By Badi-uz-Zamaan Mohd
It is almost certain. The name of the Maulana Azad National Urdu University’s (MANUU) new Chancellor has been finalized. He goes by the name Mr. M. He is also known as Shri Madhukarnath. But, according to his own account he was born in Kerala as Mumtaz Ali Khan.
A notification purportedly from the Ministry of Human Resources made this announcement last month. But official sources said a formal ‘notification’ will be released soon in this regard. That notification may carry his actual name.
The term of the previous Chancellor Firoz Bakht Ahmed has ended a few months ago.
Sources said that Madhukarnath is a well known spiritual leader, educationalist and author Shri Madhukarnath. The tenure of the Chancellor is three years. A purported letter of appointment of Madhukarnath has gone viral on the Internet. However, an official confirmation or announcement from the Ministry and MANUU is yet to come. The staff of the University abuzz with the so called news but none is willing to confirm or deny it. In fact, it has been shared on the MANUUTA or the university’s Teachers Association website.
According to his website, Shri Madhukarnath, or Shri M, a septuagenarian, founded The Satsang Foundation, and was born in a Muslim household in Thiruvannathapuram. It also touches upon the influence of stories of Sufi saints had on him, as well as an “encounter a numinous Swami.” In several interviews, he said that he was born as Mumtaz Ali Khan. In an interview given to asianetnews, available on YouTube, he pointed out that he has not converted to any religion, and that a person’s “external appearance” does not matter. What matters is one’s “internal direction.”
Shri Madhukarnath is the author of several books, which include those on yoga, the Upanishads, and meditation. He has also authored a book of fiction. His talks revolve around spirituality and brotherhood. He embarked on the Manav Ekta Mission which lays emphasis on interfaith harmony and “oneness of humanity.” In 2015, he started The Walk of Hope, a padyatra over 7,500 km for peace and harmony, as a part of the Manav Ekta Mission. This culminated in Kashmir.
Last year, MANUU saw a tug of war between its 5th Chancellor Firoz Bakht Ahmed and then Vice-Chancellor (VC) Mohammed Aslam Parvaiz. The former accused the then VC of corruption and allegedly indulging in certain irregularities, which the latter flatly rejected. He also wrote to President of India Ram Nath Kovind that he would not attend the university’s convocation.
The former Chancellor, who once described himself as a “Chowkidar Chancellor” was critical of the farmers’ protest. He also wrote to Prime Minister Narendra Modi and expressed his support and wrote that the farmers were vandals and anti-national.
Currently, Ahmed has expressed support for the Bharatiya Janata Party and the Yogi Adityanath government in Uttar Pradesh. The state goes to polls next month.