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The dec untold story of how the Ram idol surfaced inside Babri Masjid

The untold story of how the Ram idol surfaced inside Babri Masjid

author The night was almost over. Ayodhya was still numb with sleep. Piercing through the quiet, a young sadhu, drenched in sweat, came scampering from Hanumangarhi, a fortress-like Hindu religious establishment housing over five hundred sadhus in Ayodhya. He had been sent to summon Satyendra Das to his guru, Abhiram Das, who seemed to be breathing his last. Those were the early hours of 3 December 1981, and a curtain was coming down over a few forgotten pages of history. Dharam Das, the other disciple who stayed with Abhiram Das in his one-room tenement, the asan in Hanumangarhi, had asked for him so that they could be with their guru in his last moments. The news did not come as a shock. Satyendra Das had been almost awaiting the moment, since he had known for long that his guru was nearing the end of his journey. He had been at his bedside the whole day and the signs were not encouraging. Even when he had left Abhiram Das’s asan to get a breather after hours of tending to the terminally ill, he had a premonition that his guru – the man who had led a small band of Hindus to surreptitiously plant the idol of Lord Rama in Babri Masjid on yet another December night three decades ago – might not live long. After he had come away from the bedside, unwilling but tired to the bones, Satyendra Das was restless and unable to sleep. He dreaded the moment, yet knew that someone would knock on his doors with the news any time, and when it came, he responded fast, wrapped a quilt around himself and ran out along with the young sadhu who had come to fetch him. It was very cold outside.

The winter night was fading into a dense fog that smothered everything in its folds. Nothing was visible. The duo, almost running in total invisibility, knew the nooks and crannies of Ayodhya like the back of their hands. As Satyendra Das arrived at the asan, he saw Abhiram Das lying in the middle of the room on a charpoy, surrounded by a few sadhus from Hanumangarhi. No one spoke; it was very quiet. Only Dharam Das moved close to him and murmured softly that their guru had passed away minutes before he had stepped in. Slowly, as the day began to break, devotees and disciples started pouring into the room. Soon, preparations for the last rites of the deceased were begun with the help of some residents of Hanumangarhi. The rituals for the final journey of ascetics are not the same as those for non-ascetic Hindu grihasthas, particularly in north India. Sadhus, unlike Hindu grihasthas, are rarely cremated. There are two options: either their bodies are smeared with salt and buried sitting in a meditative posture or they are dropped down a sacred river tied with a rock or sacks full of sand. The fact that sadhus who take vows of complete renunciation are not cremated symbolizes their separation from the material world. The claim goes that cremation for sadhus is superfluous since they have already burnt their attachments through ascetic initiation, opting for a life of austerities and renunciation.

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First Published: Thu, December 06 2018. 16:12 IST
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