Mahakaal: Another step in cultural renaissance
PM Modi’s new mission for India’s cultural renaissance is poised for success. Its impact shall be reflected in improved quality of life of different communities and the opening of new frontiers based on art, culture and history.
On October 11, as a bright day gave way to dusk, Ujjain in Madhya Pradesh looked enchanting, with the glimmer of lights and the shine in the eyes of its people. It seemed Diwali had come early for the thousands of devotees, spiritual leaders, artistes and political leaders who witnessed the new Kaal Khand of India. The day is momentous not only because of Mahakaal’s religious importance for millions but also for yet another milestone achieved in the path of an emerging cultural renaissance in India.
Nowhere in the world is the spirit of cultural renaissance more definite than in India. The journey of preserving the nation’s culture, history and art has taken a new shape and form since 2014 when this government set out to restore places of reverence. Time and again, Prime Minister (PM) Narendra Modi has emphasised the importance of “rejuvenation and rebirth” of cultural and pilgrimage sites for re-instilling a sense of nationalism among the people – a nationalism pivoted on the time-tested Indian values of jansewa (public service) and janbhagidari (public participation). Not only does this reassert cultural nationalism, but it also achieves three important objectives.
First, in correcting the historical wrongs committed during the rule of several invaders, the government is uniting people to resurrect India’s cultural glory. From the development of the Ram Mandir, the Kashi Vishwanath Temple Corridor, the Somnath temple complex, and the opening of the Kartarpur Sahib Corridor to the Shri Mahakaal Lok, or even with the Char Dham Pariyojana, the government has set a clear vision for India’s future — to reach the pinnacle of success, the nation must stand proudly with its identity. Due to this endeavour, our Vedas, Upanishads, Sutras, epics, and other scriptures are now globally recognised as the true treasure troves of scholarship.
Second, it is also an effort to recognise the role of sacred temples and sites in India’s long and sustained civilisational struggle. A fine example is Ujjain, which, though a locus for pilgrims today, weathered a difficult past. The year 1234 saw the glorious city stripped of its spiritual iconism by the Turk invader, Iltutmish. The temple of Mahakal was also ruined in the wake of this destruction, thus etching a dark moment for Ujjain and devotees across India. However, from 1730 onwards, the city began finding its way back to glory after the Marathas took over.
Since then, the temple has been the seat of socio-cultural and economic progress. PM Modi’s gift of the Mahakal Lok corridor will not only help immortalise the rich civilisation and culture but also give a fillip to tourism in the state.
Third, cultural revival is also crucial for positioning India as a valuable cog in the efforts towards the peaceful co-existence of ethnicities across the world. The fact that India harbours the philosophy of Vasudhaiva Kutumbakam (the world is one family) has been successfully tied into India’s foreign policy. The ingenious promotion of culture to wield India’s soft power has proved helpful in both mobilising the Pravasi Bharatiya (non-resident Indian), as well as furthering India’s interests on the global stage.
Campaigns to spread awareness of our historical remains, bringing back stolen Indian artefacts, and global advocacy at Unesco are all symbolic of India’s quest to gain its rightful place in the global order. The efforts are not limited to Indian territory. The redevelopment project of Lord Sri Krishna Shreenathji temple in Manama, Bahrain and the foundation stone laying of the first Hindu temple in Abu Dhabi by PM Modi have strengthened bilateral ties. Similarly, the operationalisation of Kushinagar airport has given a boost to India’s Buddhist circuit tourism, attracting devotees from across the world.
This reflects the beginning of a new age of thought — exploring the relationship between faith and development. PM Modi has shown that development in India need not mean distancing oneself from culture. From rebuilding temples to building pucca homes, the government is driving a multifaceted style of progress. Efforts are aimed at awakening among our people a sense of patriotism, social consciousness, and a desire to work towards a progressive India. PM Modi is a visionary and understands that no nation can become a world power by abandoning its civilisational and cultural foundations. His new mission for India’s cultural renaissance is poised for success. Its impact shall be reflected in improved quality of life of different communities and the opening of new frontiers based on art, culture and history.
Jyotiraditya Scindia is Union minister of civil aviation The views expressed are personal