By Biswaraj Patnaik in Puri, June 10, 2018: The Jagannath temple trove key row is now made a huge issue as if that has got everything to do with poverty alleviation, employment for youth, roads and electrification in villages and installation of public goods all across the state of Odisha and further the temple trove key is also the ‘magic key’ to good governance! What is most irritating about the ‘key issue’ is that a daita servitor, erroneously placed as boss of OSIC keeps talking too much. He says the ancient-time monarch, the erstwhile Gajapati of Khurdha, now an ordinary citizen and the permanent chief of the temple administration is to blame squarely.

The Daita servitor oftentimes talks like a ‘matric fail’, self-proclaimed pundit without an iota of grey matter in the skull. It seems he has some stupid personal score to settle with the gentleman Gajapati who too is so timid and cool about the silly charges levelled against him by the misplaced OSIC chairman. A few officials at the corporation say they feel belittled and dwarfed by a boss who cannot write one clean sentence in English or a chaste paragraph in Odia.

The citizens of Odisha, who had seen this fellow masquerade as some mythical character during the Nabakalebara Daru-timber quest, with Arun Sahoo at feet eating some leftover food, have not forgiven the guy for all the pretentious acts he committed throughout the big festival. Eventually after the ‘Brahma installation’ fiasco, the three frontline Daita servitors were condemned like Mussolini was treated by his country folks after his death. When the dead body was lying in state, thousands of people beelined only to punch, pinch, prod and kick the dead body for what great damage he had done to the nation and the innocent people.

This Daita servitor needs to be cut down in size for spreading the wrong message and making mountains out of a molehill. The real good servitors of the great temple say this character cannot even talk about the beauty of the Lord for five minutes nor chant one basic hymn uttered during the daily chores by the Panda servitors who are all Brahmin class and have a right to touch the Deities.

The whole truth about the treasure trove keys is that out of the three locks, only one is sealed, the other too plain locked. The inner trove is fairly visible through the grilled shutters and the three or four trunks, lying on the floor, believably containing the proverbial riches, are not all locked. The last time they had entered the dark room was in 1985 which is not so long ago; prior to that in 1978. Some gold and silver ornaments were taken only to get regular use ornaments repaired by melting the bullion to metal state. There is no big mystery about the treasure trove which is as poorly as any other temple wealth store across India.

Only a very few lesser known temples like the Padmanabhaswami temple in Kerala had a trove with amazingly huge store of gems and jewellery because no one had ever opened the treasure room since long. They did not even have any history of the collection or description of the valuables lying there. The Jagannath Temple has been far more famous since quality history has come in place. The monarchs of the Punjab and Patiala kingdoms competed against each other to make donations to the great temple.

Sages including Adi Shankara, Nanak, Chaitanya and many more have come to Jagannath Puri to pay respects to the Deities symbolising the formlessness of God and equality of all human races before the almighty. Incidentally, the car festival at Puri is the only other big festival of India than the ‘Kumbh Mela’, recognised as national events for the simplest reason of the astronomical number of footfalls by pilgrims and devotees. Needless to say that central security forces are deployed at Puri during the immensely popular annual festival.

The majority of the servitors at the Jagannath Temple used to be illiterate or semi literate because the illogical hereditary right ensured their livelihood anyway, no matter how low or nil their formal education. No wonder, most of them believed and merrily spread most laughable rumours about the immeasurable wealth in the treasure troves that were kept unused and unopened for long periods of time.

Despite the fact the troves have been opened several times over in the recent and remote past, the headless servitors kept saying until late that Lord Loknath, has been guarding the most unique treasure troves on the planet and His serpents, mostly cobras, are sleeplessly watching every bit of the wealth from crown to nose studs. So whenever foolish human creatures have tried to open and peep into the troves, only wildly frightening serpent hisses have been heard and the misadventures have thereby failed.

All attempts to enter the mysterious interiors have been aborted right at the last moment only due to the serpent hisses that have scared the mightiest among men. All this plain humbug and super crap remained live even after the successful and eventless entry and collection of bullion in 1985. The valuables have been thoroughly audited and assessed and the detailed lists are available in the temple office which has already published everything in leading dailies two days ago for public consumption.

When the proposal to open the troves came up, some sentimentally confused servitors stood on the way saying if the sacred troves are opened, he would end his life. The threat was made only to dissuade the administration from trying to get into the treasure house. No one knows till now why this guy or guys made such screams. Even the commoners were worried that a precious life would go for no reason or rhyme. But fortunately nothing of the sort ever happened and the crazy guy has probably chosen to remain mum for life after the event was over. People have also joyously forgotten the foolish fellow and his mad threats.

It is very amusing to witness some people in the garb of culture activists, doing funny things. Some ‘sena’ outfit, certainly not registered or recognised publicly keeps thundering that the trove ‘key thief’ be nabbed and put behind bars. Incidentally, the big team that visited the trove interior found hardly anything lying there. A new team comprising best of police personnel, judicial officers, administrators and eminent citizens apart from the talkative servitors, particularly the ones that were keen to lay down lives, be pushed inside the proverbial treasure troves to only ensure the 1985 list of articles are safe and intact.

If one item is missing,  accountability issue can be taken up like in a postwar situation when defeat has been suffered. Or else, there is just no reason why heads should ache. In logical terms, when there is no sign of robbery or pilferage whatsoever, there should not be any hue and cry. Ignorant people are croaking to hurt vocal cords and consequently, the irresponsible media is wasting precious time and space.

Visual media was so lost and engrossed with the rumour of riches as to air fairytale graphics of make believe troves with heaps and heaps of gold, silver jewellery and coins, priceless gemstones glittering like stars and rarest of crowns and thrones studded with whatnot lying as if impossible to put them in order due to the sheer magnitude of size and number. All this guarded by kingsize cobras slithering nonstop with hoods held high making hisses of the shrillest kind ever heard like in any wild out of the world Hollywood thriller movie. The media has done the maximum damage to people’s imagination by making a lot many cocktail and bull presentations on a continuous basis.

The government has done its best. It has obeyed the court order to open and look in. It had also instituted a reforms commission headed by a retired high court judge to make fitting recommendations on temple chores to suit to times and appear relevant. However, the reforms commission seems to have done a portfolio job. It has touched flimsy aspects like women safety and surrounding road widening issues more seriously than the contentious hereditary rights of servitors, no matter how dumb they are about scriptural and ritual knowledge and skills. Hopefully, the truly secular government will take immediate measures to bring in place such laws and rules as tame and terminate unruly servitors that have existed for long like cancer.

Lastly, the people must get down to deeper realms to know the simple truths. Politicians and the so called eminent citizens joining the condemnation chorus against whoever has misplaced the key, should acquire some wisdom to refrain from making silly and irresponsible comments and demands about catching the thief when there is no event or proof of stealing on record. The treasure trove ‘missing key row’ must be dismissed as it has no relevance as of now. The media has to play a very sensitively serious role by engaging in some simplest of investigations. The key politics has to end anyway.

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