By Dinesh K. Sharma
NEW DELHI: Yogi Adityanath, 46, became the first yogi (Hindu ascetic) to be sworn in as a chief minister of a state in India on Sunday.
Yogi, whose name before he took sanyas was Ajay Singh Bisht, was sworn in as the 21st chief minister of India’s most populous state Uttar Pradesh. He is also a five-time member of the Indian parliament.
Before Yogi Adityanath’s elevation, woman sanyasin Uma Bharati has also been the chief minister of Madhya Pradesh from 2003 to 2004.
Interestingly, Yogi Adityanath was born in Uttarakhand, not Uttar Pradesh. He was born Ajay Singh Bisht in 1972 at Panchor village in Pauri Garhwal district of Uttarakhand. He holds a B.Sc degree.
How he became a Yogi
After doing his B.Sc at the age of 21, Ajay Singh Bisht started research on Guru Gorakhnath. During his research, he was very influenced by the head seer of Gorakhnath Math Mahant Aavaidyanath. He left his research and became spiritual under the spell of Mahant Aavaidyanath.
Mahant Aavaidyanath himself was the top leader of the Ram Janmabhoomi agitation and four-time member of parliament from Gorakhpur.
On the auspicious day of Feb 15, 1994, Mahant Aavaidyanath administered sanyas or yog to Ajay Singh Bisht at an elaborate ceremony at the Gorakhnath Math and rechristened him as Yogi Adityanath. That’s how 22-year-old Ajay Singh Bisht became Yogi Adityanath.
The Gorakhnath Math has a huge Hindu following in Uttar Pradesh and even Nepal which cuts across caste lines. So anyone who heads the Math commands a huge following.
In 1998, Mahant Aavaidyanath renounced politics and anointed Yogi Adityanath as his political successor. So, in 1998, Yogi Adityanath contested and won the parliament elections from Gorakhpur, becoming an MP at the age of 26. He has been elected to parliament from Gorakhpur five times since then, with ever-bigger margins. He does not need Modi or anyone to win from Gorakhpur. His word is the rule in eastern Uttar Pradesh.
In Sept 2014 when Mahant Aavaidyanath passed away, Yogi Adityanath was anointed as the Peethadheeshwar or head seer of the Gorakhnath Math. Thus, Yogi Adityanath inherited both spiritual and political clout of his mentor.
As the spearhead of the right-wing outfit Hindu Yuva Vahini, Yogi Adityanath has also been instrumental in conversion ceremonies in Uttar Pradesh to bring Muslims and Christians into the Hindu fold.
At a mass conversion ceremony at Etah in 2005, more than 5,000 people converted to Hinduism. Yogi Adityanath has been quoted as saying,“I will not stop till I turn UP and India into a Hindu rashtra”.
Yogi Adityanath, who is a Rajput, joins other bachelor or single chief ministers of Indian states today.
Among them is Odisha chief minister Naveen Patnaik, Assam chief minister Sarbananda Sonowal, Uttarakhand chief minister Trivendra Singh Rawat, Haryana chief minister Manoharlal Khattar and West Bengal chief minister Mamata Bannerjee.