A battle between good and evil was going on. The demon Vritra had conquered the Swarga or heavenly abode of the Devas, driving them out of their land and reigning supreme over there. Vritra stopped water supply to the innocent living beings and created an artificial drought. The hapless Devas went to Rishi Dadhichi and upon hearing their plight, the Rishi made the ultimate sacrifice of his life, so that the Devas can use his strong bones to make a weapon that would help them win. The bones were there, but who would make them the ultimate weapon? There came Vishwakarma, the architect of the world, the lord of the craftsmen, the divine carpenter mentioned in Rig Vedas and the son of Lord Brahma. He crafted for Devas the ultimate weapon, the legendary Vajra, which upon unleashing on Vritta, finally killed him. The death of Vritta signified the win of good over evil, the artificial drought on earth was ended as water flowed back. Thus, it was Vishwakarma, who using the bones of Dadhichi saved the day for the Devas. Every year, on the last day of ‘Kanya Sankranti’ of Hindu calendar, which falls in between 16-19th September in the Gregorian calendar, Lord Vishwakarma is worshipped. He is the God of the carpenters, goldsmiths, masons, engineers, craftsmen and all connected to technology. India has been blessed time and again with the most efficient children of Vishwakarma, the ones who were the architects of modern India. Through the mastery of their head, heart and hand, India was presented with the power of Vajra, that helped her defeat the evil forces of underdevelopment and catapulted India towards progress. As India celebrated Vishwakarma Puja on September 16, let us take a look at the modern day Vishwakarmas of India.
The man who can most aptly lay claim to the title of the Vishwakarma of India is M. Visvesvaraya. The man, on whose birthday engineer’s day is celebrated in three countries: India, Sri Lanka and Tanzania. Coincidentally, he was born on 15th September, which falls just round the corner of Vishwakarma Puja. Born in 1860, this legendary Indian Civil engineer, statesman and the 19th Diwan of Mysore served India till his death in 1962. His enviable list of awards include Bharat Ratna in 1955, Knight Commander of the British Indian Empire by King Geprge V, Companion of the Order of Indian Empire, Honorary membership of London Institute of Civil Engineers, fellowship from IISc Bangalore, honorary D.Sc, LL.D, D. Litt from eight Indian Universities and also a Google Doodle on his 157th birthday. But the impact and contribution of this man can’t be justified in those awards. As an Assistant Engineer in Public Works Department of Bombay, Nashik and Dhule, he designed, implemented and patented a system of automatic weir water floodgates that were first installed in 1903 at Khadakvasla Reservoir near Pune. Same systems were installed at Tigra dam in Gwalior and Krishna Raja Sagara Dam in Mysore. He successfully studied and implemented water supply and drainage system in Aden at the behest of Government of India. He was immortalized when he protected Hyderabad from flooding every year, by designing a flood protection system for the city. Visvesvaraya also saved Vishakpattanam port from sea erosion, by creating the largest dam in Asia at that time. He can aptly be called the modern day Vishwakarma of India.
Homi Jehangir Bhabha
Homi Jehangir Bhabha is the father of Indian Nuclear power programme, founding director and professor of Physics at Tata Institute of Fundamental Research (TIFR), the recipient of Adams Prize (1942), Padma Bhushan (1954), and nominated for Nobel Prize in 1951 and 1953-1956. He was another Vishwakarma, and was also the Prometheus of India. He literally and figuratively snatched the power hidden inside the atoms, harnessed them and gave them to us Indians so that we can warm ourselves from the cold winds of underdevelopment. Trained in the legendary Cavendish Laboratory under Robert H. Fowler and Paul Dirac, he excelled in his field and understood the atom like few other did. Upon coming back to India, he felt the urge for fundamental research in Physics and with the help of the Dorabji Tata Trust, he founded TIFR in Mumbai. Under his vision the Atomic Energy Establishment Trombay (AEET), now known as BARC, Mumbai was established in 1954 and in the same year the Department of Atomic Energy was established. He had the vision of founding Indian nuclear power programme based on its huge Thorium reserve, which was unprecedented in the world. He started India’s 3 stage Thorium based nuclear power programme. Bhabha was killed when Air India Flight 101 crashed near Mont Blanc on 24th January, 1966. Many say that it was CIA who got him assassinated to derail India’s nuclear power programme.
Tata is not an individual but a collective enterprise system, which can also lay claim to be the modern day Vishwakarma of India. Founded in 1868 by Jamsetji Tata, this company with a revenue of US$ 136 billion, with 722281 employees working, transformed India like few others did. Tata has subsidiaries in almost all possible sectors like Chemicals, FMCG, E-Commerce and Retail, Energy, Engineering, Information System and Communications, Services, Airlines, Hotels, Financial Services, Realty, Iron and Steel, Automobiles and many more. They also helped build India some of its premier institutes like Indian Institute of Science, Bangalore, TIFR, Mubai, Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Tata Memorial Hospital, Tata Medical Centre, Tata Trusts, Tata Football Academy and many more. Jamsetji Tata and his successors’ dexterity helped transform India.
Vikram Sarabhai was the man who literally put India from earth into the heavens. The man, the enigma, who happens to be the father of Indian Space Programme, had a dream and that dream took India to the space. In his illustrious life he founded many institutions that would have lasting impacts on India. One of the most prestigious institutes of India, the Indian Space Research Organization, was founded by him in 1962 thus kick-starting the Indian Space programme. He founded the Physical Research Laboratory in 1947, also know as the cradle of Space Sciences. The first market research organization in the country, the Operations Research Group, IIM Ahmedabad, Fast Breeder Tset Reactor in Kalpakkam, Variable Energy Cyclotron Centre in Kolkata, Electronics Corporation of India Limited in Hyderabad and Uranium Corporation of India Limited in Jaduguda – all had his contributions. There will be few who had Vishwakarma like qualities, as Vikram Sarabhai did.
The list of Vishwakarmas provided above is a sample only, and India has produced (and will keep producing) many more Vishwakarmas. Vishwakarma is not a state of being, it’s a state of becoming. All the mechanics, labourers, construction site workers, plumbers, fitters, technicians, engineers we see around, all in themselves are Vishawkarma. The little kid tinkering and fidgeting with its toy, you trying to fix a broken fuse in your house, each and everyone is part of the divinity of Vishwakarma. As Swami Vivekananda once said, “Each soul is potentially Divine”, the same could be rephrased and said, “Each person is potentially Vishwakarma”. On this auspicious day of Vishwakarma Puja, may the Vishwakarma within each one of us flourish and transform the universe in general and our world in particular a better place.
– Aishik Bhattacharya (Opinion Writer at IndianFolk, Senior Research Fellow at IACS Kolkata)
Picture Credits: www.google.com/doodles
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