Trolls slam 'Maharaj' for being 'anti-Hindu', but film's about 19th-century social reformer & celebrated case

By IANS | Published: June 13, 2024 04:35 PM2024-06-13T16:35:45+5:302024-06-13T16:40:06+5:30

Mumbai, June 13 The upcoming film 'Maharaj', starring Junaid Khan in the lead role, has landed into controversy, ...

Trolls slam 'Maharaj' for being 'anti-Hindu', but film's about 19th-century social reformer & celebrated case | Trolls slam 'Maharaj' for being 'anti-Hindu', but film's about 19th-century social reformer & celebrated case

Trolls slam 'Maharaj' for being 'anti-Hindu', but film's about 19th-century social reformer & celebrated case

Mumbai, June 13 The upcoming film 'Maharaj', starring Junaid Khan in the lead role, has landed into controversy, with many right-wing groups demanding for a ban, claiming the film is anti-Hindu. However, the film is a historical drama based on the life of journalist and social reformer Karsandas Mulji, who himself was Hindu.

Karsandas Mulji, portrayed by Bollywood superstar Aamir Khan’s son Junaid Khan, studied at Elphinstone College in Mumbai. He was a protege of the scholar-leader Dadabhai Naoroji and a member of the Gujarati Gyan Prasarak Mandali (Gujarati Society for the Spread of Knowledge). Mulji was also friends with prominent Gujarati reformists such as poet Narmad and educationist Mahipatram Neelkanth.

In 1855, Mulji founded the Gujarati language weekly "Satyaprakash" to leverage mass communication for social reform. Six years later, the newspaper merged with his mentor's Anglo-Gujarati newspaper "Rast Goftar," published in Bombay, which at that time included parts of Gujarat as part of the Bombay Presidency.

Mulji wrote extensively on issues such as widow remarriage, female education, excessive spending on pompous marriages, indecent songs sung during marriages, and the funeral ritual of chest-beating. He stood up for the oppressed, calling for social reform and helping to abolish many societal evils. Like his mentor, Mulji believed in the effective functioning of society by eliminating its evils.

One of Mulji's most notable articles was titled 'Gulamikhat', in which he criticised the sign campaign and law-making process by Vaishnavas that exempted the Maharaj (religious heads) from court appearances due to their religious status.

However, the article that caused the most controversy was "Hinduo No Asli Dharam Ane Atyar Na Pakhandi Mato" (The Primitive Religion of the Hindus and the Present Heterodox Opinions), published on September 21, 1890, in 'Satyaprakash'. This article criticised Vaishnava Acharyas (Hindu religious leaders) for their behaviour and led to the Maharaj Libel Case of 1862, which is the basis for the Netflix film.

The case was filed by religious leader Jadunathji Brijratanji Maharaj against Mulji and the publisher of 'Satyaprakash', Nanabhai Rustomji Ranina.

The article alleged that Jadunathji Brijratanji Maharaj had sexual liaisons with female followers and that men were expected to show their devotion by offering their wives for sex with the religious leaders.

The case began on January 25, 1862, and concluded on March 4, 1862. During the course of the case, which saw significant media coverage for its time and heightened interest by the general public, 31 witnesses were examined for the plaintiff (Maharaj) and 33 for the defendant (Mulji).

Doctors, including Bhau Daji, testified to treating the religious leader for syphilis, and several witnesses recounted his erotic escapades. The German sociologist Max Weber noted that the path of the religious sect to salvation was allegedly based on sexual orgies.

The case earned Mulji the title of "Indian Luther," given by the English press, and was eventually ruled in his favour.

As part of the judgment, Jadunathji Brijratanji Maharaj was ordered to pay Rs 11,500 to Karsandas Mulji.

Disclaimer: This post has been auto-published from an agency feed without any modifications to the text and has not been reviewed by an editor

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