Banning ‘gorakhdhandha’: Are Gorakhpanthis ignorant of their history?

According to reports, the BJP manifesto released in Rajasthan proposes to ban the word ‘Gorakhdhandha’ as it hurts the sentiments of the followers of saint Gorakhnath

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Mrinal Pande

According to reports, the BJP manifesto which was released by Vasundhara Raje, Arun Jaitley and Prakash Javedekar proposes to ban the word ‘Gorakhdhandha’. They are reportedly set to ban it because they it think has pejorative connotations of deceit and trickery and mocks the followers of Guru Gorakhnath known as Gorakhpanthis.

Onkar Singh Lakhawat, member of the manifesto committee, said the word hurts the sentiments of the followers of Guru Gorakhnath and so its use must be stopped by law.

The party promised to include details of Gorakhnath and the Yoga and Tantra Sadhana in text books in Rajasthan and also build a memorial to the saint. Jodhpur in Rajasthan is a major centre of the Nath community.

Gorakhnath, was undoubtedly one of the major religious leaders and social reformers of the medieval period. He emphasised cerebral concentration and created many Yogic Mudras and mind games to help his followers focus their mind and train their bodies.

According to the great medieval scholar Pundit Hazari Prasad Dwivedi, an authority on the Nathpanthi sect, ‘Gorakhdhandha’ was an intricate mind game said to have been invented by Guru Gorakhnath to hone the mental and physical skills of his wandering followers, who set out to preach his doctrine of a casteless society without barriers between communities or men and women.

The word ‘dhandha’ usually means work in Hindi, but in this context it is derived from the word ‘dhandhaaree’, an intricate Chakra or web. The Gorakhpanthi sadhus make a an intricate cat's cradle like web created with sticks or little iron pieces, leaving a hole in the centre. A little string threaded through a cowrie shell or bead is at the centre of this intricate web. The players have to chant mantra and extricate it intact from the hole in this web, because the string gets entangled all the time .

The Gorakhpanthi believe that he who can do it successfully, is blessed by the Guru, and will escape the web of common human life forever.

Hence, the fact is the matter is that the word is not derogatory. It is actually the name of a game that was invented for the wandering Garkhpanth Sadhus of the medieval Nath sect, by Guru Gorakhnath, the founder of the sect, himself.

So if the word ‘Gorakh Dhandha’ is proposed to be banned by Yogi Sarkar, it shows a sad lack of knowledge of their own Nath sect, among the most eminent leaders and followers the sect today.

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