I have been reading with interest the ongoing discussions about the statues installed by Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Mayawati- of herself, of mentor Kanshi Ram and of elephants- and also about the several memorials. These remind me of Shelley’s thought-provoking sonnet, Ozymandias…..

‘I met a traveler from an antique land

Who said: Two vast and trunkless legs of stone

Stand in the desert. Near them, on the sand,

Half sunk, a shattered visage lies, whose frown,

And wrinkled lip, and sneer of cold command,

Tell that its sculptor well those passions read

Which yet survive, stamped on these lifeless things,

The hand that mocked them, and the heart that fed;

And on the pedestal these words appear:

“My name is Ozymandias, king of kings:

Look on my works, ye Mighty, and despair!”

Nothing beside remains. Round the decay

Of that colossal wreck, boundless and bare

The lone and level sands stretch far away.’

Statues are in the news currently. U.P. Chief Minister and Bahujan Samaj Party supremo Mayawati is in a tight spot because of her hobby of installing her own statues.

A PIL (Public Interest Litigation) has been filed, and the U.P. State Government has has been issued a notice by the Supreme Court. Not a person to be intimidated, Mayawati has 400 constables on duty to protect the statues.

‘Interestingly , the first time Mayawati’s statue was installed alongwith that of Kanshi Ram at yet another memorial called ‘Prerna Sthal,’ she got a platform made to raise her’s to the height of her mentor.’

‘But when the turn came for the second statue, she was livid over the sculptor for failing to make her statue of the same height as Kanshi Ram’s.’

It is estimated ‘that each statue of Kanshi Ram and Mayawati costs a sum of Rs 6.65 crores. Each elephant statue costs more than Rs 70 lakh’.

In his famous poem, ‘Ozymandias’, Shelley has described the destroyed state of the statue of the great Ramesses, Pharaoh of the nineteenth dynasty of ancient Egypt.

The central theme of “Ozymandias” ‘is the inevitable decline of all men, and of the empires they build, however mighty in their own time.’

The statue lies in the midst of ‘lone and level sands’. It is said that this signifies the barrenness which results from misuse of might, by those drunk on their own power.

It is to be hoped that there will not be similar consequences of the ‘statue’ drama currently being played out here in India.

(Ramesses photo courtesy- Wikipedia Commons)