08 August 2006

Remembering Independence

I was typing out about this place, just then I saw this article on http://www.ibnlive.com/!!
Just a co-incidence? really..

Yeah I was typing a post for the Independence Day spirit, the August analog of the country. My post was on a forgotten story in our history. And here, anyways, let me post it. Here it goes, the story.

As a child, while reading the history of Indian freedom movement, I always wondered what the role Kannadiga and my personal fore-fathers played in it..! I always used to quiz one elder for this. She would say something and escape, always. Her usual answer was “Elroo tumbaa galate madta idru.. navu bagilu haki kolta idvi..”[There used to be protests, but we were not bothered about it.].. very womanistic answer…

Well.. I couldn’t get much info about what I was looking into. But I didn’t stop there, kept collecting information from every one I met. Was thrilled to know one of my mother’s aunts was a satyagrahi and an active and staunch Gandhian, membered the Congress committee long back. A post on her…later.

On some other occasion, I happened to visit Gauribidanur. I was getting bored sitting at our family friend’s home. So, asked one of their children to take me out. He said, lets go to Vidurashwatha. I agreed instantly as the name of the village sounded interesting.

Yes, it lived up to my expectation, the place, Vidurashwatha. A divine feeling of sacredness can be perceived there. The name Vidurashwatha is derived from the brilliant character of Mahabharata, Vidura. It’s believed that Vidura planted a tree of his brilliance here, which grew to be a grand Ashwatha Vriksha, a male variety of Banyan kind.

Ashwatha vriksha is also called peepul, another kind of fig tree.

Some interesting facts about the pipul tree.
1. In Puri, state of Orissa, the original image of Jagannath was found at the foot of a fig tree, in the form of an Indranila or Blue Jewel. Its blinding brightness, had prompted the deity, Dharma, to request it be hidden in the earth.
2. The peepul [also, pipul] tree under which Buddha Shakyamuni sought enlightenment, is a fig (ficus religiosa after that event) and like the banyan or nyadgrodha, it is a representative of the World Tree as axis mundi or turning point of the world. It is venerated by Hindus and Buddhists.
3. The one that is standing today in an enclosure in Bodhgaya, Bihar, India is regarded as the same one by many people. Legend has it though, that King Ashoka (3rd c. CE) cut that one down and burnt it, but that it grew back. He was so overcome that he would not return home, and so his queen arrived to do the same. Again it re-grew.
4. The leaves of this tree also symbolize compassion/love, and appear in many emblems.

Our Vidurashwatha can also be added to the above list of Puri and Gaya banyan trees. It’s a huge and divine tree. People worship the tree, even today. There is a small temple constructed at the front root of the tree, an idol of Ashwatha Narayana swamy has been installed there.

The belief is that if someone worships Ashwatha narayana here, they will be blessed with prosperity, many childless couple goto Vidurashwatha and perform Naga prathishte to pray for the issues. And in deed, the believers say that the Tree God (Vriksha raaja) blesses every couple who performed the pooja there with intelligent children.

Well.. I was wandering along this temple space, suddenly some stone monument fell under my eyesight. I asked my friend to explain about that monument. He couldn’t, because he never bothered to see it, nor tried to learn about it.
I went there, read each and every word on that ‘stupa’, which brought tears in my eyes. I read there, the monument said, on April 25, 1938, the British cops massacred 10 villagers who were among the 100s taking out a peaceful satyagraha on that very land, for the freedom of ‘India’.

Would they be heard?! A small village in an un noticed place, would the cry of it be heard by the dynasty sitting thousands of miles away?! The satyagrahis never bothered, all they wanted was to cry out to the country that the villagers were with the Gandhian principles, and they supported the non-violent freedom movement.

Eighty-five-year-old Narsimhaiah was one of the lucky few who escaped unhurt that fateful day.

"That day there was a meeting happening, the police asked us to go elsewhere but we didn't. It was a peaceful gathering, suddenly they started firing and we ran helter-skelter,” Narsimhaiah says.

"It is for this kind of freedom that we fought. Earlier we had to do whatever they said. Now we are free to go and do whatever we want," he says.

That moment, history was crafted. That history, which no Indian bothered to look in to, but every one must be proud of the heritage.

That village seemed to me a deserted place, than a divine place at that moment. Vidura’s Ashwatha was forgotten, I came out of it with tears.

Where my countrymen laid their lives for the sake of the freedom that we enjoy today, but we don’t mind forgetting them?! The monument is today standing at Vidurashwatha without any one taking a good care of it.

This is supposed to be a national monument, but the fate of which is not expected to be like this. The story of Vidurashwatha martyrs is supposed to be told in the History books, alongside the Jallianwala bagh. But it is lost somewhere in the ‘itihas ke panne’.

At least after 68 years of the incident, lets pray for the martyrs and try to make use of the freedom they’ve gifted us in a better way.

Jai Hind. Vande Mataram


Shruthi said...

Very interesting, and enlightening post, Srik... thanks for highlighting it!

Srik said...

Thanks Shruti for introducing me to the tagging game..! Its cool and fundoo.

Basically, Vidurashwatha is in Kolar district which is my native, too. So, I have some cool/hot facts of that place like these..!
Wanted to post on this Jallianwala bagh of south India, but before I could publish it, CNN-IBN has done this marvellous job. Thanks to them for re-visiting the forgotten history,