14-year-old Neeru from Pinhat, Agra says she was never going to take samadhi as rumoured.
‘Living goddess’ Neeru Singh at her home in Amar Singh Pura village
The living goddess of Pinhat, Agra, a legend in and around her district, and now a sensational news story, is a 14-year-old child, angry, defensive and very scared. After news spread that the girl, Neeru Singh, was going into samadhi, the meditative state where one consciously gives up one’s life to be united with the divine, there was an immediate police crackdown, on September 28, after which her village of Amar Singh Pura has become divided by rumour and belief.The family, and many of their friends and acquaintances, say Neeru was never going to take samadhi, these were lies spread by those jealous of the family and their good fortunes. Others call themselves eye-witnesses to the preparations of the ceremony where Neeru was, apparently, going to be buried alive, and the wealth Neeru’s father, Hari Singh, accumulated from donations of cash and valuables laid by the faithful villagers at the feet of their homegrown goddess.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>This village of Pinhat district, 60 kms from Agra, set amidst acres of bajra fields, is a prosperous one with pucca houses and a smooth pucca road. Here Neeru is famous. In 2005, they say, she made it rain when there was none, by sitting down for prayer at the Radhe Krishna Mandir. “After that there was so much rain,” says Neeru, with great intensity. After that, she asked her father, a retired school headmaster, to build her a temple in their backyard. This temple became the spot for her maunvrat, a vow of silence, and of her fast, that she undertook three years ago.September 28 was going to be an important day for Neeru. It was the end of this three-year fasting. Her family says she had indicated she would leave the life of fasting and resume the more routine life of a child her age. They say, some people mistook that, perhaps deliberately as Neeru readying herself to give up life itself.”I was not going to take samadhi. This is a lie people say about me,” she said defensively. “I have got up from the mandir, now all problems should be over” she repeated many times over, treating those asking her questions with anger and a great deal of suspicion. “Why must you write what I say, please don’t write, all problems are over now,” she told this reporter, startled at the sight of her words being taken down.Neeru’s faith is precious to her, it was evident. The most earnest thing she said was, “prayer is not a sin, no,”; though after that she clammed up, refusing to talk about the red clothes she wore in devotion, or go near her temple, or even whether she looked forward to starting school for the first time in her life next week, or what she wanted to be when she grew up. However, how this incredibly strong faith got inculcated is a mystery. The police, initially said it was the father pulling the strings, earning a fortune from the villagers. Now, however, they too deny any possibility of a samadhi, saying all they chanced upon was a prayer meeting.”I place a lot of importance on education,” said Hari Singh, “I have taught her to read and write, all her sisters were educated and then married, my sons are studying in college.”He claimed to have tried pushing her to school, but the girl’s mind was completely in service of her goddess.The Singh household, large and evidently prosperous, was surrounded by crowd nodding along to all they claimed, supporting their story. A kilometre away, the sceptics gathered. “I saw with my own eyes, the girl was ready to offer samadhi,” said Chandra Prakash, a village resident. “There was a machine ready to dig a hole in the ground, where they would bury her, hundreds of people had gathered there, even policemen were folding their hands in front of her.”Prakash and the men he sat with said that the father would have easily made sixty thousand with the amount of money, saris, jewellery that people donated. One of them even poked holes in Neeru’s supposed rain beckoning powers. “If it rained four months after she prayed, how did she make it happen,” he said.For now, the young girl in the eye of the storm, who claims to never have made a friend in her life, is set to start school in the coming days. As soon as, she says, the police and the people stop bothering her.