ASI Hits Dirt After Following a Seer’s Dream of Fool’s Gold


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Myself . By 

By T. V. Antony Raj

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Just 23 days after the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) began digging to locate the much-hyped 1,000 tonnes of gold buried inside Raja Rao Ram Baksh Singh fort in Daundia Khera in Unnao district, Uttar Pradesh, India, ended on Monday, November 11.

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The marked spot at Raja Ram Rao Bux fort where excavation was carried out in Unnao - PTI File photo
The marked spot at Raja Ram Rao Bux fort where excavation was carried out in Unnao – PTI File photo

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The ASI started the excavation to find gold after a local seer claimed that the Raja had appeared in his dream and told him that 1,000 tonnes of gold lay buried under the ruins of the fort.

The Myth and the Dream

Myths and legends abound in the nondescript hamlet of Daundia Khera in Unnao district, Uttar Pradesh, India, about a hypothetical hoard of gold, buried beneath the ruins of a 19th century fort – the treasure hidden by a local landlord Raja Rao Ram Baksh Singh, hanged by the British for raising a group of rebels up against them at the time of the Sepoy Mutiny of 1857.

In early October, Sant Shobhan Sarkar, a local seer, active in Unnao district, said that Raja Rao Ram Baksh Singh who lived in the 19th century appeared in his dream and pointed to a treasure of 1,000 tonnes of gold buried near the Shiva temple in Daundia Khera.

A sewak of the seer said that his  55-years-old guru hailed from a Tewari Brahmin family and that he is “class 12 pass.” When asked about the deity the seer worships, another sewak retorted: “He’s a living god. Why would he worship others?”

This revelation by the seer sparked an interest and hope among the gullible villagers.

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The Seer and the Union Minister

Dr. Charan Das Mahant, Union Minister of State for Agriculture and Food Processing.
Dr. Charan Das Mahant, Union Minister of State for Agriculture and Food Processing.

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On September 22, and October 7, Dr Charan Das Mahant, the lone Congress Member of Parliament representing the Korba Lok Sabha constituency from Chhattisgarh, and Union Minister of State for Agriculture and Food Processing, had visited Shobhan Sarkar’s ashram. The seer, apparently concerned about India’s slumping economy and plummeting rupee, told the minister about his dream. He claimed there could be as much as 1,000 tonnes of gold there, and another 2,500 tonnes of gold lying nearby, awaiting excavation, which the government could use to augment its gold reserves. Dr Mahant, convinced by the seer, assured him that appropriate action would be taken with regard to his dream.

On his return to New Delhi, the Union Minister, set the ball rolling. He informed the Prime Minister’s office, the finance minister, the home minister, the mines minister and various agencies. He also sent word to Sonia Gandhi and Rahul Gandhi. With surprising alacrity, the government machinery immediately sprang to action.

In an interview with The Indian Express, Dr. Mahant said: “When I met [Mr. Sarkar], he told me about the reserves. He said the quantity was so huge that if the government can excavate it, it could be handy since there was a crisis with the rupee.”

Political pressure compelled a team from the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) and the Geological Survey of India (GSI) to survey the area.

Counting Chickens

Even before the excavation began, many started counting their chickens. The residents of Daundia Khera, believing that the seer’s prediction will prove true, demanded that 20 percent of the findings should be spent developing educational and health facilities in the area.

A delegation of All India Kshatriya Mahasabha raised a demand for their share in the “booty”. Uma Shankar Singh, the Mahasabha president, who led the delegation to the excavation site declared:

Since the fortress belongs to an erstwhile royal family of Rajputs, the Kshatriya Mahasabha ought to be naturally entitled to a share in the gold recovered.

Naresh Agrawal, the general secretary of the Samajwadi Party and Rajya Sabha MP, wanted the state government’s share in the gold.

The Excavation 

The GSI submitted a report that said that there were strong indications of metal lying under the ground at the site and recommended further investigation by an excavation. A sentence in the report’s conclusion said a site inspection had detected that a “prominent non-magnetic … zone occurs at 5-20 metres depth [and there is] indication of possible gold, silver and/or some alloys.

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Excavation begins at Daundia Khera (Photograph: Reuters)
Excavation begins at Daundia Khera (Photograph: Reuters)

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The excavation works began on October 18, 2013, amid tight security by a 12-member team from the ASI led by its Deputy Director P. K. Mishra.

An official of the ASI said that it is not the Sadhu’s dream alone that brought them to the site. “We’ve responded to a report by the ministry of culture. It has observations by the Geological Survey of India that there could be some metal bounty under the earth. So the team is in the field,” he said.

The U-turns

The BJP prime ministerial candidate Narendra Modi while addressing a crowd in Chennai on Friday, October 18, 2013, ridiculed the Centre for deciding to hunt for 1,000 tonnes gold in Unnao. Modi said:

The whole world is mocking at us (over the hunt). Somebody dreamt and the government has started an excavation … The money hidden by thieves and looters of India in foreign banks is much more than 1,000 tonnes of gold. If you (government) bring back that money, you won’t have to do digging for gold (in Unnao),”

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Narendra Modi addressing the crowds after his arrival at the Chennai Airport. (AS Ganesh | ENS)
Narendra Modi addressing the crowds after his arrival at the Chennai Airport. (AS Ganesh | ENS)

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Followers of the seer castigated Narendra Modi on his remarks criticizing the government’s action of digging based on the seer’s dreams.

On October 21, Narendra Modi today took a U-turn and praised seer Shobhan Sarkar in a tweet:

“Sant Shobhan Sarkar ke prati anek varsho se lakho logo ki shraddha judi hui hai. Main unki tapasya aur tyag ko pranam karta hu (lakhs of people have reposed faith in seer Shobhan Sarkar over last many years. I salute his austerity and renunciation).”

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Chandresh Kumari Katoch, Union Culture Minister
Chandresh Kumari Katoch, Union Culture Minister.

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This was followed by another U-turn made by the government on October 24, when Union Culture Minister Chandresh Kumari Katoch said the ASI was not digging for gold, but trying to find weapons used by Indians in the 1857 mutiny. She said:

We have a report from GSI saying that there is an alloy in this area. Alloy can be anything. I cannot say whether it is gold, silver or steel,.. There can be guns or idols. We are trying to locate the weapons used by Indians in the mutiny that we don’t have any in our museum or stores. We are trying to find something, which is connected to the mutiny and used by the Indians.”

All that glitters is not even Fool’s Gold

Earlier, when asked about Shobhan Sarkar’s dream, an ASI official said, “We have not come here for gold. We are archaeologists who have a scientific way of working … I cannot say anything about any metal. For us even a broken earthen pot of that time holds equal importance.”

Now that is what the archaeologists have found. Their wish became a reality!

The ASI team found only broken bangles, utensils, some bones and pieces of metal, but not a speck of gold.

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6 thoughts on “ASI Hits Dirt After Following a Seer’s Dream of Fool’s Gold”

  1. Whose Bapu ?

    There was a time
    When you were our Bapu,
    A Mahatma ;

    For a life-time long
    A tortured Atma ;

    To wash away the sins of your children
    You died a martyr’s death ;

    Now those very children
    Have opened-up a shop
    To sell ” Gandhi-ism ” ;

    They are even maintaining
    Two separate books of accounts,
    One for income from ” Unknown Sources “,
    Strictly as required by the law !

    Even out of curiosity
    Do not venture
    Anywhere near ;

    No one will recognize you
    Without your NSG / Z+ bodyguards !

    And children from city slums
    Will chase you , shouting ,
    ” Ben Kingsley , Ben Kingsley “,

    And when they ask you for your autograph ,
    Do not sign,
    ” Mo Ka Gandhi ” !

    Just pretend that you are Ben Kingsley,
    TV cameras , Reporters , Anchors
    Will follow in your footsteps ;

    Just forget that
    You were our Bapu !

    ————————————————————————————-
    Free translation from my Gujarati poem , dated 30, Jan 1984
    ————————————————————————————-

    * hemen parekh ( 13 Nov 2013 )

    Like

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