"It was a miracle, nothing else, and such miracles keep taking place in Ayodhya."
The trooper was protecting his own zone. It is hard to say if the act of defence was based on any input received in simian code or if it tumbled out from primate instinct of the obdurate order, which is often how monkeys seem to tackle territorial issues.
The zone the trooper with a tail was protecting, was a sacred space. Protecting a sacred space is a presence-aspect synonymous with monkeys in several villages, towns, and cities of Bharat. They thrive on temple life, keeping the vital signals of territorialism alive and rejuvenated over simple offerings from devotees.
Bananas, gram, even temple prasad is offered to them, between leaps, crouches, a whoop here, a screech, chatter, gibber there by pujaris and devotees alike.
In Ayodhya, monkeys seem to possess special rights with the timing of their “protection” acts that somehow manage to get concentrated on sacred spaces, directly or indirectly.
On a day in 1998, a monkey was offered the temple prasad, because he was too engrossed in the situation he had literally “diffused”.
In 1998, “on an undisclosed day”, a monkey prevented a bomb blast at the Hanuman Garhi Mandir and saved lives. The incident is well-known to people of Ayodhya.
This sacred space was the prime Hanuman temple in Ayodhya, the Hanuman Garhi mandir, where Pawanputra Hanuman is believed to have been blessed with the duty of protecting Ayodhya by Rama, the King of Ayodhya himself. Hanuman Garhi mandir is where devotees of Rama bow down and offer prayers before proceeding to Rama janmabhoomi.
That day in 1998, with his timely intervention, the monkey made the people of Ayodhya revisit their belief that Hanuman resides, indeed, at the Hanuman Garhi Mandir and continues to protect not only Ayodhya but Bharat.
This author spoke to Inspector (retired) Avinash Mishra, a 1982-batch UP Police officer, who is well-known for his service in Uttar Pradesh Police between 1985 and 2019 and known as an encounter specialist. Mishra witnessed the event unfolding moment after moment inside the Hanuman Garhi temple. He was leading this task as part of the Special Task Force at that time.
According to Mishra, on “that day”, constables on duty noticed a jeep parked outside Hanuman Garhi. He says, “They looked here and there. The path to Hanuman Garhi was quite congested. It was a narrow road. Right at where the narrow road ends, the lane was congested and busy. Kaafi der se wo jeep wahan khadi thee (it was parked there for a long time). It was leading to traffic issues.”
Mishra adds that the constables on duty, unable to find anyone, took the jeep to the police thana with the notion that the person claiming the jeep would himself come to thana. Also, taking the jeep to the thana would at least help the traffic to clear from that part of the road.
“When the jeep reached the thana, homeguard sipahis began to inspect the vehicle. They discovered a tullu pump in it. "They pulled out the tullu pump from the vehicle, but they lost their grip and it fell. When it fell, they saw sort of a burada (something like sawdust). They became curious. ‘How can there be this burada-like thing inside a tullu pump’, they thought. Dheere dheere ek sipahi, fir do sipahi, sub inspector and others joined them. They thought it looked like RDX. I received a phone call and rushed to Faizabad with my team."
According to Mishra, when he and team reached the thana in Faizabad, they found the driver sitting there. He had come searching for the jeep. He was interrogated. He told us that he had picked four people from Akbarpur who said that they wanted to be at Hanuman Garhi for darshan and later Rama janmabhoomi darshan. He informed us that he realised that one was known to the local paanwala, and the other three seemed like outsiders."
He gave them other details which pressed them to rush for Hanuman Garhi for an immediate check.
"Ek do jagah burada mila, wo... RDX. Then we got to know that there could be something (suspicious) even inside Hanuman Garhi Mandir. We searched everywhere inside the temple but we found nothing (inside the temple)."
Then, the team spotted a monkey and something beside it that pulled their attention.
"Right next to where the monkey was sitting was a wire lying there. When we reached the spot, we found that it was a detonator and noticed that the monkey had pulled off the wire from the detonator. The wire was examined and its path followed to find the very spot where they had planted the bomb. We found the bomb. The bomb disposal squad got into action soon after."
What was going in Mishra's mind at that time? "At that time, we were fully occupied with the search and were hoping to find the RDX wherever it was inside the temple. Wohi koshish ho rahi thhee (that indeed was the ongoing effort at that time). And we wanted the monkey to somehow just move from that spot. Ki wo bandar hat jaaye."
The team quickly sourced the Hanuman Garhi mandir prasad in order to offer it to the monkey. The monkey did not eat it and moved away towards the upper structure of the temple. How would Mishra describe this incident? He has one word for it. "chamatkar" - miracle. “There are other incidents that have taken place in Ayodhya and can be described as chamatkar. It was a miracle, nothing else, and such miracles keep taking place in Ayodhya."
He adds, “A couple of pujaris were taken in confidence for the search and what followed. The pujaris told the devotees that they were preparing for a particular aarati and everyone should leave. It was all done quietly.” Mishra informs that the team later recovered eight kg RDX from a village boy and nabbed another man who was a Pakistani.
Ayodhya and among the temples of Ayodhya, Hanuman Garhi Mandir and Shri Rama janmabhoomi have faced the looming shadow of terror. In July 2005, the Rama janmabhoomi site, which was heavily guarded at that time, was attacked by five terrorists. They were reportedly shot dead by security personnel.
A report on the DNA website mentions: "After blasting the outer barricade of the complex, they tried to move towards the inner barricading where troops of the 33rd battalion of the CRPF were deployed. The terrorists got down from the vehicle and fired heavily at the troops and lobbed grenades in order to storm the Sanctum Sanctorum…"
According to Mishra, “Monkeys are also known to have thrown down grenades that got stuck in the tirpal (the tent like upper covering at the makeshift shelter for Rama lalla back then) at Shri Rama janmabhoomi during a terror attack that has taken place in the past."
The seemingly peculiar presence of a monkey at the premises of the Faizabad district court during the crucial hearing regarding an important judgement on 1 February 1986, has been reported by the media and mentioned by the people of Ayodhya over the decades.
A report on the News 18 website mentions that the monkey captured the attention of people and police personnel present at the court. The report even mentions CJM CD Rai, who was present with the district judge almost throughout the day, telling News 18 that before the hearing began, the monkey was seen holding the Indian Tricolour installed at the court.
The report adds that the monkey was noticed by the judge, following which efforts were made to make the monkey leave the spot, but the monkey did not budge and continued to hold the flag. The report further says that in the evening, after the judgement, the monkey was seen moving away.
Interestingly, it adds that CJM CD Rai mentioned that when the district judge reached his residence, they saw the same monkey sitting there, much to his surprise and much to the surprise of his security staff. The monkey left the judge's residence after seeing him there and was never spotted by anyone after that.
What was 1 February 1986, or the judgement, about in Ayodhya's history? It is considered one of the landmark days in the history of Rama janmabhoomi movement as the judgement was about the unlocking of the gates of the disputed site. The district judge directed that the gates be "unlocked".
Another such retelling stored in the memory of a “karsevak” came leaping, on its own, without being urged, just as monkeys do when they want to make their presence felt or want to make the “presence of Hanuman” upheld.
Rajiv Soti, a karsevak from Bijnor in Uttar Pradesh was part of the Rama janmabhoomi movement during the events of October 1990. “On 30th October 1990, when things took a disturbing turn, I could not help but think of Ayodhya as my final destination. The top at Hanuman Garhi temple, where I always felt the presence of Hanumanji, flashed right before my eyes at Rama janmabhoomi. I saw a monkey carrying a karsevak’s flag over the domes. The scene and image of the monkey carrying the flag are etched in my memory.”
To the devotee, the “protective” presence of the monkey in, or for, the devotee’s sacred spaces, particularly those in Ayodhya and Rama janmabhoomi, indeed is a message that signals the presence of Pawanputra, Marutinandan and Rama bhakta Hanuman.
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