Chandrabadni Movement

Chandrabadni Movement

chandra Chandrabadni is a temple that stands at 8000 feet on the mountain of Chandrakut just a few kilometers from where the SBMA campus is now located. Legend has it that Shri Shankaracharya was so impressed by the area here that he set up a 'peeth' at Chandrabadni. According to another legend, temples were set up wherever the parts of Lord Shiva's dead wife, Sati, fell. The Chandrabadni temple marks the resting place of her torso.

For centuries the tradition of sacrificing animals to please and appease the Goddess had prevailed. According to tradition, every Navratri one buffalo and nine goats were to be sacrificed at the temple. They were chased up the hill and cruelly beheaded in a fashion that supposedly pleased the Goddess. The tradition of animal sacrifice was widespread in the region and the reasons were varied. A promise or a wish to the Goddess had to be supported by a sacrifice, or devastation would ensue.

The traditional reasons had strong roots, but, on the ground, the sacrifices created a difficult reality for the local people. Sacrificing buffaloes and goats on a fairly regular basis was far beyond the economic means of the majority of people.

Swami Manmathan was quick to realize upon his arrival in Anjanisain in 1966 that the only people benefiting from the barbaric practice were the numerous moneylenders. Ordinary people were forced to rely on these loan sharks to provide them the necessary means to continue sacrificing animals at the temple.

New generations inherited debt from their grandparents that had been poured into the needless killings. So, when the then Block Pramukh, Govin Prasad Gairola, invited Swami ji to head a movement against the wasteful practice, he readily agreed.An action committee was formed and Swami ji elected its president. The committee knew that the only chance of success was to convince the local community of the futility of the practice. Community mobilization began with the students. Swami ji addressed large gatherings of students convincing them of the negative economic situation that the sacrifices were creating and that it was a wasteful, unnecessary process. From there larger and larger community gatherings were held, even at the temple, and the issues that surrounded the sacrifices were addressed and discussed.

The debate became extremely intense, and matters even became violent between the anti-animal sacrifice committee and some devotees during the 1967 Navratris. Women and students kept vigil through many nights to ensure that animals would not be killed. Swami ji sat among them and told the pro-sacrifice devotees that they would have to kill him first before any animals would be sacrificed. Heavy police presence was needed to keep the situation under control. Eventually the community was united and pledged to discontinue the centuries-old practice that was now creating horrific economic situations.

It was only by the Navratris of 1969 that the tradition was abolished for good. A special puja was held to mark the end of the old way and a beginning of a new, less destructive, tradition. The economic situation began to rectify itself, and the wasteful practice had been put to an end. The community had mobilized and an old custom had bowed to new will.

Swami ji was strengthened and inspired by the commitment of the young people and their ability to perceive the need for change. They stood in the face of considerable opposition and even danger in order to mend their social woes, and it was their joint efforts that had brought about this huge change.

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