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Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Lord Hanuman travels back to Cambodia from Cleveland, Ohio

Cambodia, once known as the Khmer Empire, is a country located in the southern portion of the Indo-china Peninsula in Southeast Asia.  The kingdom is a constitutional monarchy.  Cambodia's ancient name is "Kambuja" (Sanskrit: कंबुज).  The Kingdom is known for  monumental temples including Angkor Wat, now a World Heritage Site.
Sri Anjaneya at Thirumala hills

The son of Vayu  [Pavana puthra] – Hanumar is the epitome of great virtues ~  a great character – a warrior, mightily powerful, whose body was as hard as a diamond, whose speed equalled those of fastest flying eagles, who possessed great wisdom, who could organize a group of roaming ones, who can jump hundreds of miles, yet who remained at the feet of his Master, totally committed thinking of their welfare alone – unassuming, yet capable of telling the right things at the right moment – that is Pavana Puthra Hanuman – Aanjaneya, who is called ‘thiruvadi’ – bearer of Lord Rama – who carried Rama on his shoulders during the war in which the demon was killed. The very thought of Sri Hanuman brings to mind ~ his unparalleled devotion for Lord Ram and unrivalled physical strength.

Lord Hanuman is everywhere – on mountains, big temples, street corners and more ~ Sri Anjaneya jumped over the Sea, met Sitadevi delivering her the signet ring ‘kanaiyazhi’ of Lord Sri Rama -  Hanuman has crossed the seas with eases – but this travel is different !!!

Cleveland, is a city in the state of Ohio.   It was founded in 1796 near the mouth of the Cuyahoga River, and became a manufacturing centre owing to its location on the lake shore.   The Cleveland Museum of Art was founded in 1913 “for the benefit of all the people forever.”  Its website claims tobe a distinguished  comprehensive art museum  and cultural institution.   We are reading about this, for it recently announced that  it has voluntarily returned to Cambodia a much-beloved 10th century statue of Hanuman,  after uncovering evidence that it was probably looted during the country's bloody civil war. The Cleveland Museum of Art  said recently that  it is in discussions with the Government of Cambodia concerning a 10th-century statue in its collection of the kneeling Hanuman, that reportedly had been looted from the country.   The museum's statement said: "Late last year, the Cleveland Museum of Art initiated discussions with the Kingdom of Cambodia concerning various topics of mutual interest, including the sculpture of Hanuman. These discussions have been very cordial and productive.

According to the Cleveland Museum of Art’s website, the 10th-century sandstone sculpture stands about 116 cm tall and 54 cm wide and depicts the God in a crouching position.   According to the  head of the U.N. cultural agency Unesco in Cambodia,  it was clear the statue had originally been attached to a base, but it wasn’t until archeologists unearthed previously undiscovered pedestals in the Koh Ker complex’s Prasat Chen temple last year that the statue’s exact location was determined.  The Cambodia Daily newspaper has  published  photos showing what it described as the arrival and partial uncrating of the Hanuman at Phnom Penh International Airport.

According to Newyork Times, the statue of a kneeling Hindu deity believed stolen from a jungle-shrouded Khmer temple more than 40 years ago, has been returned to Cambodia by the Cleveland Museum of Art, which had displayed it since 1982.  The return, on Sunday night, brings to six the number of looted statues from the 10th-century Prasat Chen temple in Preah Vihear Province, in northern Cambodia near the Thai border, that have been recovered by the government since 2012, when reports surfaced that the rare sandstone sculptures were in the United States.  Those items include two large Kneeling Attendants returned by the Metropolitan Museum of Art in 2013; a massive statue known as Duryodhana returned by Sotheby’s last year after the intervention of federal officials; a companion statue of the Duryodhana, known as Bhima, returned by the Norton Simon Museum in Pasadena, Calif., last year; and a smaller statue from the temple, Pandava, relinquished by Christie’s in May 2014.

Buddhist monks chanted blessings and scattered flowers over the statue upon its arrival at Phnom Penh International Airport, according to an AFP photographer. “We welcome back the statue of Hanuman from the Cleveland Museum of Art in the US,” Chan Tani, Cambodian Secretary of State for the Cabinet Office, told reporters. The statues are considered pieces of extraordinary value to the Cambodian people and part of their cultural heritage.

With regards – S. Sampathkumar

12th May 2015.

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