Karant Wale Balaji Ka Mandir

Old City of Ekta Nagar. Janak Puri and Ibrahim Mohalla, two adjacent lanes off the main Chaurasta. Sitting like two ancient sages with their backs to each other, watching with eternal patience the hustle-bustle playing on in front of them. One lane was inhabited by Hindus, and the other by Muslims. While garlic and onions were stolen secretively into the homes of one, the smell of chicken roasting wafted freely through another. Young women from one lane burnt the midnight oil, studying for their PG degrees, while most of their former classmates from the ‘peechhe wali galli’ were busy tending to their ever growing brood. Cows restricted themselves to only one of the lanes, for they were no longer held sacred once they crossed their threshold and ventured into the adjoining one. Apart from this, the Gallis looked identical. Small, dingy double or triple storey houses, with small windows opening out into the the galli, the absence of anything remotely green throughout their length and collective breadths, heaps of rubbish adorning both their alleys, kids playing cricket in both of them, ever ready to run at the sound of rubber meeting glass. The same churan-toffee, biscuit-chips, cigarette-bidi, gutkha-supari, chudi- bindi, atta-dal, samose-kachori were sold from the generations-old shops, little more than holes on the walls really, which lined the two gallis.

In both the gallis, people screwed in the nights, went to shit in the mornings, pissed 5-7 times a day, tucked themselves under quilts in the winters and turned the fans on in the summers. Red blood would ooze out if you cut through the skin of a person from either galli, and to each would it hurt just as bad as it would hurt the other.

In Janak Puri, a red-faced kid monkey, in his restless playfulness, one fine eleventh day of the month of the Hindu Calendar, in front of the Ram Mandir of Janak Puri, decided to hold two parrallel running electric wires with both his hands simultaneously.

As his charred, brittle remains fell on to the road in front of the Bhagwan Ram ka Mandir, and the smell of his burnt flesh carried into the homes, the emotions of the people welled up. And as usually happens in such situations, the flow of emotions quickly took a reverent turn. People poured out of their small homes in the Janak Puri to pay their homage to this incarnation who had decided to bless their galli by giving up his life on the Ekadashi day in front of the Ram Mandir. Some offered him sweets, other offered him money. While in his living avatar, the monkey would have lived his life bearing the brunt of the local children’s sticks and stones and surviving on stolen edibles, after his death he became divine. The local MLA promptly arrived at the scene, and keeping fully in mind the upcoming elections, announced, to the utter gratification of the gathered residents, a handsome grant so that a temple in the memory of the martyred incarnation be built.

The temple was built, a statue was bought and a priest duly appointed to look after the proceedings. On the auspicious day, a group of higher priests did the ‘Pran Pratishtha’ of the 3 ft high marble statue. The temple had been built exactly on the spot where the divine life had released its bodily prison on its way to meeting the Supreme. Of Course, the road regulations had been conveniently forgotten in this process and the new temple was built entirely on a piece of land where traffic had been running all these years. But devotion is higher than physical comforts. The pedestrians can hold their pajamas up and step into the drain, the motorists can slow down and pass through the already much encroached upon, and now further narrowed alley. They ought to slow down to pay a silent obeisance to the lord, anyways. The monkey, who would have been regarded as a nuisance in his life, was given a new life of the divine kind by no less than high Brahmins, the representatives of God on this earth. Every morning, carefully scrubbed Hindus passed walked through the muck of their lane, past the garbage heaps, to offer flowers, fruits and money to the ‘Karant wale Balaji’, a thoroughly clean and purified elevated ground at one end of which stood the small Mandir. The inconvenience of the motorists was compensated for by the divine happiness that each person who prayed to the Balaji felt.

There was another galli, the one just adjacent to this one, to whose residents the Karant Wale Balaji made little difference.

A bearded, skull capped youth once during the time of the evening Aarati, was riding through the main road after shopping for his dinner. Nafees never entered the Hindu Galli without any purpose. But the shop on the main road was out of green chillies, and he knew that a Mali in Janak Puri would be the only one selling it at this hour. Blissfully unaware of the existence of the Karant Wale Balaji, he entered the Hindu Galli at the usual speed.

He saw what he was about to hit, but never got the time to react.

The left bumper of his motorcycle rammed into the side of the elevated ground on which the devotees were standing and singing their evening Aratis. From the impact, Nafees was flung at the feet of the devotees, and he felt a warm sensation inside his mouth as his bearded face hit the white marble floor. The packet of his dinner shopping flew straight through the small gate into the Mandir itself.

As Nafees steadied himself, he felt his mouth, and as he opened it, one of his teeth came out. Unable to control it, he watched helplessly as a stream of blood mixed with saliva flowed from his mouth on to the sacred chabutra. In the meanwhile, a huge ruckus had arisen at the mandir gate. A full freshly culled chicken, the output of Nafees’s evening shopping was lying at the feet of the Balaji. Some blood from the dead chicken had joined the coat of saffron paint adorning the Balaji’s profile.

The devotees, with their ever so sensitive devotions, could not stand this outrageous and unacceptable insult to their deity. Not only had a lowly, filthy Muslim destroyed the sanctity of their Balaji by spitting on his Chabutra, he also had had the audacity to flung a dead animal at His divinely alive statue, thereby corrupting their religion (Bhrasht their Dharma)! The floodgates of rage burst out, and among feeble protests from some ‘weak’ members of their community, the members of the vegetarian group wreaked havoc upon the hapless Muslim man.

This scene did not escape a group of Muslim boys standing at the end of the Galli, smoking cigarettes and enjoying a cricket match at the Pan shop. While a group of more hot blooded boys hastened to show to the vegetarians their true place, the mobile phones of a few others became active. Soon, a large group of Muslim men, armed with whatever weapons they had at their disposal assembled in Ibrahim Mohalla. The group of Muslim boys, some beaten black and blue, and others bleeding, were slowly trickling back into their Galli. The few Hindus going about their business in the Muslim Galli sensed the danger, but for some of them it was too late. They were caught by the Muslim mob, and thoroughly beaten up. A hindu thela wala managed to escape, but his wares were looted by the mob and his thela hacked to pieces. A Hindu Auto Driver, who was dropping some passengers to Ibrahim Mohalla, was beaten up and his Auto Rickshaw set on fire. The lone Hindu shopkeeper in Ibrahim Mohalla was stabbed and his shop plundered and later put to arson. Similar was the fate of the Muslims who had had the ill-fortune to be present inside the Hindu Galli.

The police had been notified soon after the riots had started, and as night was falling, both the Gallis were put under curfew. The Karant wale Balaji had stood a silent spectator to the ruckus. A small portion of the side of the Chabutra had broken off, where the motorcycle had hit it. The Blood from the chicken had been cleansed off from the Balaji’s profile even through all this confusion. On the Chabutra, the blood from the first muslim mouth had got mingled with the blood of several more from his ilk.

Ramesh had been one of the hapless few caught up by the Muslim mob in Ibrahim Mohalla. A stave had hit his head, and his skull had burst open. He was admitted in the City Hospital, fighting for his life. It was late night, and the Gallis were still under curfew. A young woman stepped out of one of the houses, taking hurried, tentative steps towards the broken Chabutra of the Balaji. She was Sujata, Ramesh’s wife. In her hand was a lota.

Looking left and right, she quickly climbed the steps and walked into the Balaji Temple. Hurriedly, she poured the pure milk from the lota at the feet of the Balaji, and with folded hands and closed eyes, the pallu of her sari firmly on her head, she proceeded to fervently pray ‘Hey Karant Wale Balaji, mere pati ki raksha kerna, hey Karant Wale Balaji, mere pati ki raksha kerna…’ (O Karant Wale Balaji, please look after my husband, O Karant Wale Balaji, please look after my husband…)

Categories: Short Stories, Spirituality | 22 Comments

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22 thoughts on “Karant Wale Balaji Ka Mandir

  1. sreekanth

    good story… really good narration. the ending ws especially good. hving lived in old city of hyderabad i can identify with the story. but its been a while since this stuuf hppnd last in hyd(touchwood). think we have grown. hope other cities follow too.

    cant help but notice hw u casually mention smoking in ur story. 😀

  2. anumeha

    Well narrated ..thought provoking issue …well written .

  3. Sanket

    Grt piece of fiction… Wonderful story line up… iss pe to ek hindi movie ban sakti hai puri… Nana Pathekar will be Hero jo aakhri mai dono gali ke bich samjhota karata hai.. Amrish Puri Janak Puri ka gunda and Amjad khan of the other side…. Mai baaki story soch li hai tu jaldi se Hyd aaja…

  4. Pinky

    Great story! kaunsa panna bharat ke samaaj ka khola hai … bhai waah!

    every piece of detail describing the gallis reminds me of my village… good work 🙂 😀

  5. Pinky

    are haan… title bahut hi zabardast hai … very creative and catchy!

  6. Prachi

    Very well written…. and I liked the ‘Karant wale Balaji’.. and the ending was simply amazing!
    After reading this, I think you must seriously think on the lines of what we talked about in the afternoon 🙂

  7. good one . I specially like the ending. The story was crisp and short

  8. @ Samba: Yeah, you’re right buddy. Can’t help mentioning ’em.

    @ anumeha: The thoughts provoked me when I went to Govardhan ji ki yatra with mausi and mausaji.

    @ sanket: Aata hoon mere dost. Ek kam kerte hein… CAT aur placements chhod ke production company hi khol lete hein… howzzat for a business idea?

    @Pinky: Toone sahi point pe hit kiya. I hink I’ll write more about India and it’s people.

    @ Prachi: Like I said in one of my earlier replies to one of your earlier comments, you’re too sweet to be true, and also very good for my ego 🙂

    @ P-sisters: Chanda Sooraj ek saath mere blog pe! Subhanallah!

  9. @ Ojas: Sorry dude didn’t see your comment while I was writing the previous one. Thanks for dropping by.

    Thanks for coming here, everyone. It was nice to have you people here. Keep coming 🙂

  10. Wow! Absolutely wonderful… I must say, you’re a professional writer… brilliant narration. The success of a story depends on the desired effect that it produces and your story does that. 🙂

  11. Avinash

    a very well written story 🙂
    Really njoied the journey…keep writing!!:)

  12. it’s the words that create the magic and provoke one’s thoughts….. simple story nicely written catches all the aspects of the plot …. and with a good end…. it clearly belongs to Mr. Marathe’s literature class stuff 🙂

  13. a great subject to choose in the first place and giving due justice to it, even greater narration and wrting! 🙂 sry late ho gaya .. soch ri thi 😛

  14. brilliant narration dude …
    loved the “Karant Wale Balaji” 🙂
    keep writing …

  15. Chhaya

    Hey! Running short on words to classify this work. A topic thats close to everyone’s heart with a well suited sensitive narration. Think you should probably write more on these lines. This provides short glimpses of the real condition here for people like us who are becoming used to the recent developmental boom. Growth on these fronts is much needed. Good Work of literature. Keep it up.

  16. hie sir, fabulous way the thoughts are threaded. The detailing is superb and i just felt involved with every happenning. I felt helpless ,as we see this happening every other day in India.
    Great topic to choose and write abt it in a completely imaginative way,yet so realistic. An even more thought-provoking end.
    the title being jst so apt.
    Kudos to you.

  17. Abhishek, don’t call me a professional writer. Call me ‘as good as a pro’ if you wanna (though I doubt that myself) 🙂

    Avinash, Journey! Nice term to use the time spent in reading this story. Thanks, for the complement and as well as for the new expression.

    Pankaj, I hope Prof. Marathe likes it when he reads it. That’ll be quite enough for me.

    Sunanda, Haan soch ke hi likhna chahiye. Lovely comment. Time well spent.

    Kunal, I’ll keep writing. And I value your comment especially as you know, it came from you! Thanks.

    Chhaya, lovely comment. Yeah, the same thoughts were echoed by a young couple we met in Himachal. Come for a trek next time if you wanna see the real world!

    Shubangi, Itni saari tareef! wow!Thanks 🙂 And btw, you’re in 2nd year now. It’s high time you stopped calling people ‘sir’. Especially on the blogosphere!

  18. aninditA


  19. Abhishek Pandey

    Good work….. Well framed and interesting till the end .
    Keep writing.

  20. I can imagine exactly this kind of stuff happening in places, where riots can prop up any fine day with reason behind them being as absurd as this one.
    Pretty vivid description of the whole scenario. Really had a real life touch to it.
    Good job. 🙂

  21. phoenixritu

    It is so real. Wonderful and congratulations!

  22. Aniket,

    I came here through Ryze. I really liked your story. Your narration is so tongue-in-cheek, which brings your perspective to an all too real scenario.

    You do need to iron out some sentences though.

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