Sunday, January 18, 2009

Blind Faith or Heresy

Hoshangabad is a small town in Madhya Pradesh about a few kilometers away from Itarsi and an hour and a half from Bhopal by train. The place is famous for many reasons – the Indian mint is there. Some of the earliest settlements by the Narmada happened here. You also have rock paintings here.

However, of late it has become famous for other reasons as well.

The above pictures are taken at the so called Jai Bhole Baba Nath Aushadhalay which is thronged by thousands of very poor and illiterate people, who come from as far as 300 kms away roughing a tough journey, bitter cold and heat, to seek remedies for their umpteen ailments. The Baba’s main job is to assess their ailments and give them one of the water + powder concoctions and send them away giving them direction of how to use it. Most of it is of course for external use. Fee: Rs 50 only

Bhole Baba Nath has been operation there for many years. Four years ago when I first saw him, he was a puny fellow, looking starved and needy himself. However, things have changed now. He looks in the pink of health and has numerous sevaks at his disposal. He has also usurped a large government plot, constructed a pucca structure and has his living quarters adjoining this plot. There are two temples there as well – one of Durga and the other of Hanuman. He must believe that the latter will save him, because this plot on which he sits belongs to the forest department and the adjoining jhoparpattis have received four threats from the forest department already that their meager huts would be demolished soon and they need to find alternate accommodation. Many of the hapless inhabitants of these jhopadis have rushed to Bhole Baba for help.

In India, one thing is clear – it is very difficult for even the government to lay a stone on their hearts and demolish a temple and hence, the smart Babas have made sure that to occupy any land, they first construct a temple and then keep sprawling around. This has become a trend and if the Yoga guru, Baba Ramdev can become so famous having started from his humble background as a jariburi awashadhey wala to a Yoga celebrity, why not other Babas?

Therefore, Jai Bhole Nath Baba is NOT so bhola after all!

Jai Bhole Nath Aushadalay
Near Collector Karyalaya
Ma Narmada ke tat pe
Mobile: 09826557427

Jai Bhole Nath Baba