MY EXPERIENCES IN INDIA-1985 #11
During our visit to Agra, Panditji, his wife and I visited Motilal Nehru garden which was originally Queen Victoria garden. Motilal Nehru was the father of Jawaharlal Nehru, the first prime minister of India. Queen Victoria’s statue which stood there for a long time, was removed and replaced with Motilal Nehru’s statue.
Adjacent to this garden was a government-run gift shop selling saris, bed spreads, quilts and various types of gift items. These articles were made by prisoners and were sold at cost price and apparently duty free on entry to your own country.
In Agra, we also visited the Dayal Bagh (garden) where a huge marble temple has been under construction since approximately 1905 and it is only half to two thirds finished. It is also a famous place for visitors as it is being constructed of white marble with huge round and tall marble columns with intricate marble carvings all around. At the rate at which it is going it may take a long time yet before it would be finished. It is being built by the Radha Swami Sat Sang which started at this place. There was a famous devotee of Satguru Kabir and his name was Munshi Shiv Dayal. He was a postmaster and had many disciples. When he was near death, his disciples wanted to form their own sect. The name Radha Swami was arrived at in an interesting way. The disciples wished to name the group after Shiv Dayal, but he would not have his name attached to it. He told the disciples that they could use his wife’s name which was Radha, but they felt that they must include his name in the name on the organization. They arrived at the name Radha Swami because he represented the Swami of Radha, so his name was avoided in naming of the sect now called the Radha Swami Sat Sang.
After staying one night in a small-town hotel which prepared us delicious roti, vegetables and tea for supper, we left the following morning to visit Mathura, the birth place of Lord Krishna. We hired two pedal rickshaws and a Bramhin guide (Pande) to have a tour around the city. Mathura was an ancient city with narrow and dirty streets which were crowded, and it consisted of old buildings. We saw a temple where Krishna is said to have killed King Kansa, his tyrant uncle. We also saw the Vishram Ghat where Krishna is said to have rested after killing Kansa before he proceeded to Dwarka. It appeared as a dirty, neglected area, and certainly not much to look at.
Close by was the temple where Swami Dayanand, founder of the Arya Samaj, stayed with his guru Swami Virjanand. The temple was closed so we could not view the inside.
Our next stop was at the Bhagawat Temple which had a few smaller buildings adjacent to it. This area alone appeared to be well kept. The main temple had the whole of the Bhagawat Gita inscribed in Sanskrit on brass on its inner walls. It also houses statues of Ram, Lakshman, Seeta, Radha, Krishna and others. There was a reconstructed jail cell where Krishna was said to have been born at midnight in late August or early September on the Gregorian Calendar. His mother Devaki and father Vasudev were imprisoned by King Kansa in this prison. We returned to Delhi and, after supper, I checked in at Taj Palace Hotel for a three-day conference titled “World Congress On Law And Medicine.” The hotel was of a very high standard comparable to any in North America. The services were superb. The lunches served consisted of tables laid out for vegetarians and for non-vegetarians. The vegetarian food certainly was very delicious. The conference itself was well attended by many doctors, lawyers and judges from India, and several doctors from Canada, and a few from other parts of the world.
After checking out from the Taj Palace Hotel, I stayed with a gentleman and his family in Delhi. They were kind and hospitable and I felt quite at home with them. His son drove me to visit many places including the Mogul Gardens, Mahatma Gandhi’s tomb, the Lodi gardens, and the Qutab Minar. The Lodi gardens were named after Sikandir Lodi who was the emperor of Delhi and who, on the complaints of Muslims and Brahmins, persecuted Satguru Kabir. The gardens consisted of many acres of grass, shrubs and trees, and flowering plants. There were many tombs housed in concrete buildings scattered here and there over the huge area. There was also a mosque in ruins, but which had beautiful carvings in the stone work in the archways and doors. Sikandir Lodi ruled between 1451 and 1526.
The Qutab Minar was built as a mosque in the twelfth century. It is now in ruins. The most outstanding part of it is a tall tower which was at that time the tallest structure in Delhi. Sometime in the past an airplane crashed into the top and knocked down two segments, and these were never replaced. At the time of my visit it was under repairs and I could not have a view of the inside. It consisted of reddish brown brick with intricate carvings all around, and all the way up the tall columns. There were many other ruined buildings, walls and posts, all with intricate carvings. In the centre of the compound there was a steel pillar erected about the fourth century A. D. and it still stands without gathering any rust.
While staying in Delhi, I was fortunate to attend a religious congregation, held at the Nirankari Colony just outside the city of Delhi. The program was in English, and I was fortunate to give a few minutes talk. The Nirankaris follow the teachings of Guru Nanak and other saints, but they are not traditional Sikhs. Their head Guru is called “Baba” and his mother is called “Maataji” both of whom are revered. Their philosophy and teachings are essentially similar to those of Satguru Kabir, as the same teachings were expounded by Guru Nanak.
To be continued.