Khandwa: A grand ceremony was held in Omkareshwar, Madhya Pradesh, on Thursday to inaugurate the ‘Statue of Oneness’, a project that honors the life and teachings of Adi Shankaracharya, the eighth-century philosopher, and reformer of Hinduism. The project, which cost Rs 2,141 crore, features a 108-feet tall statue of Adi Shankaracharya on the Mandhata hill, overlooking the river Narmada and the Omkareshwar Jyotirlinga, one of the 12 sacred shrines of Lord Shiva. The statue is made of bronze and weighs 1,000 tonnes.
The ‘Statue of Oneness’ project also includes the establishment of Advaita Lok, a cultural complex that will showcase the contributions of Adi Shankaracharya to the revival of Sanatan Dharma and the propagation of Advaita Vedanta, the philosophy of non-dualism. The complex will have an Advaita Folk Museum, a Vedanta Institute, and an Advaita Forest spread over 36 hectares. The museum will display the artifacts and relics related to Adi Shankaracharya and his four disciples, who established four monastic centers in different corners of India. The institute will offer courses and workshops on Advaita Vedanta and other branches of Hindu philosophy. The forest will be a place for meditation and spiritual retreat.
The chief guest of the event was Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan, who unveiled the statue and laid the foundation stone of Advaita Lok. He was accompanied by several religious leaders, such as Swami Avdheshanand Giri, Swami Parmatmanand Saraswati, Swami Vishveshwaranand Giri, and Swami Nischalanand Saraswati. Chouhan praised Adi Shankaracharya as the unifier of India’s cultural diversity and the defender of the Hindu faith. He said, “India is culturally united today because of Adi Shankaracharya. He traveled across the length and breadth of this country and established four peeths (seats) in four directions. He gave a new direction to Sanatan Dharma by preaching the philosophy of Advaita Vedanta.”
The ‘Statue of Oneness’ project is seen as a political move by Chouhan ahead of the assembly elections in Madhya Pradesh later this year. Chouhan is seeking to woo the Hindu voters, especially the Brahmins, who are considered to be the followers of Adi Shankaracharya. The project is also aimed at boosting tourism and development in Omkareshwar, which is one of the most sacred places for Hindus. Chouhan said that his government will make Omkareshwar a world-class destination and provide all facilities to the pilgrims and tourists. He also announced several welfare schemes for the local people, such as free electricity, water supply, health care, and education.