I am standing before a rock.
A brownish black moisture ridden age old rock. Beneath the deep blue sky and the boundless moonlight and the dancing shades of tree leaves in a land of utter silence , I again observed the rock. On it are engraved with little sharp letters..J.P. From the dust covered and wretched stretch marks of the rock, it looks like the letters are written much early may be several hundred years ago. Or may be I am mistaking, the search of exact time and period is meaningless without a carbon test but still I feel, that the letters..those two letters means something special..a story..a romance of the gone days..when this vast tract of popular land was nothing but deserted and only jungles abundant. And within such wilderness…those misty tunes of ancient nature..themes of lostness..natural canopy of sublime moonlight..windy scarce nights..days of endless rain I tried to retrospect a figure of a man roaming within these area and dropping and bending before rocks amd may be one day in a mood of eternal wanderer engraving in this rock those very two letters..
In this place, this remote village far away from Sanchi..a famous spot of Madhya Pradesh in such mood of exploring travelers one can remember of only one man..James Princep..a rich East India Company merchant, the assay-master of the India Government Mint, Calcutta, a brilliant Archaeologist and the Secretaryof the Asiatic Society who not only was also a numismatic to find out descent of the Gupta coins from the Kushan prototypes and the Punch-marked system of coin manufacture in India.
Again I looked at the letters.
Moonlight is little less now it is now being sliced by moving flocks of clouds. Winds a bit harsh at this hour of the night of the month of August.
Looking at the engraved letters on the rock I again tried to think that for years a man lying in this land of jungles and mapless remote tracts with surrounded numbered inhabitants and coolies, each day trying to study the mysterious letters on rocks and edicts and each night spending almost sleepless under fire dedicating himself to only one work..to solve the mysteries of time..the letters offering wealth of untold people and land and their deeds..the curve of the letters..the bend of the letters..the sharp cut..the steep rise..the numismatic diagonasi of different writings of various civilisation..I try to think about the man who by himself changed the course of Indian History and Indian Archaeology and thus finished the unfinished work of Sir William Jones after forty years of his death when in 1837..one day he found the link to solve and decipher the scripts and locate the word ‘Danam’ (gifts) in numerous inscriptions and the similarity of Brahmi Script with other Writings..
‘Babu, ustaraf mat Jaiye, khatra hai!’
Suddenly, a voice came from behind.
I got so much absorbed in my thinkings seeing the letters J.P. that it took time to cone to presence.
I turned and saw a young boy is standing, he is wearing only a loincloth, his upper part naked, his hairs uncombed for days.
‘Khatra?’( Danger?’) I asked.
‘Ha babu, pahar ke upar bhalu hai, Bara sap bhi hai’(In the Jungle up the hills there is bear, snakes too!)
‘Aur keya hai?’ I asked again smiling.
‘Cabe hai Babu?’
The boy started describing me.
And then I found out that ‘Cabe’ means ‘Cave’.
I got excited.
The boy pointed up the hills.
I started to walk.
The boy came along with me.
‘Ap nehi ja sakte Babu’! Oonha koi nehi jata! Jungle hai!’
(The boy prevented me to go there as there is deep jungle and no one goes there.)
‘Kis taraf hai?’(Which way, the cave?’)
The boy again pointed his hand towards the hills.
It’s much upwards and in this night without any arms and instruments and a group it is impoosible really to go there. I nooded and agreed with the boy.
And then asked the boy his name.
‘Shahu Babu, Rambilas Sahu.’
I again questioned him that what he is doing here at this hour?
‘Chaukidar ne bheja mujhe aapko bulane ke liye.’
I undersood that the Chaukidar of the House where I am staying for the night send him to call me. The house was empty and it was one of my friend’s ancestral home. I love remote places and specially I always wanted to spend a night here in this village just miles away from Sanchi.
‘Aap jaoge pahar ke upar Babu?’
The boy asked.
‘Kal subah main apko le jaoonga!’
The boy promised me that tomorrow morning he would take me up the hills but tomorrow early morning I have to depart to Bhopal, as next day I have to reach office.
‘Aur Kabhi aa jana Babu! Mera nam yaad rakhna.. Shahu!’
I will definitely remember the name of the boy. And I really wish that one day I would return here to go up the hills and explore the caves.
I again looked at those two letters..J.P.
May be these two letters means something else.
May be it do not denote whom I thought..but to me the initials which I found within a rock in the foothills of Sanchi would always represent the man who deciphered the Brahmi Script and Ashokan Edicts..James Princep..
I handed over the boy, a twenty rupee note.
An innocent smile of the village boy.
‘Next time I would surely go up the hills with you Shahu!’
I smiled and started walking.
And then again stopped.
Then turned and kept my eyes over the hills.
Night is ripe now..some birds flying high..searching homes..a night bird with a sweet melancholy tune filling up the air..moon again shining with its full glow..sky deep blue..stars shining near the horizon..Far across over the hills the Buddhist Monument of Sanchi can be seen..its brilliant architecture..and far upwards..much higher..almost near the summit..some dark mysterious rocky structures can be seen..are the the caves?..I decided to come back here once more..may be within those caves..some more romances of history waiting for ages footsteps of civilized men to bring wanders of time..in limelight..
Or may be I would never come back here..
Let if there are some hidden wonders of history are preserved within the caves..let it be remain there..let something should remain which would still arose amazement..wonders ..in this so called civilized world..where men are climbing and climbing all stages of success and wanders..trying to remove all mysteries by their teachings..
Let some thing should remain..
For which may be a simple man..like this innocent village boy Shahu can live on..
And being illiterate still can draw such wonderful innocent smile..
I again looked at the caves..
Let the mystery remain..
Let some script still remain undeciphered..
I walked on.