Note: as from its title, its main importance are on sculptures. so there are some minute details too present . happy reading. don’t forget to vote and give your views.
In Montreal, Canada
Anuj was busy with an important meeting. His phone vibrated non-stop. He ignored at first, seeing an unknown number. But when second time it buzzed he didn’t know why his heart pounded faster. ” that is look like one international call .. May be some urgent deals”, he mumbled and excused himself from meeting and went outside. His feet stood rooted to ground hearing ” DAD”….after long 24 years awaiting he listened his son Arjun addressed him as DAD not Mr. Mehera.
” Dad ” , he could utter only this much. Then a complete silence.
” Arjun is it you? Are you there? I know you are listening me, because I can feel my own blood.”, the excitement, the nervousness, the yearnings, the eagerness ; all emotions come out at once as a drop of happy tear from Anuj’s eyes. The longest yearnings, wanting of a father come to halt at least. There was nothing can give you more happiness when your child started to address you as ‘ father’ & nothing was more painful than if your own blood address you on your name, like some unknown.
“Say something son. I was dying to hear that word from your mouth. Can’t you say it again? “, Anuj’s word sounds more like a pleading.
“What should I say? I am so ashamed of my past behaviour, being a nuisance and still confused too.”, Arjun said after a silence , putting aside his hesitations.
“Don’t be my son. You shouldn’t be. You were kid to understand those situations; rather it’s us who were elders, matured acted foolish. We failed as parents. Never blame yourself, my son. “, Anuj pushed himself in the guilty party to make Arjun be at ease.
“Thank you very much, father. Don’t mind, but I still need some time to reorganize my thoughts, to compose myself. Hope you understand”, Arjun said his real heart out talks.
“Yes, I can understand totally. But can I ask you something? Answer me truly”, Anuj asked being little curious.
“Go on. Ask”, Arjun replied genuinely.
“What’s it that made you change your views? Is it India or Indians?”, Anuj asked enthusiastically.
” Haan….mmmm….both. Need to go. Something urgent pop up”, said Arjun hurriedly and cut the call due to sudden question related to India.
It was a toughest and embarrassing moment for Arjun whenever somebody asked him about India. He felt himself confused and riled up. It was some months ago he himself told to others that he hated India and Indians from depth of his hearts. But after came here a different scenario awaited for him, who knows; that he would going to change his views and become one of those who admired and loved India and Indians from heart. Why not? It was the place where his dreams got fulfilled, In one or other way he got to know about true love of every relation. The bonding, belief and the selfless affection which he never got in his life got here. The biggest thing his restlessness was converting into peace in the sculptures and scriptures, though slowly. We can’t change a process immediately.
Later when he called his mother, Elena to let her know about his new feelings, about his new journey etc; she just cut the conversation in short, stating she was busy, had no time for such foolish story. With addition she told Arjun to be careful from Indian girls who might try to lure him for his money and look. Being irked with Elena he cut the call.
” How foolish I am? If I only tried to know the story behind this matter then my life would be little easier with my Dad. At least he never blamed anyone unnecessarily. How could not I notice this.” He thought and came to car only to hear Radhika’s detailing conversation with Nandini. His heart pounded with maximum velocity of jealousy and envies. After all we all human, having same tendency. “How much I wish if my Dad would marry a person like Nandini Aunty or she only, how fantastic that would be. Blessed enough to have a mother like her. But guess I am not that lucky” Screamed his mind and stopped at once while looking at Radhika. Not possible. He wanted her too.
Radhika informed Arjun they were going to visit Khandagiri and Udaygiri hill caves. Already Laxmi and Ed were there. Finally when they reached at Udaygiri (Hill of Sunrise), One of the earliest groups of Jain rock-cut shelters, and Khandagiri (Broken Hills) command a unique position in the field of history, rock-cut architecture, art and religion, Arjun looked on surprised. Yes!! He visited many places, visited many historical important caves; but this was something different.
The shocking thing for him that small caves. Called Lena, in the inscriptions, the caves of Udaygiri and Khandagiri were essentially dwelling retreats or cells of the Jain ascetics, opening directly into the veranda or the open space in front. Mostly excavated near the top of the ledge or boulder, they simply provided dry shelter for meditation and prayer, with very little amenities even for small comforts. The height being too low, does not allow a man to stand erect. Each cell was tenanted by several monks. The cells were austerely plain, but their facades were encrusted with sculptures depicting auspicious objects worshipped by Jains, court scenes, royal processions, hunting expeditions and scenes of daily life. The austere later additions, when Jainism no longer enjoyed royal patronage in this part, show 24 Jain tirthankars.
Later , after three days when they submitted a thesis report on Udaygiri hill and Khandagiri, it was a shocking for Poornima, professor ,mentor. Radhika and Laxmi stood erected with a proud of their accompanying and teaching skills of their sculpture. Poornima astonished on the fact how two foreign students described the importance of sculpture of the great monument. If it was not that incredible, why they would be interested!!. She thanked Radhika and Laxmi for providing minute details. The report was like this.
” Udaygiri is the hill on the right and access to its 18 caves is provided by a flight of steps. The largest and the most beautiful ,Rani Gumpha or Queen’s Cave, off the pain path to the sculptures. The right wing of the lower storey consists of a single cell with three entrances and a pillared veranda. The pilasters of entrances to the cell are embellished with side pilasters crowned by animals. Over them there are toranas (arches) relieved with religious and royal scenes-couple standing reverentially with folded hands, a female dancer with accompanying female musicians, etc.
The main central wing, consisting of four cells, has themes apparently indicating victory march of a king, starting from his capital and returning back after passing through various lands. At the angles, where the right and left wings meet, are two small guard rooms which are lavishly decorated-springs cascading down the hills, fruits laden trees, wild animals, sporting elephants in lotus pools, etc. All the four cells of the main wing are provided with two doorways each, flanked by two pilasters, from which springs a ornately carved torana (arch) with auspicious Jain symbols (snake and lotus), and friezes depicting scenes laid in wild surroundings story reminiscent of Dushyanta’s first meeting with Sakuntala, a dance performance for the royal couple, etc.
Chota Hathi Gumpha, or Small Elephant Cave, is notable for its facade having masterly carving of six vigorous elephants flanking its entrance. Alakapuri Gumpha, contain sculptures of a lion holding a prey, in its mouth, and pillars topped by pairs of winged animals, some human and some bird headed. Jaya Vijaya Gumpha, is double storeyed and a bodhi tree is carved in the central apartment. The high sanctity of the tree is represented by an umbrella over it and being worshipped by a couple on either side.
Manchapuri and Swargapuri up the hill and around to right house a damaged relief, the subject of which is worship of some Jain religious symbol. Ganesh Gumpha takes its name from the figure of Ganesh carved on the back of its right cell. The carvings tell the story of the elopement of Bassavadatta, Princess of Ujjayini, with King Udayan of Kausambi in the company of Vasantaka. Proceeding to the top will reach the ruins of an apsidal structure, unearthed in 1958. Below the ruins is, Baghra Gumpha or Tiger cave, on account of its front carved into the shape of a tiger’s mouth. Hathi Gumpha or Elephant Cave is a large natural cavern and on the walls are scratched a few names. Architecturally plain, but a 117 line famous inscription of king Kharavel is important. It relates to the life history of Kharavel, his expeditions and exploits off the battlefield inscribed in the Magadhi characters.”
“The Khandagiri hill, brings you at Tatowa Gumpha or Parrot Caves, known so from the figures of parrots carved on the arches of their doorways. Guarding the entrance to Cave 1, are two sentries in dhotis and scarves and armed with swords. Between the two arches of the doorways providing entrance to cell is a one line inscription calling the cave that of Kusuna. Cave 2 is more spacious and its decorations more elaborate. On the back wall of the cell are Brahmi inscriptions in red pigment, of the first century BC to first century AD, presumably scrawled by a monk in attempt to improve his handwriting.
Ananta Gumpha or Snake Cave after the figures of twin serpents on the door arches. It is one of the most important caves on the Khandagiri hill on account of its unique motifs in some relief figures of boys chasing animals including lions and bulls, geese with spread wings holding in its bill the stalk of a lotus bud or a blue lotus, a royal elephant flanked by a smaller one carrying lotus flower, a female figure driving a chariot drawn by four horses and the goddess Lakshmi in a lotus pool being bathed with water from pitchers held by two elephants.
On the back wall of the cell is carved a nandipada on a stepped pedestal flanked on either side by a set of three symbols-a triangle headed symbol, a srivatsa and a swastika, auspicious to the Jains. Navamuni Gumpha, called so due to the figures of nine (nava) tirthankars carved on the back and right walls and Barabhuji Gumpha, named so from two 12 armed (bara-bhuj) figures of sasana-devis carved on the side walls of the veranda, both also have relief of Hindu deities.
The last noteworthy Cave out of 15 Caves of Khandagiri, Cave 9. Ranged along the three sides of the chamber is the relief of 24 robeless tirthankars. Except for the three standing images of Rishabnath, the rest of images exhibit some crude workmanship. The 18th century, Jain Temple, at the top of the hill dedicated to Rishabnath, was most probably built on the site of an earlier shrine. The temple enshrines some old tirthankars and affords a panoramic view across the plains.”
Radhika came back home happily, murmuring some songs. Dilip looked his daughter’s happiness and prayed god for her smile always. The storm which she faced, after that she forgot to smile. But; after she joined university again for history and culture research , she was becoming normal. Mostly after those foreign students came they become good friends, and personally he felt his daughter become merrier. Her restlessness though she never showed , he always felt responsible for his daughter’s miseries. He had some ideas which he talked with his sister Nandini.
” papa, where is Maa? I can’t see her today.” Radhika asked without seeing Nandini in surrounding which is quite opposite to her nature.
” don’t ask dear. God knows what cleaning and gleaming she was doing from past hours, she didn’t come out.” Dilip showed his disappointment on his sister.
” Alone !! what are you doing here without helping her?” Radhika smirked at her father.
” As expected. Huh… I am not interested cleaning. Go and ask by yourself and help too.” Dilip said smiling while going outside.
“where are you going?”
” you will know , later.” Dilip went .
After meeting with Mala as usual , talking monologues she went to Nandini to got shock. Whole room was ransacked. Nandini was sitting in piles of paper on floor looking at something constantly. Radhika went near her and back hugged her. She too reciprocated with warmness. Radhika saw Nandini was going through her old album, at one page she stopped. Radhika understood; when Anuj’s photo came up both never talked emotional. To ease Nandini.
” Maa… you missed the chance, why? Look at uncle, how handsome he is, little bit looking like Arjun.” Radhika asked lightly not to give more tension though she knew how hard it was for Nandini.
“Who said I missed chance? Instead I got more precious gift, you. Love never depicts to gain or to get something in return. Likewise it was a love which I always cherish in my heart.” Nandini said dreamily.
” You are too strong to decide then , live all alone like this at that time. Obstinate queen.” Radhika said placing her head on Nandini lap.
” First of all who said I am alone. I am with my family and my daughter. And obstinate queen;…..she thought for some time , hesitated to say or not; finally said , ” it is you who is adamant to live your life all alone. Why can’t you leave past and come out of it?”
Radhika was shocked hearing Nandini. She never expected this turn. She closed her eyes as some fresh tear drops fell on Nandini’s saree , who felt it. But already decided to make her daughter come out of her past trauma.
special thanks to roma di, gianna and sree to encourage me to keep up with details as its the main essence of this story. thank you very much guys.