Yogi Naraharinath And Swami Prapannacharya Makers Of History : Prem Khatry
Two famous senior scholars, coming from two different ethnic, regional and academic backgrounds, will make the subject matter for the scribe today. Both the gentlemen have been noted public figures in their own merit. Both went through different trainings as career scholars in different places all their life, but at the end of their career, both came to spend time together as nextdoor neighbours at the Mrigasthali height (Gorakhnath area) in the vicinity of the famous Guhyeswari shrine. The two are - (late) Yogi Naraharinath, a noted historian and saint of the Gorakhnath tradition, and Dr. Swami Prapannacharya, a noted scholar of Sanskrit with an ethnic (Kirata-Rai) background.
Both these personalities have left an unforgettable mark in the history of contemporary Nepal. The Yogi did all he could to collect historic materials - tangible and intangible - visiting all corners of the country, meeting people, enlightening them through his deep knowledge and raising their level of nationalism, love for culture and Nepal. Today, the nation seems to forget that the Yogi, born in BS 2071, would have been 100 years old. Students of history and culture of Nepal cannot forget his contribution in the field of language, culture, history, art and archaeology.
The Nepal Folk Culture Council (Nepal Lokvarta Parisad) remembered Yogi Naraharinath in a talk programme on Sunday, March 1, at the Nepal Academy in collaboration with the Academy, Brihad Adhyatmik Parisad, Gorakshyapeeth, Nepal Sanskritik Samsthan. Two famous scholars - Gyan Mani Nepal (historian) and Prof. Chudamani Bandhu (linguist) - threw light on the multidimensional academic life of the Yogi in his almost 90-year-long career that started with his birth (as Balbir Singh Thapa, at Kalikot, Karnali in BS 1971) and ended at the Gorakhnath premise in BS 2059 as the senior-most Kanphatta Gorakhnathpanthi Yogi.
The Yogi's formal education in Sanskrit made him an orator, a poet and gradually a historian of merit. His major contribution in the field of history was in the field of exploring, locating, reading or deciphering historic materials written in the ancient Khasa language and script, and publishing the documents in books, journals, pamphlets, articles and brochures. At some point in time, the Yogi also spent his time in India, engaging in scholarly activities and campaigning for peace in and prosperity of Nepal.
Often times, it would appear that the Yogi was also interested in politics. In fact, he wanted to purge the political system of political weaklings - whether a king or his cronies. His voice against a weak monarchy and the administration was often so strong that the monarchy and the cronies could tolerate it no longer and jailed him for his open protest. His Koti Hom, a noted chain of vedic religious sacrifices numbering 129, and organised in Nepal and India were targeted towards this end.
In Sunday's talk programme, it was disclosed by the speakers that the Yogi had authored about 575 books. Of them, 114 have been published. It was also informed that the two private rooms occupied by Yogi were locked by the government. But recently, the government made a decision to list out the assets, mostly manuscripts and other historic documents he had collected and preserved as his disposal.
The Yogi's successors, including the chairman of Brihad Adhyatmik Parisad, disclosed that the Yogi had actually written those assets in the name of his successors. However, for the readers of Nepali history, it would be desirable to have the list complete and brought to light.
For the whole life he lived, Yogi Naraharinath struggled for a strong Hindu state and nationalism. His journal 'Sanskrit Sandesh' and many other writings are proof of his mission as a messiah.
The Yogi's contribution to the Sanskrit University at Beljhundi, Dang, is also noteworthy. He collected hundreds of bighas of land for the purpose. The university is now an institution motivating all jatis and groups to educate themselves under its broad and broadening umbrella and prove that, after all, Sanskrit is not a 'dead' language with a dead literature. It is a dynamic language after all, with its mark not only in Nepal and India but also abroad.
The second part of the talk programme, jointly organised by Nepal Academy, Nepal Lokvarta Council (NLC), Nepal Cultural Pratisthan (NCP) and Brihad Adhyatmic Parishad (BAC), was held at Gorakshapeeth to confer an honour on Dr Swami Prapannacharya, a neighbour, a colleague and an associate of Yogi Naraharinath. The Lokvarta Council was accompanied by Nepal Academy officials, including the chancellor, vice-chancellor and secretary, officials of the NLC, NCP and BAC to see the Swami in person and confer on him the honour.
It was found that the Swami at this point in his life is suffering from multiple health complications, including acute asthma. Speaking slowly to receive the honours, the Swami, who is now hard of hearing, said he had some bitter words of blessings for the small audience visiting him and asked, 'How can one possibly live with a sole income of Rs. 10,000 per month, provided by the Pashupati Area Development Trust, at a time when a variety of medicines, food for himself and his assistants are the daily needs?
Now that the Nepal Academy is here visiting and honouring, can the Academy consider that besides such highly appreciable honours, there is also a life to be lived, a life that needs food, some medicines, some fruits for fresh juice and such? Can the Academy come forward and manage some financial support?
Finally, the audience, who had arrived there to see a smiling and jubilant Swami, was stunned that a high profile scholar like the Swami - who, coming from a Kirati background, gave his life for the service of the nation, national integration, and suffered criticisms from his tribesmen, and others - had to literally 'beg' few thousand rupees for his survival. How long would his life continue? Perhaps a few months or at least a few years? How much, then, would go for his support? A few hundred thousand rupees at the most?
Appealed Chancellor of Nepal Academy Ganga Upreti to the Swami, 'The Nepal Academy will spare no effort to quickly make a decision to help you, sir.' And, that was the most important thing to do.