Mahanirvani Akhara Prayagraj

Mahanirvani Akhara (महानिर्वाणी अखाड़ा) was established in Prayagraj by Adi Guru Shankaracharya. One of the biggest ‘akharas’ and headquartered in Prayagraj, it was formally registered in 1860 AD as Shri Panchayati Akhara Mahanirvani. It is an ‘akhara’ of Naga sadhu and ‘sanyasi’. Kapil Muni is the patron deity of Mahanirvani Akhara. The history of Naga Sanyasi predates history. The tradition of Naga Sanyasi is very old. In the excavations at Mohenjodaro and Harappa a statue of Pashupati seated naked was found. In Vedic literature as well a half naked Lord Shiv sporting matted hair, body smeared with ash, finds reference. This explains the origin of Nagas in pre-history period. Akharas were established to protect the Sanatan Hindu Dharma and culture. In the ‘akharas’, along with education of religious scriptures, training in various weapons and martial arts is also carried out. Whenever the Sanatan Dharma & Hindu traditions came under threat, the Naga monks of the ‘akharas’ stood up against it. With their tenacity and tactics, these warrior ‘sadhus’ protected religious heritage and beliefs by sacrificing themselves. Mahanirvani Akhara was set up in 748 AD. Its headquarters is in Daraganj locality of Prayagraj. Its main branches are in Onkareshwar (Madhya Pradesh), Kankhal in Haridwar (Uttarakhand), Kurukshetra (Haryana), Nasik (Maharashtra), Udaipur (Rajasthan), Jwalamukhi (Himachal Pradesh), Varanasi (Uttar Pradesh) etc.

An institution like ‘akhara’ is run on certain ethical values, spiritual-religious-social objectives and strictly observed traditionally pursued practices. During pre-ndependence days, Mahatma Gandhi had visited Mahanirvani Akhara in Prayagraj and interacted with some of the ‘sanyasi’ to understand the functioning modalities of the organization. Having explored the management process of the ‘akhara’, he expressed his keen interest in the tenets, practices and ethics of the ‘akhara’ in Panchayati Raj system in independent India. Since its inception, the ‘akharas’ of ‘sanyasi’ have an inbuilt democratic system of management through eight elected senior ‘sanyasi’ known as Shrimahant (श्रीमहंत) for a period of three years. For their assistance eight other seniors are elected, known as ‘darbaris’ (executives). The daily affairs of an ‘akhara’ are run by an executive. The Shrimahantas who are the chiefs supervise the working from time to time. The responsibility of convening meetings of ‘akharas’ rests on the most senior ‘sanyasi’ who is known as ‘Dhooniwale Baba’ whose status may be compared to that of the Speaker in the Assembly. Strict discipline is enforced and decisions are taken after great deliberations and arriving at a consensus. In the matters of enforcing discipline none, however senior one may be, is spared.

Mahanirvani Akhara enters the Kumbh area in the form of a procession. The procession, called Peshwai (पेशवाई), comprises elephants, horses, camels, a band of musicians, idol of Kapil Muni in a palanquin, Dharma Dhwaja (धर्म ध्वजा – religious flag), Parva Dhwaja and large number of Naga monks brandishing various weapons like sword, mace etc. The Parv Dhwaja of Mahanirvani Akhara is a symbol of honor, self-respect and splendor. This is the only ‘akhara’ where Dharma Dhwaja is hoisted along with Parva Dhwaja (पर्व ध्वजा). Parva Dhwaja is symbol of Mahanirvani Akhara’s devotion and valour to the cause of religion and its traditions. When barbaric Mughal ruler Auranzeb tried to stop the organization of Kumbh Mela and related rituals of holy bath and congregation of the Hindu faithful for spiritual propitiation, the Naga sadhus of Mahanirvani Akhara brought the monks of other ‘akharas’ under Parv Dhwaja and won a fierce battle against the Islamic invaders to ensure the continuation of Kumbh Mela activities. Parva Dhwaja, thus, holds immense significance for Mahanirvani Akhara.

Equality and fraternity are the foundation-stone of this democratic set up. Brahmins, Kshatriyas, Vaishyas and Shudras are treated equally and the property of the ‘akhara’ is a collective property of the institution and none of the ‘sanyasi’ has personal right to it.

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Destination : Varanasi - Ayodhya - Prayagraj - Chitrakoot

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Allahabad Kumbh Mela with Varanasi Tour

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Destination : Delhi - Allahabad- Varanasi

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