Icons: Past, Present, Posterity

Without taking sides in the debate on whether the events narrated in the land’s monumental epics as well as the characters therein were in the region of reality or only created by their ancient authors, one may take the liberty of talking about the leading lights of that era, admittedly the icons of their times. As for their counterparts featured in the pages of the land’s history spanning several centuries, both their icon status and their pro-society deeds acclaimed by society of their as well as later generations, we can prepare a long list of them including social reformers, saints, spiritual giants, musicians, writers, poets, kings, statesmen, warriors, sports-persons, entrepreneurs, teachers and luminaries in many fields of human activities. Public speakers, addressing their captive audiences from different platforms on various occasions find it fascinating to invoke the names of the land’s icons creating a lasting impression in the minds of their listeners.

We learn from scholars that God has taken different forms with both human and animal features in the distant past to meet specific contingencies arising out of misconduct of demons, some of whom also have been bestowed iconic status, although in a negative sense, may be similar to portrayal of heroes and villains in movies!

India’s many icons, often figuring in speeches by persons holding high posts, have come from virtually all regions of the country, including Karnataka, marked by both local flair and global glare in different periods. Even iconoclasts have found place in the pages of the land’s long history, although it is unsavoury to recollect their names. Both the President and Prime Minister, during their address on different platforms in the State capital this week chose to invoke the icons of Karnataka thus elevating the spirits of the large number of listeners. Not surprisingly, the icons recollected by the VVIPs included women who rebelled against alien rule immortalising themselves. Being in a different class, many leading lights in society who earned glorious references to the kings of erstwhile Princely State of Mysore are also icons often remembered respectfully by people.

All said and done, the list of citizens qualifying for being accorded iconic status in the present times has shrunk to embarrassing proportions. Of the icons who may emerge in posterity, one need not take a pessimistic view. Every generation has its share, some more, some others less.

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