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Tuesday, July 17, 2018

Krishna-Rukmini bind Gujarat with North-East

@narendramodi retweets the Madhavpur Mela event in Gujarat, which celebrates the union of Krishna of Gujarat with Rukmini of Arunachal Pradesh, and which earlier this week turned into an occasion to take potshots at China.

Written by Jyoti Malhotra | New Delhi | Published: March 28, 2018 8:15:36 pm
madhavpur mela, gujarat bjp event, vijay rupani, indian express opibion, union culture minister mahesh sharma, madhavpur-ghed, porbandar, gujarat news Arunachal governor B D Mishra took a dig at China without naming it (Source: Vijay Rupani Twitter)

Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s top ten tweets on his @narendramodi Twitter handle today are devoted to the #MadhavpurMela that is being celebrated in Madhavpur-Ghed, a small town in Gujarat – to be fair, most of these are actually retweets of Gujarat Chief Minister Vijay Rupani and Union culture minister Mahesh Sharma’s tweets celebrating the fair which began on Sunday.

A beautifully shot four-and-a-half minute video accompanies Rupani’s tweet below. It looks like an Incredible India ad, with stunning, sweeping visuals.

But dig deeper and you will find that the Madhavpur Mela in Porbandar district, which celebrates the union of the Krishna and his consort Rukmini, earlier this week turned into an occasion in which potshots were freely taken at India’s large neighbour in the north, China.

The long list of VIP invitees to the mela were equally noteworthy: Besides Rupani and Sharma, there was chief minister of Arunachal Pradesh Pema Khandu, chief minister of Manipur N Biren Singh, Arunachal governor Brigadier (retd) B D Mishra and Gujarat governor O P Kohli, as well junior home minister Kiren Rijiju.

Naturally, there was a photo commemorating the occasion :

But if you were wondering about the reason for this Gujarat-meets-North-East, then wonder no further. According to both Vijay Rupani and Mahesh Sharma (whose mugshots, along with junior home minister Kiren Rijiju appears at the end of the video, indicating that the Mela has full sanction from the union ministry of culture), Krishna’s wife Rukmini was actually a princess of the Idu Mishi tribe of Arunachal Pradesh. Rukmini’s brother, Rukmi, wanted her to marry someone else, but she wanted to marry Krishna. So the two men fought, Krishna won and carried off Rukmini.

That is why the hashtag #EkBharatShreshtaBharat. Krishna of Dwarka, Gujarat, marries Rukmini of Arunachal Pradesh. All India is One.

Does the mind boggle at the re-telling of this mythological tale? And since the Union culture ministry has lent its weight to the Madhavpur Mela, does this mean that this re-telling is the one that will henceforth carry much greater currency?

Let’s look at what Wikipedia, the go-to counsel of lesser mortals, says. According to Wiki, Rukmini was the daughter of King Bhishmaka, the king of Vidarbha (in present-day Maharashtra) who was a vassal of King Jarasandha of Magadha (present-day Bihar). She was born in Hardwar.

There’s nothing in history about Rukmini being from the Idu Mishi tribe in Arunachal, or anywhere else in the North-East.

But the fact that all these VVIPs came all the way from Itanagar and Imphal to Gujarat to celebrate the Krishna-Rukmini connection, certainly indicates that they – as well as the prime minister, who has underlined the event with several retweets – have new information to the contrary. Several of the dignitaries said : “North-East has been a part of India since Dwapar Yug.”

According to Hindu scriptures, Dwapar Yug is the third out of four ‘yugs’ or ages, and according to the Puranas, it ended when Krishna returned to his eternal abode, Vaikuntha. Soon enough, Arunachal CM Pema Khandu had made the great leap to China. To be sure, he was circumspect and did not name the country.

“We watch in news channels today that some other country is claiming some part of Northeast. But nobody can change the history and the ancient history says that Arunachal was not a separate state but entire Northeast was one. For centuries, we have been with India, mainland India. This is our strength,” Khandu said.

Manipur CM N Biren Singh agreed. By “marrying Rukmini, Krishna had bound the Northeast with India”, he pointed out.

Nevertheless, Biren Singh is a practical man. He added : “In the time of Lord Krishna, there was no separate Arunachal Pradesh or Assam or Manipur. The entire Northeast was one entity. Now, Arunachal Pradesh, Manipur and Nagaland are on the border of China. But Lord Krishna made them part of India during his time”.

Arunachal governor B D Mishra took a dig at China without naming it. “You are here on the western border of India and we are from the eastern border, 3,500 kilometres away. But this distance has always remained connected. If somebody from the other side of our border claims that Arunachal belongs to them, they are grossly wrong because if our princess could come here 5,000 years ago and you could make her the queen, it clearly means Arunachal has always been with India and will continue to be so,” said Mishra.

At a time when the Union government is beginning to concede China’s expanding influence in South Asia, the commentary by the VVIPs at the Madhavpur Mela rather seemed to be at odds.

It is only right that Gujarat governor O P Kohli should have the last unusual word on this unusual event in his home state. Kohli pointed out that, like Krishna and Rukmini, “marriages” have always been an important part of the unity and territorial integrity of India.

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