Wednesday, January 01, 2014

Maharaja Libel Case

Pushtimarg has been around for 500+ years now and has witnessed many changes. Any sincere follower of Pushtimarg would have come across the mentions of the Maharaja Libel case. It took place around 150 years ago in the 1860s in a Mumbai court of the British East India Company rule. It is a significant event in Pushtimarg history.

For the first time, a Pushtimargiya Aacharya (aka Gusain/Goswami Baalak) was subjected to a summon to appear in the court of law. There were many charges and countercharges between the parties.

The entire report was published as a book and is available online for reading. It should be read by sincere followers of Pushtimarg to understand the then social context and community practices and be aware of today's context.

Here are some of the quotes of Jadunathjee Brijrattonjee Maharaj examined by Mr. Anstey and Mr. Bayley.
"I am the plaintiff in this action, and am above thirty-five years of age. I have never been in a Court of Justice in my life before. To my knowledge no other Maharaj has attended in a Court of Justice.
In no book written by Vallabhacharya is it inculcated that the Maharajas are to be worshipped as Gods.
It is not inculcated in that commentary or in any other book of the sect, that one should offer his wife and daughter to the Maharaj.

I convened a meeting to discuss the question of widow remarriage; in consequence of a note addressed to me by Narmadashanker. ... Narmadashanker said the Shastras may be followed when advisable, or not. I said we must acknowledge all the Shastras; and my opinion was that, if the Shastras allowed, remarriages might take place, but not otherwise. I have seen no authority in the Shastras for remarriages. But I have no objection personally thereto. In my sect remarriages take place, and I don't prohibit them. 
I am a man, and not a God. I am a man and a Guru to my followers. I am not an incarnation of the Deity and I am not aware that hitherto any of my followers has ever regarded me as a God, or an incarnation of God. The words Agnee-swarup (form of fire) is not applied to us.

The story of the 252 and of the 84 is not considered a book of authority in our sect.
I have never seen the water from a Maharaj's lungotee rinsed and drunk by the Vaishnavas. The "joothan" ( remnants of food ) left by the Maharajas is eaten like that of all other Gurus.
I have not read in "Guru Seva" that all the Vallabhacharya Gosainjees are to be considered as incarnations of God. Ever since I arrived at a proper age I have told my followers not to believe in this doctrine.
I have married two wives. I married before I set out for Beyt, and was away for two years from my second wife, who was then of the age of nine or nine and a half years. She came to live with me at the age of thirteen. 
I have said that adultery is a great sin according to the Shastras of my sect."
These are important points that needed clarifications as even today, some vaishnavs carry the misunderstandings. Though Jadunathji Maharaja made a good testimony, the defendant Karsondas Mulji was not held libel for publishing an outcry against the alleged immoral conduct of the Maharaja. Whenever there is a lack of an oversight or accountability, the mediocrity and immorality creeps in and if the person has high vested power, it becomes a socially undesirable episode. The solution lies in education - the well-learned followers would make the Guru also better and vice-versa.