When Rayaru stopped a train

There are so many miracles of Raghavendra Swamy or Rayaru that it would take several books and thousands of hours to details every one of them.

This great Madhwa saint has been performing miracles even after he entered Brindavana in Mantralaya in 1791 and they range from curing people of diseases, helping them achieve their goals, giving solace to the people and in this case stopping a running train.

This story goes back to almost 70 years when India was still under the British. The freedom movement was at its peak and the second World War was casting its dark shadow over the country.

Many parts of India, including Andhra Pradesh, were reporting increasing cases of Cholera and other infectious diseases. The British had put in a strict and rigid system of quarantine to ensure that the diseases did not spread.

One of the means by which the British controlled the spread of epidemics was by regulating and monitoring the transport system. Since air transport was in its nascent stage, the most popular means of communication was either by road or by rail.

This story goes back to 1945-46 when the Madras Mail operated between the cities of Madras, now Chennai and Bombay, now called Mumbai. This train was highly popular and it was the most reliable means of  transport and communication between the two cities.

The Madras Mail was one of the many long distance trains introduced by the British. The train passed through Adwani or Adoni, Kosigi before touching Mantralaya Road. Since Mantralaya did not have a railway station, pilgrims to the temple town had to alight either at Adoni or Mantralaya Road.

The train used to leave Madras at night and reach Mantralaya Road the next morning. (Today, the same train leaves Chennai around 10 p.m., and reaches Mantralaya Road around 10-30 a.m., the next day).    

Many people had boarded the train to Mantralaya. The aradhane of Rayaru was in August and just eight days were left for the three-day celebrations at the Rayara Matha.

In those day, there were not much facilities for travelers and tourists and of course for pilgrims. People came well in advance to such religious events. As the Aradhane was just around the corner, people had started coming to Mantralaya by road and rail.   

When the Madras Mail reached Adoni station at around 10 a.m., the train did not stop. This left the passengers bewildered and those who wanted to make the town their base for Mantralaya were left high and dry.

Even as the devotees were left cursing their fate, the train touched Mantralaya Station. But here too, the train did not stop. When the passengers requested the Railway authorities to halt the train, their request was turned down and they were asked not to disembark.

The train had slowed down when it had approached Mantralaya Road but it began picking up speed. Scores of passengers were left wringing their hands in despair and many among them wept at not being able to see Rayaru in his Brindavana at Mantralaya.

Even as the Mantralaya bound passengers began beseeching Rayaru for intervention, the train came to a grinding halt just a little after it left Mantralaya Road station. Pilgrims and visitors to Mantralaya quickly alighted and some of them began walking to the temple town even as the vigilant Railway staff stopped the rest from alighting from the train.

When the Railway Station staff noticed that the train had stooped on the tracks despite no signal, they became worried They quickly contacted the train driver who himself appeared to be puzzled. He found that the engine had sufficient quantities of  coal and that the furnace was in working condition.

The engine driver found that the engine was in perfect working condition. The brakes too had not been applied. Then how did the train come to a sudden and unscheduled stop, he wondered. Neither the driver nor the guard of the train could come up with a convincing explanation on how and why the train stopped.

The mechanical and electrical systems were thoroughly checked but to no avail. The train just refused to move and finally the driver gave up.

The train stood on the tracks, letting out bucketful of steam and vainly trying to move. The train did move but it was only after Rayaru intervened and how ?. This mystery will be unveiled in the next post. Till then, happy reading.

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