Sunday, 3 March, 2024

Eminence Of Ramkrishna Baje

Aashish Mishra

Many people do not know of the existence of Beni Madhav Ghat at Sankhamul in Lalitpur. In fact, many do not know the existence of any ghats at Sankhamul. Even those living in the area often think Sankhamul is just one single ghat. But that is not so.
The crematorium has more than a dozen religiously and historically significant ghats, of which Beni Madhav is one. Next to the Jagat Shumsher Ghat, which is the section that used to connect to Mangalbazaar, Patan Durbar Square, via a stone path that went around the Chamunda Temple, Beni Madhav is the ghat that is identified by the temple of Ganga Beni Madhav that stands here. And a small inscription at this temple is what this article is based on.
According to the stele, an elderly man somewhere in Sankhu died in 1846. But a few hours later, while his family members were taking his body to be cremated, he woke up. Frightened, they began screaming but the old man calmed them down, assuring them that he was not a ghost. Some of those present in his funeral procession did not believe him and called for him to be beaten to re-death.
Fortunately though, a sufficient number of people took his word and wanted to take him back home. But the old man wanted to go to Patan. His family tried to convince him but he refused to set one foot in his house without meeting Ramkrishna Basudev Baje of Kwalkhu.
Ramkrishna Baje, real name Chandra Narayan Jha, was a virtuous man who spent his days going around Lalitpur distributing food to children, women and the poor. He also greeted everyone with the phrase “Ramkrishna Basudev, Basudev Ramkrishna,” hence his nickname.
Now, the inscription states, when the Sankhu man passed away, he found himself in an orange grove. Hungry, he plucked an orange to eat but just as he was about to put it in his mouth, a man appeared and told him that the grove and its fruits belonged to Ramkrishna Baje and he would have to pay Rs. 500 to him if he wished to have it. The man agreed and after eating the orange, he was sent back to Earth to pay the amount to Ramkrishna.
After hearing this story, the man’s sons also hurried to meet this divine Ramkrishna and pay their father’s debt, lest something bad happen if they delayed. Rs. 500 at the time was no small amount but luckily, the man’s family was well off and could afford to produce the sum in a short time.
With the money in hand, the man and his youngest son went to Patan and by asking around, reached Ramkrishna’s home. The Baje was standing outside about to go somewhere when the man dropped on his feet and told him what he had experienced post mortem. Upon hearing the story, Ramkrishna felt obligated to accept the Rs. 500 but he refused to keep it for himself.
He used Rs. 300 from the money to purchase 12 Ropanis of land in Koteshwor and establish an orchard where anyone could enter at any time and take whichever fruit they liked for free.
Of the remaining money, he used Rs. 120 to build the Beni Madhav Ghat and establish the Ganga Beni Madhav Temple. With the last Rs. 80, Ramkrishna set up a fund to carry out the Barshabandhan (consecration) puja at the temple every year on the 12th lunar day of the bright fortnight of the month of Kartik and feed the Tirhut Maithil Brahmins of the Kathmandu Valley milk and beaten rice in a tradition that has since died out.
A quick look at the family genealogy records showed that Ramkrishna Baje is an ancestor of the scribe.