Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Urn god

I had spent half of my childhood here. Yelling, screaming, rejoicing. I still hear those echoes now. Those desi games that we played here, those fights I had here just passed by my mind. Those huge copper urns always fascinated me. The scar on my hand, the Scar, still reminded me how angry the Maha Darshari was when I tried to open the urn's seal. 15 years hence and I had decided to do my thesis on this very temple. May be it was that childhood fantasy of mine to know what is  in those urns. I had studied so much about Indian culture and never seen a caste, sect, religion, tribe worship an urn, sealed urn.
I started off with an apology to the Vāsaṇa prabhu as we referred to it, loosely translated to urn god. Apology was that ‘oh god forgive me, forgive me for the fact that I will unravel the mystery inside you’. With a small pause I said 'bless me'

The temple had history. It was the royal temple; it belonged to the Maharaja of Thane. The priests once were the key members of the Maha Sabha or the cabinet. They were rich. So rich that sometimes one wondered if they were priests or businessmen. The eldest of the Darshari family was called the maha Darshari or the chief priest. The legacy was passed on to his son and like many cases; this was a family business now. 

The exact replica of this temple was in the Royal palace. Only Darshari's worshipped the miniature Vāsaṇa Prabhu at the Palace. It was very easy to guess that the Royal family believed in the Vāsaṇa Prabhu. The rumor was that the Darshari's were given lots and lots of gold and some they have stocked it inside the urn and this is the Royal family’s emergency fund. That also explained the fact why the Darshari's were that rich.

As a historian my job was to bring in facts and findings to prove this rumor right. I asked my grandfather about the darshari's. He said all those things that I knew from childhood, what caught my interest was when he said, they are unique.
He said nowhere in India you will find people with the family name as Darshari's.
This was interesting. Generally in India priest have family names such as Pandit, Sharma, Poojar. Which mostly mean scholar, worshipper so on. But what does Darshari mean. There is no word in Sanskrit or Prakrit or for that matter any ancient language that I know of having any meaning to this. 

Darshari, Darshari, I repeated it to myself. I could just not stop thinking about this word. My sixth sense prompted me that this was the key to the mystery. The word started resonating in my mind. I started to write it down. I must have written it at least 5 times in all different languages before I got up to go for an evening stroll. The mystic wind blew by the table and the paper fell on my feet, upside down. It was that moment of excitement. Irahrad, The secret keeper. I felt a shock pass by my spine.

Secret keepers', not wealth keepers or gold keepers. I dig deep. This is now getting more exciting than I thought. I pay another visit to the temple. Not with the coconut and flowers this time but with my historian's gadgets.
I notice that the lid of the urn was not sealed for at once. The lid hinges are smooth. They must have opened and closed several times in the past. I closely watch the engravings of the pillars. Striking resemblance of the two carvings on the two pillars, group of people worshipping the Vāsaṇa Prabhu, the king in the foreground and seen prominent. Only on a very close watch you will see that there is one less person in the two engravings. I notice it but decide to ignore as it is a carving. I later go to the palace to see what is the difference between the mini temple in the palace. They are exactly the same, even the one less count of the number of people in the carvings!

I then go back to the history books to study the Royal family of the Thane. Every history book said that they were the humble dynasty. They always married their subject and made her the Maha Rani. Honor always given to the first wife of the Royal family. It is common in India that the off spring of the Maha Rani was always the heir of the Royal throne. Every single Maharaja of Thane married someone who was not from any Royal family. That was the humbleness of this dynasty. 
I decided to draw their family tree. Maharaja Pratap, his wifes Komala, Shantala, son Maharaja Rudra... so on. Wait a minute. The humble family does not seem to be so humble either. The heir has always been the off spring of the second or third wife. There is no mention of the first wives anywhere in the documents. Shocked. Those carving with one missing person. Is that the maharani herself? ‘In human’ I tell it to myself. I study more about the Maharaja's of the Thane. I stumble across a belief that. The Kings were cursed that the off spring of the Maha Rani will kill his father.
With a theory in hand that the Urn houses the dead bodies of the Maha Rani I get a permission of honorable high court to open the sealed Urns. I term it as the most inhuman I have ever seen or heard of.

The village was on a rage, Some against me for spoiling the holy temple and some against the Darshari. They were now to answer the thousands of villager who seek an explanation. Finally the secret keeper spoke.
Maharaja Pratap of Thane was cursed by a sage. Curse was that the son of Maha Rani will kill the Maharaja, his father. It was the moola or original pandith of the Royal family who had a solution for it. The solution was the Urn. It was a secret well executed and well-kept by them'. The King honored the life of his lady by making that Urn a place of worship. Honors the Pandiths with new cryptic designation 'The Darsharis'

I look at the scar on my hand and smile back at the Urn. I win, thank you god.