The Sculptor

Shri Kashinath Shilpi

Shri Kashinath Shilpi, a renowned sculptor from Karnataka (India), was identified by Pujya Gurudev to sculpt the magnificent idol of Shri Vayuputra Hanuman at Sidhbari. He was recommended by Swami Brahmananda. Here is a transcript of the interview where Shri Shilpiji shared his recollections of that memorable time.

Please share about your experience in making this Vigraha.

After seeing the clay model made by me, Swamiji (Pujya Gurudev) told me, “I will come after 3 months. Vigraha should be beautiful.”  Then I went with my brother and other workers and started the work with great joy. The weather was quite pleasant.

After 3 months, Swamiji returned to Sidhbari after completing His world tour. He saw the idol which was in progress. We were engrossed in our work. Swamiji was extremely happy about the idol; saying “You have brought out the Akruti (beautiful appearance) exactly like what was in my mind!” He took out a costly shawl (valued about Re 10,000) and honoured me by draping it on my shoulders. He also hugged me with great joy.

After resting, Swamiji came the next day. He called out my name thrice: “Kashinath, Kashinath, Kashinath!” Being so absorbed in work, I failed to respond. Later, in His discourse, Swamiji described how I didn’t respond even after being called by name 3 times. He remarked, “Learn Ekagrata in work from Kashinath.” On my part, I felt very bad for not responding to Swamiji.

How did you get in touch with Chinmaya Mission?

I became associated with Chinmaya Mission through my brother and Brahmaji (Swami Brahmananda, Chinmaya Mission Bengaluru).

How many Shilpis did you need to make this Murthi? Did you take the help of Shilpis there (at Sidhbari)?

I went from Shimoga with my brother Narayana and two other members. We took the assistance of 6 labourers there. They helped us a lot till the end.

How did they provide the required materials for making this Hanuman Murthi? Did you encounter any obstacles in getting the required materials?

I didn’t find any obstacles in getting the required materials. They used to take me to the city for the selection of materials. We searched many places to get the right materials.

What led to your first meeting with Swamiji?

Brahmaji had asked my brother to draw a picture of Swamiji. It came out very well. Brahmaji told my brother that Swamiji wanted to build a Gopuram and make some Vigrahas (idols) including Hanumanji in Sidhbari. “Let’s go and meet Swamiji.”

Have you made any gigantic Vigraha earlier before making this Hanuman Murthi?

No. Hanumanji Vigraha in Sidhbari was the first Vigraha of that size that I made in my life then.

Can you describe your first travel experience to Sidhbari?

Brahmaji told me that Swamiji is coming to Sidhbari. “Let’s go and meet Swamiji.” We didn’t get tickets from Bangalore. Brahmaji said that we will try for tickets from Chennai; however, we could not get tickets from Chennai too. Then I travelled with Brahmaji in a general compartment without reservation to Delhi and from there, we went by bus. It was a very strenuous journey. With great difficulty, we reached Sidhbari.

Did Swamiji give you any guidance in the form of a sketch or model before making the Hanuman Murthi ?

Swamiji showed me a photo of Hanumanji and asked me to make the Murthi accordingly. Then, looking at my short stature, when Swamiji had a doubt whether I could execute His vision, Brahmaji assured Swamiji that I was a great artist and could make the Murthi. Then Swamiji asked me to make a model and show. So, I made a 1.5 ft clay model of Hanumanji Murthi and showed it to Swamiji. Swamiji was happy with the model and asked me to start the work. Then Swamiji left for His world tour.

You said that Swami Chinmayanandaji was extremely happy with the Hanumanji Murthi made by you. Did He give you any memento?

I recall how all the materials including paints for finishing this Hanuman Murthi were provided. Hanumanji’s Murthi came out beautifully with the painting that my brother Narayana and I had done.

Then, when the consecration of the Hanumanji Vigraha was performed with sacred water in 108 silver Kalasas, my brother Narayana and I were also given the silver pots to perform the Mastakabhisheka. We went to return the kalasas after performing abhishekam. It was then that Swamiji asked us to keep the silver Kalasas we used as mementos.