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ETERNAL INDIA 25 - MANTRALAYAM

In January 2008, I had gone to Bangalore along with  Col. Gour and others to conduct an astrology seminar in a condition when doctors would and had advised me to get admitted to a hospital. I was diagnosed with a severe condition of pneumonia. My chest was congested, I was finding breathing difficult and my stamina was at a low ebb. I did conduct the class for one hour after I had been examined by a doctor at Bangalore who had prescribed some medicines. But after the classes I was so terribly exhausted that I could not visit Sri Sailam and  Mantralayam of the famous Raghavendra Swami about which a friend from Karnataka had told me in 1964-65 when I was posted in Nagpur. He had given me an extract from Madras Gazetterer to show me historical proof about a well known miracle, among many, of the great Raghavendra Swami. Back from Bangalore, I could not teach my classes in the Bharatiya Vidya Bhawan though I did not get admitted to ICU inspite of bad condition.

 

The reason for this foolhardy decision was that I never told and shared an experience I had in Bangalore. I was  lying in my bed in Bangalore while others except my younger brother had left for Sri Sailam and Mantralayam and told me later about their beautiful experiences there and the warm reception they had got from the priests of the temple.

 

I will narrate my experience at the end. First read the account about
Raghavendra Swami which is historically undisputed as can  be seen. It is a pity that such incidents are not narrated now in government documents which  British rulers, not Hindus, could do it with their sense of history and almost no faith in the great traditions of eternal India, a spiritual India.

http://www.hindubooks.org/templesofindia/mantralaya/munro_eprisode/page1.htm  THE MUNRO EPISODE

This great miracle is recorded and preserved in the government archives. During the British days, the foreigners unable to assimilate the Indian way of life and its sanctity, ordered the resumption of endowments made during the time of the Nawab of Adoni. The temple authority then prayed for retention of Jagir, as it was the only means, helping them conducting prayer services and feeding the visiting devotees. The white men scoffed - "What! a Jagir for a dead brahmin fakir!". They decided to lay their Bhasmasura hasta. But with a view to examining the truth of the petitioners, Thomas Munro, an official was sent by the company. Being a god-minded man, he entered the precincts removing his shoes and hat. As he stood near the Brindavan, he found a saint emerging from it, and explaining the position. "If the Jagir were to be resumed, neither prayers, nor feeding would be conducted there onwards. The temple is like an oasis that quenches the thirst of the parched throats of all without distinctions. So leave it as it is". The explanation and presentation of solicitation was too convincing that Munro immediately quashed the proposal for resumption. He narrated all that went between them to the people gathered there and showed the Akshatas he received from him. The listening people bent down their heads all at once and praised him for the fortune of seeing the Acharya.


Thomas Munro :

During the rule of the British East India Company, the Company authorities sent an order to the head of Sri Raghavendra Mutt to the effect that the jagir pertaining to the Mantralaya would be abolished. On seeing the order, the head of the Mutt and priests performing pujas, felt very sad. They wrote to the Company saying, " Mantralaya is a great pilgrim centre, if the jagir is abolished, it will be difficult to cater to the food and other facilities of the visiting pilgrims. Therefore, the jagir should not be abolished." Sir Thomas Munro came to the Mantralaya to enquire into the matter at the behest of the Company's authorities. Removing his hat and leaving his shoes outside the entrance, he went into the Mutt. As he was standing before Sri Raghavendra's Brindavan and having 'Dharsan' of the swami, a sanyasi came out of the Brindavan and began to speak to Munro in fluent English and in a dignified manner. Munro asked the sanyasi many questions relating to the abolition of the jagir. The sanyasi replied suitably and affirmed that the jagir should not be abolished.


Later the sanyasi gave Munro the sacred grain. No body observed the sanyasi speaking to Munro. He was not visible to any person. People, who were present at the shrine, thought that Munro was talking to himself about something. At the conclusion of the conversation, Munro said to the people gathered there, " A sanyasi came out of the Brundavan , spoke to me in my own language, against the abolition of the jagir, gave me the sacred grain and disappeared back into the Brindavan."

           
Then the head of the Mutt said to Munro, " you are a fortunate person Sri Raghavendra Swami himself appeared before you in person. He gave you the sacred grain and blessed you." Munro felt exceedingly happy. He immediately cancelled the order abolishing the jagir and restored it to the Mutt permanently. He ordered his cook to cook the sacred rice as his staple food, and serve him at the time of meal. The entire proceedings are recorded in the Madras District Gazetteers as follows:


EXTRACT FROM
        

MADRAS DISTRICT GAZETTERS”                                                                                          

By W. FRANCIS esq I.C.S

VOLUME NO.I BELLARY

Reprint 1916 by the Superintendent Govt Press, Madras

Ch XV Adoni Taluk-- page No,213

Mantasala (Mantrayalam): A Shrotriem village with a population of 1212 on the bank of the Tungabhadra in the extreme north of the taluk. The village is widely known as containing the tomb of Madhava saint Sri Raghavendra Swami the annual festival in August connected with which is attended by large number of pilgrims including even Lingayats from Bombay, the Nizam’s Dominion and even Mysore. The tomb itself is not of architectural interest. The grant of the landed endowment attached to it, it is said, is contained in one of Mackenzie MSS is said to have been made by Venkanna Pant, the well known Dewan of Sidi Masaud Khan Governor of Adoni from 1662 to 1687.

 

A quaint story of Sir Thomas Monro is told about the place. The endowment being threatment with resumption, Munro, it is said, came to make inquiries. After removing his boots and taking off his hat he approached the grave.The saint thereupon emerged from his tomb and met him. They conversed together for sometime regarding the resumption, but though the saint was visible and audible to Munro who was himself people declare, semi divine, none of the others who were there could either see or hear what he said. The discussion ended, Munro returned to his tent and quashed the proposal to resume the endowment. Being offered some concentrated rice he accepted it and ordered it to be used in the preparation of his meals for that day.

Sir Thomas ordered the rice - Mantrakshate Prasad - to be cooked along with his evening meal and gave up any thought of `resuming' the taxes of the village to the British.  (This episode is found in a British newspaper of the time, The Madras Gazettier, which can still be viewed at the Collectorate in Anantapura)

              
My friend in Nagpur used to tell me that Monroe had even a vision of Lord Rama and Laksamana walking with their bows in the outskirts of Mantralayam but I found no historically documented proof of this anywhere.

          
As to myself, back to Delhi, in that bad condition I came to know that Shri Upendra Vajpai, who had been something like an elder brother to me since my Lucknow days, suffering from the same type of chest congestion and pneumonia was admitted to a hospital, in  ICU where doctors could not save him. It was reported that as many forty people above the age of sixty who suffered like me and late Upendra Vajpai died in hospitals. I survived.

 

The fleeting vision of a saint

What had happened to me in Bangalore is what I never told anyone but can  narrate it now. It was  January 2008, I was finding  breathing difficult and my two nephews who used to come to see me  before and after their office hours in the guest house where we stayed came next morning and seemed to have noticed my condition. I  had been doing my japam as usual in that condition. What I never told anyone is that  on that difficult  night there appeared in a fleeting vision a saint who  blessed me with abhaya mudra (do not be afraid). Next morning I managed to talk to people and even hobble on my feet to take my meals in the canteen down below. Back to Delhi after what I thought was an arduous air travel, I reached my residence, climbed stairs,  then dumped myself on my bed. It continued for one month after which  only I could teach my research classes to get produced the best book on TIMING OF MARRIAGE, by a group of  brilliant students of research including Meenakshi Priya, Shaila and Anuj Gupta a brilliant journalist in Hindi representing Nav Bharat of Madhya Pradesh.

 

PS: Namit Gautam who read this account reminded that he had to  lift me from my bed physically in Delhi lightly and I had fallen on my bed such was my weakness. Still they took me to Bangalore from the airport in Delhi.  

 

( 8 January 2010)        


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