India is touching dizzying heights in both science and spirituality. On one hand, the country’s space ambitions have skyrocketed to the Moon. On the other hand, the country’s spiritual legacy is flying high in the form of sky-kissing statues of saints and sages. After Telangana homed the Statue of Equality and the 120-kg gold idol of the 11th century saint Sri Ramanuja on the outskirts of Hyderabad, Madhya Pradesh unveiled the Statue of Oneness as a monumental homage to saint Adi Shankaracharya on 21 September.
Omkareshwar where the heart of India beats with the chanting of Om Namah Shivaya is home to the newly built Statue of Oneness named Ekatmata Ki Pratima. Sitting atop Mandhata Hill at a distance of 12 miles from the Omkareshwar Jyotirlinga temple, the 108-ft statue of Adi Shankaracharya is a new landmark on the tourism map of Madhya Pradesh. The beauty of the Narmada River that backdrops Mandhata Hill adds to the serene ambience around the towering monument.
Built at a whopping cost of Rs 2141 crore, the Statue of Oneness is made of bronze alloy and designed to last more than 500 years. The gigantic statue depicts the 8th century saint in a walking posture, symbolic of his travels on foot in quest of the liberating knowledge of Atman Brahman (self-identity) across the lengths and breadths of Bharat. Born in Kerala, Adi Shankara had left home and mortal relations behind at a tender age; hence, the statue mirrors Adi Shankara as a 12-year-old boy.
Dedicated to the life, philosophy and profound teachings of Acharya Shankara, the Ekatmata ki Pratima in Omkareshwar stands tall on a 27ft high lotus-shaped base made of stone. The mammoth sculpture rests on a massive pedestal rising 54 feet above the ground. The area surrounding the statue is being developed as Ekatma Dham (State of Oneness), a beacon of unity and harmony, oneness and non-dualism.
Ekatma Dham will become a one-stop hub for the study of Advaita Vedanta in Omkareshwar, Madhya Pradesh where his epic journey to attaining spiritual enlightenment had begun. Ekatma Dham will have the Advaita Lok museum wherein an exclusive collection of exhibits would showcase the message of Advaita Vedanta propagated by Adi Shankaracharya. The Acharya Shankar International Institute of Advaita Vedanta coming up in Ekatma Dham will take the shape of a research and resource center for those studying the timeless teachings of the saint.
Ekatma Dham, a global center for oneness and harmony in Omkareshwar, will also house a sprawling 36-acre forest called Advaita Forest to support various sustainable development projects. A theatre, a library, a Vedanta interpretation center, a laser-and-sound show, and a nididhyasana kendra are also on the cards. The Statue of Oneness and Ekatma Dham will offer an immersive experience of non-dualism and spiritual wisdom.
One of the interesting facts about the Shankaracharya Statue of Oneness is that the people of more than 23,000 villages across Madhya Pradesh contributed metal for the monument, signifying their adherence to Acharya Shankara’s principles of unity and harmony, irrespective of their caste, religion, and socio-economic status.