Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan has unveiled a colossal 108-foot statue of the 8th-century Hindu philosopher and saint, Adi Shankaracharya, on Thursday, September 21, in the sacred town of Omkareshwar. This impressive sculpture, named "Ekatmata Ki Pratima" or "Statue of Oneness," serves as a monumental homage to the enduring legacy and profound teachings of Adi Shankaracharya. Originally slated for its unveiling on September 18, the ceremony had to be postponed due to heavy rainfall in the region, as confirmed by an official source cited by the news agency PTI.
VIDEO | Madhya Pradesh CM Shivraj Singh Chouhan unveils 'Statue of Oneness' in Omkareshwar. pic.twitter.com/hsTyj9dq0S— Press Trust of India (@PTI_News) September 21, 2023
Situated atop the scenic Mandhata hill, overlooking the Narmada river in Khandwa district, this towering structure was conceptualized under the guidance of Acharya Shankar Sanskritik Ekta Nyas and the Madhya Pradesh State Tourism Development Corporation (MPSTDC). It not only celebrates the life and philosophy of Adi Shankaracharya but also commemorates his seminal work, the commentary on 'Brahmasutrabhasya,' a foundational text of the Vedanta school of Hinduism, which underscores the concept of Oneness.
Dikshu Kukreja, the Managing Principal of CP Kukreja Architects and the creative mind behind this cultural endeavor, shared with PTI, "This extraordinary structure, conceptualized to honor the life and philosophy of Adi Shankaracharya, is a tribute to the great saint's masterpiece of commentary on 'Bharmasutra-bhasya."
He further added, "This cultural project will fulfill the much-treasured vision of Prime Minister Narendra Modi -- 'Vasudaiva Kutumbakam (The world is one family).' With this 108 feet tall statue, Madhya Pradesh will consolidate its position as a cultural and spiritual hub for all religions."
The Madhya Pradesh BJP government previously greenlit a project worth Rs 2,141.85 crores, encompassing the construction of the Adi Shankaracharya statue and the establishment of a museum in Omkareshwar.
The genesis of this statue project can be traced back to 2018 when artist Vasudev Kamath from Sholapur created the initial design. Subsequently, an extensive public rally and processions named "Ekatma Yatra" spanned approximately 23,000 gram panchayats across the state, involving active community participation to collect the necessary metal for crafting the statue. This distinctive collaboration exemplifies the essence of a public-private partnership.
In a conversation with senior editor and columnist Vithal C Nadkarni, Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan fondly recollected the remarkable contributions of Adi Shankaracharya, as reported by News 18. Chouhan underscored Shankaracharya's role in unifying the region known as Bharat-varsha, not only through his monistic philosophy known as Advaita Siddhanta but also through the establishment of four strategic spiritual mathas or monasteries across the country.
During Shankaracharya's era in the 9th century, India's spiritual landscape was marked by the presence of six major sects. One of these was devoted to the worship of the Mother Goddess, while the remaining four revered Surya, Vishnu, Shiva, and Ganesh. The sixth sect centered around the deity Skanda-Kartikeya, who is known as Murugan among the Tamil population in Tamil Nadu and other regions of South India, Sri Lanka, Singapore, Malaysia, and Mauritius. Adi Shankaracharya's significant contributions to harmonizing these diverse elements within India's spiritual milieu highlight the profound impact he made during his 32-year lifespan.