During my recent visit to Lucknow I had a strange request from my uncle, who is the CEO of a multinational firm in Oman, for a deposit on his behalf. It was not a deposit of currency that he wanted. It was a deposit of the Ram naams written by him over the years.
In the by lanes of Lucknow, the capital of Uttar Pradesh, lies a bank with a difference. Here, no money is involved, no interest recovered and no cheques are deposited. Yet, the number of account holders is rising steadily. All one has to do to open an accoun there is to write Ram Naams. The bank has its own Ram naam note books, which could be collected free of cost from 25 centres across the city. After writing ram naams in the booklets, one can deposit them with this Ram Ram bank. The depositor is issued a certificate from the bank’s creator and in-charge, Pandit Lovelesh Tewari. Pass books are also issued to regular depositors with their deposit entries duly recorded. Every five years the entire collection is sent to the ultimate destination, that is, Ayodhya, the birth place of Lord Ram.
For this unique one-of-a-kind bank the banker is also exceptional. Shri Tewari, a rather soft-spoken, quiet man does not fit in the picture of a professional banker. There is no aggressive instinct in him regarding his bank, or the compulsion to join it. No incentives are offered by him to his account holders and there is no propaganda done to make his bank popular. Yet, news regarding the existence of the bank has spread through word of mouth. The crossing where he lives and runs his bank has been renamed as Ram Ram Bank chauraha. Shri Tewari operates his bank from his small home in one of the obscure lanes of theAliganj area of Lucknow. He has devoted his life to Ram Naam. A man of humble origin, Tewari wanted to make his contribution to the society. He had no money and was not well-educated to earn well, so he had no means to contribute materially for the welfare of the society. It was then that his guru, Paramhans Ram Mangal Das advised him to devote his life to Lord Ram. Thus, the concept of opening such a bank crossed his mind. The bank has been running successfully for over 25 years now. And each year the number of depositors keeps rising.
Taking Lord Rama’s name is considered a divine mantra by the Hindus. The spiritual power in chanting Lord Rama’s name is felt by all his followers. It is believed that one can liberate oneself from the cycle of births and rebirths by writing or chanting Lord Ram’s name. Scribbling of Ram naams has always been a popular way of remembering the Lord. One need not go to the temple regularly for doing this. Writing of Rams can be done sitting at home or at work, by all age groups. A housewife can write Rams in-between her daily chores. A businessman and even a CEO of a company can write Rams while commuting to their offices or when taking a break. There is no compulsion on the number of Rams written. However, ideally one should write at least one page of the Ram booklet every day.
The present day world works only on incentive and motivation. So, what is the incentive for writing Ram naams? This thought would cross any modern man concentrating on gaining money and power in his life. According to Tewari, one can overcome all hurdles in life by simply writing or taking Lord Ram’s name. All desires are fulfilled, all wishes come true and all problems are solved by this simple act. For Tewari, a man who would have not caught the attention of the world, Ram naam is very powerful. He cites the example of sage Valmiki who was a dacoit and he was reformed after reciting Ram naam. Tewari is convinced that when we write Ram we invoke his blessings and whatever we do the Lord is there with us in all our actions.
For school-going kids the habit of writing Rams is excellent for building concentration skills and motor skills. The Ram booklet has small squares and writing Ram in the squares given, firms the grip of fingers and helps in building steady and neat hand writing in children. For the youth, this activity helps them in increasing their concentration and channelising their minds into doing good actions. As adults our world is full of stress and frustrations. Writing of Ram naams reduces the stress level in our life as we meditate on the Lord’s name. Tewari gave the example of a famous cricketer’s father, who was very tense regarding his son getting hurt in the game. So, to ease his tension and to distract himself from the painful thoughts, this father would write Rams and send them to the Ram Ram bank.
From politicians to policemen, businessmen to rickshaw pullers, all have accounts in the Ram Ram bank. Interestingly, Tewari accepts members of all communities to write in their language of choice, whether English, Hindi, Urdu or Gurumukhi. He accepts Ram Ram written on any piece of paper. He has contributors writing Rams on the reverse side of lottery tickets and on election campaign leaflets. Tewari has given a new lease of life to an age-old process. He has encouraged youngsters to write Ram naam, a practice usually associated with the older people. He attributes the bank’s earnings, already to the tune of a few crores, to the grace of Lord Ram. Today, the Ram Ram bank celebrates the existence of faith and spirituality in the modern life.