Azadi Ka Amrit Mahotsav: 1947-2022: Mahatma’s message matters in Mysuru
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Azadi Ka Amrit Mahotsav: 1947-2022: Mahatma’s message matters in Mysuru

August 14, 2022

Over 30 statues in city and Mysore Varsity campus spread message of peace, non-violence

By M.T. Yogesh Kumar

If statues could record the goings-on before them, many statues of the Father of the Nation in Mysuru city and in the campus of the University of Mysore (UoM) would be among the most valuable repositories of contemporary history. The statues preach peace and non-violence as advocated by Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi, one of the most famous civil rights leaders in history.

With India all set to celebrate the 75th year of Independence, the statues and busts of Mahatma Gandhi in Mysuru have become a point of discussion and at the same time, a point to ponder.

Mysuru has the credit of giving many freedom fighters. This apart, the erstwhile Maharajas too supported the freedom movement to the hilt, thus making Mysuru an important part of the freedom struggle. Against this backdrop, the statues or busts of Mahatma Gandhi came up in many places across the city.

The Gandhi Bhavan premises in Manasagangothri has as many as 27 statues and busts of Mahatma Gandhi, which are made of cement and vary in size from each other. These stand as a testimony to sacrifice and non-violence.

The 11 ft. tall statue of the Mahatma at Gandhi Bhavan premises.

Sculpture-making camp

Marking Gandhiji’s 150th birth anniversary, the Kannada and Culture Department, in association with Karnataka Shilpakala Academy, Rangayana and Centre for Gandhian Studies, organised a fortnight-long Gandhi sculpture-making camp from Oct. 22, 2018 to Nov. 5, 2008, at Gandhi Bhavan.

A total of 35 artists, including 19 senior and 16 junior artists took part in the camp and created 27 statues/busts of different sizes and postures of the Mahatma, which were later articulately arranged at Gandhi Bhavan.

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All the 27 statues are different from one another in characteristics and posture and the 11 ft. high statue of the Mahatma, said to be the world’s tallest, is installed at Gandhi Bhavan. The Mahatma standing holding a stick, working on a Charaka, in meditation mode etc., are some of the statue postures that can be seen at Gandhi Bhavan, where one finds Gandhiji working on a Charaka (spinning wheel) soon upon entering it.

Gandhiji flanked by daughter-in-law Manuben on his left and adopted daughter Abha Chatterjee on his right.

His last moments captured

One of the statues has captured the last moments of the Mahatma as he walks with his eldest daughter-in-law Manuben on his left and Abha Chatterjee, the adopted daughter, to his right, before he was shot dead. The statues also feature the Mahatma sitting along with his wife Kasturba.Gandhi Bhavan also has a statue of the Mahatma, holding a stick, walking with his grandson Kanu R. Gandhi, Gandhiji sitting with Rabindranath Tagore listening to the book read out by him (Tagore), Kanu Gandhi helping his grandfather as he tries to get up and Gandhi walking in the Sadbhavana Yatra, among many other postures.

One can find a series of Mahatma’s sculptures on entering the University of Mysore campus and the one on Dandi Satyagraha draws the special attention of walkers.

The then Chief Minister B.D. Jatti laid the foundation stone for Gandhi Bhavan at Manasagangothri on Oct. 13, 1960. Later, the Alumni Association of the University of Mysore installed the plaque highlighting the dreams of the Mahatma, on Jan. 31, 1965, when the first statue of the Mahatma too was installed at the site.

Gandhiji leading his followers on the famous Salt March (Dandi March) to break the British Salt Laws.

In the heart of Mysuru

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One finds the Mahatma standing tall at Gandhi Square in the heart of the city, which is symbolic of Gandhiji’s tryst with non-violence, which he propagated all through his life. Gandhi Square is witness to thousands of movements, protests, demonstrations and the likes. The decades-old statue got a new look three years ago when the square underwent a facelift as a whole.

Mahatma Gandhi’s bust right in front of the City Law Courts Complex is a symbol of the Goddess of Justice. This bust too stands as a testimony to the innumerable demonstrations.

Bharatiya Vidya Bhavan (BVB), Mysuru Kendra, in Vijayanagar I Stage too has a Gandhiji’s bust, to which floral tributes are offered before the start of any programme.

Besides the above, a replica of ‘Gyarah Murti’ monument, located in New Delhi to commemorate India’s freedom struggle under the leadership of Mahatma Gandhi, adorns the Freedom Fighters Memorial Park at Subbarayanakere in city.  There is also a bust of Gandhiji and another statue of revolutionary freedom fighters like Bhagat Singh, Shivaram Rajguru and Sukhdev Thapar in the Park.

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