Farooq Abdullah’s Rahul-Shankaracharya comparison disrespectful, factually wrong

Farooq’s comment that Rahul is the second such person to take this journey is completely bereft of facts

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By: Raja Muneeb
Updated: 20 January, 2023 4:52 pm IST

Rahul Gandhi continues to be compared to Hindu Gods and seers as he entered the last leg of his Bharat Jodo Yatra in Jammu and Kashmir. Weeks after Congress senior leader Salman Khurshid compared him with Lord Ram and likened him to “a yogi doing his tapasya, now National Conference leader Farooq Abdullah has equated Rahul Gandhi’s efforts to travel the whole country with that of one of the greatest seers in India Adi Shankaracharya.

“Centuries ago Shankracharya came here. He walked when there were no roads but jungles. He had walked from Kanyakumari to Kashmir. He ( Rahul Gandhi) is the second person who took out the yatra from the same Kanyakumari and is reaching Kashmir,” he said in Kathua, Jammu on Thursday.

Farooq’s comment had a deep political connotation to it as it was aimed at linking Rahul Gandhi’s historical Hindu roots back to the valley. Gandhi himself had claimed that Kashmir is the land of his forefathers.  Though the Gandhi-led Bharat Jodo Yatra journey is largely seen as a political effort of the Congress party to garner support for the upcoming parliamentary elections in 2024, it is in no way equivalent to the spiritual journey Shankaracharya had undertaken centuries ago.

Adi Shankracharya was an 8th-century Hindu Vedic scholar and preacher whose scholarly work is based on his commentaries on ten principal Upanishads. It is believed that Adi Shankaracharya visited the valley in the 8th century CE. The temple and the hill in Srinagar got their name from him.

Farooq’s comment that Rahul is the second such person to take this journey is completely bereft of facts too. In the last decade, only, eleven people have undertaken similar journeys for different social and awareness-raising purposes. Among these, there are two journeys undertaken by individuals which were of similar nature to that of Gandhi’s Bharat Jodo Yatra.

In December 2013, a 62-year-old retired banker Vidyadhar Bhuskute started a “Walk for Peace” from Kashmir to Kanyakumari. Deeply upset with continuous ceasefire violations by Pakistan at that time, Bhuskute undertook the journey to spread the message of peace. He covered the 3600 km journey by April 2014.

In 2015-2016 Sri M, founder of Manav Ekta Mission along with approximately 150 people led a padayatra “Walk for Hope” from Kanyakumari to Kashmir. The padayatra was flagged off on 12th January 2015 and spanned for sixteen months through 11 states, covering nearly 7500 km and reaching out to 10 million fellow Indians. It was concluded on 29th April 2016 in Srinagar. The padayatra was aimed at spreading the message of a united and inclusive India which is strikingly similar to the Gandhi-led Bharat Jodo Yatra.

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