2 days back in Alwar, while addressing a rally, UP CM Yogi Adityanath said, “Bajrangbali ek aise lok devta hain, jo swayam vanvasi hain, nirvasi hain, Dalit hain, vanchit hain”
Bajrangbali is a universal god who was the dweller of the forest, an exiled one, a Dalit and a person bereft of things he was rightfully entitled to.
#WATCH: UP CM Yogi Adityanath says in Rajasthan's Alwar, "Bajrangbali ek aise lok devta hain, jo swayam vanvasi hain, nirvasi hain, Dalit hain, vanchit hain. Bharatiya samudaye ko Uttar se leke Dakshin tak, purab se paschim tak, sabko jodne ka kaam Bajrangbali karte hain".(27.11) pic.twitter.com/5AdyrmMXQN
— ANI (@ANI) November 29, 2018
The mainstream media reported it as “Yogi calls Hanuman ji a Dalit”. A massive furore ensued over this remark which culminated in Brahmin Mahasabha filing a case against CM Yogi Adityanath. But why did the UP-CM, despite being a Mahanth address Hanuman ji so? To understand this, we need to understand two things. The historic origins of the word ‘Dalit’ and the life story of Hanuman Ji. Let’s begin with the dissection of the word ‘Dalit’.
The origins of the word ‘Dalit’
Dalit is a Sanskrit word which means divided or fragmented. It never used to denote a caste or community in ancient Indian history. Any community which was scattered in nature was termed as Dalit. The word Dalit gained prominence in Indian discourse only after 1935 after economist and reformer Dr. B. R. Ambedkar urged the authorities to include all depressed people (lower caste) irrespective of their caste into the definition of Dalits.
Let’s now move to the life story of Hanuman ji.
मारुतस्य औरसः श्रीमान् हनुमान् नाम वानरः |
वज्र संहननोपेतो वैनतेय समः जवे || १-१७-१६
सर्व वानर मुख्येषु बुद्धिमान् बलवान् अपि |
The son of Wind-god is the marvellous and adventurous Hanuma with an indestructible body, and one identical in the speed of Vinata’s son – Garud, and among all monkey chiefs he is the intelligent and the indefatigable one too.
This is the very first reference to Hanuman ji in Valmiki Ramayan. It is said that when Bhagwan Vishnu assumes a human form, all other gods procreate themselves in various forms in order to assist the supreme god. Hanuman ji was born with the sole purpose of assisting Shri Ram, the 7th incarnation of Bhagwan Vishnu. But Hanuman ji had a life story of his own. He was born to Vanar Raj Kesari and Mata Anjana. Kesari was one of the most trusted aides of Vali, the monarch of the Vanar Kingdom who ruled from Kiskindha. He was also a good friend of Sugreeva, younger brother of Vali.
Later on, a terrible enmity ensued between Vali and Sugreeva because of which Sugreeva had to flee from Kiskindha and take refuge in an Ashram where the entry of Vali was prohibited due to a sage’s curse. Kesari, his son Hanuman Ji, bear king Jamvant and many prominent Vanara chieftains fled along with him. And then began a period of exile for Sugriva, Hanuman and other Vanaras.
Hanuman ji was born a prince, but he was nirvaasit – exiled. He was forced to live in forest, so he was a vanvaasi. He was entitled to riches of the kingdom and a seat in the monarch’s council but all of it was snatched from him, so he was a vanchit.
But was he a Dalit too? Certainly not if we consider the modern political definition of it. But certainly one if we consider the classical definition of it. Hanuman ji belonged to a community which was highly divided at that time because of the enmity of the two brothers viz. Sugreeva and Vali. Chieftains were divided into Vali and Sugreeva camp. The bad blood among the Vanaras ended only after Shri Ram slayed Vali and anointed Sugreeva as the monarch of the Vanara kingdom.
There is no point denying that CM Yogi should have been a little more careful with his choice of words but there is also no point denying that this was a highly religious man talking with veneration about a god he adores. CM Yogi did the mistake of using the word in religious connotation in a political rally which was picked by media and quoted out of context. Shri Krishna is addressed as Ranchhod – the one who flees the battleground, but Ranchhod cannot be used as a synonym for coward. What Sri Krishna did was a strategic retreat.
Media quoted CM Yogi out of context and didn’t present the connotational aspect of the term Dalit, probably because they are too blinded by their hatred towards BJP and CM Yogi or maybe because they lack the brains to decode a sentence which had strong religious undertones.