BHOOPAL: Scheduled for today, Madhya Pradesh's Chief Minister, Shivraj Singh Chouhan, will unveil a towering 108-foot statue dedicated to Adi Shankaracharya, the 8th-century Hindu philosopher and saint, in the sacred town of Omkareshwar. This monumental structure, known as the "Ekatmata Ki Pratima" or "Statue of Oneness," serves as a profound tribute to Adi Shankaracharya's enduring legacy and teachings. Originally slated for inauguration on September 18, the ceremony had to be rescheduled due to heavy rainfall in the region, as confirmed by an official source cited by the news agency PTI.
Perched atop the picturesque Mandhata hill, which overlooks the Narmada River in Khandwa district, this imposing statue was conceived under the guidance of Acharya Shankar Sanskritik Ekta Nyas and the Madhya Pradesh State Tourism Development Corporation (MPSTDC). It not only venerates the life and philosophy of Adi Shankaracharya but also commemorates his significant work—the commentary on 'Bharmasutrabhasya,' a fundamental text of the Vedanta school of Hinduism, emphasizing the concept of Oneness.
Dikshu Kukreja, Managing Principal of CP Kukreja Architects and the visionary behind this cultural endeavor, conveyed to PTI, "This exceptional structure, conceived to pay homage to Adi Shankaracharya's life and philosophy, stands as a tribute to the great saint's masterpiece of commentary on 'Bharmasutra-bhasya.'"
He went on to say, "This cultural initiative aligns with Prime Minister Narendra Modi's cherished vision—'Vasudaiva Kutumbakam (The world is one family).' With this 108-foot-tall statue, Madhya Pradesh will further establish itself as a cultural and spiritual epicenter for all faiths."
The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) government in Madhya Pradesh had previously sanctioned a project worth Rs 2,141.85 crore, encompassing the construction of the Adi Shankaracharya statue and a museum in Omkareshwar.
The genesis of the statue dates back to 2018 when artist Vasudev Kamath from Sholapur created the initial design. Subsequently, a massive public rally and processions named "Ekatma Yatra" traversed approximately 23,000 gram panchayats across the state, involving active community participation to collect the necessary materials for the statue. This unique collaboration exemplifies the spirit of a public-private partnership.
In a conversation with senior editor and columnist Vithal C Nadkarni, Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan warmly recounted the remarkable achievements of Adi Shankaracharya, as reported by News 18. Chouhan highlighted Shankaracharya's pivotal role in unifying the land known as Bharat-varsha, not only through his monistic philosophy known as Advaita Siddhanta but also by establishing four spiritual mathas or monasteries strategically located across the country.
Chouhan remarked, "This also underscores the timeless appeal of Acharya’s philosophy, for not only was the Master a child prodigy but he traversed the length and breadth of India at a young age, promoting unity. He also unified various sects under one roof, allowing the worship of multiple deities on a single platform; hence, he is greatly acclaimed as 'Shanmata-Sthapanacharya' or the Unifier of Six Creeds. In addition to this, he composed extensive commentaries on the Upanishads, the Brahma Sutras, and the Bhagavad Gita, along with melodious verses dedicated to deities--all of which continue to be revered as classical authorities even today."
During Shankaracharya's era in the 9th century, there were six major sects, one dedicated to the Mother Goddess, and the others to Surya, Vishnu, Shiva, Ganesh, and Skanda-Kartikeya, known as Murugan among Tamils in Tamil Nadu and other parts of South India, Sri Lanka, Singapore, Malaysia, and Mauritius. Adi Shankaracharya's significant contributions in uniting these disparate elements within India's spiritual landscape highlight his profound impact during his 32-year life.