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Amazing! Even Cement Sage bothers some

THIS CEMENT Sage has been meditating under a 300-year-old banyan tree in the botanical garden since 2003.

india Updated: May 05, 2006 00:09 IST

THIS CEMENT Sage has been meditating under a 300-year-old banyan tree in the botanical garden since 2003.

He doesn’t know at all that he is in the thick of a controversy raked up by the Kaul Science Foundation that has sent a letter to the Director General of Council for Science and Industrial Research. Kaul Science Foundation president Gautam Kaul in his letter alleged: “The statue is not ugly but it has the seed of mischief because banyan trees are representative of Lord Shiva and the sadhu’s statue in this case could be explained to be of sage Balmiki who was a Shaivite.”

Gautam Kaul, who is son of the founder director of NBRI and presdient of Kaul Science Foundation, made a plea that the statue may be retained but not at the present site and should be removed and status quo ante restored. He also questioned as to where did the then director pay money from? Did the director have previous sanction from the CSIR headquarters? He also questioned if erecting a statue has any congruity with the activities of the botanic garden/laboratries.

While the current director Dr Rakesh Tuli said: “NBRI is not making any changes and the statue will continue to be where it is.”

When HT Lucknow Live contacted former director Dr P Pushpangadan on the issue he said, “I had replied to CSIR Director General Dr Mashelkar and clarified everything.

“Yes, erecting the statue was in congruity with the activities of NBRI.   

It was part of eco-education project of the institute and was funded by Botanic Garden Conservation Society. There is a mandate that botanic gardens are ideal places to make people understand that man has a symbiotic relationship with Nature. We had plastered a cement human face on the tree to indicate to people that tree too have soul.”

Many morning-walkers who come to the botanical garden, ever since the statue was put up under the tree, meditate and do yoga and other exercises under the tree. And beautifying the walking arena was part of the project under the Botanical Garden Conservation Society. We had added several facilities under it for the morning walkers—like instrumental music, drinking water, marble benches to rest etc.”

The statue has nothing to do with any religion. It is not related to any deity or religion. It simply is a statue of anonymous sage in meditation. And since 2003 till recently when I retired, no one ever complained about it.

A very senior scientist at NBRI said raising the controvery is simply mischievous.

“Why was the issue never raised during the time of the erstwhile director?” he asked.

Meanwhile, Pushpangadan said what I did was in line with perfect spirit of what the founder director Prof KN Kaul had done in his times. It is he who had created the open air auditorium with a shloka from ancient scriptures embossed on it for people.

A section of morning walkers that HT Lucknow Live spoke to at the botanical garden expressed dismay at the controversy and called it “baseless”.