Triveni Journal

1927 | 11,233,916 words

Triveni is a journal dedicated to ancient Indian culture, history, philosophy, art, spirituality, music and all sorts of literature. Triveni was founded at Madras in 1927 and since that time various authors have donated their creativity in the form of articles, covering many aspects of public life....

Diggers’ Paradise

D. Ranga Rao

Maharshi Narada, the Narayana bhakta, in his wanderings of the three worlds lost his way one day and landed at a place unknown to him in Bhooloka, the world of the mortals. As he descended from the skies, he observed impressive buildings, temples, mosques, churches, gurudwaras and other places of worship all over the place. Graveyards and tombs, lakes and gardens, posh residential areas and stinking slums, wide roads and narrow lanes, innumerable statues and winding fly-overs welcomed him. He twanged his ‘ektara’, the single stringed guitar, sending an SOS to Vaikuntha, the divine abode of Lord Srimannarayana for guidance and help. He did not receive an immediate response to his emergency message as expected.

In a confused state of mind he moved about aimlessly, walking carefully looking this way and that. He frequently lost balance as his wooden sandals slipped on the stones and debris heaped by the side of trenches on the roads. People sped past on their two wheelers unmindful of him and the trenches. His head reeled as the long and large multicoloured six wheelers and vehicles on four and three wheels zoomed past their way zigzagging on the roads at great speeds, honking and hooting their horns. Narada walked cautiously to save his dear life in this dangerous place in which he set foot unwittingly. The pedestrians who were walking along with him were trying to reach their destination balancing themselves on the earth heaped on the roads like circus acrobats, avoiding the speeding vehicles on the one side and the treacherous trenches on the other. To his dismay, Narada lost his balance a couple of times and slipped in the trenches. Passers-by extricated him from the pits staring at his strange but familiar outfit. Making confusion worse confounded, he got caught in traffic jams, from which Padma Vyuha he found it difficult to escape.           

Narada Mahmnuni moved forward in a dazed condition forgetting to chant the name of Narayana, his Saviour, or to sing His glory. As he walked along to find a place of rest he came across a group of workers digging trenches on a road. Out of curiosity he asked the labourers why so many trenches were being dug and by whom. “By many departments,” came the answer. The sewage department, the water works department, the telecom department and the names of half a dozen other departments which sounded strange to Narada were mentioned. In answer to his question why some trenches were left unfilled after completion of the work, the workers said their duty was to dig them and not to fill them up.

A little beyond, Narada saw officers sitting and discussing some issue vehemently. They were planning to appoint a Co-ordinating Committee to regulate and schedule the diggings. Narada observed that there was absolutely no sense of direction, let alone logic, in their discussion. Each Committee held on to its proposal. After a noisy session the officers dispersed agreeing to disagree. In a trice a freshly laid road was dug up with great urgency and speed by a group which action distressed Narada. He heard the Chief of another Committee give an order spitefully to his men to dig the roads in the night to out-wit the other Committees to achieve the target and please their boss.

There was a sudden cloud burst resulting in a heavy downpour. Within no time the trenches got filled with water. The roads got converted into veritable rivers, the water level reaching the knees of Narada. He was shocked to see people disappearing, being sucked in by the swirling waters into gaping, uncovered manholes while a few others were carried away by the flooding drain and rain waters. Vehicles sped past splashing water on Narada, making him breathless. The more Narada walked about, the more he saw trenches. Not a single road was left without a trench being dug. He found the people docile and unmindful of what was happening. Were they resigned to a fate from which they had no escape? He asked an elderly man why the people were silent about the diggings. The old man replied that the roads were being dug as a measure to improve the living condition of the citizens. A young man who was standing by butted in “Sir, this digging started before I was born and will go on after I am dead.”

The Maharshi saw many buildings demolished by roadsides which were being dug up. The scene reminded one of a bombed city. There were many such sights all along. When he enquired a khaki-clad person whether there was a quake or something, pat came the reply “road cutting.” Narada thought it best to keep mum and mind his business, for he did not understand what it meant.

With his divine insight Narada made a quick survey of other prominent cities of the country. Diggings were taking place in those cities also. But the most unplanned and thoughtless manner of digging was taking place without let or hindrance in the city where he was stranded.

The single string of his ektara came to life feebly first and grew strong slowly. Narada’s SOS was answered by Heaven. The thick shield of sinful, polluted and corrupt atmosphere covering the city delayed the divine massage from penetrating through it. Narada received the directions for his escape. He heaved a sigh of relief and managed to reach an old tall structure which had four minarets.

Before climbing up the structure, Narada asked the guard with a chuckle what the name of the city was. “Hyderabad”, said the guard proudly. “No” said Narada with a smile. “The name of this city is ‘Diggers’ Paradise’. So saying he walked up to the top of a minaret, stepped on to a cloud and disappeared into the skies chanting ‘Narayana’, ‘Narayana,’ thanking his stars for his escape from the abominable place.

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