Uttarakhand: Why Dhari Devi’s wrath should not be dispensed as ‘mere myth’

published on July 1, 2013
What the world witnessed in Uttarakhand is nothing but a sheer example of nature fury unleashed in the most brutal manner. But was it mere fury unleashed where nature suddenly turned a sadist or was warning ‘s knell sounded before handed? Didn’t man have a hand in this catastrophe that has claimed a thousand lives? Didn’t he do something that has incurred Dhari Devi’s wrath?
It is not just the locals who say this now, but all those who have witnessed the disaster believe that Uttarakhand’s tragedy has its origin in Dhari Devi’s wrath. Dhari Devi is the presiding deity, a form of divine Shakthi, worshipped as Mata Kali. The deity is revered as one of the 108 Shakthi Peethas.
The deity is said to be worshipped in different forms- from a girl, to a woman, and then to an old lady.The temple is steeped in antiquity and has its mention in Srimad Devi Bhagwat.
The temple, along with the deity used to be located in the middle of the Alaknanda river for 800 years, in the Garhwal Region of Uttarakhand. The temple had been constructed thus and the deity placed accordingly, following the rules of Vastu Shastra or the science of construction. The deity, consecrated thus, is said to have regulated the turbulent flow of the river.
One fine day, man decided to pluck the deity from its rightfully placed spot and move the same to a higher altitude to satiate his greed- to construct a a 330 MW hydel project, the dream child of Alaknanda Hydro Power Company Ltd (AHPCL), a subsidiary of infrastructure major GVK. It faced stiff opposition from locals and saints and the opposition party, the BJP.
The shifting of Dhari Devi violated a High Court order, defied protests and above all, ignored an extremely scientific reason that was the real reason for placing the deity in the midst of the river, at that particular spot.
According to Vastushastra, the deity’s presence in the river was vital for controlling the flow of Alakananda. And so, Dhari Devi was placed on higher altitude. The same day saw the cloudburst over Kedarnath and the start of Uttarakhand’s misery.
What Uttarakhand faced was the result of man’s greed, when he decided to question natural forces. Man, who ignored the science of yore and the seer’s wisdom in consecrating the deity at the particular spot succumbed to his greed.
And for his greed, he decided to embark on a seemingly simple job- get the temple and its deity of out his way. Dhari Devi was thus shifted from her ‘mool sthan’ (original abode) to make way for the project that now lies in ruins after the flood.
Locals are reminded of a similar natural calamity that took place in 1882, when a local king did the same and nature retaliated by causing a land slide that flattened Kedarnath. Calamity had struck earlier too, but man has always failed to learn his lesson.
According to a local resident, “Dhari Devi protected her temple and her devotees all these years, they uprooted the temple and this calamity happened.”
The priest of Dhari Devi temple gives a more scientific reasons. “Don’t blame the gods, instead blame man. Man has constructed these dams, we are to blame, don’t blame the gods. We harmed nature, now this is nature’s retaliation,” said chief priest BP Pande.
The wrath of Dhari Devi leaves the core question unanswered: was Uttarakhand’s worst natural disaster just a mere freak cloud burst? Wasn’t it a man-made disaster looming large, waiting to happen? Or was it a “wrath of the gods”?
Blaming natural or divine forces for a calamity serves no reason. Instead it should serve as yet another of those unending lessons for man to mend his ways and look towards construction, putting an end to his destruction spree.

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