MIRACLE WITNESSED

This interesting scene was in Supreme Court of India where the Bench was hearing the issue of Ram Janma Bhoomi. There were counsels representing both the sides and each side had their own witnesses to provide evidences. While Sri. Parasaran was putting forth the justifications for Ayodhya As Rama Janma Bhoomi, the Honourable Judge intervened.

He asked “You quote from vedas and scriptures for proving that Rama existed and other relevant issues. Is there any evidence in the scriptures that specify the place of birth of Sri Rama?”

An old gentleman rose from the group of witnesses. He was one of the Pragyasakshi ( Chief Witness) and his parents had named him Giridhar. He said “Honourable Sir, I request you to refer to Rig Veda”

He specified the chapter and verse and said “There it is mentioned in Rig Veda, Gaiminiya Samhita. These verses specify the directions and distances from a specific point on the banks of River Sarayu, to reach the birth place of Sri Rama. If one follows those directions, one reaches a specific spot in Ayodhya”

The bench ordered for immediate verification and it was done to find that Sri. Giridhar was right. There it was glaring at them from Rig Veda. And this person was quoting the verse verbatim from memory.

The bench remarked “This is a miracle I have witnessed today.” But the witness who was christened as Giridhar was very calm and serene as if it is a chore in the office on a normal working day.

To understand the wonder expressed by the Judge, one has to go back in Indian History, which needs overhauling at the earilest.

Year was 1950. Month January. 14th day of the month. In the village Jaunpur in UP, Mishra couple – Pandit Rajdev Mishra and Shachidevi ( It is nice to note that that child became a main Sakshi later in life, to reclaim RamJanmaBhoomi) – were waiting for the birth of their child. A very hale and healthy child was born that day and they christened him Giridhar.

Giridhar Mishra was fine till a cruel hand af fate played with him when he was 2 months old. That changed the life of the parents and the child.

Imagine a child who was eager to aquire and improve his knowledge but just could not read or write. Pandit Rajdev would sit besides the child and recite Vedas explaining each word in each verse. He was delighted to find that Giridhar had a great retaining capacity and could memorise every single word taught to him orally.

After imparting whatever knowledge he could, Rajdev admitted his son in one of the Mutts of Ramanand Sampradaya. He was taken in as a disciple and he was given a new name RAMABHADHRA. And the child got a guru who could teach him and encourage him to expand his knowledge beyond the limits of any normal human being.

Ramabhadhra in his zeal to explore the universe of knowledge, learnt and mastered 22 languages including a few ancient ones. He could not read or write and had to depend on his memory and its retention power.

He learnt scriptures and modern verses too. He became a fan of Thulsidas and explored the world of Rama Charitha Manas.

Imagine. Somebody would read these epics and scriptures and he would store in his memory for further analysis. He excelled in his work often dictating to people and getting the feedback orally.

At the age of 38, in 1988, he was crowned as JAGADGURU RAMABHADHRACHARYA one of the four Jagadhgurus of Ramanandha Ashram.

You must have guessed by this time, why he could not read or write. Yes. HE LOST HIS EYESIGHT COMPLETELY WHEN HE WAS TWO MONTHS OLD.

It is really staggering to learn about his achievements. The blind Jagadguru, in addition to mastering 22 languages is also famous as Spiritual Leader, Educator, Sanskrit Scholar, Polyglot, Poet, Author, Textual commentator, Philosopher, Composer, Singer, Playwright and Story Teller ( Katha Artist)

He has authored more than 100 books such as Gita Ramayanam, Sri Bharghava Raghaviyam, Arundhathi, Ashtavakra, Kaka Vidhura and others. He composed Sri Sitarama Suprabhatham.

As a poet he produced 28 famous set of poems ( Sanskrit and Hindi) including four epics

Authored 19 famous commentaries on various scriptures, the popular one being on Rama Charitha Manas by Thulsidas.

Composer of 5 Music Albums

And 9 very popular discourses.

Founder of Jagadguru Ramabhadhracharyas University for Handicapped

Lifelong Chancellor of Tulsi Peeth ( named after Tulsidas)

He was decorated with PADMAVIBHUSHAN in the year 2015.

I was filled with amazement as I was collecting information about him. A child who became blind and fought his way up to reach the pinnacle of knowledge and education and its propagation. What a marvellous example to inspire one and all. I felt very very small and insignificant, I am sharing this with you all as it amazed me no end.

There is a niggling thought. How many of us were aware of this great blind man. While Helen Keller was propagated for her achievements as a blind person, and lessons are taught on her, Jagadguru Ramabhadhracharya is a non entity in our education system. Thats how we are.

No wonder the Judge remarked “I witnessed a miracle in my court”

Jai Sri Ram

Matangini Hazra – The Unsung Revolutionary

The first bullet hit her on the left arm making her whole body shiver in pain but she would not let the flag of her beloved motherland touch the ground. She dropped the bugle from her right hand to take hold of the flag and raised it as high as she could and shouted at the top of her voice, “Vande Mataram”. The next bullet hit her right arm… she sat down and hugged the flag post as if she was holding her child to her bosom. The coward police officer of British India Govt. Anil Bhattacharya aimed his gun at her temple and pulled the trigger. As the bullet hit her to take her life away from the body, her dying voice once again said “Vande Mataram” almost whispering. Then everything became dark… the red blood of Matangini Hazra, the revolutionary was soaked up by mother earth.

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She was the youngest daughter of Thakurdas Maity & Bhagawati Devi (they shared the name of Ishwarchandra Vidyasagar’s parents!), born on 17th November 1869 (the date is disputed, though)in village Hogla near Tamluk town.

At the age of only 12 years, Thakurdas married her off to the wealthy farmer Trilochan Hazra of the neighboring village, Alinaan. At the time of marriage, Trilochan was 60 years old and this was his second marriage. Six years into the marriage, Trilochan passed away leaving a large family from his first marriage and a young widow of 18 years. The family of Trilochan threw her out of the house forcing her take shelter in a hut in the nearby field. She started working in the field as a laborer to make ends meet.

Matangini started living a life of ascetic in a Spartan surrounding. She was touched by the words of Swami Vivekananda… “From now to the next 50 years, the only God you should pray to is your Motherland… you should eat, drink and live for the Motherland and die for her as well”. Matangini Hazra started with social service living amidst the poorest of the poor and trying alleviating their pain and discomfort. While at this, she came in contact with the Congress Leader of Shiuri village, Gunadhar Bhowmick and he in turn introduced her to the senior Congress Leaders Ajoy Mukhopadhyay and Satish Samanta. They told her about the preaching of Mahatma Gandhi and the non-violent agitation that Congess under his leadership was carrying out. She was influenced by the teaching of Gandhiji and started spreading the words as she travelled from village to village for her social work. She was fondly called “Gandhi-Buri” or Old Woman Gandhi. Matangini Hazra realized that only a free nation can bring happiness and prosperity to its subjects.

From 1920 to 1942, she became a regular participant in the meetings and agitation that Congress campaigned against the British Govt of India. She was a Keynote Speaker at many of the Conventions. From Salt Satyagraha to Taxation Banning Agitation or raising the Indian Flag at the British Govt establishments like the courthouse or showing the black flag to the Governor-General, she was always at the forefront of the movement. And in the process she had to face the police brutality and torture many a times. Once after the Judge pronounced her guilty and served her a jail term she said, “There is no better glory than to be punished for loving your country and serving the downtrodden.” She spent 6 months in the jail of Behrampur (Murshidabad) and another 2 months in Hijli jail.

It’s a pity that in our school history books, there is only a passing mention of Matangini Hazra and other freedom fighters. She was a member of the Indian National Congress but was not part of any revolutionary or social reformist group; her motto was to fight against the British rule and make the country independent. She was one of the fearless fighters up against the mighty British Empire. Although she was a follower of Gandhi and his non-violent movement, she never shied from participating in armed conflict with the authorities. Therefore, there was no melodrama in her death but the final culmination of love for the country and the fellow countrymen. She led the mob of freedom fighters to take control of the Tamluk Police Station and the when the police opened fire to disperse the crowd, she said, “March forward… the police station is up ahead and not behind… don’t retreat my friends… I will move forward only and that means the death waits for me, so be it… Vande Mataram.”

A popper and uneducated village woman had shown us that with WILL and DETERMINATION one can do wonders. Her martyrdom on 29th September 1942 had an impact on the fight for independence that finally paved way for the Independent India on 15th August 1947, almost five years after Matangini Hazra laid down her life for Mother India.

Image Courtesy: Google Images

Ishwarchandra Vidyasagar

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Ishwarchandra Vidyasagar, a name every Bong child knows from the heart. Because of him, I am able to read, write and speak in Bengali as did my parents and their parents. The Bornoporichoy Part 1 & 2 (Introduction to Alphabets) is an essential book that’s every Bengali child’s first book, penned by Ishwarchandra Vidyasagar.

There are many stories about him that floats around including how he studied under the lamppost during the night or he learnt counting seeing the milestones etc. I am not going to repeat them here but tell you about his last days.

The sunset years of Ishwarchandra Vidyasagar wasn’t a very happy one. He was visibly upset with the behavior of his eldest and only son Narayanchandra and in 1872, disowned him severing all relations with him. A few days later his wife too passed away and he was all alone. He wanted to have solitude and moved back to his village from Kolkata. However, peace eluded him even in the village and he became restless.

He travelled to the west and reached a small non-descriptive sleepy town called Kamartand in now Jharkhand state. There he bought a villa with garden spread over 5.6 acres at a (then) princely sum of Rs.500/- from a recently widowed British lady. After renovating the building, he named it Nandankanan. It had a large hall for the night school and a bedroom and a study besides kitchen etc. He planted saplings of Kishanbhog Mango right at the entrance of the gated villa and another sapling of Bhagalpuri Mango at another corner. He kept a gardener called Kali Mandal to look after the garden. He checked the proof of Bornoporichoy Part 3 as well as of Sita’r Bonobas while living there.

According to legendary Bengali author Shri Sunil Gangopadhyay, the Bongs pronounced the name as Kormata but actually it is KORMATAND which means raised land (tand) of a certain Santhal Boatman named Korma, that does not get flooded ever. Karmatand happens to be in Jamtara District of Jharkhand in the border of West Bengal, a Santhal dominated area popularly known as Santhal Pargana and Vidyasagar was very happy and enjoyed the company of the locals. He used say that the Santhals are very innocent people and always speak the truth. He had decided to spend the rest of his life at Kamartand but that did not happen. He had to travel to Kolkata quite a few times on work or for health reasons and ultimately died in Kolkata.

Ishwarchandra became friends with the simple and innocent Santhals within a short time of his setting up of residence in Kormatand. Large number of Santhals would come to him in the morning to sell him corns from their field and he would buy them in lots. In the evening while returning from the days labour at the field, the Santhals would come to him ask to be fed and Vidyasagar would bring out the corns that he bought from them in the morning. All would enjoy the roasted corns as the Sun would hide behind the distant hills.

Ishwarchandra would provide homeopathic treatment to the poor Santhals and became their life savior in a short period of time. He would spend time with the cholera patient and treat them to health again. He was very impressed with the Santhals, the people of the soil who were without any cunning and complexities. He would buy new clothes for them around the festival time like Durga Puja and provide blankets and warm clothing to them during the winters.

His brother, Shambhucharan, once said, “Ishwarchandra would treat the patients through Homeopathic medicine and also provide basic food like fruits, sabudana, sugar-crystals etc starting early morning till about 10 am. Then in the afternoon, he would go to their huts to see their progress. The Santhal’s would be delighted to see him and share their food with him.”

According to Shambhucharan, Vidyasagar loved the simple and frugal food offered by the Santhal’s than the elaborate banquette presented by the rich landlords of Bengal in his honor. He wanted to spend the rest of his life in the bountiful natural greens of Kormatand among the simple hearted Santhals. He was overwhelmed by their simplicity and complex free life just like Bibhutibhushan Bandhopadhyay.

Ishwarchandra spent almost 17 years in Kormatand but due to falling health had to return to Kolkata in 1890. There are lot of memories attached to the Karmatand Railway Station as well. Once a traveler upon disembarking at the station started shouting for a porter to carry his luggage. The small station did not have any porter at that time, so Vidyasagar acted as porter and carried the luggage of the harried traveler. When the person got to know the real identity of Vidyasagar, he was profusely apologetic and asked for his mercy. Vidyasagar assured him that he has not taken any offence rather was pleased to be of his help.

Kamartand Railway Station along with the town has been named as Vidyasagar in honor of Ishwarchandra Vidyasagar and has helped in the development in keeping with stature of the person that he was. The railway authorities, recently painted the entire station with the life story of Ishwarchandra Vidyasagar to commemorate his stay in Komartand.

After the death of Ishwarchandra Vidyasagar, his estranged son, Narayanchandra sold the Nandankanan to a businessman of Kolkata named Mr. Mullick who never bothered to either visit the place or keep it in good stead. As a result, the house started crumbling down in the face of non-maintenance. Then in 1938, a group of Bengali influential gentry formed Bengal Association of Bihar (Bihar Bangali Samiti) and repurchased Nandankanan from the Mullicks for Rs.24000/- and restored the place back to its old glory. They started a school for the girls in the name Vidyasagar’s mother Bhagawati Devi.

In 2001, when Jharkhand state was curved out of Bihar, the association was renamed as Jharkhand Bengali Association and they formed a 11 member committee for Ishwarchandra Vidyasagar Memorial. Though the old dispensary of Vidyasagar does not exist anymore, there is now a well equipped full fledged hospital called Vidyasagar Homeo Chikitsalaya. Every year, the association celebrate 3 events in the life of Ishwarchandra Vidyasagar, 29th March as Gurudakshina Divas, 29th July his Mahaprayan Divas and 26th September, his birth anniversary. The celebrations are very simple without any fanfare, away from the hustle bustle of the city in the midst of the nature and amongst the simple hearted innocent Santhals, just what Ishwarchandra Vidyasagar would have loved.

Content courtesy: ABP (Bengali) Net Version