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Soon after Narendra Modi became the Prime Minister of India in 2014, Tony Abbot, the Prime Minister of Australia, returned two precious tenth and eleventh-century sculptures of Lord Nataraja and Lord Ardhanarishwara that were once stolen from Tamil Nadu and bought by galleries in Australia unknowingly before they reached the National Gallery of Australia. During Modi’s visit to Canada in 2015, the then Prime Minister of Canada Stephen Herper returned another idol of ‘lady with the parrot’ stolen from Khajuraho that had made its way to Canada. In October 2015, German Chancellor Angela Markel returned a precious idol of goddess Durga as Mahishasura Mardini on her visit to India. In 2016, Modi’s visit to the United States of America yielded the return of several more ancient sculptures that were stolen and smuggled out of India. Former US president Barack Obama’s government was more than glad to return them to where they belong. News was that all these were being returned to India. However, not all of that seen in the press returned to India. The process was and is not so easy either. As late as a few months ago the tenth-century idols of emperor Raja Raja Chola and his consort were brought back to the iconic Brihadeeswara Temple in Thanjavur with much fanfare. The whole case of theft and return took several decades to crack through. What looks easy on the outside isn’t as easy after all. The amount of time, the people behind every acquisition and the numerous stories each of these idols carry will make for tomes of interesting historical material. To know how all this, or at least a part of this, works, The Idol Thief: The True Story Of The Looting Of India’s Temples, published by Juggernaut Books is a great starter. It is one such story, and possibly the biggest one in recent times, narrated in a long time. Authored by S Vijay Kumar, the book is unputdownable in one word. But who is Kumar and why is he doing this? More about him later in this review. Book review here below in Swarajya Magazine : https://swarajyamag.com/books/our-gods-are-coming-home
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