By way of a disclaimer, the various issues appearing in this column, remarks made and points raised do not include in their ambit any or all of the idols, figures, statues, images and figurines of divinities worshipped by devotees of various faiths, taking care not to hurt their sentiments and beliefs. The monolithic figure of Bahubali at Shravanabelagola near Mysuru, revered by Jains, sculpted about 1,000 years ago is perceived by scholars as a symbol of all virtues, particularly detached outlook towards material possessions, that everyone needs to imbibe in daily life. The idols and figures of divinities in the temples at innumerable shrines across the country, Mysuru too hosting temples drawing the devotees to their precincts throughout the year and more so on festive occasions are a legacy from a distant past being passed on by successive generations with sustained devotion and fervour. Keeping honourable company with the aforementioned representation of divine beings in stone and other image forms are the graves of many people of eminence in various fields who lived at different periods in the past and whose memory continues to be cherished even to this day.
Apart from invoking the divinities to bestow mercy upon mortals and provide all the goodies of life, the practice of offering prayers to the five basic physical elements (nature), believed to be the basis of all cosmic creation is featured in innumerable narratives in both the land’s epics and its recorded history of many centuries past.
During the rule of aliens over the land, starting from middle ages and ending seven decades ago, both regimes have raised statues of the top brass in the government as well as tombs, read graves of many rulers, reminding the later generations about their unworthy track record. In total contrast of sorts, the statues of the past kings and warriors at different locations, including Mysuru, do remind us about the golden period that societies of their times experienced. Ideally, statues are best made to adorn public spaces for only those leading lights of different generations whose qualities of head and heart stand scrutiny by posterity.
Recent reports of statues of many leaders being razed to the ground both in India and elsewhere bring out the message of avoiding vested interests and short term popularity in the matter of statues. As for the graves of aliens portrayed in the pages of history for their many misdeeds, less said the better. Keeping them costs the nation dearly apart from gobbling valuable space that can be put to use for people’s welfare.