Friday, November 1, 2013

Abandoned Murthis ?

Veedhi Vidangan
There are Government Departments to preserve our Art & Culture. Yet there seems to be no well defined Policy to protect the monuments from extinction. Yes. There is some overlapping of activities of Archaeological Dept and the Dept of Art and Culture although the fundamental scope of them is almost same. The water tight compartments between them clearly signals inaction of either of them. At the end of the day we simply look at our monuments that await immediate attention. When we go through newspaper reports that many archaeological sites are " missing " we naturally infer that it is because of the callous attitude shown by the officials.   Art and culture should not stop at Music, Dance etc. It should  include Temple arts as well.

Keezha Korkai
The state HR & CE dept is another player which has to maintain the Temples coming under its control. But the fact remains that the dept extends only 20% of the budgeted expenditure for renovation. The Temples in rural areas find it extremely difficult to get donors to complete the work.  Renovation work is left in the middle for many years and the Murthis are housed inside a thatched make-shift Temple. As per Agamas, the temporary arrangement should not exceed six months. Unfortunately, this requirement is seldom met due to the above reason. At some places, the neglected Murthi is looked after by a single devotee.

We come across Murthis standing lonely amidst paddy fields , yet ,looked after by sincere devotees.  These Temples, once enjoyed good patronage have lost all residents around them and slowly became pat of the nearby paddy fields. The one at Veedhi Vidangan near Thiruvarur may be cited here as an example. There are no houses near the Temple as the nearest village is about a KM away from it. The Temple is said to be as ancient as Thiruvarur Temple and the place is therefore called Veedhi Vidangan, named after Thygaraja Murthi of Thiruvarur.

We take the road from Mankkal Aiyampettai towards Srivanchiyam and take a diversion before Poongulam. The road is narrow and tall "Dharbai" plant embraces us when we go past them. At the end of the road we are forced to walk by foot and get into the paddy field. We need to carefully walk on the narrow pavement between the fields and cross the distance of say 200 metres. Amidst the mushroom growth of thorns and other wild plants, there stands a tall Lingam under the sky. All attempts to cover the Murthi from Sun and rain have not yielded desired results completely. Few devotees from nearby village come and worship Veedhi Vidanga Murthi. They have dreams to build a Temple at the same site for this Murthi which, no doubt, is beyond their reach. Since the Panchayat administration is yet to provide a good road upto the Temple, no concrete work can start at the moment.

The destruction/ dilapidation would have started long back at these places. Had the locals paid immediate attention, the wreckage might have been avoided. The threat from pupul Trees on towers and vimanams are also emergency calls which have to be attended on war footing. The deep rooted plants have caused considerable damage to the old structures at many places. The Temple at Thirumangalam is an example that falls under this category. Now the only option left is to dismantle the whole structure and reassemble them by the assigned numbers. Naturally it takes couple of years to complete the job. If the funds are  not sufficient, the work is left in the middle.The situation is same at Keezha Korkai near Kumbakonam.

Nathan Koil
Having waited patiently fo many years, some devotees choose the option of providing a cover for the lonely Linga Murthi which was abandoned for several decades.  The huge Murthi near Pazhayarai is housed in a shed and a devotee comes every day to perform puja. It should attract the attention of Philanthropists so that a Temple can be built over there.Pazhayarai, the seat of Cholas, now witnesses abandoned Murthis which shows the negligence of the Government and helplessness of the locals. What is the point in writing essays on inscriptions when we do not have the will to protect them? There lived a hunter called Kannappa in the thick forest area of Sri Kalahasthi. He was shocked to find the Lingamurthi alone when he visited the shrine for the first time. He thought that wild animals could harm the Muthi and therefore  kept vigil continuously for six nights. He also thoght that the Lord might be hungry as there was nobody to offer Him food. Do any of us have the compassion of the unparalleled Kannappa ? Perhaps that is the reason why we see many Murthis abandoned.