Reminiscing Indonesia and the Idea of a Mini-Bharat
BJP Deputy Leader in the Rajya Sabha, Surinder Singh Ahluwalia, has received a letter from Dr. Mahinder Singh, a friend of his in Bahrain, expressing immense satisfaction about the blog I had written a fortnight back about Indonesia. Dr. Mahinder Singh has actually enclosed a copy of the blog also to Ahluwalia, saying that he found the piece so âinteresting and informativeâ that he had sent copies of it to numerous âfriends all over the world.â
Responses to that blog which have come directly to my office are equally appreciative. As I had mentioned, I visited only Jakarta and Bali. Both places are situated in the island of Java. I wish I had also gone to Yogyakarta (pronounced Jogjakarta) about which it is often said: âIf Jakarta is Javaâs financial and industrial powerhouse, Yogyakarta is its soulâ.
I could not visit Yogyakarta. I was told about the Prambanan Temples there. Built between the 8th and 10th century these temples are believed to be outstanding examples of Hindu art.
Here in India there are hundreds of Shiva Temples, hundreds of Vishnu Temples, but I have known just one Brahma Temple, at Pushkar, in Rajasthan. In Yogyakarta there is a Shiva Temple, a Vishnu Temple and a Brahma Temple as well, making it perhaps the second Brahma Temple in the world !
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Legend has it that Brahma the Creator divorced his wife Savitri Devi because she did not turn up to participate in his yagna to âcreateâ the Brahmanda (Universe). At Pushkar a temple dedicated to Savitri Devi is in the vicinity of the Brahma temple. Going through Pavan Varmaâs thought-provoking book BEING INDIAN, I read an interesting episode about the fall-out of this ancient legend in modern times.
The hereditary priests of the Savitri Devi temple went to court in 2001 to claim a share in the large offerings received by the Brahma temple from its devotees. The Savitri Devi temple lawyers argued that the divorcee deity had a right to alimony! Comments Varma: âThis attempt to marry mythology to alimony in the quest to raise income must certainly have very few parallels in the worldâ !!
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Even while I am talking about my Indonesian visit, I may as well refer to my familyâs meeting with Ketut Liyer, the âtoothless medicine manâ about whom my daughter, Pratibha and I had read in the famous book by Elizabeth Gilbert titled âEat, Pray, Loveâ.
This book is not fiction. It is a true and tender story now converted into a film. The tale begins in Italy, proceeds to India and finally ends in Indonesia.
This is Gilbertâs debut book and has already sold more than five million copies. All tourists who meet Ketut are aware that he is a palmist and a soothsayer. Ketut himself is conscious of the interest of those who meet him. So when my wife and daughter met him, without their even asking him for anything, he took their palms and after scanning through them for a little while told both of them quite a few gratifying tidbits.
The synopsis of this book on its cover has this about the author: âIn Rome, she indulges herself and gains nearly two stones. In India, she finds enlightenment through scrubbing temple floors. Finally in Bali, a toothless medicine man reveals a new path to peace, leaving her ready to love again.â
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I could not visit Yogyakarta proper. But I did have the satisfaction of having glimpses of replicas of its excellent temples in Jakarta itself in what is popularly known as Taman Mini. In the cityâs south-east, a massive cultural park has been set up in which Mini Indonesia has been recreated. I had seen something similar in Thailand some years ago called Little Thailand. In Indonesian language, Taman means Park. This important tourist attraction is known as Taman Mini Indonesia. The park has full-scale traditional houses for each of Indonesiaâs provinces, with display of regional handicraft and clothing.
I have discussed the idea of a Mini Bharat with some of the State Governments ruled by the BJP in which certain inspiring features of our culture or history can be highlighted. Uttarakhand for instance is dotted with pilgrim spots. I have discussed with the C.M. as also some Sants like Swami Chidanand of Parmarth Ashram, how wonderful it would be if within a large-scale relief map of Bharat, all the principal pilgrim spots of the country such as Tirupathi, Jagannath Puri, Rameshwaram, Dwarika, Amritsar, Vaishno Devi can be recreated ! The idea is being actively pursued, and I am sure would become a reality.
July 31, 2010
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