By Express News Service
BHOPAL: Madhya Pradesh chief minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan and controversial BJP MP from Bhopal Pragya Thakur were among those who donated sums on the first day of the VHP and Shree Ram Janmabhoomi Teerth Kshetra Trust’s coordinated nationwide drive to raise funds for construction of Ram Temple at Ayodhya.
While, CM Shivraj Singh Chouhan handed over Rs 1 Lakh cheque to top VHP functionaries in Bhopal, the 2008 Malegaon blasts accused-turned-BJP MP from Bhopal Pragya Thakur donated Rs 1,11,111 out of her salary.
Amid the start of the fund raising drive across MP, a retired Indian Army doctor, living in Burhanpur town of the central Indian state (350 km from Bhopal) has something rare and unique to offer as gift to the museum which is proposed to come up at the Ram Tempe Complex, which will adjoin the main Ram Temple in Ayodhya.
72-year-old retired Major Dr MK Gupta, who is the proud owner of hundreds of rare and historical coins, has announced to gift the proposed museum at the Ram Temple complex in Ayodhya, a unique collection of Ram-Tankas – metallic religious tokens issued by various temples across India as tribute to Lord Ram.
Gupta, who retired from the Army in 1978 and settled in the historic Burhanpur town of MP, has in his rare antique collection around 60 Ram-Tankas, out of which he has decided to gift to the proposed Ram Temple Museum at least 10 Ram-Tankas which are of six types.
“The Ram Tankas are not metallic coins, but instead are metallic tokens issued from time to time by Hindu rulers as well temples across India as tribute to Lord Ram. These tokens were minted and released in various parts of India, including Bombay and Calcutta before Independence for distribution among devotees at temples are of six types,” Gupta told The New Indian Express.
“All six types of Ram Tankas have picture of Ram Darbar (full court of Ayodhya’s King Lord Ram) engraved on one side and different aspects of the Ramayana on the other side. The metallic religious tokens in my collection which I’ve decided to gift to the proposed museum in Ayodhya, include Ram Tankas issued in Bengali lingo and Gurmukhi lingo,” the septuagenarian retired doctor said.
“The oldest of these Ram Tankas which is around 250 years old has been issued in South India, where gold and silver Ram Tankas were issued by Hindu rulers in the 14th and 15th century AD. The other Ram Tankas in my collection which were issued before 1947 are either made of brass or are silver plated brass tokens. I’ve already spoken to the RSS functionaries about my wish to gift these Ram Tankas at the proposed museum in Ayodhya,” Gupta said.
Not only does Gupta’s prized numismatic possession include Ram Tankas (the metallic religious tokens), but also pictures of silver coins with Ram-Sita image engraved on them, which were released during the last year of Mughal emperor Akbar’s rule.
Dr Gupta, who has been collecting rare coins right since his Rewa Medical College days of late 1960s has sourced the Ram Tankas from various people in Burhanpur town only. “I’ve sourced these rare Ram-Tankas from people in Burhanpur only, who have either found it from the river Tapti (on whose banks Burhanpur is situated) or else from those people who have got it from different temples of the country.”
Importantly, Burhanpur was one of most important towns, particularly during the Mughal period, when there was a Taksal located there to mint coins.