Lucknow— Since the Deputy Chief Minister of Uttar Pradesh hinted at the possibility of renaming the city after the mythical character "Laxman", brother of the heroic figure "Ram", there has been a growing interest in the history of the city. It is worth noting, however, that this is not the first time that such a demand has been made. In fact, as far back as 1965, the then-Mayor B.R. Mohan proposed the renaming of the city to Lakshmanpuri. Despite his efforts, however, the attempt was ultimately thwarted by Buddhist scholar Dauji Gupta, who conducted extensive research from around the world to support his argument.
Dauji Gupta had pointed out that during the British colonial era, it was taught in schools that Lakhna Pasi was the founder of the city, ruling from 1000 to 1033 A.D. He resided at Machchi Bhawan (now K.G.M.U) and had 71 Toran Dwars (welcome gates) bearing the iconic engraving of two fishes, spread across Lucknow. According to the legend, Muslim attackers launched a surprise attack, catching Lakhna Pasi's army off guard. The Maharaja's sword was used to decapitate himself and his head was hung at the gates. The sword later passed to the British from the Sheikhs and is now kept at Tarawali kothi in Lucknow.
In an interview with The Mooknayak, Pasi JaiVeer Singh, state general secretary of the Babasaheb Vahini at Samajwadi Party, spoke out against any attempts to rename the city. Singh highlighted the bravery of Lakhna Pasi, the leader who ruled in Lucknow between the 10th and 11th centuries. He also said that books published in the press of Munshi Nawal Kishore have mentioned Raja Lakhna Pasi and that the British themselves established that Lucknow was ruled by Maharaja Lakhna Pasi. Singh added that the government's intention to rename the city would be an attempt to subvert the history of Bahujans, and that any such efforts would be met with resistance from the people, who would not tolerate the erasure of their history.
In an interview with The Mooknayak, Bhawan Nath Paswan, President of Dr. Ambedkar Rashtriya Ekta Manch, expressed his concerns over the potential renaming of Lucknow. Paswan cited gazetteers which mention that Lucknow was founded by Lakhna Pasi, and that it was initially called Lakhnawati before being named Lucknow. He asserted that the Pasi community is agitated by rumours of the city's renaming, and that he believes the name Lucknow is associated with the city's cultural heritage and the sentiments of the Pasi community. Paswan warned against the unscientific glorification of Lakhna Pasi, stating that anything unscientific should be avoided. He also dismissed the prevalent folklore which claims that when the head of Lakhna Pasi was chopped off, his headless body continued to fight, calling it pure nonsense.
According to research scholar Kunwar Pratap Rawat, who runs a YouTube channel called "Pasi Landlord," the Government of India's 1971 census report on the Pasi community mentions that Lucknow is named after Maharaja Lakhan Pasi. Moreover, the Awadh Gazetteer of 1872, 1882, and 1904 mention a person named Lakhna who built Machchi Bhawan, but the name of the community is missing. However, Pasi tradition and oral history have held this fact since at least 1940. Rawat also cites Tazdar-e-Awadh, a book written by the late chronicler of Lucknow, Yogesh Praveen, which clearly states that Machchi Bhawan was built by Lakhna Pasi, after whom the city was named. Rawat supports the Pasi claim on Lakhna by referring to the gazetteers, which state that Rajputs came from Rajasthan and took over the forts and land of the Pasi community, who were the original inhabitants of Awadh, even before the arrival of Rajputs in the 12th-13th century.
While previous attempts to rename Lucknow after Laxman have been unsuccessful, it is important to consider the recent decision by the Yogi Adityanath government in 2018 to rename Faizabad as Ayodhya. Despite the government's mandate, the claims of the Pasi community cannot be overlooked. As the 2024 elections approach, the Yogi government may not proceed with the renaming of Lucknow in order to avoid alienating the Pasi community.
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