Grab your free download of Friday 13th mix by Kushti's on Hypeddit. In a major policy change, the Wrestling Federation of India on Friday decided that if it deems required, then it will ask the quota winning wrestlers to appear in trials before finalising the Indian team for next Olympics, a move which has irked the top athletes. The Wrestling Federation of India.

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India has international level wrestlers including women. Where did this sport originate and how did it grow in popularity? Epic Channel takes you on a journey to discover the original form of wrestling, Kushti, which was developed in the Mughal Empire. The combat art combined the native malla-yuddha with influences from Persian koshti pahlavani. A practitioner of this sport was referred to as a pehlwan while the teachers were known either as ustad or guru. In the 16th century, the Central Asian Mughals, through the influence of Iranian and Mongolian wrestling, incorporated groundwork to the local malla-yuddha, thereby creating the modern Kushti. During the late 17th century, Ramadasa the father of Indian athletics travelled the country encouraging people to take up a physical activity in homage to the monkey god, Hanuman. Wrestling was the favourite spectator sport of the Rajputs and every prince or chief had a number of wrestling champions to compete for his entertainment. Find out further details about this art form all on this episode.


Author:Rudraneil Sengupta [Sengupta, Rudraneil]
Language: eng
Format: epub
Publisher: HarperSport
Published: 2016-07-10T00:00:00+00:00

At dusk, Kallu pahalwan and Sohan Lal decide to walk to the ghats.

It’s what they do every evening. They keep away from the more crowded ones, the places where tourists and devotees throng for the evening aarti. The ghat of their choice, under the shadow of a hulking old palace, looks abandoned. A naked bulb hangs from the wall of the palace where the curving steps meet an octagonal stone platform raised above the water. It casts a feeble yellow light on the final few steps. A few feet away, on the next ghat, a band of children run around playing a game of tag, casting long, fleeting shadows over the palace ramparts. Boatfuls of tourists go by, the boatmen shouting out inane bits of information: ‘This is Darbhanga Palace, it was made by the maharaja of Darbhanga; This is Ahilya Ghat, built by Maharani Ahilya’—and so on.

But mostly, there is silence. I sit with the two friends on the platform and watch the water turn black.

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‘So why exactly are you here,’ Kallu pahalwan asks.

‘I am writing a book on kushti.’

‘A book? Then you’ve come to the right place. This is a place of learning.’ He smiles widely.

‘Banaras ki kushti, aur Banaras ki masti! (Wrestling in Varanasi and ecstasy in Varanasi!) You must experience both, and write about both!’ He smiles, then: ‘There is one very important thing about wrestling that you must understand. It is the most important thing. If it can be grasped, everything else is unnecessary.

‘Kushti is not about fighting at all. It is about spreading love. That’s the main reason why akhadas exist. To spread love. Some people call it bhaichara (brotherliness). When we put mitti on ourselves, we are saying many things. We are saying that we come from mitti, it sustains us, and then we go back to mitti. What that means is that we are all the same. Hindus, Musalmans, high caste, low caste, Brahmin, Chamar, brown skin, white skin, black skin, ugly, beautiful—you know what happens to them when they enter the akhada and wrestle?’

‘What?’

‘They all become the same. They have a body of one colour. They are all covered in mitti. They become members of the same caste—the caste of pahalwans.’

Kallu and Sohan are only telling me what I have heard repeated endlessly by other wrestlers and gurus: kushti is against the divisions of caste.

‘See, this is the only sport where two naked bodies meet. Your sweat, blood, saliva—all of it mingles. If you haven’t broken the barriers of caste and religion, how can you allow this to happen? That’s why kushti has no caste, and it has no religion.’

‘Who is India’s most famous pahalwan?’ Sohan Lal asks.

Without thinking, I say, ‘Gama.’

‘And he is a Musalman,’ Sohan Lal says.

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‘Yes. And every pahalwan in India knows of him, and keeps him in his heart, just like with Hanuman,’ Kallu says. ‘I remember—and this was a long time back—when I was twenty or twenty-one, and I had travelled for two days to go to this akhada in Punjab for a competition.

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