Tuesday, 5 June 2018

The return of Emperor's idol - Raja Raja Chola I - Chola Kingdom

Since late 1960s one could see declining efficiency in the administration of Hindu temples in Tamil Nadu.  The HR and CE of the State Government has several dishonest employees with doubtful integrity and these highly selfish people get a bad name for this huge department that  strives hard to run the administration fairly well. If not, they will earn the  ire of millions of Hindu devotees who have emotional attachments with countless ancient temples. The other problem is  interference from some dishonest politicians and local bigwigs. The state government should come up with better strategy to curtail idol thefts at temples and at the same time the Judicial courts come up with  severe punishment to the culprits and their cohorts so that they will  act as deterrent to future  temple idol smugglers. This is also true of countless  public properties, jewelry and agricultural lands (revenue lands) owned by the temples. The officials need to take extra caution to safeguard them and repossess the lands if the rent is not paid for a certain period. The HR and CE's task to deal with more than 38000 temple - big and small in Tamil nadu is a tough one, but can be managed if due importance is given to efficiency and  fundamentals of management principles.

Last month the people of Thanjavur city and also Tamil Nadu heaved a big sigh of relief and their joy knew no bounds over the news that the Idol Wing of the State police recovered two ancient bronze idols of emperor Raja Raja Chola I and his royal consort Lokamadevi from Gujarat. It was stolen 60 years ago. The great Chola ruler was the one who built the world famous Brigadeshwar temple dedicated to God Shiva at Thanjavur. The entire temple is made of granite and related rocks, not native to this place and it has one of the largest stone bulls/ Nandis  in India made from a single block of rock - monolithic.
Chola Emperor Raja Raja I .thehindu.com

Above image: Emperor Raja Raja Cholan I, a Chola Emperor from present day South India  ruled over the Chola kingdom 1000 years ago. It consisted of  ancient Tamil Nadu (parts of southern India), parts of northern India, two thirds of Sri Lankan territory (Eezham), Maldives and parts of East Asia, between 985 and 1014 CE. During that period  their domains stretched  from Sri Lanka in the south to Kalinga in the north. Raja Raja Chola also launched several naval campaigns that resulted in the capture of the Malabar Coast as well as the Maldives and Sri Lanka. He was an ardent devotee of Lord Shiva and built the popular Big temple at Thanjavur in 1010 AD. The tower (Gopuram) above the sanctum is 216 feet tall, entirely made of igneous and part of metamorphic rocks  quarried  30 km to 50 km from this area....................

Valued at ₹150 crore (more than $ 22 million) 
the idols were from the Calico Museum and Sarabhai Foundation galleries in Ahmedabad, Gujarat. 
The museum had close links with the late Dr. 
Vikram Sarabhai, an eminent rocket scientist and industrialist. Mind you Sarabhai and his illustrious family had nothing to do with these temple idols in the museum run by a trust. These two 1008-year old idols  were stolen from  Thanjavur Big Temple, a world famous UNESCO Heritage site built more than 1007 years ago by Emperor Raja Raja I.   

Chola Emperor Raja  Rajan Indian contents & Big temple, thanjavur.

The police began the investigation in March this year and were right on the target and hit the bull's eye. Within a short time, they recovered the ancient idols of immense value. According to the Idol Wing of the State police these two idols were sold for several crores of rupees through one  Rao Bahadur Srinivasa Gopalachery, a native of Sarukkai village near Kapisthalam (near the temple town of Kumbakonam), to Gowtham Sarabhai., a member of Sarabhai family. The police got into investigation quickly upon a complaint had been filed with the Thanjavur West police station by DSP Venkataraman. Many old timers knew the presence of these idols. When I was 10 years old, my dad used to take me to the big temple during festival days in the summer and I myself remember having seen these idols on a few occasions. 

The Brihadisvarar temple, Thanjavur, TN  temple Quora
Above image:  Great Chola ruler Raja Rajan I built this temple 1008 years ago. The temple, part of the UNESCO World Heritage Site is known as the "Great Living Chola Temple. Commonly it goes by the name of  Periya Kovil, RajaRajeswara Temple and Rajarajeswaram.  Believed to be one of  the largest temples in India , it is an example of Dravidian architecture of  the Chola period. Further, it is an important international tourist spot. .....................

From the inscriptions we learn that the great Chola ruler Raja Rajan I made as many as 66 idols and  donated  them to the Big Temple. The idols of Kolgai Devar and Shetra Balar, made of gold, and four silver idols of Vasudevar are worthy of our attention. One Mummidi Chola Brammarayan, a close associate of Raja Rajan, it is mentioned, donated a huge panchaloha idol of Arthanariswarar to the temple. 

According to one investigating police officer “Most of the ancient icons were stolen and the HR and CE officials suppressed the crime so far without bringing it to the notice of the police. Our investigation revealed that the ancient idols were replaced with non-antique idols,

While  warmly appreciating the valuable service  of the Idol wing of the Police in recovering the idol of Emperor Raja Rajan and his consort, the public and the art lovers are questioning the bona fides of the
the HR and CE officials who not only lack professional ethics, integrity  and devotion but also prove that some them can go to any length  to make bucks dishonestly even if divinity is involved. Employees associated with places of worship, be they mosques, churches and temples must  have a moral obligation toward public as they are dealing with the sanctity of the place that is  revered by the people. Since the idols finally landed in a museum, the task was a bit easier for the police to recover it. If they were in a private collection abroad, the task of recovery of the antique idols would have been an Herculean one. 
Across India idol theft has become a big menace, the Govt. of India should form a separate task force to deal with them.

http://www.thehindu.com/news/national/tamil-nadu/idols-of-raja-raja-chola-consort-recovered-from-gujarat/article24040723.ece