Devprayag: Don't be surprised if any priest at Badrinath temple gives details of your forefathers just with your name. Yes, it’s true a devotee travelling to the Badrinath temple can get the details of his ancestors in a second.

All the credit for this goes to the priests here who, over the years, have maintained the manuscripts of all the pilgrims travelling to the region.

The manuscripts have now become a significant part of our precious heritage.

If we take a look at how the societies of these priests work, we would be surprised to know that they are involved in this exercise over the past three centuries. The worshiping programme of pilgrims at Badrinath is mainly looked after by the Devprayag (Tihari Gadhwal) society.

Since the 17th century, they have maintained their manuscripts, which comprise details right from the monarchy to the modern India. Before these manuscripts, Bhojpatr and Taamrapatra were into fashion.

Thakur Prithvisingh Chauhan who existed in 1243 and belonged to the Neem Rana Alwar region, has his records with Pandit Ramnath Savaseriya. The Tampatr records of the thirteenth century’s Udaipur Darbar are also available with Pandit Balakrishnan.
Even the records of Mahaprabhu Balaabhcharya, who lived in 1443, can be found with Pandit Laxmidhar Joshi.

The manuscripts of the priests of Devprayag and 42 other priests include the details and facts like caste, clan, dynasty, district, village and cities of nearly whole of India’s population.

Another interesting fact is that the priests are known by the city’s documents they maintain. Like the priest who keeps Delhi accounts is known as ‘Dilliwala’, others are also known as ‘Meerutwala’, ‘Sagarwala’, ‘Prayagwala’, ‘Rivawala’ and ‘Karoliwala’.

According to Mukesh Prayagwal, head of the Panda Purohit committee, “These manuscripts are national archives and are quite precious for the country”. These documents have also played a prominent role in several legal cases, he added.

Some documents weigh 70 kgs and are more than one km long. Previously, they used to be brought from Haridwar to Badrinath but later on they were permanently kept in Devprayag and Badrinath.

These documents include the details and signatures of famous celebrities, politicians, social activists, industrialists and litterateurs.
Prayal family has the details of Jawaharlal Nehru, Indira Gandhi, Rajiv Gandhi, Purushottam Das Tandon, Mahadevi Verma, Suryakant Tripathi Nirala and Amitabh Bachchan.

And, this is not the end of the list as other priests have signified details of honourable President Pratibha Patil, former President Neelam Sanjiv Reddy, VV Giri, Venketraman, Atal Bihari Vajpayee, Dr Rajendra Prasad, and politicians like Laloo Prasad Yada and Mulayam Singh in these manuscripts.