Aadi Shankaracharya visited Kashi and so did many Buddhist ideologues like Ashwaghosh and Mandan Mishra. There are many tales of Shastrarth between erudite purohits of the sanatan dharma and the baudh dharma. In recent past the well known recorded shastrarth was between Swami Dayanand Saraswati, an eminent Vedic scholar and founder of the Arya Samaj and representative leaders of the Pauranic panth that was presided over by the Kashi Naresh. It ended in a hungama choreographed by the idolators and before it could be concluded, the ruffians created a din and declared that Swami Dayanand had lost. Their descendants even now celebrate it as the only defeat of Dayanand in a shastrarth. But the truth lies elsewhere and even Kashi Naresh admitted in one of his moments of penance that Swami Dayanand was invincible in Kashi Shastrarth and thereafter.
Moral of the story is that the Truth can be a casualty in the holiest of the holy places.
KABIR, a saint-poet of the 14th century had composed many couplets in the Sadukhari Hindi to demolish citadels of superstitions despite the fact that he as an illiterate person and had never handled a pen or ink. It was a superstitious belief those days, remnants continued through centuries till today, that those who die in Kashi ascend to Heaven directly. With the result many healthy persons came to Varanasi to be sawed to death in a well under the spell of superstitious beliefs. Kabir lived in Kashi his entire life but migrated to Maghar, away from Kashi before he breathed his last.
Nevertheless the fascination of Kashi continues unabated among one and all irrespective of caste, creed, region and religion.
Kashi Became a Constituency of Modi
Narendra bhai Modi chose Kashi as his second constituency, the first one being Vadodara, to try his prowess at the hustings to enter the Lok Sabha as a member. Contesting a Lok Sabha seat from Varanasi gave Narendra Modi a pan-Indian image. Further, Kashi is the gateway to the Poorvanchal, vananchal and allied regions in the North-East and South-East Bharat. No wonder the opposite camp chose to field their knights in shining armour from Kashi, not realizing that every Tom Dick and Harry could not become Modi. The Congress party fielded a local muscle man and the anti-Hindu forces rallied round the Congress candidate. Mistakenly they thought that it was a big bet to humble their arch-enemy, Narendra bhai Modi.
How silly their assessment of their own followings and how mistaken was their calculations about counting local support to the BJP?s Prime Ministerial candidate came to light on 16th May 14 when the counting of the electoral ballot began electronically. Modi won hands down. Political opponents either beat a hasty retreat or were humbled beyond belief in no time. The AAP candidate who entertained dream sequences like Mungeri Lal Ke Haseen Sapne and wished to be Pradhan Mantri of Bharat found it hard to save his security deposit.
The District Magistrate cum Returning Officer put a hurdle at every step that Modi took. It is unbelievable but true that the Returning Officer, under the goading of powers that be in Lucknow, and support of a weak Chief Election Commissioner, did not permit Narendra bhai Modi, a candidate, to make a speech in his own constituency. Modi was not permitted to do the Ganga Aarati at the ghat of Ganga on flimsy grounds. He was not permitted to do a road show in Varanasi whereas candidates and leaders of opposing political parties were permitted to enjoy those privileges and perform religious duties. The Chief Election Commissioner was biased against Modi under orders of his former political masters in the Congress party.
Nevertheless Narendra bhai Modi?s onward march to the victory stand was unstoppable because the people of the Varanasi constituency were with the Prime Ministerial candidate of the Bhartiya Janata Party. Varanasi vowed to elect him, irrespective of obstacles put by mean men of the opposite camp.
Thanksgiving for Victory
On 17th May 2014, a day after the results were announced by the Election Commission of India and Modi had won from both the constituencies, Varanasi and Vadodara, it was time for thanks giving to both the constituencies by paying a visit. Modi did that. He threw a hint that now that Gujarat had given him all-India responsibility, he may have to bid good bye to Vadodara. After a brief victory march in Delhi where people praised him at every place he touched enroute, Modi flew into Varanasi to say Thank You to men and women of his Constituency Number One.
Fulfilling religious obligations was at the top of his agenda. Narendra bhai Modi came for a Darshan and a Prayer at the Kashi Vishwanath temple. Modi was accompanied by Rajnatrh Singh, President of BJP and Amit bhai Shah, the magic man who successfully canvassed for Modi and gave Uttar Pradesh to Modi on a silver platter. The Modi wave had put 71 MPs out of 80 in the bag of BJP, thanks to the painstaking efforts of Amit Shah. They all prayed together like a family. The saying goes:the family that prays together sticks together. Indeed it is true of them.
Narendra Modi has been saying all along that he had not come to Kashi on his own. He had not been deputed by the BJP to go to Kashi. Maa Ganga ne mujhe bulaya hai - so it was Return of the Native to Kashi to discharge a religious duty. Isn?t it a historical fact that ancestors of Narendra bhai Modi were in Kashi to earn a living by the sweat of their brow? Indeed it was so!
The Ganga where Narendra Modi was to do Aarati was cleaned and looked as clean as clean could be. The ghats were cleaned and looked spick and span. The distinguished visitor, the Prime Minister-in-waiting did the Ganga Aarati with SHRADDHA - devotion and dedication. The other two colleagues of his followed suit. The citizens of Kashi were enthralled. All present there sang Bhajans and their faces glowed with the religious fervor that the crusaders have.
Maa Ganga has now a son who has promised to mother ganga that cleaning of the holy river was now his pious resolve. The whole world knows that Narendra Modi achieves indeed what he resolves to achieve. This indeed was the real thanksgiving by Narendra Modi and the citizens of Kashi loved it.
All chanted in unison Baba Vishwanath Ki Jai, Maa Ganga Ki Jai.