The Janata Dal United on Saturday dared Uttar Pradesh chief minister Yogi Adityanath to reveal whether he recited the Muhammad Bodh during Ramazan and Id-ul-Fitr, which it said was his religious duty as a spiritual leader of the Nath sect.
The JDU asserted that Adityanath coming clean on the subject would not just dispel any doubts on whether he was properly discharging his religious duties but also foster communal harmony in Uttar Pradesh and elsewhere in the country.
The Muhammad Bodh is a part of the Sri Nath Rahasya, a centuries-old gospel integral to the Shaivite Nath sect or tradition that was compiled into a three-volume book by Yogi Vilasnath in the last century. The Muhammad Bodh stresses the unity of Ram and Rahim, talks about one God and praises Prophet Muhammad.
Adityanath is the mahant (head monk or high priest) of the Gorakhnath temple and monastery, considered the main seat of Guru Gorakhnath who founded the Nath sect in the 11th century.
Mandatory recitals of the Muhammad Bodh are prescribed to Nath sect members during Ramazan and Id-ul-Fitr. This has to be done in front of an idol of Gorakhnath or his symbolic slippers, backed up by an assortment of rituals prevalent among Hindus. The book tells sect members that reading it 786 times -- a sacred number for Muslims -- would lead to fulfilment of their wishes.
“It’s the duty of Yogi Adityanath as head of the Gorakhnath temple and monastery to recite the Muhammad Bodh, especially during Ramazan and Id, as prescribed to members of the Nath sect. He should say whether he is discharging his duty as leader of the sect or has stopped doing so,” JDU spokesperson and MLC Neeraj Kumar said.
“If Adityanath is performing his religious duty perfectly and reciting the text, as he must, why is he hiding it? Making it public will foster social harmony and goodwill. It will be good for the entire nation at a time when Right-wing parties are trying to destroy communal harmony.”
Neeraj happens to be a member of the Nath sect, having been initiated by a monk in 2009 in Karnal, Haryana.
The BJP hit back at the JDU. Nikhil Anand, BJP spokesperson and national general secretary of the party's OBC Morcha, said the JDU's "antics" were deplorable and demanded an apology from Bihar chief minister Nitish Kumar.
"This gimmick by JDU spokespersons has hurt the sentiments of the Nath sect. Nitish Kumar must apologise for ridiculing the tradition of the sect through JDU spokespersons. He can stoop to any level to make Muslims happy," Anand said.
The JDU on Saturday organised a collective recital of the Muhammad Bodh, attended by several party leaders including Neeraj, spokesperson Rahul Sharma, Abhishek Jha, Dheeraj Kumar Singh, Ayush Kumar, Mukesh Jain and Pankaj Kumar Singh.