Publisher: Itihasa Leadership Academy Pvt Ltd, Pp 72, Rs 250.00
Of the many incidents and experiences chronicled by Shantanu Gupta from the growing up years of Uttar Pradesh CM Yogi Adityanath in his graphic novel Ajay to Yogi Adityanath, there are three instances worth memorising. How young Yogi Ji, who was then called Ajay Bisht, in his ancestral village of Panchur in the hinterlands of Uttarakhand, reacted when his domestic cow Bagula was hurt. The book throws light on what are the qualities of Sri Ram that Ajay gets to understand from Mahant Avaidyanath, the famous saint from Gorakhpur Mutt, who initiates the young student to a life of selfless service towards society as a Mahant and the resilience of Yogi Ji when his ears are pierced at the Mutt ceremony.
It is noteworthy how a teenaged Ajay explains what a cow is for a country like Bharat. Delving into the concept of the bovine is the true representative of a mother, it is remarkable how he justifies his action of protecting not just Bagula but other cows from those who inflict harm on them. He says, “Our morning’s milk comes from cows. Similarly, the afternoon’s curd and night’s paneer. We eat sweets, butter and cream made from cow’s milk. The manure for organic farming comes from cow dung and cow urine is used in ayurvedic medicines.” In explaining how a cow is not merely an animal but a wholesome provider, just like a Mata, the boy establishes for the readers why we need to revere as well as protect the cow.
When Ajay Bisht visits the Gorakhpur Mutt for the first time to meet Mahant Avaidyanath, he asks the saint very pertinently why is the Ram Mandir movement so intrinsic and important to the Hindus of Bharat. In explaining how the Mandir is a significant testimony to the civilisational history of this Sanatan land, Ajay is told about the 16 special qualities of Sri Ram, our ancestor. These points get etched on in the young man’s mind that steer him eventually to the path of dedication and devotion towards the country. He recognises that nothing comes ahead of the country and this is the initiation of the nationalistic fervour in Yogi Adityanath.
In the age of the corrupt influence of social media, perhaps we need to steer our youth towards stories of bravura, sacrifice and selflessness. This is what Ajay Bisht’s story is about. Or our very own Yogi Adityanath
Another beautiful episode is the ear splitting process that Yogi Adityanath goes through in the Mutt. As he becomes a Kan-Phate Sadhu, everyone takes note of how calm, stable and resilient the young saint is. Perhaps, a reckoner of how he would go on to be a composed and determined politician a few years later.
Apart from these three episodes, why is this important book a must read for the children of Bharat? Sceptics will complain about youngsters being schooled to adhere to a certain ideology. But here is where you must pause, pick up Ajay to Yogi Adityanath to understand that this has nothing to do with any political leanings. This is a fantastic attempt to chronicle the change that swept over a young boy who always had it in him to choose the right path. The initiation to Dharma had been so well charted from his humble beginnings that he would eventually realise where life would take him. The spiritual journey was intrinsically linked to his career route as well as his own evolution as a person who puts his country above everything else. It’s the Mother he is out to serve and he shall do it by bringing about the good change in society by reaching out to its people. If as parents you want your children to understand the intricacies of a determined mind that takes up difficult challenges and absorbs energies from Vedic and Dharmic learnings to fulfil them, the story of Yogi Adityanath is a fabulous source of inspiration. In the age of the corrupt influence of social media, perhaps we need to steer our youth towards stories of bravura, sacrifice and selflessness. This is what Ajay Bisht’s story is about. Or our very own Yogi Adityanath.
Read along with your tots. In its lucid presentation are embedded morals and life lessons that are imperative to nurture strength of character and conviction in young minds. If you have read the author’s The Monk who became Chief Minister and The Monk who transformed Uttar Pradesh, this is one graphic novel you will enjoy even as you learn from the early life of the protagonist. Also, when naysayers crib why a Mahant entered politics if he wanted to relinquish worldly desires, this book has all the answers you can shut the rabble rousers with. But most importantly, cherish this work with your little ones because it tells the story of a boy who dared to bring change and brought it with the aid of diligence and Dharma! Hence, he is a man rational thinkers are proud of and pinning our hopes on as he’s committed in taking Bharat to greater glories!