Sunday, November 18, 2012

Can We See Ram and Other Gods?

Hinduism has more than 330 million gods and goddesses in its ancient mythological lore. Ram, Lakshman, Sita, Krishna, Siva, and Durga, are some of the well known gods. Rational thinkers question the existence of these beings who are supposed to be invisible to human eyes. There are incidents of believers being able to see the gods Krishna and Ram. Most people rubbish these stories of visions as hallucinations of weak minds.

However, what if such a vision occurred to a non-believer, somebody from another faith? What if he  recorded the incident in the gazette of the British government?

Such an experience did occur to Lt.Col.Pierce, who was the British Collector of Chingleput district in Tamil Nadu. He recorded it officially and it is available for scrutiny in the Madras Gazetter, 18th century.

This is the story: Lt.Col.Pierce was conscientious in his duties. One year, the district in his charge, Chingleput, reeled under the onslaught of heavy monsoon rains. There were fears that the bund that held the irrigation tank of the Madurantakam lake would give way.

The night of the flood, Lt.Col.Pierce stood a few metres away from the bund, worrying about the fate of the village if the worst happened. Thousands of lives would be lost and property destroyed. And there was no way he could get it repaired that night in the torrential rain.

Madurantakam lake in Google maps. The town is marked A.
Madurantakam in India's map.
He remembered the story of the locals about their diety Ram always answering their heartfelt prayers. Ram was the god they worshiped in the village's Sri Erikatha Ramar temple (the temple stands today, and is visible in Google maps). Ardently, he wished their stories were true. He promised that if Ram protected the bund and it withstood the rain that night, he would get the temple renovated.

Suddenly, he noticed two effulgent figures carrying bows and arrows, walking up and down the bund. The bund survived that night. The next day, in keeping with his promise, Pierce started the renovation of the temple.

Even today, a plaque stands in the Divine Mother's shrine with an engraving of the British collector's contribution.


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