Some of this misguided bravado within the face of a lethal virus that cuts throughout communal divisions was, mockingly, on the service of communal hatred and vandalism. Christian locations of worship have been broken and hate speeches towards Muslims have been delivered overtly, all at a time when Omicron had began to run amok.
Fearlessness about demise may be an admirable advantage when put to good use. How society honours its lifeless and who it celebrates says quite a bit concerning the values it cherishes. Power begets grand commemorations. But what of these different lives, our on a regular basis heroes? Come January 26 and our Republic will honour a handful of such bravehearts.
Back in time, from concerning the mid-centuries of the first millennium CE, pre-modern India had a convention of commemorating extraordinary valour with memorial stones. Known by names like viragal, paliya, and natukal, these honoured males, and hardly ever girls. At instances, the hero wouldn’t hesitate even to extreme his personal head as an act of religion and give up to his grasp.
There have been different honourable causes to die for, together with the safety of a girl’s honour. Women have been typically conferred sati stones to valourise the decadent follow of a spouse’s self-immolation at her husband’s funeral pyre. Voluntary demise by Jain practitioners was honoured by establishing nisidhi memorials. Not to be confused with suicide, this follow adopted an elaborate Jain philosophy of demise.
In 2014, I had event to go to Mallarayana Katte at Gadag-Betageri in Karnataka, the place exquisitely carved hero stones bearing a wealthy iconography of demise are displayed. Over a millennium previous from the time of the Rashtrakutas, these painting native heroes defending their land and individuals, and combating towards cattle raids and different risks on behalf of their overlords in what was a medieval agrarian-pastoral financial system and polity.
Hero Stone, Gadag-Betageri, Karnataka, Ninth-Tenth C
One such memorial to an nameless hero has a delight of place on the pedestal of fame in Gadag-Betageri (see picture). Following a standard association, the hero’s act of bravery occupies the bottom register. A battle-scene unfolds the place he stands barefooted, towering above all, wielding his sword, and dismissing the enemy’s arrows with seeming ease. This conceptual larger-than-life ‘sizing’ of the hero is an historic Indian inventive mode of privileging the central character in a story.
The enemy who rides a horse is portrayed at a number of moments, assembly his eventual nemesis. An armed entourage on both aspect captures the dynamism of this bloody encounter. The center register is an aspirational and gendered illustration of the rewards that await a person who dies such an honourable demise. Resting his robust arms on the slender shoulders of voluptuous celestial damsels, the hero is being escorted to heaven in a cloudscape crammed with heavenly musicians and dancers. The prime register exhibits him regally enthroned in heaven and being attended by stunning girls.
The hero stone envisions an evocative iconography of demise that’s structured like a temple-memorial to the lifeless hero, full with a barrel-vaulted roof topped by a vase-shaped finial (stupi or kalash) and ornamented with a garland-like dormer arch (nasi). By his fearless heroism within the face of demise, a person of modest means attains heavenly bliss, and is remembered for posterity on Earth. Such commemorations have been incentives for loyalty, bravery, and unconditional give up in medieval India. Something that so many mindless individuals placing lives – their very own and these of others – at pointless threat throughout this pandemic are not possible to know.