There is an ancient temple in India made famous by thieves. Four times in recent history, thieves stole the temple idol but returned it as they could not go far with it. The reasons they gave for that makes the story even more intriguing.
Mridanga Saileswari Temple is an ancient temple located at Muzhakunnu , Kannur district in the southern state of Kerala. The temple is among the 108 temples believed to have been established by Sage Parasurama. There is a story behind the temple getting the name “Mridanga Saileswari”.
Mridangam is a percussion instrument from India of ancient origin. In ancient Hindu sculpture, mridangam is often depicted as the instrument of choice of Hindu deities like Ganesha and Nandi, the vehicle and follower of Shiva. Mridangam is also known as Deva Vaadyam or the musical instrument of the Gods.
It is believed that a piece of rock, perhaps a meteor, in the shape of Mridanga fell from heaven at this place and Sage Parasurama, feeling the presence of Goddess, invoked her into the Rock and established a temple for her.
Mridanga Shaileswari temple is also considered as the birthplace of South Indian Classical dance, Kathakali. In this temple, Goddess Sakti is present in three forms namely, Kali, Saraswati and Lakshmi.
A couple of years back, Rtd. Director-General of Police of Kerala State, Shri Alexander Jacob made public the stories of four robberies happened in this temple in previous years. The estimated value of the temple idol is around 1.5 crores. With no much security around the temple, it was an easy target for thieves.
The first break-in at the temple took place in 1979. The thieves took the idol from the temple, but the next day morning, the idol was found to be abandoned few metres from the temple. The Police couldn’t find the culprits. The idol was reconsecrated as per the rituals. The ritual lasts 41 days and requires certain mantras to be recited 41 Lakh times.
A few years later the story repeated. But this time, police could not find the idol and the investigation was stuck without any leads. The temple authorities decided to go for an Ashta mangala Devaprashna. Ashta Mangala Deva Prasna is conducted to ascertain the unknown causes of unwelcome situations and to plan remedial actions by using eight auspicious objects like ghee lamps, mirror, gold, milk, yogurt, fruits, book, and white cloth.
With the deva prashna, it was calculated that the idol was travelling towards the state of Tamil Nadu and after 42 days the idol will be lost forever. But before that, the powerful idol of Goddess will return to its abode by its divine power.
As predicted, on the 42nd day, Police received information of an abandoned idol beside a highway in Palakat near Tamil Nadu with a note left behind. The note read – “The idol is from Mridanga Shaileswari Temple; we are not able to take it any further. Please return it to the temple”. Like last time, the idol was reconsecrated with rituals lasting 41 days. But the Police could not trace the thieves this time too.
Since this is the second time, Police suggested improving the security for the temple by posting a Police guard there. But the temple authorities declined the offer saying that the Goddess can protect herself.
Soon thieves struck for a third time, this time, a gang from the state of Karnataka. They planned their route through the forests of Vayanad to Karnataka to evade the Police. The Police were clueless for the next three days, but this time, both the temple authorities and the local people were confident that the Goddess will find her way back, even if the Police failed to find the culprits.
On the third day by mid-afternoon, the Police received an anonymous call from a lodge in Kalpatta, Wayanad in Kerala. The caller introduced himself as one of the gang members and gave details of the location of the idol. He requested the Police to return the idol to the temple citing that they are not able to take the idol with them. Police found the idol at the lodge, with flowers and a lighted lamp placed near the idol. The usual rituals followed and the idol re-consecrated.
Police made a breakthrough in the second robbery attempt by accident. A gang of idol thieves from Tamil Nadu were caught when they attempted to steal idol from another temple in Cochin. They confessed stealing idol from Mridanga Shaileswari a few years back. Same way, people behind the third robbery attempt was also caught accidentally when they attempted to steal idol from a temple in Kasaragod in Kerala. They confessed their role in the third robbery attempt at Mridanga Shaileswari Temple.
Naturally the curious Police wanted to know, the reason behind the serial thieves, abandoning the Mridanga Shaileswari idol halfway through. Both the gangs gave the same reason that astonished the Police.
When they touched the idol, they lost their sense of direction and everyone entered into a confused state of mind so they could not proceed and they decided to abandon the idol halfway through.
Nevertheless, the people behind the first robbery were never caught.
Three failed attempts did not deter another gang of idol thieves. This time it was a gang of seasoned thieves from a minority community in Kerala state itself. They did not believe in the supernatural powers of the idol. They also abandoned the idol. When later caught, they gave the same reason for abandoning the idol.
There are a lot of things around us that we can reason with our intelligence and our scientific knowledge. But still there are a few, that stays above our capacity to explain. Let us hope one day our scientific knowledge and reasoning ability will grow enough to explain such phenomenon’.
How to reach the temple
The Temple is Locate in Muzhakunnu Panchayat, Kannur Dist, Kerala.
By Rail: The Nearest Railway Station is Thalassery . The temple is around 45km from Tellicherry. Busses available from Tellicherry main bus stand to the temple.
By Air: The Nearest Airport is Kozhikode around 138km from the temple. Once Kannur International Airport is operational in 2018, the temple is just 14km from the Airport.