Diaspora protests release of ‘Maharaj’ – the film


India Post News Service

On June 20, followers of the Pushtimarg (a Vaishnava sect of Hinduism) together with members of the Hindu community held a demonstration outside the Netflix office in Los Gatos, CA to protest the release of Maharaj, a new movie produced by Yash Raj Films.

The protestors were accompanied by one of the current leaders of the sect, Shri Dwarkeshlalji Maharajshri, who delivered a signed protest letter to Netflix opposing the release of the movie on the grounds that it hurts the sentiments of followers of the Pushtimarg sect and the Hindu community at large.

Based loosely on a real-life historic court case, the movie depicts a journalist (Karsandas Mulji) questioning the character of Jadunathji Maharaj, the then leader of the Pushtimarg sect. The movie is based on a Gujarati novel of the same name, which is itself a fictionalized and sensationalized account of the Maharaja Libel Case of 1862.

The movie suffers from several shortcomings. Primary among them is that it assassinates the character of Jadunathji Maharaj and grossly distorts the true teachings of the Pushtimarg.

There has been widespread opposition to the release of the movie by the Vaishnavas (followers of the sect) both in India and abroad. Several protest marches and demonstrations have been held in major cities in Gujarat and other states. Vaishnavas have been fighting a legal battle to portray the sect in the correct manner.

The movie was originally scheduled to be released on June 14, but a stay order was issued by the Gujarat High Court to delay the release due to a petition filed by Vaishnavas in Ahmedabad, India. After several days of deliberation, the stay order was lifted on June 21 and the movie made available for streaming soon afterwards. Vaishnavas are expected to fight the release in the Supreme Court of India.

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