The first church was established in Dang district in 1904. Since then, conversions to Christianity had been progressing at an alarming rate. In the period 1991-2001, the Christian population grew by a massive 400 per cent! The process of self-alienation and separatism which accompanies conversion had become visible in Dang. Makeshift, illegal churches had mushroomed in cowsheds and residential areas. These churches were unregistered and illegal. Proselytization activism was creating security problems for Hindus. It was in the midst of such hostile conditions that a Hindu swami descended upon Dang
Swami Aseemananda, a Hindu sannyasi of the Akhil Bharatiya Vanavasi Kalyan Ashram. A Bengali by birth, Swamiji had spent several years in the Andaman and Nicobar islands. He was innovative and bold in arousing the latent feeling of Hindutva amongst the vanavasis. Christian zealots made many murderous attempts on his life to stop this new trend. Deeply concerned by the Christianization of Dang, Swamiji resolved to stay in Dang and foil the designs of Christian missionaries. It was in August 1997 that this saffron-clad sannyasi set foot in Dang. All that he carried with him in this unfamiliar and hostile terrain were around 500 lockets of Hanuman and an unshakeable resolve. He would knock at the door of each house and would ask the inmates one question, “Are you Hindu or christian?” At the house of one such Hindu, Swamiji asked him, “May I spend the night in your house?” The Hindu gladly welcomed Swamiji. Swamiji kept his luggage, distributed the Hanuman lockets to the children and asked them to bring their Hindu friends in the evening for a Ram katha. That night, Dang witnessed the first ever Dharma sabha. Sensing danger, Christian missionaries asked Swamiji, “What brings you here?” The Swami posed them the same question. We have come here to serve the people replied the Christian missionaries. “I have come here to drive away those who have come here to serve” retorted the Swami. That was the beginning of the Hindu awakening in the Dangs.
In 1998, 25000 Christians embraced the religion of their forefathers in just two months. In 2006, Shabari Kumbh, one of the biggest Hindutva gathering was conceived. Swamy Aseemananda played a key role in ideation and organization of the Kumbh. Organizing a kumbh in a remote, heavily forested area was a nightmare from logistics point of view. It required steely resolve, meticulous planning and precision to make the programme a grand success. The 352 villages in Dang district had no electricity, or roads; the town of Ahwa is a good 35 km from the proposed site of the kumbh. There were no medical facilities or eateries in the vicinity. Planning started atleast one and a half years ago. A 250-200 hectare site was chosen for the kumbh. The support of state government to undertake construction of roads on a war footing was secured. Electrification of all the 352 villages of Dang was completed. A total of 22 check dams were built on the river that feeds the Pampa sarovar facilitating holy bath for participants. A total of 20 lakh vanavasis reside in an area of 80 km around Dang. A survey of 5000 villages in Gujarat, Maharashtra, Madhya Pradesh was completed in the initial phase. Around 30-35 lakh vanavasis were contacted in this massive exercise. An estimated six lakh Hindus attended the kumbh; of these, around two lakh stayed for all three days. To arrange for their lodging, 40 townships each with a capacity of 5000 people were erected. Each township had 100 workers to look after various arrangements such as security, food, medical aid etc. A total of 4000 workers looked after the arrangements in the townships; an additional 2000 workers were involved in other arrangemets.
About 388 vanavasi janajatis and 137 urban jatis which were facing missionary onslaught participated in the kumbh. Dharmacharyas from all over the country including 800 vanavasi sants attended the kumbh taking part in the deliberations. Around 20 lakh lockets with ishtadevata of the recipient; , 5 lakh Hanuman chalisa and 5 lakh bhagwa dhwaj were distributed.
Swami Aseemananda, who has been reported to have confessed to the Malegaon, Samjhauta Express, Ajmer and Mecca blasts, is one of the main contributor to the astonishing turnaround of Adivasis of Dang district towards Hindutva.