Friday, August 19, 2011

Quest to Save Heritage

It will not be an exaggeration if someone points out that we are very poor conservers of Art and Culture. We just read about the past in History books and forget it instantly. How many eyes have bled when News about theft of antiques and total neglect of Monuments are reported ? Our Emperors showed the way to record the History through inscriptions and we seldom care to preserve them Many stones with inscriptions are strewn all around and used for different purposes.Even the ASI, the caretaker of heritage sites does not show adequate care to all the monuments under their control.

Masilamaniswara temple at Tharangambadi,near Karaikal is an example of neglect by both people and HR &CE dept of the Goverment. No action was taken for decades when scholars were crying foul to see that the monument was slowly eaten up by the ferocious sea in front of it. The comments made by N. Sethuraman, Director of Raman & Raman Ltd , Kumbakonam is worth reading again and again. In his letter dated 28.3.1977 to the Executive officer of the Temple, Mr Sethuraman made the following points to draw immediate attention of the Government:
" ... I have also told the Archealogical department to protect this Temple. The Dutch people protected this Temple. The English people saved the Temple. Only the Englishmen copied the inscriptions in 1890. But the Indians published them in 1924 only. One more inscription was copied in1925. Till date our supposed patriot Tamilian have not published this inscription in full Text. I read it in person and shed tears . It is my opinion that we are useless and we do not deserve to inherit the prestige of our nation. The supposed Tamilians are only talkative. They know nothing but talking. The Europeans were the only real admirers of art. "
The above statement, published in the book, "Thevara Vaipputh Thalangal" by Sri Jayasendilnathan may look controversial. But one should read the concluding statement of Mr Sethuraman in that letter which is quoted below to understand the context properly.
" Please show this letter to all your friends and officers so that they will have some inspiration in their blood to save the Temple."

But the story is different now. When it was decided to shift the Temple to a nearby safer place, the structure was not dismantled stone by stone after numbering them. The old shrine was abandoned and an entirely new one with bricks has come up behind it. (See report with pictures in ) The deities, of course, will be shifted to the new shrine shortly.Mr Sethuraman's call for "inspiration in blood" should be appreciated by one and all. However his dream can come true only when we introduce the importance of Heritage in our curriculum right from secondary school level instead of asking questions such as "When was the first battle of Panipet fought?" This will build a young India to focus attention on preserving History instead of just talking about History. Afterall, inaction will be the key to destruction.