Sunday, October 17, 2010

Not Ram, My Janmabhoomi (Place of Birth)


By Manuwant Choudhary

Forget Ram Janmabhoomi - a few days ago I visited my Janmabhoomi after many years - Laherisarai in Darbhanga.

Its even mentioned on my passport.

My mothers father Sheetal Prasad Sinha was a doctor and he studied medicine in England in British times, returned to India in a ship during the Second World War and on a hissy radio relatives heard his ship being bombed by the Germans. Everyone considered him dead.

But suddenly to everyone's joy he returned to Bihar.

He was originally from Bhagalpur and his grandfather was a rebel in the 1857 War of Independence.

The British would often adopt and isolate the rebels family members to quell dissent but they did not send them to prison or torture them, instead they educated them.

So his father learnt English and went on to become a police officer (in those days this was rare) and Sheetal Prasad Sinha became a brilliant student earning scholarships to go to England.

He moved to Darbhanga and joined the Darbhanga Medical College Hospital. He was the personal physician to the Maharaja of Darbhanga and the royals of Nepal.

I never saw my Nanaji. He died young at 55.

But he was a genuis and I meet people..even the poor even now who remember him. They have named a road after him.

My maternal uncles younger brother Baikunth Mishra - a pathologist - is our only link to Darbhanga now.

The Maharaja is gone - his palaces siezed by the Indian government - a few converted to poorly maintained universities and left to decay.

Darbhanga is perhaps the worst victim of socialism. The Maharaja of Darbhanga was a great capitalist with businesses across India - jute, sugar, paper, a newspaper, homes in New Delhi, Bombay, Kolkata, London. But he was not a real Maharaja - just a zamindar but he got the title since he was richer than most of India's kings.

Darbhanga during the Raj era was the Golden period - viceroys dined and danced in his palaces. He had his own aiplane, a fleet of cars, his own special train - the train would pull up at his portico in his palace. Incredible!

The King of Nepal borrowed his Calcutta home often.

But what was the greatest was his philanthropy. Many universities in eastern India were actually his palaces.

Its all gone. Destroyed by the socialist leaders of India.

Maharajadhiraja Sir Kameshawar Singh actually foresaw what would happen to Bihar and India.

In the Constituent Assembly of India on the Abolition of Zamindari he opposed the nature of Article 24. This was proposed by Jawaharlal Nehru - India's Prime Minister - himself.

The Maharajah told the assembly "It gave me a rude shock when I read the ammendment proposed by no less a person than our Prime Minister..."

"By excluding two classes of legislations from law courts, is it not admitted by the authors of this ammendment that the provisions of these legislations are so unjust and improper that they cannot stand the scrutiny of the Law courts."

"I would humbly entreat the supporters of the ammendments not to introduce the vicious principles in the Constitution. If they do so, what at present is misfortune for some of us, may be a misfortune for the country as a whole."

When we see farmers lands being taken over by governments in Uttar Pradesh, Singur and Nandigram...one cannot help see the Maharajah's prophecy come true.

Today Indian politics is based on caste, crime , criminals and corruption....this formula is become the new religion.

Not Ram.

But my birthplace is today a modern hospital where hunderds of poor people coming everyday to recover. As I saw the glass building and my uncle's large house with a large lawn I jokingly told him I had won an important case. He asked which one.

I replied, "Allahabad High Court - the one on Ram Janmabhoomi. This is my Janmabhommi."

We both laughed.

Somehow visiting my janmabhoomi reminded me of one of India's best mystic poets - Kabir.

India's politicians do not talk about him.

Kabir was born at Benares to Muslim parents six hundred years ago in 1398 AD. He lived for 120 years and is said to have relinquished his body in 1518.

Legend has it that Kabir wanted to become a follower of a great Hindu saint Ramananda...who accepted disciples other than Hindus only once in a year. Kabir took his chance and fell at his feet. The Guru Ramanand saw Kabir wrtitten on his hands in Persian..picked up the boy and took him to his ashram. Many hindu students left his ashram but Ramanand did not throw out Kabir. Its said that when Kabir got enlightenment it was only then that his teacher too got enlightened.

Kabir never gave up his daily life or lived like an ascetic - he was a weaver by profession, married, had children and lived in the market.

Yet, his dohas (two liners) are better than any tweets you see on the net.

The ancient tweets are his dohas and in its two lines he tells you more than entire ancient epics.

He is revered by Hindus. Muslims and Sikhs (who regard his as important as their own ten Gurus).

The most famous strory is how Kabir was banished by the then Muslim rulers after complaints by conservative religious men...and as Kabir travelled around the country with his band of followers - he died near Gorakhpur in Uttar Pradesh. And his follwers started fighting.

His Hindu followers wanted to cremate his body while the Muslims wanted to bury.

Just then Kabir appeared to them and asked them to lift the veil that covered the dead body.

When they lifted the cloth - they found flowers instead.

Hindus took half the flowers and cremated it..while the Muslims took the other half and buried it.

A sample doha of Kabir When You Were Born...

"Jab tu aaye jagat mein sab hanse tu roye,
aisee karnee na kar ki jab jaye tab sab hanse."

(Translation)

When you were born in this world everyone laughed while you cried
Do not conduct yourself in such a manner that everyone laughs when when you are gone......

1 comment:

Sauvik said...

Excellent post, Manuwant. Congratulations.