Caste What? In A Historic First, Juna Akhara To Appoint A Dalit As MahamandaleshwarSadhus of the Juna Akhara during Kumbh 2013. (Sheeraz Rizvi/ Hindustan Times via Getty Images)

The Allahabad Kumbh in 2019 is set to witness a historical first as the Juna Akhara one of the oldest and largest orders of Sadhus and Sanyasis in India, will get its first Dalit Mahamadaleshwar, The New Indian Express has reported.

Kanhaiya Kashyap, now Swami Shivanand Giri, has been given diksha and will be declared as the new Mahamandaleshwar during the next Kumbh. Mahamandaleshwar is an important post in the Akhara’s order, and this is the first time a Dalit will hold the post for Juna.

Giri, who faced caste discrimination early in life, feels that it is his duty to guide others from the Dalit community towards sanyas and that lack of gurus from the community makes them vulnerable to religious conversions.

“Authorities of Sanskrit pathshala refused me admission several times as I was not an upper caste, but as I was determined to guide people of my community by attaining sanyas as there were hardly any ‘guru’ in our society,” Giri says.

“When people like me, who had been the victim of caste system, will be entrusted with such an important responsibility, it will bring the marginalised people to the mainstream,” he added.

Giri hopes that with appointments such as his, caste system can be eradicated from the country as Dalits rejoin the mainstream.“A day will come when casteism will end in Sanathan Dharma wherein all are treated equally,” he was quoted as saying.

Two others, Sadhvi Durga Devi and Swami Tufan Giri were also conferred with the title of Sanyasis along with Swami Shivanand.

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