Tag Archives: Hindutva

Grama Devata and Kula Devata are like Brahmastra and Pashupatastra against religious conversions in villages

Swami Kamalananda Bharati is the founder of Hindu Devalaya Parirakshana Samiti, an organisation dedicated to ‘Jeernoddaara’ (restoration and revival) of Hindu temples. Swamiji has for the past few years been one of those at the forefront of the public movement against the Andhra Pradesh Hindu Religious Endowment Department’s total mismanagement and corrupt administration of Hindu temples, including the renowned Tirupati Balaji Devasthanam by the State Government.

To create awareness on the state of our mandirs, he has undertaken three padayatras, covering 8000 villages and totalling a distance of over 10,000 Km, in Andhra Pradesh, visiting each district and each village during these yatras. Swamiji is also at the forefront of anti-conversion work in Andhra Pradesh.

In an interview to Organiser, Swamiji talks about the threats to Hindu temple traditions, the forces and his work to counter forces and the future course of action for Hindus. Excerpts:

Q.What according to you is the biggest threat to Hindu temple traditions today?

With respect to conducting temple rituals and following traditions as per our Agama Shashtras and also the way temples are managed, we have to look at them in various angles. One of the threats to follow the age-old traditions in our temples is the interference by politically motivated temple management. The Government department’s aim has been to alter traditions and replace them with new rituals that fetch more money. Both officials of the Endowments Department and few politicians are involved in such activities. The next threat is from the Christian missionaries. They used to operate out of public glare earlier, but from the last decade, they are attacking our temple traditions openly. For instance, in Narasapuram they attacked the main murti at Shiva Temple, in Bheemavaram they attacked Bhagwan Krishna’s Murthy, in Chittoor, they desecrated the Grama Devata temples in 3 villages. In Guntur too they attacked Hindus and attempted to build a Church over a Hindu temple. In Kurnool, they forced the government to stop money that was being given to manage a temple from the Tirumala Tirupati Devasthanams (TTD) funds. Hindu temples in almost all districts in Andhra Pradesh are under attack from Christian missionaries, and they are doing it openly. On the other hand, the Islamists do not attack Hindu temples or traditions openly, but they target those who follow them, either through Love Jihad or covert operation through educational and personality development programmes. But the real critical issue with the Hindu society is that most do not identify themselves proudly as Hindus. It is also true that most among Hindus stay away from temples that are in their towns and villages. It is one thing to undertake a pilgrimage to Sabarimala or Tirupati which most do. But an average Hindu is not connected emotionally to the temple near him/her. This was the primary concern of my ‘Sampoorna Grama Yatra’ where Sampoorna Devayala Sandarshana Grama was our aim. I visited every village and visit all the temples in the village and get every Hindu family to visit all the temples in their village and connect them with it. Subsequently, we also undertook a Rath Yatra called the Sampoorna Devayala Sandarshana Rath Yatra with the same aim.

Q.You have travelled thousands of kilometres covering more than 8,000 villages. What are the threats villagers face in maintaining their traditions?

The biggest issue with the temples today is that there is an enormous shortage of archakas for our temples in towns and villages. Today 95 per cent of the villages have no archakas in their temples. The archaka system that was prevalent has died down due to migration of people to cities and other places in search of different jobs, and no one is ready to take up the job of the archakas. Due to this, temples in villages are lying vacant without any pooja being performed, and villagers too do not visit them. There are villages where ten temples are closed due to non-availability of archakas. It is such villages that are the target of Christian missionaries. They have built 6-7 Churches in such villages, and each church has well-paid pastors. But there are Bhajana Mandalis in many villages where along with Bhajans, people involve in Kolaatam (Dandiya) kind of traditional activities. Those who conduct Bhajans in villages come from one particular caste. Similarly, among the Scheduled Caste communities also, Bhajan Mandalis is very much prevalent, and it is lead by the people from the same community. I can say Hindutva is alive in villages due to such Bhajan Mandalis. People irrespective of gender, caste, take part in Bhajans and it is a platform that unites all Hindus.

Here I need to stress the difference between Hindus in urban and rural areas in maintaining our traditions. During the last 30 years, there is a change in our villages. The income of villagers has increased due to which their quality of life has also become better. Consequently, they have started taking an interest in our Dharma, temples, traditions and are involving themselves more in them. The point to be noted here is that those who are building temples and managing them in our villages in recent times are the people who are from the Backward Classes and SC/ST communities. I have witnessed this in Andhra and Telangana. I had also observed that when they remained within their caste-based professions, their income levels were low and they did not progress. But once they went out of their castes and joined new professions, they earned well which also leads to huge improvement in their quality of life. They then started going to temples, involved in building temples, managing them, undertook yatras and wearing malas, etc. Those families that did not even have proper clothes to wear and stood outside temples only to receive their share of prasad have today progressed to a level where they are funding temple renovation, wearing good clothes and take part in temple festivities with pride and honour. Historically too, whenever there has been economic progress in our backward communities, the strength and spirit of the Hindu society too has always increased. Villagers primarily have faith in their grama devata followed by their kula devata. Each caste also has a jati devata. Villagers duly perform pooja to their devatas with a lot of faith and devotion.

For example, Vishwabrahmins worship Vishwakarma, Vaishyas worship Kannikaparameshwari, Goudas worship Renuka Yellamma, Chamars perform pooja to Arundhati and Mathamma Devi, Mahars worships Channakeshava. Likewise, each caste worships its devatas. The faith they have in their grama devata or kula or jati devata has played a significant role in in clebrating diverse traditions of the Hindu fold. Villagers worship their devatas with lot of devotion and also a source of social cohesion. Villagers spend huge money in pooja festivities of their devathas. Mavulamma Talli (Devi) is the grama devatha of a village in the Bheemavaram municipality. Just the Sabzi Mandi near the temple here donates lakhs of rupees for the upkeep of the temple dedicated to Mavulamma Devi. It is in this way the local communities support and build temples of their devatas. The Grama Devata and the Kula Devata are like Brahmastra and Pashupatastra against religious conversions in villages. In cities and towns too, not all temples are well managed as thought. In several colonies in cities, temples suffer from similar issues of lack of archakas or funds. Many temples get enough funds only for basic pooja and for the archakas. Only few temples which get good number of devotees can get good funds for their regular activities and management.

Q.If temples are freed from Government control, do you think Hindus can take control of the temples and manage it well?

Firstly, we have to get all those trustees of temple management trusts which are well-managed by Hindus themselves and are not under the purview of the Endowments Department of the Governments. We have to take them into confidence. We have to note their experiences, their dedication, their values and the way they manage their temples. All these have to be laid before the Hindu society. There may not be many such temples but we have to do this to educate our society. For instance, there are about 80 temples in Andhra alone which are managed by the Ganapati Sachchidananda Peetha of Mysore. All rituals and traditions are followed as per their own norms. The purohits of all the 80 temples are trained in Agama shashtras in the Veda Pathashalas of the Ganapati Sachchidananda Ashram in Mysore. The committee members of these temple trusts go to Mysore every year and present their reports which is evaluated by the Ashram. This is a model that is already in front of us which can be emulated. Today people give sufficient money or donations for temple jewellery and other causes. But it has become difficult to find dedicated and trustworthy people to manage temple trusts. We need a process to find such people and train them in managing temple affairs. We should institute something like a ‘Temple Management course’ to find and train people who will become adept at managing temple affairs and administer the temples as per our Agama shastras. They have to be trained well about our shashtras, mahakavyas, traditional lifestyle, itihasa of Bharat and the temple itself. This has to be done professionally as a mainstream college course.

Q.How have your efforts enabled people to follow their traditions in their temples?

Today all are discussing temples, their traditions and threats. But when we started our movement in 2001-02, not many were bothered or even heard us. By 2006-07, due to the efforts of our temple movement, people and political parties were educated about it and in 2007 they took a unanimous decision to amend the Endowments Act. I have visited thousands of villages where I teach people about the importance of the temple and its traditions. I talk to people about the need to safeguard their temples due to which many have come forward to help us in our movement. Today, most mathadhipathis, sants, small and big Hindu organisations speak about saving temples both in India and abroad. But the efforts are still individualistic, and everyone is forwarding their memorandums to the Government which are different from each other. The Government cites the differences in memorandums and brushes aside their demands, which is exactlty what they want. However, if we all come together, arrive at a common minimum programme and submit one single memorandum after due deliberation, the Endowments Department and Government will be forced to listen and act on our demands. It is only due to such concerted efforts that we will get lasting solutions. Between 2007-09, I undertook a padayatra of 10,000 kms in 30 districts of erstwhile Andhra Pradesh in 3 years. More important than the kilometres I walked is the way the padayatra was conducted. During the yatra, I visited every temple in a village by involving all the resident Hindus of the village. We together performed a parikrama of all the village temples like the Shri Rama temples, Shiva Temples, Grama Devatha temples, Kula devatha temples, Vana Devatha, etc. Through this parikrama, I was able to connect all Hindus of the village to all the temples, including those they didn’t visit earlier. I have also observed that Hindu organisations and sant samaj takes up one issue today and forgets about it later. Then again after sometime they take up some other issue. If it’s temples today, it will be something else tomorrow. I suggest that all organisations and concerned people take up only one issue at a time, like the issue of temples now, and work on it for five years or so until we have found a permanent solution. For example, if we take up the save temples movement, we should all work on it for five years continuously, taking into consideration various aspects like, saving temple traditions, temple lands, utilisation of temple funds, taking temples out of government control, education for temple management, etc. Only by working together by being focused, without other distractions, will we be able to tackle all angles related to the single issue and arrive at a solution. I have been fighting many policies of the Endowments Department of Andhra and Telangana for the past 15 years. Due to our movement, the government brought in an amendment in 2007 to the Endowments Act, which mandated that the archakas be paid a proper salary. Earlier to our movement, the archakas were getting a pittance and even that was not guaranteed. Archakas in rural areas get Rs.5000 and those in urban areas get Rs.10,000 per month under the ‘Doop Deep Naivedyam Scheme’ of the Government after our continuous struggle. I have also been fighting legally to safeguard temple lands and have found success in all cases we have fought. Even in case of TTD, I have been successful in forcing the Government to make many changes in the way they run the affairs of the temple. For instance, the Left Unions and politically affiliated officials tried to stop the age old practice of people from the ‘Yadava’ community to be the first to have the darshan of Venkateshwara after the doors are opened every day. We have been able to force the TTD to continue with the tradition. But there are many machinations afoot to create Sabarimala kind of anarchy in Tirumala temple too. When I worked for saving temples, I focused only on temples where I visited temples both in rural and urban areas and talked to all stakeholders, approached government, filed cases in courts and worked continuously until we found a solution. We involved people in the process by making them understand that the issues related to temples are issues of the entire society too and their important role in the same. I have been successful in this endeavour. Today, due to our movement may youths from towns and villages have come forward and are volunteering to work towards reviving temples, safeguard temple lands or even to monitor utilisation of temple funds and resources.

Q.Hindu traditions and anything sacred is the target of the anti-Hindu brigade?

There have been concerted attempts to undermine or scuttle the ancient Hindu traditions. Rajahmundry Ghats and Nellore lake issue are the most recent attacks by Evangelists and Jihadists. Hindu organisations have been fighting back each time. More than 10-15 Hindu organisations like ‘Swahikti’, Dharma Jagran, Hindu Chetana Vedika, etc., are working to counter these forces. We are working to safeguard and revive temples. Many Dharmacharyas too are working seriously on several issues. Hindu samaj is ready to face them but we also need the political will to counter them. It is in the best interests of the Hindu society if all Hindu organisations come together, discuss and deliberate on these issues and chalk out a strategy and work concertedly. 

Source: Organiser, 28th Jan 2019

Somnath to Ayodhya : Journey of an Awakened Civilisation

It is not a time for chest-thumping or triumphalism. But isn’t it time to rejoice?

What the Ayodhya movement overcame was not just the opposition of certain Muslim groups, but countless hurdles put up by the courts as well as overzealous secular shenanigans. Not a small thing, given the fact that Hagia Sofia cathedral in Istanbul, in contrast, has been turned once again into a mosque, and Jerusalem is still struggling to decide which history to accept.

Somnath to Ayodhya is journey of an awakened civilisation. It was a struggle of five centuries. Hindus never accepted Babur’s commander Mir Baqi’s vandalism of the temple at the sacred site in Ayodhya, considered the birthplace of Bhagwan Ram. As happened in parts of Europe during the crusades, the site kept changing from temple to mosque to temple. The last time was in 1949 when idols of Ram durbar appeared under the domes of the dysfunctional mosque. Since then it once again became a functioning temple. Another seven decades of wait has finally resulted in the dream of millions of Hindus coming true. The abode of Shri Ram is again springing to life with majesty and magnificence.

It is not a time for chest-thumping or triumphalism. But isn’t it time to rejoice? What the Ayodhya movement overcame was not just the opposition of certain Muslim groups, but countless hurdles put up by the courts as well as overzealous secular shenanigans. Not a small thing, given the fact that Hagia Sofia cathedral in Istanbul, in contrast, has been turned once again into a mosque, and Jerusalem is still struggling to decide which history to accept.

Certainly, the construction of the Ram Janmaboomi temple is a glorious epitome of a civilisational reassertion. “So, new people come up and they begin to look at their world and from being great acceptors, they have become questioners. And I think we should simply try to understand this passion. It is not an ignoble passion at all. It is men trying to understand themselves. Do not dismiss them. Treat them seriously”, warned Sir Vidia Naipaul, the Nobel laureate talking about this reassertion in the mid-1990s.

Renowned British historian Arnold Toynbee had taunted the Hindus four decades before Naipaul commended them. “Aurangzeb’s purpose in building those three mosques (Ayodhya, Kashi and Mathura) was the same intentionally offensive political purpose that moved the Russians to build their Orthodox cathedral in the city centre at Warsaw. Those mosques were intended to signify that an Islamic government was reigning supreme, even over Hinduism’s holiest of holy places. Perhaps the Poles were really kinder in destroying the Russians’ self-discrediting monument in Warsaw than you have been in sparing Aurangzeb’s mosques”, said Toynbee in a speech at Delhi.

The Orthodox cathedral that Toynbee referred to was Alexander Nevsky Cathedral built by the Russians in the Polish capital Warsaw. When Poland unshackled itself from Czarist Russia after the First World War, the cathedral was demolished by the Polish authorities in the mid-1920s. It took 18 years to complete the cathedral for the Russians – built between 1894 and 1912, but it didn’t survive even 15 years. Intense debate preceded the demolition. Poles saw it not as a religious monument but as a symbol of Russian domination. Like the pseudo-secularists in India, there were a few voices opposing the demolition, mostly from the Orthodox community. They were contemptuously dismissed as ‘Cathedralists’. Not that the Poles were against Orthodox Christianity. There were several other Orthodox churches in Poland. Many remnants of the Alexander Nevsky Cathedral were later shifted to the Mary Magdalene Orthodox Cathedral in the Warsaw suburb.

Poles took less than 10 years after their freedom to remove the Orthodox cathedral. Indians had to wait much longer in the case of Ayodhya. There was a precedent though. The Somnath temple in Gujarat, that was looted and destroyed by Mahmud of Ghazni in 1024, had been restored in 1951 immediately after India’s independence. Its restoration had Gandhi’s blessings and the initiative came from Sardar Patel and K M Munshi. Gandhi’s only suggestion to Patel was that the reconstruction of the temple should happen with the funds collected from the people, not from the public exchequer.

Unfortunately, by the time the consecration happened, both Gandhi and Patel were no more. Prime Minister Nehru was opposed to the idea of the reconstruction of the Somnath temple. He first tried to dissuade Munshi. Munshi refused to heed. Nehru then tried to discourage President Rajendra Prasad from attending the consecration ceremony. “I believe in my religion and cannot cut myself away from it”, Rajendra Prasad bluntly told Nehru. Nehru then wrote to all the Chief Ministers stating that his government had nothing to do with the Somnath reconstruction and they too shouldn’t have anything to do with it.

The Somnath temple returned to its past glory on May 11, 1951, when it was inaugurated in a grand function. Dr Rajendra Prasad was present in person to witness the making of history. “The Somnath temple signifies that the power of reconstruction is always greater than the power of destruction”, he told in his address, adding “By rising from its ashes again, this temple of Somnath will proclaim to the world that no man and no power in the world can destroy that for which people have boundless faith and love in their hearts…

Seventy years after Somnath, the same spirit is bringing Ayodhya to life. Sardar Patel was the prime mover of Somnath reconstruction. But he was not there when it finally happened. Ayodhya owes a lot to Ashok Singhal, but it will miss him on this historic occasion.

When Prime Minister Modi stands at Ayodhya, laying the first brick for the temple, it would be a symbolic reiteration of what Dr Rajendra Prasad had said at Somnath some 69 years ago: “Today, our attempt is not to rectify history. Our only aim is to proclaim anew our attachment to the faith, convictions and to the values on which our religion has rested since immemorial ages.

Courtesy: Shri Ram Madhav
(The article was originally published in Chintan – India Foundation blogs on August 5, 2020. Views expressed are personal.)

Lakhs Of Devotees In Puri Rath Yatra Making Way For An Ambulance Is Winning Hearts On Internet

Puri Rath Yatra, Lakhs Of Devotees In Puri Rath Yatra Making Way For An Ambulance Is Winning Hearts On Internet

A whopping number of nearly 1 million devotees who came for Puri Rath Yatra have once again proved that they have a big heart and a sense of responsibility.

Puri Rath Yatra, Lakhs Of Devotees In Puri Rath Yatra Making Way For An Ambulance Is Winning Hearts On Internet

In a heartwarming gesture, the crowd parted ways in an orderly form to make way for an ambulance.

Embedded video

SP Puri@SPPuri1

1200 volunteers, 10 organizations and hours of practice made this human corridor for free ambulance movement possible during Puri Rath Yatra 2019.

The video surfaced on the internet just a day after the Gundhicha Jatra and went viral instantly.

In a tweet, Puri SP Umashankar Dash said that “Nearly 1200 volunteers, 10 organizations and hours of practice made this human corridor for free ambulance movement possible during Puri Rath Yatra 2019.”

Puri Rath Yatra, Lakhs Of Devotees In Puri Rath Yatra Making Way For An Ambulance Is Winning Hearts On Internet

This year Puri police department has done special security arrangements with 181 CCTV cameras, 155 platoon force including 15 SP & Commandant officers, 110 Inspectors, 650 SI & ASI, 2400 Home Guards, 2 companies of RAF, 2 OBF, 2 ATS, 2 NIA, 2 ODRAF units & 1 NDRF unit.


How My Views on Sangh and Swayamsevaks Changed Overnight

Zafar Irshad, a Lucknow-based journalist narrates that how his views on Sangh and Swayamsevaks changed overnight

As a journalist, I’ve covered many events of Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS). However, I never knew about their ideology and activities much. After the visit of the former President Pranab Mukherjee, as we witness a media storm now, I find it surprising that people do not know about the social works and selfless service of the Sangh at all. I didn’t know about that as well. But, I am a witness to the same and the story must be told.

In those days, I was with a newspaper agency and was posted in Kanpur as their principal correspondent. On July 10, 2011, my phone rang and my editor informed me that a serious train accident has taken place at Malwa near Fatehpur. I called my sources, got confirmed and left for the ground to report the mishap.

What I Saw, Changed my Views Forever

When I reached the spot, I was taken aback by the horror of that accident. I was trying to calm me down before I start reporting, and then I saw something. Men dressed in white shirts and khaki shorts were volunteering in taking the corpses out of the train and then covering the dead bodies by a white sheet- the kafan. It took me a while to figure out that who these men were? I went ahead and inquired. They didn’t reply and continued with their work.

After a while, the same men started serving tea and biscuits to the passengers and the families of those who were killed and injured. The same was also offered to me. While busy in my reporting, I took a sip. Now, I was fixed! I so wanted to find out about these men who were endlessly serving without doing much talking.

I chased one of the volunteers. I asked him about his identity. With a very calm face, he turned towards me and said, “If you need more tea, please come near that peepal tree.” I didn’t need more tea. I needed to find out about these selfless volunteers. I went near the tree to find a kurta-pyjama clad old man who was giving directions to men and women under the tree. I asked him about the volunteers. He smiled, didn’t reply and got busy with his work.

I left without my answers and started reporting again. At dusk, the same old man appeared from somewhere and he handed a plastic bag to me. I asked him about its contents. He calmly replied, “It has some four chapattis and vegetables. You are reporting for a long time. Eat your food first.” This time I became adamant. I replied that until he doesn’t share his identity with me, I won’t eat the food. I introduced myself as Zafar Irshad. The man said they were Swayamsevaks of the Sangh (RSS). I was taken aback. I had never realised that those who are affiliated with Sangh can have such humanely faces as well. It was new for me!

I requested the elderly person to tell me more about their work so that their social service can become a part of my news story. He sternly said no. When I insisted he told me about their arrangements but on the condition that I won’t ever tell people about it. He informed me that women who were making tea and who cooked food are from their families only. And the kafan which was taken here for the dead bodies was contributed by a Swayamsevak who owns a cloth shop. He reminded me of the promise again that I must not report it, and he left.

After almost seven years, I remember that incident which showed the human and loving face of the Swayamsevaks, not as a report but as another human being. Yes! Selfless service is what the Swayamsevaks do.

Courtesy: Organiser

Telugu Translation

– జాఫర్ ఇర్షాద్

నేను జర్నలిస్ట్ గా అనేక ఆర్ ఎస్ ఎస్ కార్యక్రమాలకు వెళ్ళాను, రిపోర్ట్ తయారు చేశాను. కానీ నాకు ఆర్ ఎస్ ఎస్ అంటే ఏమిటో ఏమాత్రం తెలియదు. ఇటీవల మాజీ రాష్ట్రపతి ప్రణబ్ ముఖర్జీ ఆర్ ఎస్ ఎస్ కార్యక్రమానికి హాజరుకావడంపై వచ్చిన విమర్శలు, వాదోపవాదాలు చూసి నాకు ఆశ్చర్యం కలిగింది. ఈ విమర్శలు చేసినవారెవరు ఆర్ ఎస్ ఎస్ చేసిన, చేస్తున్న సేవా కార్యక్రమాలను ఎప్పుడు చూసినవారుకాదు, తెలుసుకున్నవారుకాదు. కానీ ఒక జర్నలిస్ట్ గా నేను వారి సేవాకార్యక్రమాలను దగ్గరగా చూశాను. అందుకే ఇప్పుడు వాటి గురించి కొద్దిగా చెప్పాలనుకుంటున్నాను. ఆర్ ఎస్ ఎస్ ముస్లిములకు వ్యతిరేకమా, హిందువులకు అనుకూలమా అంటే నేను చెప్పలేనుకానీ అది మానవత్వానికి విరుద్ధంకాదని మాత్రం చెప్పగలను. నా 24 ఏళ్ల జర్నలిస్ట్ జీవితంలో అనేక సందర్భాల్లో ఆర్ ఎస్ ఎస్ కార్యకర్తలు ఎలాంటి పేరు, గుర్తింపు కోరుకోకుండా ప్రజలకు సహాయపడ్డం చూశాను కానీ ఏ మత ఘర్షణలో, దొమ్మిలో పాల్గొన్నట్లు చూడలేదు. అలాగే ఇతర జర్నలిస్ట్ లు లేదా నాయకులు కూడా మత ఘర్షణల్లో వారి పాత్ర ఉందని చెప్పగలరని నేను అనుకోవడం లేదు. అయితే ఇక్కడ ఒక విషయం స్పష్టం చేయాలనుకుంటున్నాను. నాకు ఆర్ ఎస్ ఎస్ తో గాని, బిజెపితోగాని ఎలాంటి సంబంధం లేదు.

అది 2011 జులై 10. నేను కాన్పూర్ లో ఒక న్యూస్ ఏజెన్సీ తరఫున పనిచేస్తున్నాను. ఆదివారం కావడంతో కాస్త విశ్రాంతిగా ఉన్నాను. హఠాత్తుగా మా ఎడిటర్ నుంచి ఫోన్ వచ్చింది. ఫతేపూర్ దగ్గర మాల్వాలో రైలు ప్రమాదం జరిగిందని, వెంటనే వివరాలు సేకరించమని చెప్పారు. నేను వెంటనే రైల్వే అధికారులకు ఫోన్ చేసి విషయం అడిగాను. వాళ్ళు రైలుప్రమాదం జరిగిందని, అదికూడా పెద్ద ప్రమాదమేనని చెప్పారు. నేను వెంటనే ప్రమాద స్థలానికి బయలుదేరాను. గంట ప్రయాణం తరువాత ఘటన స్థలానికి చేరాను. మాల్వాకు 10-12 కి.మీ. దూరంలో ప్రమాదం జరిగింది. ప్రమాద స్థలానికి చుట్టుపక్కల ఎక్కడా జనవాసాలు లేవు. అక్కడికి చేరాలంటే దాదాపు 4కి.మీ లు పొలాల్లో నడిచి వెళ్ళాలి.

అక్కడికి చేరుకోగానే నేను పని ప్రారంభించాను. ప్రమాదం గురించి డిల్లీలోని మా ఎడిటర్ కు, న్యూస్ డెస్క్ కు సమాచారం అందించడం మొదలుపెట్టాను. పూర్తిగా దెబ్బతిన్న బోగీల నుంచి శవాలను బయటకు తీస్తున్నారు. గాయపడినవారిని ఆసుపత్రికి తరలిస్తున్నారు. దగ్గరవారిని కోల్పోయిన వారి ఏడ్పులు, గాయాల మూలంగా బాధితులు పెడుతున్న  పెడబొబ్బలు ఆ ప్రదేశాన్ని భయానకంగా మార్చాయి. శవాలను దగ్గర ఉన్న పొలాల్లోకి చేర్చారు. బాగా ఛిద్రమైన వాటితోపాటు ఇతర శవాలపై కొందరు తెల్లబట్ట కప్పుతూ కనిపించారు. వాళ్ళంతా ఖాకీ నిక్కర్లు వేసుకుని ఉన్నారు.

తమవారిని కోల్పోయి బాధలో ఉన్నవారు కూర్చున్న చోటికి వెళ్ళాను. వారిని ఆకలి, దప్పిక కూడా బాధిస్తోంది. అప్పుడే కొద్దిమంది అక్కడికి వచ్చి బాధితులకు టి, బిస్కట్ లు ఇవ్వడం చూశాను. నాతోపాటు మరో 24మంది జర్నలిస్ట్ లు అక్కడ ఉన్నారు. ఒక వ్యక్తి నాకు కప్పు టీ, రెండు బిస్కట్ లు తెచ్చి ఇచ్చాడు. ఆ నిర్మానుష్యమైన ప్రదేశంలో నాలుగు గంటలుగా పనిచేస్తున్న మాకు ఆ టీ అమృతప్రాయంగా అనిపించింది. అప్పుడే నాకు ఒక సందేహం వచ్చింది. ఇంత నిర్మానుష్య ప్రదేశంలో టీ, బిస్కట్ లు ఉచితంగా ఇస్తున్న వీళ్ళు ఎవరు? వీళ్ళు ప్రభుత్వోద్యోగులా? వెంటనే వాళ్ళలో ఒకరిని అడిగాను -`భాయిసాబ్ మీరు ఎందుకు ఇవి పంచుతున్నారు? ఎవరి తరఫున పనిచేస్తున్నారు?’ అందుకు ఆ వ్యక్తి `మీకు మరికొంత టీ కావాలంటే ఆ చెట్టు దగ్గరకి రండి’ అన్నాడు. నా సందేహం తీర్చుకునేందుకు నేను అతను చెప్పినట్లే చెట్టు దగ్గరకి వెళ్ళాను. అక్కడకి వెళితే నాకు ఒక ఆశ్చర్యకరమైన దృశ్యం కనిపించింది. కొద్దిమంది మహిళలు అక్కడ కూర్చుని కూరగాయలు తరుగుతున్నారు. రొట్టెలకు పిండి తయారుచేస్తున్నారు. ఆ పక్కనే కట్టెల పొయ్యి మండుతోంది. దానిపై టీ మరుగుతోంది. అక్కడే కొన్ని వందల బిస్కట్ ప్యాకెట్ లు ఉన్నాయి.  మరోపక్క కొందరు బాధితులకు అందించడం కోసం మంచినీటిని కవర్ లలో నింపుతున్నారు.

కుర్తా, పైజమా వేసుకున్న ఒక వ్యక్తి పని త్వరగా చేయాలంటూ అందరికీ సూచనలు ఇస్తూ కనిపించాడు. నేను అతని దగ్గరకు వెళ్ళి `మీ పేరేమిటి’ అని అడిగాను. అతను నవ్వాడుగానీ సమాధానం చెప్పలేదు. నన్ను నేను పరిచయం చేసుకుని ఏ సంస్థ తరఫున పనిచేస్తున్నారని అడిగాను. బాధితులకు అందిస్తున్న సేవ గురించి నేను రాస్తానని చెప్పాను. ఎప్పుడైతే నేను జర్నలిస్ట్ నని చెప్పానో వెంటనే అతను అక్కడ నుంచి వెళిపోయి బాధితులకు టీ అందించడంలో నిమగ్నమయ్యాడు. టీ అందిస్తూ అతను ఎవరిని నీ మతం ఏది? నీ కులం ఏది అని అడగలేదు. నేను కూడా చనిపోయినవారు ఎంతమంది, గాయపడినవారు ఎంతమంది అని తెలుసుకుని, సహాయ కార్యక్రమాల గురించి మా ఆఫీస్ కు సమాచారం అందించడంలో పడిపోయాను.

అది అర్ధరాత్రి సమయం. శవాలను బోగీల నుండి తీసే పని కొనసాగుతోంది. అప్పుడే మధ్యాహ్నం నేను కలిసిన వ్యక్తి నా దగ్గరకు వచ్చాడు. నాకు ఒక ప్లాస్టిక్ కవర్ ఇచ్చాడు. `ఇందులో నాలుగు రొట్టెలు, కొద్దిగా కూర ఉన్నాయి. మీరు మధ్యాహ్నం నుంచి పని చేస్తూ అలిసిపోయి ఉంటారు. ఆకలిగా ఉండిఉంటుంది. తినండి’’అన్నాడు. నాకు నిజంగానే బాగా ఆకలిగా ఉంది. అయినా మీ పేరు, మీరు ఏ సంస్థ తరఫున పనిచేస్తున్నారో చెపితేనే ప్యాకెట్ తీసుకుంటానని షరతు పెట్టాను. అప్పుడు అతను తాము రాష్ట్రీయ స్వయంసేవక్ సంఘ్ కార్యకర్తలమని చెప్పాడు. రైలు ప్రమాద బాధితులకు సహాయం అందించడానికి వచ్చామని చెప్పాడు. వెంటనే నా జర్నలిస్ట్ బుర్రకు ఇది చాలా మంచి స్టోరీ అవుతుందనిపించింది. అతని పేరు చెప్పమని పదేపదే అడిగాను. అయినా అతను తన పేరు మాత్రం చెప్పలేదు. పైగా ఇది ఎక్కడ ప్రచురించనని నేను అంతకుముందే చేసిన వాగ్దానాన్ని గుర్తుచేశాడు. అప్పుడు రోజంతా అక్కడే ఉండి, అందరికీ టీ, టిఫిన్ తయారుచేసిన మహిళల గురించి అడిగాను. వాళ్ళంతా తమ కార్యకర్తల కుటుంబాల నుంచి వచ్చినవారు అని చెప్పాడు. శవాలపై కప్పిన తెల్ల బట్ట గురించి అడిగితే అది బట్టల దుకాణం ఉన్న స్వయంసేవకులు స్వచ్ఛందంగా ఇచ్చిన బట్ట అని చెప్పాడు. రొట్టెల పిండి, నూనె కిరాణా దుకాణం ఉన్న వాళ్ళు ఉచితంగా ఇచ్చారని చెప్పాడు. ఆర్ ఎస్ ఎస్ హిందూ సంస్థ కదా, మీరు ఇతరులకు కూడా సహాయం అందిస్తున్నారేమిటని అడిగాను. అందుకు అతను `భాయిసాబ్, ఇక్కడ బాధితులందరికి మేము సహాయం అందిస్తున్నాము. సహాయం అందించడంలో కులం, మతం చూడకూడదని మా సంస్థ భావిస్తుంది’ అని సమాధానమిచ్చాడు. శవాలపై బట్ట కప్పుతున్నప్పుడు కూడా చనిపోయినవారి మతం ఏమిటో, కులం ఏమిటో తమకు తెలియదని, అది పట్టించుకోమని చెప్పాడతను. ఈ మాటలు చెప్పి ఆ నిజాయతీపరుడైన `భగవంతుని సేవకుడు’ తన పేరు చెప్పకుండానే అక్కడ నుంచి వెళ్లిపోయాడు. నేను ప్రమాద స్థలంలో 36 గంటలపాటు ఉన్నాను. అంతసేపూ వాళ్ళు బాధితులకు, జర్నలిస్ట్ లకు, డ్యూటీలో ఉన్న ప్రభుత్వాధికారులకు కావలసినవి అందిస్తూ కనిపించారు. ఆ మర్నాడు ప్రమాద వార్తను పత్రికలన్నింటిలో చూసిన నాకు బాధితులకు నిస్వార్ధంగా సేవ చేసిన ఆ కార్యకర్తల పేర్లు గానీ, ప్రస్తావన గానీ ఎక్కడ కనిపించలేదు.

(రచయిత లక్నోలో పిటిఐ వార్త సంస్థ సినియర్ కరెస్పాండంట్ గా పని చేసారు)

  • Translated by Sri Keshav Nath Khandavalli

Foundations of Hindu Revival in Tripura

Tripura is the news for the massive political transformation that has taken place, it is important to note the decades of silent work by karyakartas of various organisations in Tripura. One such organisation is the Vanvasi Kalyan Ashram.

In this short interview ( in Hindi) , 75 years young, Sri Piyushkanti Bhattacharya,  a founding member and currently Secretary of Vanvasi Kalyan Ashram, Tripura walks us through the journey of last 6 decades & how Hindu revival happened in Tripura.