We Indians love pedestals. And we waste no time in putting our revered figures there. After all, what more can we do to honor the great people who were born among us than to put them on the highest position, make them demigods and sing paeans to revere them?
Pedestals, for us, are meant for every great person. Our definition of a great personality doesn’t extend merely to some figure in the recent or distant past, who did something which we don’t remember or did too much to remember. Anyone can be great. It could be the cute leading star of a romantic no-brainer, or the anorexic plastic faced beauty-pageant winner, or the winner of a reality show or a talent hunt show, a politician who gives away freebies, an actor who is known for his supposed acting, a starlet whose talent lies in shaking her booty to third-rate songs, a businessman who signifies extravagance, and so on. In a culture as great as us, greatness is freely available.
The western civilization is surely decadent. They have absolutely no respect for their great personalities. That’s why they always bring them to the level of mere mortals, scrutinize their life and work, and never ever blindly believe what has been officially told to them for generations. And they have the audacity to think that they can surpass them. We sane people can never have such an attitude, not in a million years!
After all, we are the cradle of civilization and culture, and we have to prove that, time and again. One of the ways to do that is by deifying great people. And it’s important we do it, because it makes life very convenient for us.
Putting a great person on a pedestal saves us a lot of troubles. We are saved the trouble of rising above our petty mindedness and puny mentality. As the person in question has been idolized and made into a divine figure, we certainly can’t hope to emulate them or walk their path to achieve what they strived for; as how can we, mere mortals, even dream of being even a fraction of what our idols were? We can forget about it and very well continue our corrupt and mediocre ways, which make life so comfortable for us.
Putting great people on pedestals also saves us from feeling guilty. We, as a great society, always ensure to make life a nightmare for anyone who thinks of rising above the mundane and pettiness, and dedicates his or her life to it. By deifying such people after their death, we always think that we have atoned for making them miserable in their lifetimes.
Deification of great personalities also saves us the trouble of doing what the immoral West does: emulating them, keeping their ideals alive, and making tomorrow better than today.
We can never undertake such wasteful exercises. So we deify the great personalities, thereby mythifying their existence, placing them to stratospheric heights which we are sure we can never achieve in multiple lifetimes, and making them superhumans and gods. That makes the task of being puny and shoddy so very easy.
Another field where our genius lies is the portrayal of revered figures in a way that suits us, and popularising only the part of their life which we can easily adapt to.
Therefore, in spite of being an able statesman and a valiant warrior, Lord Krishna (a popular Hindu god from the Indian epic Mahabharata) is portrayed as nothing more than the bejeweled lover boy, who spends all his time cavorting with village belles. It’s not convenient for us to depict him with a sudarshan chakra (the weapon of Krishna) but it’s so cute to put a flute to his lips. It’s too tedious for us to picture him preaching the Bhagwad Geeta (the popular Indian religious text which encompasses Krishna’s advice to Arjun, a prince, about dharma, duty, in the battlefield, during the epic war against his cousin brothers) to Arjun, but so very nice to see him as a butter-stealing kid.
Lord Ram and Lord Hanuman are too inconvenient for us to be portrayed as fierce and ruthless warriors. They must be portrayed as boy-faced, pleasant-looking entities, who smile at us through portraits, heavily adorned with ornaments and having the appearance of hardly being able to hurt a fly.
So, as a society, we have escaped the burden of achievement of greatness and improvement by putting the greats on a pedestal and convenient deification as per our whims and fancies.
Once we do that, life becomes very easy. We are then free to surrender our souls and brains to the pursuit of the profane and trivial, emulate our chosen role models to make our lives as pointless as theirs, elect the leaders who give us freebies and reservations, raise our children with a display mindset and to teach them to lie and cheat for the sake of a few bucks as we have been doing, and in the end, continue our tradition of being a little people, and making the place we live in, a spittoon for us and just about anyone in the world.
It also leaves us free to do another thing: keep on harping how rich and varied our culture is and how we have the best brains in the world. Proof, of course, is not required. The statues of our idols and great personalities alone bear testimony to this fact.