The Utopian Vision

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This picture was shot inside in a little akhara (gymnasia) lost in the fields near Sakalhida, a village in the Indian state of Uttar Pradesh.

Here pehlwans (Indian wrestlers) who have a rural life don’t have many visitors however they were very happy to meet me and they easily accepted to pose in front of my camera.
It might be because, unconsciously, in order to bring about the utopia envisioned and presaged by the ideology of wrestling, it is the moral duty of every wrestler to convert others to his chosen life path.

“It can be said that a wrestler is not a wrestler unless he makes others into wrestlers.
The wicked and the corrupt are quick to swell their ranks with converts, while the pure and honest sit back quietly.
Is goodness cowardly and shy? Is it selfish? It is essential that we put our lives behind goodness. Today! Now! . . .
A wrestler must have a missionary spirit.
He must be obsessed with the advancement of wrestling.
He must get excited about his art.
He must be interested in spreading the word throughout the nation.
He must make wrestling contagious; not as a disease, but as a way of life” (K. P. Singh).

“It is incumbent on every wrestler to read the poetics of this nationalism into the particular situation of his own life.
What this means is to be able to translate personal strength into national integrity, personal health into national well-being and self-control into national discipline”.
(“The Wrestler’s Body: Identity and Ideology in North India” by Joseph S. Alter)

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