Syncretic Inchageri

Modern living

Syncretic Inchageri

The Inchageri Math is a perfect model for today’s world. Manjunath Sullolli gives us a peek into this modern institute that refuses to look at caste and religion.

Twenty-five years ago, Appasaheb Yaranal, a social activist of Bijapur, introduced and promoted intercaste marriages in Inchageri Village. And this tradition continues to this day and has been accepted by the people whole-heartedly. The village is full of instances where marriages have taken place between different castes and religions.

“What difference does it make whether we are Hindus or Muslims, high caste or low caste”? says Janabaayi a Muslim married to a Hindu 25 years ago.

When caste and communalism have become so supreme as to cause concern, it is heartening to see that a substantial group of people in a little known Inchageri Village of Bijapur in Karnataka have long since modified their lifestyles to rid themselves of class, caste and communal stigmas.

Inchageri Math nestled in the 40 acres of land in Indi taluka of Bijapur is a shining example of the syncretic nature of Karnataka. Today, in Inchageri there are 45 families who do not like being identified by their castes or religion. Several of them have inter-married and live as a close knit family.

All the people work together in a community land, cook together and eat together. All men of the Inchageri Math campus engage themselves in agriculture. Through manual labour,  200 acres of land is ploughed and cultivated every year.

Around 20 wells were dug and 40 check dams built 50 years ago. It cost them a lot of money, but the effort was worth it. Where nothing was grown once, they now have orchards of coconuts, chikku and mango trees besides crops like sugarcane, cotton, chilies, peanuts, jowar, maize, urad, moong, turmeric, onions, brinjals, garlic, carrots and other vegetables.

The women generally do the cooking and the cleaning while the men tend to the farm and do the other arduous chores. No one gets paid, while all the needs are paid for by the institution. Inchageri Math situated in arid plains of Indi taluka of Bijapur District has been transformed into an oasis by the sheer efforts of the ashramites.

Inchageri Math was established about 200 years ago by Guruling Jangam Maharaj. The Math attained its eminence during the period of its 5th pontiff Sri Mahadevaru Murgod also known as Mahadevanand Prabhuji (1915-1980). He started Girish Farm and Belgundi Farm on a co-operative basis and succeeded.

He made his followers understand the spirit of the times and participate in all the movements such as the freedom struggle and the Sarvodaya. In the mean time, he kept the tradition of his math alive by urging thousands of his followers, devotees and disciples to take action for social transformation.

After independence, he decided that the Math would be a vehicle to propagate the Gandhian concept of an ideal society. In this mission, he used the religious nature of the Math to good advantage. Murgod Mahadevaru transformed the Inchageri Math into a Sarvodaya Centre on the basis of mysticism.

It is a common sight at Inchageri Math situated on the Karnataka-Maharashtra border to see people mix religious rites and forget their difference of caste, creed and language. Vachanas of sharanas are sung in Kannada and Marathi.

In the campus of Inchageri Math, students are taught to imbibe creativity and the love for learning, right attitude and essential skills. They are also taught the basic qualities of character to become a strong personality with a sense of moral and spiritual values.

They are made aware of the socio-economic needs of the country and of the less privileged. They hope to bring in a spirit of sharing, to work for national and international integration and ultimately a better world. Some felt the experiment would die. However, as the present head of the Math, Revanasiddha Maharaj has kept the tradition alive.

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