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The power of the temple and the sadhu

Avinesh Gopal
Tuesday, April 02, 2013

IT is a place where no heavy machines are used during any construction work.

Heavy machines were used here before.

But the use of such machines at this holy site stopped more than four decades ago.

This is after the reported death of a grader operator two weeks after he tried to destroy a tomb at the site.

It is the Baba Ragho Vishnu Kuti in Sawani, which is a few kilometres before Nausori Town along the Colo-i-Suva road.

Story has it that Baba Ragho Dass and his followers came and settled at the spot during the girmit era — under the indenture system.

They are said to have arrived in Fiji in 1901 in one of the three ships that came from India that year.

After arriving in Fiji, they set up base in Sawani and built a temple, which was replaced by a concrete one a few years ago.

Baba Ragho Dass' tomb is at the site with that of his followers, Baba Dinadas, Baba Girwar Dass, Baba Baijnath and Mata Baijnath.

Hindus frequent the place to worship their gods and also to seek answers for problems they face in life.

Miracles reportedly happened in the vicinity of the temple decades ago, and also stories are around of people being seen at the temple site at night.

The revered Hindu saints (sadhu) are also worshipped by devotees at the temple, with reports of their prayers being answered at the temple.

Kishori Prasad, 62, lives in the vicinity and is a trustee of the temple committee. He is a regular at the temple.

Mr Prasad said he believed there were great powers at the temple site which was initially established by the sadhu.

"I was quite young when the temple committee at that time was making the new temple," he said.

"The tombs of the saints were in a bit different way at that time. It has been done up properly now.

"During the construction of the temple, grading works were held and a grader operator disturbed the tombs of Baba Baijnath and Mata Baijnath.

"I remember being there at that time and watching the works going on for the new temple."

Mr Prasad said the two tombs were separate at that time but side by side, unlike now with the two being under one cover.

"Everyone standing there was telling the grader operator not to try and clear that place.

"He tried to grade that tomb down but couldn't and he stopped after some time. He died two weeks after that.

"People believed that his death was linked to what he was trying to do at the temple construction site.

"From that time, the use of heavy machinery at the temple site is banned because we don't want anything to happen to anyone again."

Mr Prasad said apart from the tombs of the saints at the temple, there was one on the hills some distance away.

But, he said, his parents didn't tell him much about it and no one in the area knows until now whose it is.

Shiri Ram, 58, said he was told stories about the temple and the saints by his mother when he was a small boy.

"I always used to ask my mother about the saints and what they used to do and things like that," he said.

"She often told me the stories and also told me not to go anywhere near there at night because some people could be seen there.

"I used to play in the area always during the day but I was never allowed to go out there at night.

"According to my mother, they used to see some people, maybe spirits, at that time but there's nothing as such seen now," said Mr Ram.

Story has it that word went around about Baba Ragho Dass' powers when he settled in the area.

People from far away reportedly walked for hours to reach the temple to get the saint's blessings.

The temple committee is also trying to track down the land reportedly given to another Hindu saint.

Baba Kabir Pant Mahasabha reportedly came to Fiji sometime in either 1887 or 1888.

During a function at the temple on Sunday, devotees were told that when the saint was leaving Fiji in 1932, 10 acres of land was given to him.

The saint was reportedly in Fiji for about 45 years and was leaving with his adopted son Udit Narayan and his mother Dasi Rukmin Dass for India.

Jai Prakash Singh told the devotees that story has it that while travelling on the steamer Ganges the saint died and his final rites were performed at sea.

Mr Singh said as relatives, he and a few other people were trying to track down where the land was.

He said according to stories, a house and kuti (temple) were also built on the land.

Like the secrecy surrounding the unknown tomb some distance away from the temple, there is no confirmation yet on where this land and temple could be.

There are however reports of the existence of such temples in various parts of the country, mainly in the Nausori area.

One such temple is the Naag Baba Kuti in Raralevu, which has the tombs of five saints who were reported to have been buried there.

Apart from the tombs, there is also a natural wonder at the temple in Raralevu — the Shiva Lingam or Shiv Ling as commonly known. It is a stone worshipped by Hindus praying to Lord Shiva.

Story has it that the Hindu saints who came with indentured labourers from India established their places of worship first wherever they settled.

They reportedly brought with them statues of their gods and goddesses and also the prayer places when they came on the ships.

An earlier story told to this newspaper by a devotee of the Naag Baba Kuti revealed that some of the saints on a particular trip with the indentured labourers faced problems on the way.

They reportedly had visions of their gods and goddesses who questioned them on who would worship them in a new land.

However, after making a sacrifice on the ship and telling their gods and goddesses that they were there to pray to them, they were able to reach Fiji safely.

Baba Ragho Dass Kuti committee secretary Biswa Lal claimed that Baba Ragho Dass was the guru (spiritual leader/teacher) of the saints who were at Raralevu.

On the unknown tomb, Mr Lal said no one, even the senior citizens of the Sawani area, knew whose it was.

"People used to take their cattle in the area up in the hills for grazing but no one has been going there for quite some time now," he said.

"No one knows whose tomb it is. But we do want to see some day where exactly it is and if anything is written on it.

"If anything is written on it, then it may give us a hint on whose it is, whether it is that of one of the saints or someone else's," said Mr Lal.

Mr Prasad also said he had not been up to the spot and his parents never told him much about it.

"There surely will be something there to indicate whose it is. Something should definitely give us a hint to trace things down much further," he said.

* NEXT WEEK: Search for the tomb

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