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17th Century Ramayana Manuscript Under Lock and Key After Theft

on 2014/8/15 3:46:40 ( 1507 reads )


INDIA, August 10, 2014 (by Sandeep Joshi, The Hindu): On December 22, 2011, when the only original pandulipi (manuscript) of Sri Ramcharitmanas (also referred to as the Ramayana) dated 1648 ce and a few precious articles of its writer, Goswami Tulsidas, were stolen from the Hanuman temple in the Akhara Goswami Tulsidas on Tulsi Ghat, the Mishra family was shocked. Its then head priest, a noted environmentalist and professor at IIT-BHU, Veer Bhadra Mishra, had to face charges of theft conspiracy.

It led to massive search operations by the Varanasi police, which was informally aided by the CBI and the intelligence agencies as it was feared that these rare articles could be smuggled abroad. It took seven months before the police recovered all the articles. "But this theft changed everything...The articles that were so far available for public viewing were safely locked only to be taken out once every year to celebrate the Tulsi Jayanti," says Professor V.N. Mishra, son of Professor Veer Bhadra Mishra, who is now the head priest.

Perturbed by all kinds of insinuations that his family had to face and the national and international media coverage, the Mishra family decided to make foolproof arrangements for safety and security even as they faced pressure from top government officials to hand over these items for greater safety. "My father thought how could he hand over the articles to the government when his family has been the custodian for centuries. So we brought a special fire and bullet resistant safe that weighed three hundred kilos and placed it inside the temple. All the precious articles were then placed safely."

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