Narendra Modi unveils Adi Shankaracharya statue in Kedarnath: 12-foot-tall sculpture honours great philosopher and theologian

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Prime Minister Narendra Modi offered prayers at the Kedarnath shrine and inaugurated the re-developed samadhi of Adi Shankaracharya today.

The samadhi was redeveloped as the previous one was destroyed in the 2013 floods in Uttarakhand.

As we marvel at this wonderful structure, here’s a look at who he is and why he holds significance.

Who is Adi Shankaracharya?

An early eight century philosopher and theologian, he is credited for consolidating the doctrine of Advaita Vedanta. He unified and established the current thoughts in Hinduism.

He is the author of the Brahma-sutra-bhashya, the commentary on the Brahma-sutra, which is a fundamental text of the Vedanta school.

He also explained the basic ideology behind the Upanishads and advocated the oldest concept followed by Hinduism explaining the union of soul or 'atman' with the Supreme Soul.

Shankaracharya is believed to have provided major insight into how Buddhism is different from Hinduism. He stated that Hinduism supports the concept of Atman — soul, while Buddhism believed there is no soul or self.

He was also firm in his teachings against ritual worship. However, he is believed to have taught that one's mind is purified by an ethical life that observes 'Ahimsa'.

Shankaracharya also founded the four mathas or monasteries that helped to revive the spread of Advaita Vedanta. The four mathas founded by Adi Shankaracharya are Sringeri Sharada Peetham along the banks of Tunga formed on the basis of Yajurveda, Dvaraka Pitha in western India formed on the basis of Sama Veda, Jyotirmatha Peetham located in northern India formed on the basis of Atharva Veda, and Govardhan Matha in eastern India formed on the basis of Rig Veda.

There are many myths surrounding his death, but many believe that he went to Samadhi at the age of 32 at Kedarnath in Uttarakhand.

According to texts, he was last seen walking behind the Kedarnath temple by his disciples towards the Himalayas and could not be traced after that.

Adi Shankaracharya’s statue

The new 12-foot-tall Shankaracharya statue at Kedarnath was commissioned after his samadhi next to the Kedarnath temple was washed away in the 2013 floods.

As per reports, the new statue has been made by Mysore based sculptors from Chlorite Schist Stone, which is known to withstand rain, sunshine and harsh climate, said tourism officials.

Mysore’s Yogiraj Shilpi, according to Hindustan Times, started the work in September 2020 and finished the statue with help from his son.

Talking about his experience sculpting that statue of Adi Shankaracharya for the Kedarnath Shrine, Arun said, “I was given a 3D model photograph, but I was not happy. I did my own model, a two-foot prototype which was sent to PM Modi, as did many other sculptors. My model was selected.”

The final sculpture, which weighs 35 tonnes, required 120 tonnes of stone.

The large piece was moved from the workshop in Mysuru’s Saraswatipuram to the Samadhi sthal in Kedarnath (by road until Chamoli Airbase from where it was airlifted by the Indian Air Force to Kedarnath).

With inputs from agencies

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Narendra Modi unveils Adi Shankaracharya statue in Kedarnath: 12-foot-tall sculpture honours great philosopher and theologian
Narendra Modi unveils Adi Shankaracharya statue in Kedarnath: 12-foot-tall sculpture honours great philosopher and theologian
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