra (U.P). Swami Ji's father and uncle went to Denali and joined the army. His elder brother Baant Lal was subedar in army and his uncle Kaluram  too was in army. Hira Lal’s  father passed away when he was still young and needed fatherly care. However his uncle Mathura Prasad shouldered this responsibility. Later Mathura Prasad got elevated to the position of Subedar in the army. Subedar Mathura Parsad helped Hira Lal, in his education at Nasirabad, Ajmer (Rajasthan).
Hira Lal was very brilliant at school. But he discontinued his education when he was just 14 years of age due to financial distress. Till then he was well versed with working knowledge of eight Indian languages- Hindi, Sanskrit, Persian, Marathi, Bangla and Punjabi etc. He also studied deeply  religious philosophy.
Hira Lal got married to Smt. Hira Bai some sources name her Durgabai and they were blessed with four daughters (Sushila Bai, Vidyawati, Shanti Bai, name of 4th could not be traced). His one daughter got married to Sh. Mangal Singh Jatav of Tikonia, Murar District Gwalior (MP). Mr. Jatav rose to the rank of parliamentary secretary in MP government.
Swami Ji was a true feminist rightist. His life was solely dedicated to the cause of  upliftment of women and untouchables. Swami Ji also changed his name to "Achhutanand" derived from Achhut or untouchable". Swami Ji lived in the hearts of illiterate, literate,  poor and rich untouchables.
After leaving school, he joined a group of sadhus (hermits) and left for a pilgrimage with them. He was in their company for about ten years. Thereafter, he came under the influence of swami Sachitanand ji of Arya Samaj and Hira Lal joined him. After joining the Arya Samaj, his name Hiralal was changed to Swami Hariharanand.  During his associations with Arya Samaji’s and their thought process Swami Hariharanand was convinced that Arya Samaj was meant to save Hinduism nay Dalits by introducing certain minor reforms in the Hindu Society but failed to change the society radically, his ultimate goal of life. Their reforms in the Hindu religion were aimed at blocking conversion of Dalits to other religions like Islam, Christianity, Sikhism , Buddhism . So he lost love and  faith in Arya Samaj philosophy. Swami Hariharanand  wanted to work towards the annihilation of Hindu Caste system which supports untouchbility among  the Hindus. When he was convinced that his goal cannot be achieved by mere lip sympathy, he left Arya Samaj and started Adi-Hindu movement for upliftment of the depressed Classes. Adi- means original inhabitants of India now also called  Dalit,Mulnivasi etc. In a Shastrarth (philosophical debate) arranged on 22 October 1921 at Delhi, he defeated Pandit Akhilanandji an arya samaji. He rightly came to the conclusion that unless the untouchables secured political rights, there would be no salvation for them. His name Swami Hariharanand was again changed to Swami Achhutanand. Now he was with the other stalwarts of Adi-Hindu Movement namely Gopal Baba Warangalkar (Maharashtra), Bhagaya Reddy verma (1888-1939) and B. Shayam Sunder both from AP and a Punjabi Chamar strategist Babu Mangoo Ram Magowalia  (1886 –1980).
Swami Achhutanand a socio-religious revolutionary founded the Adi-Hindu Movement in unison with others to achieve equality, liberty, fraternity and justice for the under privilege untouchable Indian citizens. Indian government recognized the Adi-Hindu Movement in 1923. He also proclaimed his 7 main commands of the Adi-Hindu Movement and explained them as:
1.     There is one God, who is non- attributor (loosely meaning universal creator , no worldly means can    attract  or influence  Him or He cannot be attained by observing worldly religious rituals , dogmas, austerities ).
2.          The religion of Saints is the true religion of India.
4.          All human beings are equal. To treat someone as high and another as low is wrong.
 5.    All the Gods enunciated by Brahmanism are untrue. They ought be discarded.
6. The so-called untouchables are the original inhabitants of Bharat i.e. India.
7.  People should be free from all passions, greed, pride and malice.
8.  Their (aboriginal  inhabitants’) human rihts, glorious culture and civilization should be restored and developed.
The main centre of the Adi-Hindu movement was at Kanpur in Uttar Pradesh and from here he propagated the principles of Adi-Hindu movement in India. Sensing trouble for the Caste Hindus and their political party Congress from the Adi-Hindu movement, Mahatma Gandhi's son Dev Dass Gandhi called a meeting in the house of his( Gandhi’s) confidant at Kanpur where he called Swami Ji and asked him to stop his movement in the interests of Caste Hindus and Congress party. Dev Dass proposed to Swami Ji certain financial allurements as well. On this Soami Ji took out a dried loaf of bread from his pocket saying "It is worth more than, what Mr. Gandhi, you propose. I will not compromise with the interests of my brethren". Shri Dev Dass Gandhi then started calling Soami Ji as "Juta (Shoe) Nand Soami" This story has resemblance to Guru Nanak Dev's refusal of rich food offered by one Dewan Malik Bhago and instead took dried poor quality flour bread of poor carpenter Bhai Lalo.  
Swami Achhutanand was a great rationalist of his times. He viewed any principle and policy from utility point of view. He tried to eradicate irrationalism, sub-casteism and superstitions from among the Depressed Classes. He advised Dalits that the caste system had been purposely supported by the foreign invaders and rulers on India therefore it should be given up. The depressed Classes should not accept such an ugly system, which differentiates man from man. He felt that the main objective of the untouchables

was to attain emancipation from caste based oppression, which could be possible only by their involvement in gainful politics. They should be free from the yoke of Manu made Caste system. Dalits ( Castes falling under present day SCs, STs and OBCs  catagories ) should put a united struggle for achieving their human rights. In order to abolish sub-castes among the Dalits, he invariably used to take every alternate meal with a man of different caste. He exhorted them to abolish sub-castes by inter sub-caste marriages. He used to tell his people to seek help from Christians or Muslims if needed. They should take the help of Christian missionaries to educate their children.
Previously, his own near one's had been reluctant to accept his thoughts. When he was in Agra for the purpose of his mission, he was driven out by the men of his own community. But later seeing his work he became very popular among the depressed classes and attracted many people towards his movement.

When the Prince of Wales was to visit India in October 1921-March 1922, the Congress Party decided to boycott him. However, Swami Achchutanand and his followers decided to accord a grand welcome to him on the occasion of his visit to Delhi. Therefore, a huge rally was arranged at Delhi on 17th February 1922. Swami Ji submitted written memorandum having seventeen demands of Dalits for the sympathetic consideration of the British Crown. The memorandum contained the following demands:-

1.          The Adi-Hindus must be given separate electorate and separate representations.
For the progress of the untouchables, government must open schools and colleges and give admission  in them to untouchables.
2.          There must be a strict law to annihilate the untouchbility.
3.          The educated untouchables must be absorbed in the Government jobs.
5.          There should be nomination of untouchables in the municipal committees. district boards, village Panchayat, town areas and notified areas committees  .
6.          Untouchables should be granted liberty to do business  and shop keeping.
7.          There must be ban on forced labour.
8.          There must be equal rights for untouchables as compared to the "swarnas or Upper caste" Hindus.
9.          There must be untouchables' representation in government and non-government committees in proportionate to their population.
10.         There must be stipends for the untouchable students.
11.         There must be exclusive  colleges for the untouchables where theirs population is in majority.
12.         There must be recruitment for untouchables in the police and army.
13.         There should be increase in the labour rate.
14.         The  chowkidars  of the  villages  should be  untouchables.
15.         Untouchables must be allotted land on lease.
16.         There should be representation of untouchables in the state assemblies.
17.         The above demands should be implemented in the princely states also.
In reply the Prince said that, "I thank you very warmly for the very kind and enthusiastic welcome which you have given me on two occasions at Delhi. I much value your good wishes; I wish  the communities whom you represent all prosperity and well being". (Walker David, The Prince of India 1923, P.289). As the Prince used word Sawraj( self rule) in his address so  Swami Achhutanand  spoke about  his contemplated full Swaraj (Self Rule) or freedom to all and not just a few castes. Soami Ji's Sawaraj was different and more practical than as it was visualized by Bal Ganga Dhar Tilk and congress party. Swami Achhutanand thought that the communities so far deprived of human rights were really the claimants of Swaraj. Swaraj in which the untouchables had no place, was meaningless.
He was against landlordism. He criticized the government for its policy of conferring honors on landlords who exploit the untouchables, kill their kith and kins and attack the chastity of their womenfolk. He stressed for stopping such honour to those who  practiced in human treatment to untouchables.
A special session of the Depressed Classes representatives from all over India was convened at New Delhi in December 1927 to discuss the question of reforms in view of the arrival of the Simon Commission. Swami Achhutanand was Chairman of the Reception Committee of the convention and Sh. M. C. Rajah presided over the convention. The convention, demanded separate electorate and increased seats in the legislatures for the Depressed Classes.
Dr Ambedkar and Soami Ji were working for the upliftment of Dalits and both shared views on the Dalit problems and their solution. Both these Dalit emancipators met for the first time some time in Bombay in 1928 in Adi Hindu Samelan. There after both continued liaison and Swami Achhutanand Ji participated in the Jatav (Chamars) Sammelan in 1922 at Delhi  and gave some revolutionary suggestions. In 1925, he migrated and settled at Benajhabar, Idgah, Kanpur (UP) where Mr. Girdhari Bhagat donated him the residential plot. He also launched the Adi-Hindu Hindi paper.
The strength of the Adi-Hindu Movement can be gauged from the facts that in its procession in Allahabad on 26th December, 1925 over 25,000 dedicated participants took part. This procession was led by Swami Ji himself with G A. Gavai (Nagpur) on monocycles followed by a sea of Dalit humanity. On 27th-28th December 1927, a public meeting was held, where more than 350 delegates from Punjab attended. The Pandal was represented by delegates from, Bihar, Rajasthan, Bengal, Madhya Pradesh, Delhi, Poona, Hyderabad, Bombay and other states.
In 1927 at Kanpur, Swami Ji said in a public conference," We Dalits also demand a complete Independence as the Hindus and the Muslims demand. We are the rightful owner of independence." Swami Achhutanand met the Simon Commission on 30th Nov 1930 at Lucknow. His comrades who accompanied Swami Ji were Tilak Chander Kuril, Girdhari Lal Bhagat, Laxman Parsad, Karorhi Mall Khatik and others. Dr. Ambedkar also met the Simon Commission with his comrades as he was then President of Bahashkrit Hitkarini Sabha and submitted as exhaustive memorandum listing grievances and demands of the Depressed Classes. Sri 108 Swami Achhuta Nand Smark Smiti, the memorial committee of U.P published a copy of Dr. Ambedkar's hand written letter dated 3rd Feb. 1932 to Swami Ji, in which Dr. Ambedkar accepted him as his Guru. Swami Ji also met the Lothian committee in 1928 at Lucknow. In 1930, Swami ji sent a telegram in support of Dr. Ambedkar and Rai Bahadur Srinivasan, the two untouchables invited to the Round Table conferences at London (UK). He also raised voice for the "Achhutstan" or separate country for Scheduled Castes. Swami Ji was also a signatory of the Pune Pact signed on 24th September 1932 to ink the agreement reached between Dr. Ambedkar and Mahatma Gandhi to solve the dead lock arisen due to Communal Award and Mahatma Gandhi's fast unto death.
Swami Achhutanand supported the demand of separate electorate made by Dr. Ambedkar in the Round Table Conferences. Swami ji was against the Rajah-Moonje Pact (MC Rajah then leader of Gandhi s Harijan Sewa Sang signed a pact with Dr. BS Moonje, leader of All India Hindu Mahasabha opposing the demand of separate electorate for the Dalit communalities') .Soami Ji moved from place to place and propagated against the pact. He strongly opposed the nomenclature of Harijan given to Dalits by Mahatma Gandhi. When Mahatma Gandhi was claiming to be the sole representatives of Dalits of India against the right demand of Dr. Ambedkar, Swami Ji arranged a demonstration of over 5000 Dalits at Kanpur in support Dr. Ambedkar and for separate electorates' to Dalits.
In order to bring a new awareness among the Depressed Classes, in 1922 he started a monthly paper "Achhut", from Delhi. But circumstances forced it to be closed soon. However, he again started a monthly magazine in 1922 "Prachin (ancient) Hindu". This too continued for a short period of one and a half year. Thereupon "The Adi-Hindu Journal" was started from Kanpur in 1924 which continued up to 1932. He was a philosopher-poet and a playwright. He wrote six books in Hindi —
1.                  Shambuk Balidan (Drama) exposing Hindu Lord Vishnu Avtara, Rama for killing innocent pious Dalit
Saint Shambuk.
2.          Achhut Pukar (Voice of the untouchables)-Religious  songs
3.          Mayanand Balidan (biography)
4.          Pakhand Khandani (Heterodoxy refuted).
5.          Adi- Vansh Ka Danka (Drum of the aboriginal people)-  poetry

Swami ji was  also a singer. He used to sing his own poems or songs of new spirit which were very impressive.Swami Ji worked extremely hard... He fell sick for 23 days and Swami Achhutanand ji left his mortal frame breathing his last on 20th  July 1933 at Kanpur at the ripe age of 54. He was given “Samadhi” by burying him opposite PS Nazirabad Nai Zamin, Lajpat Nagar, in Kanpur (UP).
           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. While opposing Manusmiriti the following couplet is from Swami’s composition
 “Manusmriti Hamko Jala Rahi Hai” (“Manusmriti is Burning Us”):
Day in and day out, this Manusmriti is burning us, burning us, Not letting us climb up, it is degrading us, degrading us,
 While Brahmins and Kshatriyas are allowed to rise and rise, “Wear your old clothes,” for us is the advice.                                        (The Hindu dated Sunday, Aug 03, 2008)

Er.H.R.Phonsa Jammu
Author can be reached by or 09419134060

Dated 18-06-2017

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