On the day of Vijayadashami, October 26, 2020, Govindacharya arrived at my house. His formal program was scheduled for the late evening in Tirhutipur village which is about one and a half km away from my house in Sunderpur Kaitholi village. Although this distance is not much, it appears larger than life because of the Beso river that flows between the two villages. Unfortunately, a few months back the old bridge over the river had collapsed due to which the feeling of this distance increased manifold. This was a cause for worry to me. I was not sure how to take Govind Ji to Tirhutipur.
Unaware of my worries, Govind Ji was happy in the village environment. He soon mingled with all the members of my family. Let me tell you that I have a joint family in the village. The tradition of joint family is still alive in this part of eastern Uttar Pradesh. However, a lot has changed in its form. Once it used to be a highly centralized system, but now it has taken the form of a loose confederation. However, this is not going to last long in its present form. Individualism accentuated by current socio-economic conditions is taking its toll on this age-old institution.
Our ancestral house was built by my grandfather in 1967. The house is large enough, but its design is traditional. It was built according to the need of a farming family. At that time, men usually lived out of the main gate (chaukhat) in the hallway (Daalaan). The house is built in such a way that even today men usually have to stay outside the main gate. However, it was not possible for me to follow this practice. With my books and laptop, I needed and eventually got a room.
Govindacharya Ji did not come to my village for the first time on October 26, 2020. Earlier in July 2018, he had come here. At that time, while walking around the village, I had pointed to one plot of land and said jokingly, “Govind Ji how will it be if we build an Ashram here for you?” Govind Ji did not say anything. He just smiled and looked at the piece of land to which I was pointing. There was a thick green paddy crop in its magnificent form, unaware of our future designs.
In April 2020, when Govind Ji decided to make Tirhutipur his permanent residence, I immediately remembered the incident of 2018. Soon after, the matter was discussed in my family and everyone agreed to leave that land (approx 1.5 acres) for the use of Govind Ji. The land has been lying vacant since then. It appears that it is waiting for Govind Ji to come there and make his Ashram.
When I reached the village on October 17, 2020, I had no plans for any formal program. All I wanted was that Govind Ji should come and stay for a few days to take the first-hand experience of the village life. However, my family was not satisfied only with this. Everybody was eager to organize a formal program. I also had the same desire but was silent considering the expenses associated with the program. When the initiative was taken by the family members themselves, I was more than happy to offer my consent.
An emotional moment:
Once the decision of formal program was taken, my younger uncle Sharad Singh took over the command. He went door-to-door in Tirhutipur and informed about the program and asked everyone to assemble at 4 pm on the day of Dussehra. The program was scheduled on the same piece of land which had already been earmarked for the use of Mission Tirhutipur.
Tirhutipur is inhabited by the people of Kewat, Rajbhar, and Musahar castes. Here, no one knew about Govindacharya. I was wondering how to introduce him to the villagers. However, it was not an issue with my uncle. He started telling everyone that Govindacharya is a big Neta and he has adopted this village for its overall development. I had cautioned my uncle not to discuss this “development” issue too much. He understood my point. Thereafter, when the villagers asked what Neta Ji would do, uncle would remind them to come to the ground and listen. Things had become somewhat mysterious, so everyone in the village was eager to listen to Govindacharya.
The preparations for the program in Tirhutipur had started on the very morning of 26 October. When everything got ready, we all along with Govind Ji walked towards the venue. We had no problem crossing the river as the broken bridge was made functional with the help of concrete electric poles. Cars could not cross the river, but there was no problem in crossing it by foot.
By the time we reached the venue, the people of the village, especially the women and children, had already reached there. Everyone wanted to know what the ‘Neta JI’ of Delhi would do by adopting the village. When the local speakers on the Dias started praising Govind Ji, the expectation of the villagers increased further. But as soon as Govind Ji took over the mike, he smashed the idea of adopting a village. He declared that he will not adopt the village. On hearing this, the people of the village were stunned. My uncle got very upset because he had told everyone about the adoption. But this trouble did not last long. Govind Ji immediately clarified that he is not big enough to adopt the village, rather he wants the village to adopt him and nurture him like a child. He became emotional when he told that 100 years ago his ancestors got separated from their village and now it is a joyful moment for him to find a new village in the form of Tirhutipur.
Everyone liked these touching words of Govind Ji. But I was worried to see the rising expectations all around. I knew that there was no meeting point between the priorities of Mission Tirhutipur and the expectations of the villagers in the short term.
Let me finish this diary here. I will come back again, same day same time, Sunday at 12 noon to tell the aftermath of the Dussehra program. Have a nice week ahead. Namaskar.
Vimal Kumar Singh
Convener, Mission Tirhutipur