A new party appeared on the scene after the date of the 1959 parliamentary election had already been announced. The party, ‘Karmabir Mahamandal’, tried to register with the Election Commission six days before the candidate nomination deadline. But the EC refused, saying that the deadline for party registration had already passed. Karmabir Mahamandal appealed to the palace. King Mahendra issued a royal command instructing the EC to register the party. But the EC still declined and Karmabir Mahamandal could not contest the polls.
The party ran under the instructions of Yogi Naraharinath. When the Congress won the election and formed a government, he launched a movement to incite villagers as he was a staunch opponent of the parliamentary system and wanted to derail the government. “Do not pay taxes to the government. Do not hand over forests to it. We need to destroy this government. I am a close confidant of the king,” he used tell people and show them a letter from the palace as he tried to foment unrest in the name of Karmabir Mahamandal.
Moreover, Yogi Naraharinath was attracting more and more followers by claiming he was none other than Lord Gorakhnath. On 25 October 1960, his disciples mounted an attack on the headquarters of Gorkha district. Their plan was to occupy the town and capture the chief officer.
Security personnel retaliated and in the ensuring combat, seven people lost their lives and many others were wounded. This incident obviously caused a political storm in Kathmandu; it also deepened the rift between the palace and the Nepali Congress.
There were no transport services in that era. But if Yogi Naraharinath was seen in a district one day, he would appear in another the following day. He was arrested in the north-western district of Jumla four days after the Gorkha incident.
He could speak fluently and at length on every topic archeology, history, culture, philosophy, politics, religion, etc and in multiple languages. He had the gift of gab. Many books have been published under his name. For a while, he was active in setting up religious schools and performing lengthy holy rituals in different parts of Nepal and India.
Balbir Singh Thapa was born into an ordinary family in the western hilly district of Kalikot in 1915. At the age of 10, Thapa was suddenly transformed into Yogi Naraharinath by the chief priest of the Chandannath Temple in Jumla. From a Chhetri, he converted into the Gorakhnath sect and started wearing Kundal (a pair of large earrings) and saffron garb.
The palace used to prepare profiles of people it could potentially use. Yogi Naraharinath was one of them which meant he was of great interest to the palace. King Mahendra used to keep a written evaluation of important figures. His former chief secretary Rewati Raman Khanal said to him, “A Jogi is not under anyone’s control. We can only listen to him.” (Rewati Raman Khanal’s Atmakatha, Anubhuti ra Abhibyakti).
Next week’s ‘Vault of History’ column will discuss more of Yogi Naraharinath’s political activities and their consequences