Lord Harihara and Sultanganj Buddha, two fascinating looted divinity on display in the British museums

 When India became a free nation from the British yoke in August 1947, after  long struggle, sacrifices and loss of lives, the joyful natives' preoccupation initially was with their freedom and to start afresh a democratic government but were handicapped  with meagre income and limited resources to take the nation forward.  More than 200 years India had been looted, exploited, geographically  divided and left with emaciated people by the self-centered British government. Indeed, it was an uphill task for the then national leaders in the forefront to run the government that was beset with other  problems as well related to economy, administration and politics.

In the initial stages natives  never had an idea about how much had been squandered  from the Indian soil by the British government under the Crown.  Nor did they realize how much of our art, culture and heritage items, besides wealth, the British had stolen in their last phase here when they left the Indian shores from Bombay (Mumbai) in 1947. Economically, the British moved  upward on the ladder using revenues from India, and by the same token the colonial power driven by greed,  pushed a fairly self-sufficient nation with a GDP of 23 to 25in the late 17th and early 18th centuries to an abysmal depth. The indian treasury was almost empty in the late 1940s. Apart, the subcontinent was divided into two nations, one being based only on religion.  India was in a precarious position and left in the lurch by the british Empire. 

The Sultanganj Buddha: 

The Sultanganj Buddha iesiblitz.com

Above image: At Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery, Birmingham........................

The Sultanganj Buddha, cast in high quality unrefined  copper,  is the largest complete surviving statue of its kind, standing 2.3 metres high and weighing 500 kg. It belongs to the Gupta–Pala transitional period between 300 to 400 CE; the largest substantially complete copper Buddha figure known from the time. The statue is dated to between 500 and 700 AD. Found in the East Indian town of Sultanganj, Bhagalpur district, Bihar in 1861 during the construction of the East Indian Railway it was first discovered by the railway engineer E. B. Harris during excavations and later he shipped it to the Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery,  England for display. Since then the Buddha statue has been in that old museum.  

/E.B. Harris with the Buddha statue, 1861-62 upload.wikimedia.org

Over life-size, this is "the only remaining metal statue of any size" from Gupta art, out of  many numerous ones like  stone or stucco statues. The metal Brahma from Mirpur-Khas is older, but about half the size. The Jain Akota bronzes and some other finds are much smaller still, probably meant for shrines. The statue has  dark metal surface and  a black encrustation of fine clay minerals, covers much of its surface  suggesting long period of exposure to atmospheric agents and the burial.

The statue is symbolic of the golden age for North Indian art and  is known for distinctive style of  sculpting  The statue is noted for its posture of reassurance, exemplified by his extended right hand. The left palm, facing down, is symbolic of the Buddha granting wishes to his devotees.
Lord Harihara Idol:

Lord Harihara   iesiblitz.com

Above image: The statue of lord Harihara at the British museum, London................. 
 A fascinating artefact of 1000 years old, the Harihara statue, depicting  four-arms, each carrying Shiva’s trident and rosary on the left and Vishnu’s conch and discus on the right, is a rare piece of sculpture and is believed to have been removed from the world famous  Khajuraho temples of  Madhya Pradesh.The figure in the  standing posture on a lotus represents  purity and calmness. Harihara has, it is said, given rise to other deities and their union represents 
 different aspects of Brahman.  Also known as Shankaranarayana (“Shankara” is Shiva, and “Narayana” is Vishnu), Harihara is thus revered by both Vaishnavites and Shaivites as a form of the Supreme God.

Harihara  symbolizes  “oneness of all existence” according to some schools of Hindu philosophy. The statue has  philosophical connotations  denoting  the unity of Vishnu and Shiva as different aspects of the same Ultimate Reality called Brahman. This concept of equivalence of various gods as one principle and “oneness of all existence” is discussed as Harihara in the texts of Advaita Vedanta school of Hindu philosophy.

Made of sandstone, the  sculpture was bought at world famous Auction House Christie’s auction in 1830 when it was auctioned along with many historical pieces.  The statue of  Lord Harihara was gifted to the British Museum in 1872.