A theft that rocked Akhara Goswami Tulsidas जब हस्तलिखित रामचरितमानस की चोरी से हिला पूरा बनारस

A theft that rocked Akhara Goswami Tulsidas  जब हस्तलिखित रामचरितमानस की चोरी से हिला पूरा बनारस

17th century Sri Ramcharitmanas is now locked inside a fire and bullet resistant safe in Ahkara Goswami Tuslidas, and that too under CCTV coverage. But this led to hunt for rare manuscripts

By Sandeep Joshi


n December 22, 2011 when the only original ‘pandulipi’ (manuscript) of Sri Ramcharitmanas (also referred to as the Ramayana) dated Samvat 1704 (or 1648 AD) and a few precious articles of its writer, Goswami Tuslidas, were stolen from the Hanuman temple inside the Ahkara Goswami Tuslidas on Tusli Ghat, the Mishra family was shell-shocked.

Its then ‘Mahant” or head priest, a noted environmentalist and a professor in IIT-BHU — Veer Bhadra Mishra — had to even face charges of theft conspiracy. It led to massive search operations by the Varanasi police, which was “informally” aided by the CBI and the intelligence agencies, as it was feared that these rare articles could be smuggled abroad.


‘Pandulipi’ (manuscript) of Sri Ramcharitmanas dated Samvat 1704 (or 1648 AD) that was written 24 years after the death of Goswami Tulsidas at Tulsi Ghat in 1623. This is the only original manuscript of Sri Ramcharitmanas in the world which was stolen in 2011 and later recovered after seven months by Varanasi police.

It took seven months before the police recovered all the articles – the rare ‘pandulipi’ of Sri Ramcharitmanas, the piece of Goswami Tulsidas’ boat and a few ornaments of the temple – from two people in Varanasi. “It seemed that entire Banaras was on the streets to view these articles when they were brought from Bhelupur police station to Tulsi Ghat. But this theft changed everything…The articles that were so far available for public viewing were safely locked only to be taken out once every year to celebrate the Tulsi Jayanti (birthday),” says Prof. V.N. Mishra, the son for Prof. Veer Bhadra Mishra, who is now the ‘Mahant’.

Perturbed by all kind of insinuations that his family had to face and the national and international media coverage, the Mishra family decided to make foolproof arrangements for safety and security of all articles related to Goswami Tulsidas that were there in the temple where the great saint lived, even as they faced pressure from top government officials to hand over these items for greater safety.

“My father thought how he can just hand over these articles to government when his family has been its custodian for centuries…So we brought a special fire and bullet resistant safe that weighed three-quintal and placed it inside the temple. All the precious articles were then put safely. The entire temple complex is now covered with CCTV cameras. The safe is now opened just once every year on Tulsi Jayanti and these articles can then be viewed by pubic…We do not want to take any chances now,” says Prof. Mishra, also a teacher in IIT-BHU, whose family has been the ‘Mahant’ of the Akhara Goswami Tulsidas for thirteen generations now.

The other important pieces of Indian mythology and history that the Mishra family posses are a rare handmade sketch of Goswami Tulsidas made in 17th Century by one of his disciples at Tulsi Ghat where he wrote last three ‘kands’ (chapters) of Sri Ramcharitmanas and Hanuman Chalisa.

But those seven months till the police recovered the rare manuscript of Sri Ramcharitmanas led to an interesting development. “As the chances of recovering the original manuscript dwindled with each passing day, I decided to collect as many manuscripts of Goswami Tulsidas works, including Sri Ramcharitmanas, as possible from whatever source I can…The mission was to have rare collection of works of the great saint to make up for the lost manuscript,” says Dr. Vijay Nath Mishra, a leading neurologist and younger son of Prof. Veer Bhadra Mishra.

“And since then I have collected 173 handwritten manuscripts from all over India. These include the Ramayana and other works of Goswami Tulsidas. I also found Sri Ramcharitmanas in Urdu that was printed in a Lahore press 90 years ago, which contains rare handmade pictures related to Ramayana. I even have manuscripts in ‘Farsi’ (Persian) and Awadhi,” says Dr. Mishra, whose hunt for the rare manuscripts continues with the dream of building a museum of ‘pandulipis’ dedicated to Goswami Tulsidas.

Tulsidas Ji-1 (1) (1)

A rare handmade sketch of Goswami Tulsi Das made in 17th Century by one of his disciples at Tulsi Ghat, Varanasi, where he wrote last three ‘kands’ (chapters) of Sri Ramcharitmanas or Ramayana and Hanuman Chalisa. The photograph is present at Akhara Goswami Tulsidas at Tulsi Ghat, Varanasi.

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  1. Shravan June 20, at 08:33

    I am reading this page today on 20 June 2016. Thank you for sharing the photo of one page of manuscript. It is about the Bharat Milaap. I am blessed to have seen this today.

  2. Krishna September 05, at 16:25

    I also feeling blessed to see this image ... It is bharat ram milap Word A of hindi at that time written differently ri


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