Apr 2, 2010

Hindu Hero of Haryana II - Ratiram Malik

Ratiram Malik - the Hindu superman of 20th Century

Having read stories of so many wrestlers of yesteryears who were lucky to be patronized by princely states and achieved worldwide fame and recognition in their times, there was one superman who was not associated with any state. Mention of Hindu wrestlers started with the famous wrestler Guru Hanuman, but we have little knowledge about other wrestlers of our area in the 1900’s to 1940’s.

One such powerful wrestler whose name is still famous in rural Haryana but unknown to rest of the world, was Choudhry Ratiram Malik (चौधरी रतीराम मलिक) or nick-named Rattia Mhaal (रतिया महाल) (in Haryanvi language, Mhaal means "A Great Wrestler") who was born and lived in village Nangal Kheri or Gadi (Siva Gadi) near the city of Panipat. This village is adjacent to National Fertiliser Limited near Panipat

Born around 1900 CE, this vegetarian Hindu was 6 feet 4 inches in height and was a true specimen of human muscle power, like the strength of the Alaskan grizzly bears. He was chiseled and muscular with big heavy bones and didn’t have the usual heavy protruding belly of heavyweight wrestler . His exercise routine sometimes included 10,000 baithaks at one go; and the next day would be for similar number of dands, besides these to gain strength in doing his baithaks, he carried two men on his shoulders. His strength can be measured with a barometer in the form of an old Girdi (a piece of heavy, round stone, used for crushing limestone and also for agricultural purposes). This type of stone usually weighs around 450 kgs and he lifted it when he was in his sixties (old age). One can imagine his strength in the prime of his youth. This girdi or roller is still present in his native village.

It is very difficult to lift this type of roller as there is no place to grip it, the only option is to use one’s own strength to hug it and lift it on the shoulders which Ratia Mhaal had - and it is a testimony to his massive strength which is justified in the form of that roller.

Old folks remember how Ratia pahelwan once pulled out a full grown male buffalo (that had fallen into a village-well) single-handedly tied with a rope. Once while he was having his food in the fields, a full grown donkey started braying loudly near him. Annoyed, he tried to shoo the animal away but the donkey didn't pay heed. So he caught hold of the beast by one of its legs and threw it away like a pillow. People said he caught a full grown powerful male buffalo tied with a rope to its neck and the male buffalo was made to run. It wouldn't move against the strength of Ratia Mhaal such was his enormous strength.

Once, during the time of Ratia Mhaal's older days in his 70's, a man tried to check his famous strength, he purposefully filled his bullock cart with sugar cane which everybody claimed was nearly 700 to 800 kgs and pretended that the fully-laden cart got stuck in a drain and asked for Ratia Mhaal's help. Ratia Mhaal put his shoulders under the bullock cart and asked the driver to move the cart forwards with the bullocks' help but instead of making the cart go forward, the devious man tried to take the cart backwards with the bullock's help. But little did he have a clue about Ratia Mhaal's enormous strength that the whole bullock cart, along with load and the bullocks went rolling forwards from the ditch .Hence we can imagine how strong Ratia Mhaal would have been in his younger days. It is simply unbelievable !

In wrestling, Rati Ram Malik used to throw his opponents in the air, in matter of seconds. With no disrespect to some famous pahelwans of that era who were lucky to get the patronage of the royal states like Patiala and got the fame by traveling around the world guided by their patrons, it was their good fortune that Ratia Mhaal remained famous only around the region of present-day Haryana and that too, on the G.T Road belt. Haryana region did not have a princely state in those times to give guidance far and wide corners. Once this famous wrestler was spotted by a British Officer while he was on a hunting expedition, he took Ratia Mhaal (who was a 20 year old then) and told him to join British Army and train as pahelwan and that he would give him all the support to train as he saw his enormous strength . But his mother brought him back saying he was their only son and if something happened to him who would look after their vast lands? If he had taken this opportunity for a bigger stage, he would have got the fame he deserved .

Older folk in the village Nangal Kheri say they didn't know much about Gama Pahelwan and other big wrestling names as there were no means to get such news in that era as it was a remote, agricultural area in those times. Moreover, there was nobody to guide Rati Ram, as his elder brother Chaudhry Dhanram (who had an untimely death) was equally strong and had wanted to make his younger brother Rati Ram a wrestler. Ratia Mhaal was between 18 to 22 when his elder brother died.

According to older folks, once in a wresting competiton in a nearby annual fair, a famous Muslim wrestler from Uttar Pradesh, who was around 6 foot 9 inches in height and supposedly had super-human strength to tear people apart, challenged all Hindus of the area and used abusive language against the Hindu religion. Ratia Mhaal heard of his challenge and came walking to the arena. During wrestling, Ratia Mhaal picked up the Muslim wrestler by his feet and hurled him towards a tree, like a doll. After crashing down, the gigantic Muslim wrestler was terrified and started trembling. Reportedly, out of fear, he fell at Ratia Mhaal's feet and begged for his life and vowed never to use such egotistic or foul language against Hindus in his lifetime.

The people in these areas claim that this handsome and powerful pahelwan called Ratia Mhaal was three times more powerful then the boastful Gama pahelwan. Older folks say Ratia Mhaal ran terror in opponents’ eyes and shiver around their spines when he caught opponents by their waists and hurled them over his head. Even the heaviest of wrestlers can be no more than 200 kgs in weight, whereas Ratia Mhaal hugged that Girdi (roller) of 450 kilograms in his sixties (in his older days), so we can imagine his strength while he was a youth. His ankles were reportedly around five inches wide.

He said Rati Ram Pahelwan's funeral pyre needed four times the wood of a normal well-built man as he had massively wide with heavy-set bones. Even at the age of 85, he had a stout and strong muscular body without any signs of fat. The people who saw the strong man's body at the time of his funeral, tell that people were worried that despite four times wood needed for his pyre (than an ordinary well built man) it won't burn his heavy bones and in the morning their apprehension was vindicated as they found big unburnt bones when they went to collect his ashes. It is unfortunate that this powerful hulk remained hidden from the pages of Indian wrestling history because of the remoteness of the area.

The 450-kg odd concrete roller (GIRDI) is still lying there, a witness to the Hindu superman of yester years, perhaps the descendant of Hanuman who lived just a few decades ago but is unknown to the rest of the world, as Rati Ram Malik was not associated with any princely state.

We should thank the Hindu princely states who gave support to Indian wrestlers of yesteryears and helped them display their might and prowress. These wrestlers were patronized by princely states who looked after there dietary needs but after India's independence in 1947, this system got dissolved and successive governments did not pay heed to our martial sports and wrestling legacy.

Jai Bajrang Bali