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Missionaries present even on land that once gave the message of ‘Satyamev Jayate’, Christian fairs and crosses in places that housed ancient temples and idols

It is said that Sage Mandukya wrote Mandukya Upanishad while he lived on the Madku island. This island is located in the Mungeli district of present-day Chhattisgarh.

‘Satyamev Jayate’ is the national motto of India. This mantra is taken from the Mandukya Upanishad. It is said that Sage Mandukya wrote this scripture while he lived on the Madku island. This island is located in the Mungeli district of present-day Chhattisgarh.

However, did you know that the largest gathering on this island takes place in February every year? And that this gathering is for the week-long Christian fair? And that this Christian fair has been going on for the last 113 years?

It is possible that the way Hindus are being converted to Christianity, and the way Christian missionaries are spreading to every nook and corner of the country, it may not be surprising to you to have a Christian fair on this historically significant island. It will not only surprise you when you come to know about the geographical location of Madku Island, but it will also introduce you to the dangerous intention of Christian missionaries according to which they are occupying water, forest, and land everywhere. Under this strategy, they are spreading from populated grounds to even uninhabited islands.

Madku island is situated in the Shivnath river

Madku island is located about 40 kms from Bilaspur, a major city in Chhattisgarh. To reach this island, you have to cross the Shivnath River. The only means to cross the river is via boat. Before reaching the river, you pass through rural areas like Baitalpur, Sargaon etc. The Christian cross on the houses around the road and the adjacent cemeteries give you an idea of the reach of Christian missionaries in these areas.

There is a small dam (Annie Cut) on this river. When the water in the river is low, people also walk to the island on foot or they reach there by small vehicles through the Annie Cut.

One has to cross the Shivnath river in order to reach Madku island

Why it is named Madku island?

There are two main reasons behind the name of this place Madku Island. According to historian Dr. Vishnu Singh Thakur, this place was the place of penance of Rishi Mandukya. Madku is considered to be derived from the word Mandukya. Another reason stated is that due to the stream of the Shivnath river, this place looks like a floating frog. Mandook means frog. Over the period of time, Mandook became Madku.

The Harihar Kshetra at Madku island

When you reach Madku Island spread over about 50 acres by boat, you will see dense forest all around. Shri Harihar Kshetra is located in the middle of this dense forest. There are many temples in the Harihar Kshetra. The Ganesh temple, re-established only in 2021, is one of these ancient temples. The eight-handed idol of Lord Ganesha in this temple is said to be as old as 1,000 years.

There is a residence adjacent to this temple. In this residence, Virendra Shukla, the priest of the Harihar Kshetra, lives with his family. Shukla Ji told OpIndia that he is originally from Turbari Pathari village in Lormi block of Mungeli district. He came to the island with his father in 1985. The temple committee had appointed his father here for performing regular worship rituals. Virendra Shukla’s father died in 1990 and since then he has been responsible for offering prayers at the temples.

The Ganesh temple in the Harihar Kshetra, the residence of the priest, and the remains of idols found in the excavation. Image Source: OpIndia

A hut was also seen in the nearby area. Shukla Ji told us that a monk has been living in this hut for the last two and half years. He told us that the monk has come from Amarkantak. The day we reached, the monk was not on Madku island. The remains of ancient temples and sculptures that the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) has found during excavations on this island are also kept in the Harihar Kshetra. However, we did not see any adequate arrangements for the protection of these historically important heritages.

Shukla Ji told OpIndia, “After the Annie cut was made in 2010-11, there is some convenience in commuting to the island, but the island is submerged from July to October. No one usually comes to this place. Some devotees and tourists come on Saturdays and Sundays. Since the formation of a separate Chhattisgarh state, there has been some development in this place but there is still a severe lack of facilities. The island is most crowded for a week in February when the Christian fair takes place.”

How did the Christian fair begin on Madku Island?

When asked about the origin of the Christian fair here, Shukla Ji explained, “First, a hospital was opened for leprosy patients in Baitalpur. After that, people gradually started coming here. A few years later, there was a fair here. Except during the time of the fair, there is no activity of missionaries here.”

On the day we reached the island, only a few devotees were in the Harihar Kshetra. Ramakant Patel and Kolaram Patel had come with their families. Both are government teachers. They told OpIndia, “On holidays, we come here with children so that they can learn about their culture.” Another devotee, Sachi Narayan, hailing from Hyderabad was present there. Narayan, a doctor by profession, said he was on a visit to Chhattisgarh, and upon getting information about this place, he came here to visit.

He told OpIndia, “After seeing this place, the mind suffers a little. This is such a special land, holy land; special attention should be paid to developing it. It should be easy to come to such places so that more and more people can know about their culture.” (We will talk in detail in another report about the remains found in the excavation on Madku Island and the temples here.)

A cross was erected on a stage on Madku Island

There is a platform at some distance from the Harihar Kshetra. If you come to the island via Annie Cut, this platform can be seen on the left. The path that goes to the right takes you to the Harihar Kshetra. There is a plaque in front of the stage. Information about the Christian fair is recorded on it.

It is also mentioned that this plaque was installed on the completion of 110 years of the Christian fair in 2019. At some distance from this plaque is a long platform with Christian crosses. According to the information mentioned on the plaque, the Christian fair started here in 1909. In 2008, the Christian Fair was held from February 10-17. It was the centenary year of the event.

The stage with the cross where the Christian fair is organized on Madku island. Image Source: OpIndia

The boat operator Sudarshan told OpIndia, “Christian people live in Baitalpur. In the British era, the movement on this island started from Baitalpur, then the fair began. The cross marks their territory, the rest belongs to Hindus.” He further said, “All the nearby villages are Christian-dominated. They (Christian missionaries) still keep visiting. Sometimes someone in the village even becomes a Christian.”

He also told us that ever since the Congress government was formed in Chhattisgarh under the leadership of Bhupesh Baghel, no work has been done on the island. In fact, whatever development is seen, it has been done during the era of the BJP government led by Raman Singh.

The uninhabited island, the remains found in the excavation depicting an important chapter of the Sanatan tradition, a stage with a cross erected just near the Yagya site, and the annual gathering of converted Hindus show how Christian missionaries are occupying our heritage sites.

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