Narendra Modi’s ‘Kabir’ stunt in Maghar irks and divides Kabirpanthis

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi and the state’s Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath might have celebrated the birth anniversary of Kabirdas, a 16th-century Poet-Thinker, in Maghar on Thursday, but the same act has not gone down well in PM Modi’s own constituency, Varanasi.

Narendra Modi and Yogi Adityanath in Maghar on Thursday (Photo: Twitter/Narendra Modi)

Vivek Das, the 24th Mahant in Kabir’s tradition, raised objections to the visit, saying that Modi was wrong in celebrating the birth anniversary of Kabirdas in Maghar, a place where Kabirdas took his last breath. “He is laying stone for the wrong tradition which must be avoided at any cost,” said Das. The same argument has found support from various Kabirpanthis, research scholars and activists from Varanasi and around.

According to pieces of literature available, Kabirdas was found as a baby next to a water body in Lahartara, Varanasi. He lived his whole life in Varanasi but left to Maghar and died there only. Experts have supported Das’ claims that the birth anniversary of Kabir cannot be celebrated at the place he died.

However, the people in power and saints at Maghar have claimed that the objections are baseless, and one should cheer the fact that Indian Government is paying attention to Maghar, a place which has been “left to rot”.


Vichar Das, the chief priest at Maghar, said, “Maghar needed development for decades, and now when we are getting it, people are trying to create roadblocks.”

According to Vivekdas, Maghar was considered a door to hell as Gautam Buddha donated his hairs in this place and consequently, Brahminical forces labelled the place as a door to hell. It is also being considered today that if someone dies in Maghar, she/he directly goes to hell.

Mahant Vivekdas (Photo: Siddhant Mohan/

To counter this stereotype, Kabirdas decided to take his last breath in Maghar, after which the place is being considered as his burial place.

Rana PB Singh, a retired professor of Banaras Hindu University and expert in the history of Varanasi, thinks that these practices go against the life and work Kabirdas was practising. Singh told, “There was no religious identity involved there in Kabir’s life. But the current politics is doing exactly the opposite. It is putting religion over everything Kabir did in his lifetime.”

Experts see Modi’s recent step to celebrate the birth anniversary of Kabirdas in Maghar as an attempt to consolidate Dalit votes before upcoming general elections, keeping up with the fact that most of the followers of Kabirdas come from Scheduled Castes communities.
Santosh Kumar, a scholar on Kabir from BHU, said, “This all is a big polarization practice by PM Modi. He is keeping the fact in mind that there is a large number of growing population of Kabirpanthis in eastern UP and most of them are from Dalit and Muslim community. So he is trying to take everything in the Hindutva fold which Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh endorses.”

For many Kabir devotees, this is the first time they have seen PM and CM both in a festival where hardly any big name would come in the past. Paras Prajapati, a 42-year-old devotee from Samastipur, Bihar, told, “I have been coming to Maghar and Varanasi every year on the birth anniversary of Saheb (Kabirdas), but this is the first time I am seeing Modi Ji promising a temple of Kabir, a thing which Kabir hated himself.”

The controversy has indeed created a rift between followers of Kabir and those who are aligned with the government, and to make the matter worse, Varanasi priest Vivek Das has added that “as Kabirdas went to Maghar in his last days, PM Modi is going there too in last days of Prime Ministership”.

Courtesy: Two Circles



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