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GOOD SAMARITANS AND SAVIOURS: GUNDAS OF BANARAS IN ITS HISTORY

I have been reading about it. To look for more and finding more on it fascinates me. And the lack of much written on it disappoints me.

So far, some books (not much available) and scarcely available content on internet have been the primary recourse to access more information on them.

Gundas (gang leaders) of Banaras (Benaras/Kashi/Varanasi) of 18th and 19th Centuries are a eulogized lot, moving in the legends of the city.  

They are brave. They are charming. They are ferocious. They are soft inside, hiding their ‘heart’ on some past ‘painful’ development.



A built like steel-frame, with a lion’s gaze - they are the saviours, of the needy, and, some times, of the kings. People love them. British would do all to eliminate them.

See a beautiful description about Talvarya Dataram Nagar, the most ‘famous’ Gunda of his time in the 18thCentury Banaras (taken from ‘Tales of Banaras: The Flowing Ganges):

The judge delivered the sentence to Talvarya Dataram Nagar: 20 years in prison on Kalapani Island. His friends – already cleared on similar charges – broke out crying inconsolably. Even the stone like hearts of these brave men were moved. Bound with handcuffs and shackles, Nagar’s strong body tensed straight like a rod, heedless of the iron constraints placed upon him. The red veins of his eyes brightened even more. A hate-filled smile spread on his lips, and he cast an admonishing glance at the judge. Their eyes met; but the judge unable to bear the fire of his gaze, looked down. He mumbled under his breadth, “A brave man!” But Nagar, not hearing him shifted his attention to his friends and followers. Throwing an angry glance at them, he thundered, “Why are you crying like impotent men? Twenty years isn’t even a day in the life of Brahma. It’ll pass with the snap of a finger. Now, tell Babaji that he has the responsibility for my household. And tell the Mirzapur Babaji that he should look after Sundar. Go! Get along.”

See the adjectives to explain who Dataram Nagar was – as told and retold in the Varanasi folklore – the judge not able to face Dataram’s eyes – the judge praising his bravery – all others cleared on similar charged but Dataram singled out, telling he was the most famous Gunda of his time – not the leader of a gang, but the beloved role model of his friends and followers – who walked like a lion even after 20-year prison term.

Yes, there may be historical inaccuracies but exploring on them makes for some good reading time.

©/IPR: Santosh Chaubey - http://severallyalone.blogspot.com
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