Wednesday, 30 January 2013

Mama Bhagne Paharh

The present article is essentially an attempt to rediscover the beauty of Mama Bhagne Paharh (Mama means-maternal uncle ,Bhagne means-nephew and Paharh means rock) and also its deplorable condition in contemporary situations. It is located at Dubrajpur in Birbhum district of West Bengal. It also gives an account of the rocks in terms of their geological features and the flora and fauna in the locality. Mama Bhagne Paharh is also referred as Pahedeswar (The God of the rocks, according to the belief of Santal tribes). Though both the terms have a mythological and historical roots of naming thus so.
Mama Bhagne Paharh is associated with mythology and historical incidents. Its historical and mythological reference can be recollected by the people of Dubrajpur Municipal locality through oral tradition.  So for its documentation I talked to the local researcher and historian like Anupam Dutta  ,Rabindra  Kabiraj ,Dr. Subrata Adhikari and the Municipal Chairman Piyush Pandey.
Dubrajpur is a historical and mythical city, which has a long history to be explored. As far as the etymology of the Pahedeswer is concerned, it means the God of the rocks. In this context, Anupam Dutta opined that before emerging of Dubrajpur as a city, it was a thick forest area where Santal tribes (1) used to live. They used to worship rocks as God and the name of their God is ‘Bongaburu’ that means in saintali language – God. Bonga means God and Buru means rock. So naturally, this Mama Bhagne Paharh had been the object of worship once for the Santal people. In the second half of the eighteenth century a king named Radhanath Chakrabarty (2) ruled over the local area up to Rajnagar. In the beginning he was the owner of that Mama Bhagne area, located within his kingdom. After that it was given to Swami Bhupananda Maharaj of Dubrajpur Ram Krishna Ashram and finally it was given to the Dubrjpur Municipality for its preservation in the year 1887. The name of the then Chairman was Chandi Gorai.
One can see in the Mama Bhagne the act of balancing of the two granite rock on the top of the other which is an unusual feature. Here bhagne is bigger than mama and that too lead to historical story in Dubrajpur area. According to Rabindra Kabiraj, once upon a time there was a two group of people in Durajpur namely Mahato (3 ) and Nayak (4). The group of Mahatos are Bhagne (Nephew) and Nayaks are Mama (maternal uncle) as per family relations. They belonged to Maithali Brahmin .Though these two groups were relative, but they were always fighting each other for money, power and fame. In this struggle the Mahatos group of people were always winner in case of money , power and fame. So people of Dubrajpur locality are trying to associate this story with this Mama Bhagne Paharh as bhagne is bigger than mama.
This place shares some mythical  stories too i.e. when Rama decided to attack Ravana he found it necessary to build a bridge across the straits for carrying his troops, he drove in his aerial chariot to the Himalayas, picked up the stones he needed and drove back. As he was passing Dubrajpur near , his horses took fright and tilted the chariot and so some stones fell down. These are the stones at Mama Bhagne. There is another legend to the effect that they were collected by Viswakarma, at the command of Lord Shiva, to erect in one night, a second Kasi. When he collected the rocks and was about to commence work the day dawned and so he left keeping the work incomplete.( O’Malley,125-128)
However, all these mythical stories does not naturally have any real evidence. Actually all these are myth, which transformed from one generation to another through oral tradition. According to Dr. Subrta Adhikari ,this formation of rock is a geological  process  of formation and there is no relation of history and mythology regarding its formation. He explained that  it could have been  the result of a plain boring volcanic eruption millions of years ago that led to the formation of these oddly-balanced blocks of lava, which got solidified into granite.
Recently Dubrajpur Municipality established a children’s park beside Mama Bhagne Paharh to make it more attractive for the tourist and children of the locality .Now it is a turn to discuss about its projection in popular culture .Even Satyajit Ray made a film Abhijan in 1962 on the setting of Mama Bhagne Paharh .Ray got involved into the film Abhijan when they went to the famous hill-spot Dubrajpur in Birbhum not much away from Bolpur Shantiniketan.
It can be hoped that the present article will provide a framework and concern for further surveys for preserving rocks and eventually attracts the attention of the people and the Government to take some necessary steps. As we know, that rocks and hills are natural phenomenon and they have a room of their own. Therefore, we do not have any authority to interrupt their life by destroying them or making habitation by uprooting them. A conscious effort should be taken for preserving the ancient rocks like Mama Bhagne Paharh, which is one of the tourist spots of Bengal. But unfortunately the Govt. of West Bengal has not been taken much initiative to save such natural beauty which is gradually getting demolished by the growth of local habitation.
It is important to reinforce the fact that rock is not a casual decoration; it is part of the archaeological record and it has the potential to illuminate many parts of a culture. It can tell us about belief and ideology, myth and cosmography. Rock can reveal time, place of origin, spheres of influence and aspects of social organization. It is an irreplaceable cultural resource, which deserves our efforts in its protection and preservation.
If adequate funds were available, a greater effort could be constituted to conserve and preserve such natural beauty. However, the unfortunate fact is that we are not getting such funds from the Govt. Moreover, the local municipality is also helpless regarding these critical problems. Day by day local people are making their habitation by removing such rocks as a result the space or the area of Mama Bhagne Paharh is  gradually reducing. Though it is natural that the rocks are silent always and they do not have the power to speak against such activities, hence we need to speak for them by making a society aware enough to save rocks with a slogan like ‘conserve rocks to conserve nature’.
We need to build up a society to Save Rocks aiming to preserve and protect the spectacular ancient granite formations of the Mama Bhagne Paharh, a natural wonder of stony ridges and hillocks shaped into picturesque balancing forms. To prevent the indiscriminate destruction of this natural, historical, and environmental heritage, a group of people, students, environmentalists and teachers should join their hand to preserve it.
1. The Santal (also spelled as Santhal (formerly also spelt as Sontal), are the largest tribal community in India, who live mainly in the states of Jharkhand, West Bengal, Bihar, Orissa, and Assam.(<>)
2. Radhanath Chakrabarty, the true founder of the Hetampur Raj family, whose ancestor Muralidhar Chakravarty, according to tradition, had migrated from his original home in Bankura to Rajnagar in Birbhum in the latter half of the seventeenth century. At that time Rajnagar was the controlling seat of the Muslim zamindari of Birbhum.
  1. A  Hindu caste or distinctive social group of India.
  2. A  Hindu caste or distinctive social group of India.

Work Cited
(<  Accessed on: 4th January, 2012
(<>) Accessed on: 24th March, 2012
O’Malley, L.S.S., ICS, Birbhum, Bengal District Gazetteers, pp. 125-128, first published 1910, 1996 reprint, Government of West Bengal
Interview Source
Anupam  Dutta, a  well known creative writer, novelist and dramatist. Personal interview taken by me on 24th April, 2012
Kabiraj, Rabindra ,one of the most reputed and most experienced and senior journalist of Anandabazar Patrika.Personal interview taken by me on 25th April, 2012
Pandey, Piyush , Chairman of Dubrajpur Municipality. Personal interview taken by me on 27th April, 2012
Dr. Subrata Adhikari , Assistant Teacher of Geography in Sree Sree Sarada Vidyapith, Dubrajpur , Birbhum, Personal interview taken by me on 27th April, 2012
Note- All these interviews are available online in my YouTube channel. One can have a look at the following link—

Interviews of Rabindra Kabiraj—
Interviews of Anupam Dutta—

M.Phil Research Scholar
Centre for Comparative Literature
University of Hyderabad

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