Posts Tagged ‘Basant Gaon Hanuman’

Kotwal of the Capital – 6

April 15, 2016

Happy Ramanavami to all!

Shri Rama Jaya Rama Jaya Jaya Rama!

Let us commence our journey with kotwal of the Capital.

April 1986…

The sculpted idol of Hanuman is ready in Karkala, Karnataka. Brahmachari ji and a group of devotees are now all set to travel with the idol and take it to New Delhi. Shreepaad Baba is also there with them now. Baba is conversant in many languages – and so is a great help for Brahmachari ji.

The truck-trailer for carrying the idol has arrived.

Brahmachariji and group go to Udupi Krishna temple and have darshan of the Lord. One of the desires of Maharajshree is that the Delhi Hanuman temple should have a chariot like the one at Udupi Krishna temple, so that a ceremonial idol of Hanuman can be taken in procession along some major roads of Delhi….

On First of May 1989, the trailer commenced its journey. After a short distance, the trailer broke down under the load of the massive Hanuman, and the journey came to a halt. To reach the main road, one had to traverse a few kms of kacchaa (unpaved) road… And the trailer had got stuck in that kacchaa road itself. A new axle had to be transported from Bombay and an additional trailer arranged. This would take time. Local well wishers would tell Brahmachariji that he should visit this or that local temple and pray for relief from obstacles. He faithfully visited every temple…. Axle and trailer arrived by 15th May. Once again the journey commenced on 16th of May – and once again, the tyres burst. This was the story that repeated for the next few days.. Fix the tyres, move a few kms, then tyres burst… And wherever the trailer stopped, local people would make a beeline and there would be a festive atmosphere as they collected for Darshan of this huge Hanuman on the trailer.

Somehow or the other, by and by, they made it to the highway – and by end of the month they had reached a village named suratkalaam where the axle broke once more.

Their primary destination was the railway yard at Mangalore. To reach that they had to cross a road bridge. And for crossing that they needed ‘permission’ from the state road authorities. And as Hanuman would have it, the authorities firmly denied permission, stating that the bridge would not be able to bear the load of the humungous Hanuman. So they were stuck in Suratkalaam, with no permission to go further. Meanwhile, the press started carrying reports that Hanuman himself, perhaps, did not want to proceed from there!

While the team knocked on all doors, none opened. The driver of the truck-trailer and the team of workers decided that it was fruitless to wait and so they simply left the trailer and returned to Bombay. Meanwhile, Shreepad Baba had left for Bangalore to meet with the State Highway authorities and get their permission for moving the trailer. Brahmachariji was distraught, and he did Satyagraha… As such he lived on a meager diet of vegetables and Ganga water – and now he declared that he was giving up even that – until Hanuman moved to Delhi.

And the monsoon broke out in June. During that period the road traffic in that route is severely affected. So, everything was going wrong…. The whole of June, the trailer was grounded in Suratkalaam.

Meanwhile, Brahmachariji was feeding Hanuman every day with a diet of Sankeertan – of Rama Nama – for that is the food of Hanuman…. As for himself, he stopped taking even Ganga water by the middle of June. He was on a total fast. After much pleading, he took some juice on 23rd.

On 23rd, a Sri Jagdeesh Chandra Batra, a barrister devotee of Brahmachariji arrived. And Shreepad Baba returned from Bangalore on 25th, successful in getting some sort of permit.

Mr Batra meanwhile talked to local authorities in Mangalore and came up with a brilliant alternative. The idol could be transported to Perambur station – which is attached to the Mangalore port, then they would not need to cross the road bridge at all. Moreover, the Port authorities were willing to extend all help (of cranes etc) to help transport the idol. So suddenly the Sun shone.

However the eclipse was never far away. The Government authorities sent a notice saying that the trailer should not be moved even a bit without written permission from the authorities. So more obstacles had to be crossed. Finally, permission was obtained, and the trailer reached the Mangalore port railway yard on 6th of July – full three months after being ready to move from Karkala. Around 11th of July – the train left for Delhi. It was a slow coach transportation, and there were several halts and breaks of journey. Finally, the special wagon carrying the idol reached Tughlakabad station of Delhi only on 2nd of August. As in all places of halt in between, huge number of devotees gathered for receiving and worshipping Hanuman…

Now was the next great task of moving the massive Hanuman from Tuglakabad to the Ashram at Basant Gaon. They could start only on 12th August, but the trailer broke down on the way – as before. After a halt of 24 hours, the trailer moved again, and they could finally reach Basant Gaon on 13th August around 11 pm. There, the trailer again broke down under Peepal tree that was in the vicinity of the Ashram. And there he remained unmovable for the next few weeks….

The folks working on moving the idol were at their wits end. They tried to use all engineering power, with multiple engines on the job – but the idol could not be moved. Finally, giving up, they came to Brahmachariji and put up their hands. Brahmachariji smiled and asked them to give some Laddoo as Bhog to Hanuman. Quickly thy went and got two packets of Laddoo. Brahmachariji laughed and said that this is too little for this huge Hanuman. And then 40 Kgs of Laddoo was organized, which Brahmachariji personally offered as Bhog to Hanuman, speaking to him all the while. And then, on his ‘go’ signal, they tried again, and this time, with no difficulty, with just a single engine, the idol was moved and placed in the courtyard of the Ashram… It was 1/Sep/1989.

The task remaining on hand was lift the huge idol and install it on the ‘Peetha’ that was designed for its base. For this, the contractors were demanding huge sums – excess of 30 or 50 Lakhs of rupees. At end, one of Brahmachariji’s ardent devotees, Shree Jaya Prakash Gaud, a leading industrialist, took this task upon himself – and set about working on this heart and soul.

Meanwhile, Brahmachariji was still on his discipline of eating next to nothing. He was resolved not to break this until Hanuman was made to stand on his designed position.

As work progressed, soon it was month of Magh – and the annual Magha festival in Sangam was on hand. Brahmachariji never missed a single day of bathing in Sangam during that period. And so he left for his Ashram at Jhusi, Prayag.

Meanwhile, work went on and Hanuman was finally standing – almost in the final position – in the designed base. The date  was 24th of January, 1990. Cries of Jay Hanuman filled the air of Basant Gaon…. On hearing this news, Bramachariji came from Prayag, and with tears streaming, he feasted his eyes on Hanuman. Work was still in progress… And Hanuman was made to finally stand in the proper position by midnight of 24th Jan. But Brahmachariji was not there to see that as he had to return to Prayag earlier in the night – he would not break his niyama of bathing every single day in Sangam during magha mela in Prayag.

After the Magh mela, Brahmachariji came away to Sunrakha village, near Brindavan, where he had renovated the Ashrama of Saubhari Rishi, in whose lineage he had been born. A Mela had been organized there, and Brahmachariji, in failing health, attended that.

After that, he came away to his Ashram in Brindavam, and his health was fast deteriorating. Second week of March, 1990. Devraha Baba would send someone to enquire about Brahmachariji’s health every hour or even several times an hour – so critical was Brahmachariji’s condition… Baba would send Aushadhi (medicines), but Brahmachariji was not taking any. He had but one strong desire left. To go to his Hanuman in Delhi. Bowing to his will, his devotees brought him to Delhi. He arrived at Basant Gaon Ashram in the evening.

Seated in front of Hanuman, he gazed at the Lord, his eyes streaming non-stop. Then he asked to be taken on a parikrama (circling) of the idol, even as he sat on his chair and entered Samadhi state. The next morning, at dawn, he merged into the Infinite Light. The date was 11th March 1990.

His last project done, he merged in His Hanuman – the Kotwal of the Capital.

Jai Siya Ram!

Signing off this series with a photo of great Guardian … Taken in Jan 2016 – twenty six years since the great installation…

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Basant Gaon Hanuman

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** Concluded. Sri Rama Jayam **

Kotwal of the Capital – 4

March 2, 2016

Continued…

So it was, that during his Yatra to Rameshwaram, when he halted in Bangalore, Brahmachariji decided to get the huge idol of Hanuman sculpted in Karnataka.

To think is to act… A group of devotees put their minds together and decided that the best place to get the idol made was in Karkala, in Udupi district.

Karkala is a beautiful, green place at the foothills of Western Ghats, next to the Arabian sea. The place is historically famous for its black granite rock bed, which has been the source of some great temple idols across time. The granite rock bed here is said to be a few hundred meters deep. The town, which dates back more than a thousand years, derives its name from “Kari Kallu” which means “Black Rock”, in the local languages.

To quote from Udupi pages  :

Karkala situated about 35 kms. from Udupi, is the headquarters of the Karkala Taluk. About, 52 kms. north-east of Mangalore, is known primarily for the statue of Lord Bahubali (Gomateshwara). The 45-feet tall statue is estimated to weigh 80 tons. Besides its colossal size, the Karkala statue is rendered more striking by its situation on the top of a huge granite rock, 300 feet high, on the verge of a picturesque little lake. This image was erected by a Jain king in 1432, in memory of Bahubali (the first Tirthankara) who renounced the world at his most victorious moment.

Here is a picture of the Gomatheshwara idol. This is the second tallest statue of Gomatheshwara in Karnataka ( the tallest being the one at Shravanabelagola in Hassan district).

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Gomateshwara_Statue,_Karkala.

Karakala town is like a portal to other great religious centers such as Sringeri, Kolluru ( Mookambika), Udupi, Dharmasthala etc. During the times of Portuguese invasion of Goa and the inquisition of Hindus, a section of Gauda Saraswata Brahmanas fled from Goa and came to Karkala, where they were given refuge by the local Jaina King. They Saraswats built a temple for Lord Venkateshwara, which is called Padu-Tirupathi (Western Tirupathi), which  is now one of the main attractions of Karkala.  Right in front of this temple is a temple of Hanuman. Known as Veera Anjaneya temple, this has a unique idol of Hanuman – around 15 feet tall, standing in a warrior pose, one hand on hip, other raised up above the head (as if about slap his opponent), hair flying… It is said that this idol was discovered when the land in Anekere (where there is a lake) in Karkala was being dug…

They say that Tipu Sultan was an ardent devotee of this Lord, and gifted a silver necklace that the Lord wears till this day.

Here is a picture of Veera Anjaneya of Karkala

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Veera-maruthi-karkala.

So, such is the place chosen by Brahmachariji for sourcing his Hanuman, the Kotwal of the country.

From available literature it is not clear if he had darshan of Veera Anjaneya at Karkala, but one would guess that he would have had Darshan, for he spent a lot of time in this small town. With Rama Nama Sankeertana traditionally chanted on special days in the temple, surely Brahamachariji would have been drawn here…

Coming to the year 1983….

After deciding to commence the project, Brahmachariji came with a group of devotees to Karkala. In Karakala, he stayed in Shukateendra Ashrama, a beautiful traditional Ashrama, where around 50-60 students studied traditional Vidya.

The next morning, Brahmachariji visited the quarry and inaugurated the project of sculpting the idol of Hanuman. Sri Radhamadhav Shenoy, the famous architect / sculptor, had agreed to the work of sculpting the idol of Hanuman. He came from a family-line of sthapathi-s (traditional Indian architect / sculptors), and his grandfather had been awarded a recognition by the President of India. He was so happy taking up this assignment of Brahmachariji that he waived all material c osts – (of the massive stone etc), and took only the fee for carving.

That evening Brahmachariji’s group put up a Bhagavata Charita Leela show in the Ashram.  They performed Shiva Leela as well. These were based on the ”Bhagavati Katha” penned by Brahmachariji. Although the play was in Hindi, the local students and people, who were ignorant of the language, enjoyed the show thoroughly. For Bhakti is Bhava after all – and then again, it was being performed in the presence of a Siddha Purusha – Prabhudatta Brahmachari Ji.

Dvivedi ji writes that at night, when Brahmachariji was about to retire, he asked him – “Maharaj ji, where are we going to get the massive resources needed for this project?” To this question, he says, Brahmachariji laughed, and said – “Hanuman Ji will make take care of all his arrangements himself!”

Very soon, the news spread far and wide that Brahmachariji was getting a massive idol of Hanuman made for installing as the Kotwal of the Capital in a temple in New Delhi. So funds started coming in. But would funds alone do for such a project? Surely, without the nod of God, not a blade of grass moves – what then to talk of such a massive undertaking….

Maharaj Ji was perhaps in his eighties then. The project to sculpt the massive 40 feet idol would take a few years. Brahmachariji returned to his Ashram in North India. Every year, he would make a trip to Karkala to inspect the progress. Applying the dust from the feet of the idol on his head, he would pray to Hanuman, again and again, to please come to Delhi soon. He would chat with Hanuman in merriment.  And so it went on… For five years… After which time, the sculpting was more or less done….

Now, coming to Basant Gaon, where the idol was planned to be installed. This was one of the three primary Ashrams of Brahmachariji (the main one being in Jhusi, Allahabad, and the other one in Brindavan). Up until the 1960-s or later, the area of Basant Gaon was open lands… A dry, arid, rocky sort of area – there was a village here – which was peopled largely by people of Jamadagni Gotra. It is said that the place where the current temple of Hanuman is situated, was originally a pond. The locals remember that in the 1940s there was a massive feud between some peoples in this area, resulting in the death of several people in this vicinity. Again in the early 70s, there was some local feud, which was, thankfully, not as deadly as the one in the 40-s. Suffice to say, that this area has seen strife. For whatever reason, Hanuman-ji decided to come to this place, and ever since then, the place has not only become one of peace – it is today, perhaps, one of the most expensive, prime areas, of New Delhi City…. Vasant Vihar…

Lets go back to year 1989….

The idol of Hanuman had been sculpted and was ready for transportation from Karkala…

The great Hanumat Yatra was to begin….

** To be continued **

Kotwal of the Capital – 3

February 10, 2016

Let us come to the story of the Hanuman Mandir at Basant Gaon, New Delhi, which was established by Maharaj Shri Prabhudatta Brahamachari Ji.

The installation of this massive idol of Hanuman, as the Kotwal of the Capital, was the last labor that this Hercules of spirituality undertook.

After my first Darshan of the temple in November (Click here for the blog report ) I wanted to get some details about this great installation…. As I searched the Net, I did get some information, but they were somewhat anecdotal. Searching around, I found a link to a site which gave details of Brahmachari Ji’s books, and in that I found a two volume autobiography that he had written – called ‘Apni Niji Charcha’. I checked with the Basant Gaon temple, and they did not stock the books of Prabhudatta ji. They told me to check in his Ashram at Jhusi or Brindavan. I called some numbers listed on the Net, but things happen at their own pace in the timelessness landscape of Indian spirituality, and I did not manage to get the books. Sometime in December, a friend of mine was on a visit to Brindavan, to Ananda Vrindavan Ashram (of Maharajshree Swami Akhandananda Sarawati). There being an Ashram of Prabhudatta Brahmachari Ji in Brindavan too, I asked my friend to check about the availability of the books there. To cut to a long story short, some process was set into motion, and by the grace of Maharajshree, the Vol 2 of ‘Apni Niji Charcha’ came to me by courier, sent by his Sanyasi disciple. This is a continuance of the Ahaituki Kripa of Maharajshree on this undeserving one. It was a book of around 350 pages, and I approached it with some trepidation. But I need not have felt any, for it was such a wonderfully written book. The pages just flew. Considering that this book was written after he had completed 110 volumes of Bhagavati Katha – one can well understand that the writing hand was simply in the zone – dancing with the divine. I read that book end-to-end, but did not get details about how the Hanuman mandir got to be made. It was but natural, because the Hanuman temple was done in the last years of Prabhudatta Ji, and these books had been written earlier (around 1978). At the end of the book, there was a mention of the red-faced-one (Hanuman) now ‘camping on his head’, and asking him to install a Hanuman idol in Delhi…. He conveys his conversations with Hanuman, where he tells him to catch hold of someone else, for where could he go for the means to build such a monument… He ends that parley by asking Hanuman to assign some man of means to enable the project, and that he would then carry out Hanuman’s command….

So that was as much as I could find from the autobiography.

In January, I visited Delhi again.

I reached on 22nd Jan, Friday. On Saturday 23rd Jan, I visited this temple again, with my friend Shiva. It was night time, and the atmosphere was divine. I chanced to ask a pujari if there was any ‘lekhni’ (write up) about the temple. To my pleasant surprise, he said that there was. On my enquiry he said that there was a book which described how the temple got to be made. And that I could buy one. By the time I finished the Darshan at the temple, he brought a copy from somewhere, which I grabbed gratefully. It was a book titled ‘Hanumat Yatra’, written by Dr Vidyadhar Dvivedi, a close disciple of Prabhudatta Ji. I started reading the book the same night, and finished it at around midnight. And that was a blessing. Because, as I came to know, the idol of Hanuman was installed on 24th of January, 1990. I had the book in my hand on the very date!

Here are some details about the idol of Hanuman, as described in the book.

Project start: October 1983
Height of idol: 40 feet
Width: 12 feet
Weight: 150 tons
Installed on : 24 January 1990
Idol type: Carved in Granite
Where sculpted:  Karkala (Karnataka)
Sculpted by: Sri Radhamadhav Shenoy

How did this project actually kick off?

It was sometime in 1983.

Brahmachari ji had gone with a group of people on Yatra to Rameshwaram. His first stop was at Bangalore. There, he happened to visit a temple of Hanuman, which was atop a hillock. The temple had a huge idol of Hanuman, made of black stone.

(One guesses that the temple he visited would have been the Pressana Veeranjaneya temple, at Mahalakshmi layout, Bangalore… There is an interesting story behind this temple. In the 1970s, there was a huge rock, 22 feet tall, that stood on top of a hillock here. The local people decided to paint a picture of Hanuman on this rock. Then they started worshipping the painting. It was soon decided that the rock should be sculpted to form an idol of Hanuman. The project was undertaken by the local community. And the idol of Hanuman was made. Prana Pratishtta was done, and the energized idol was formally inaugurated in 1976… ( To know more click here )

Here is a picture of that Hanuman…

Hanuman-bangalore
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After darshan of Bangalore Hanumanji, when Prabhudatta Ji was back in his place of stay, he was lost in deep thought. He then conveyed to the author, Dvivedi Ji, that he wished to have a similar idol, even larger, of around 40 feet height, to be installed in the Basant Gaon Ashram in New Delhi. He desired to get the idol made in Karnataka itself. He said “Delhi has been the Capital of India not just from recent times, but from ancient times of Kaurava-Pandavas. Our Hanuman Ji there would protect the capital, acting as the Kotwal (Chief Official Guardian of the Fort or Country), and would be known as the ‘Kotwal of Delhi’”.

A Sadhu’s sankalpa….

Bol Siyavar Ramachandra Ki ….

Jai!

  • To be continued