On March 2nd, 2014, Vigilant Brotherhood (International) hosted Guru Ravidass Community – 4th International Conference in Jalandhar. I was also invited and I joined them at the Conference. The President of the Vigilant Brotherhood (International), Manohar Lal Mahey, is my old friend from school days. I have been hearing about this organization and activities of Manohar from here and there with some interest and appreciation. It is a good effort by Manohar and his associates, prima facie, to provide a platform to discuss the problems and concerns of the community. But, to be fair, I could not find any substance in the proceedings of the Conference. There was no theme, agenda and format. It was free for all. The speakers spoke on different and varied subjects. Nobody cared nor was deputed to sum up the proceedings. It was disappointing in spite of the fact that some of the speakers were good and well placed to stand and speak, inter alia, Lahori Ram Balley, S.L. Virdi, Rajesh Bagha. There were delegates from other states like UP, Andhra Pradesh, Rajasthan, Haryana, Himachal Pradesh, J. & K. and Delhi. Vigilant Brotherhood under the leadership of Manohar Mahey deserves recognition and appreciation in attracting participation from far off places.
The gratifying aspect of the Conference which surfaced was that almost all the speakers were of the view that the community was getting divisive and fragmented on account of non-issues. The leadership, including the Deras, should understand the underlying current of induced elements of division and conflict by the vested interests to meet their nefarious goals to keep the community retarded and backward. Balley Sahib spoke with conviction and said that there was no conflict between the mission and philosophy of Guru Ravidass and Dr. B.R. Ambedkar. Virdi Sahib was also loud and clear that Dr. Ambedkar’s dictum of ‘Educate, Organise and Agitate’ emanated from the teachings of Guru Ravidass. With a view to underline this outcome of the Conference, I said in my brief remarks that, to my mind, the message of Guru Ravidass Community – 4th International Conference was to guard the community from getting divided as Buddhists, Ravidassias, Ambedkarites, followers of this and that Dera. The community should stand together as dalits and oppressed people and fight for our due space in the polity and society.