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Saturday, August 14, 2010

What would those idols inside the Ka'aba looked like?

Imagine this: that someone would rise up someday and say: the Tirupati temple is sacred, that is,  the structure is sacred, built in a sacred spot, but that the idol of Venkateshwara inside should not be worshipped, but should be smashed...
And then that person would say: you're worshipping the wrong way, and you need to do it my way. And then those worshippers would say: let us pray to  our Venkateshwara idol the way we want. And then that person would say: no, you need to give up that idol, but you can worship that structure in which the idol stood, and the place where it stood is holy.
So finally, a new religion is born; the worshipers of the idol finally give up the idol and the temple after years of war, and the idol is duly smashed, and the building in which the idol used to stand becomes the center of the new religion.
That, roughly, was what happened in the 7th century when the idols inside the Ka'aba were given up by the Meccan tribes, after they were militarily defeated . Prophet Mohammed smashed the idols inside, but the Ka'aba became the centre of the new religion, Islam. Muslims believe that the Kaaba is holy because it was built by the Prophet Abraham.
As an idol-worshipping Hindu myself, I always wondered what those idols would have looked like, inside the Kaaba.
Well, an ancient kingdom, Lihya, excavated in Arabia, threw up massive statues. Those statues are on  display at an exhibition in the Louvre, which is on now. Though those statues are thought to be of the Lihyan kings, they give us a clue as to how, artistically, those idols in the Kaaba may have looked like. The massive 2.5 meter polished red sandstone statues show amazing sophistication. Even more likely is another statue, with minimalist design, titled 'suffering man" which is probably closer to what those idols may have looked like.
I'm attaching a link to the exhbition, which has the pictures of both the Lihyan statue, and the 'suffering man', and details of the exhibition

You can be sure that the Saudi King, the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques, is not too happy with people excavating statues from Arabian sands, 14 centuries after the Prophet destroyed all the idols of Arabia....

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