Naga sanyasi stopped from taking 'samadhi' for Nirbhaya
By Mrigank Tiwari, TNN - Feb 2, 2013, 12.44 AM IST
ALLAHABAD: A Nagasanyasi, who had pledged to bury himself under earth by taking 'bhoosamadhi' to highlight Delhi gangrape victim Nirbhaya's issue at the Mahakumbh on Friday, was stopped by the administration from going ahead with his pledge.
Swami Shyamanand Saraswati had on Thursday lent his voice to the echo of justice for Nirbhaya and claimed that he would bury himself under earth in a religious custom called 'bhoo samadhi'.
Saraswati was to bury himself in a six-feet-deep pit in sector 9 of the Mela city at around 11.15am and was supposed to remain there for nine days without food and water. While buried, the sanyasi had planned to "pray to God to instill sensitivity among men so that they respect women and never indulge in acts of harassment and molestation".
The Naga sanyasi had been hogging the limelight since the past few days after taking the decision. However, on Friday morning, as he moved towards the Samadhi site, he was stopped by cops. Citing security concerns and orders from higher-ups, including SSP Kumbh Mela R K S Rathore, the cops persuaded the sanyasi to abandon the idea of taking 'samadhi'. He was later escorted back to his camp inside Juna Akhara in Sector 9.
The sanyasi defended his act by stating that it was a form of 'hatayoga' and that he was preparing himself for the pledge for the last one week. "He had stopped eating and was taking only tea and water," said a follower. Talking to reporters on how he would breathe inside the pit, he said, "Yoga is the key. I have been practicing yoga for the last 40 years."
Claiming himself to be a "champion of women's rights and one who believed in their true liberation", Saraswati said: "I took the decision to take bhoo samadhi to highlight the recent attacks on women, especially the ghastly Delhi incident. The yoga practice, which may sound weird to some, may perhaps arouse the sensitivity of men who would learn to respect 'naari' (woman) and refrain from indulging in violent attacks against them in future."
Asked as to how he would have managed to remain alive inside the pit for 9 days without food and water, the sanyasi said: "Hathayoga is full of examples where the practitioner has come out unscathed from rigorous situations. I have been practicing this form of yoga since the last 40 years and also undertaken similar practices."
Divisional commissioner Devesh Chaturvedi said: "The decision to stop the sanyasi from taking bhoo samadhi has been taken in view of his safety. If anything untoward had happened, the blame would have come on the Mela authorities and district administration. Moreover, who is going to certify that one can survive after this 9 day ordeal."
Mahamandaleshwar of Juna Akhara Mahant Prem Giri said: "The Akhara never subscribes to such practices and it was a personal decision of the sanyasi to undertake this unusual step. He was earlier a part of mainstream Juna Akhara but owing to such actions, he has been shifted to a smaller unit."
Medical experts said that the earth in which the sanyasi was burying himself contained sand which has a good amount of oxygen. Still the effort was risky.
Saraswati had left his home at the age of seven and belongs to a small village in Vrindavan. "As told by my mother, I never begged to survive. I ate whatever came my way," he recalled, adding that after wandering for several years, he came in touch with a group of sanyasis who took him under their patronage.
He said that he had seen other seers taking bhoo samadhi. "One of them was a seer named Shambhu in Haridwar who stayed under earth for 101 hours. He said that he was to stay under earth for 216 hours, which was a record in itself. The cancellation of his effort was disappointing," Saraswati told reporters.