A farmer digging his field stumbled upon a priceless historical treasure in Darbhanga district. The four-foot-high idol that Gaurikant Jha found in Ghanshyampur village, around 200km northeast of the state capital, is attracting experts and common people alike due to its beauty. It is estimated to be around 800 years old, a relic from the time of the Sena dynasty.
Gaurikant Jha was digging in his orchard to plant a sapling. His spade hit something hard and he called out to other villagers to help him dig. The idol was unearthed and pulled out carefully.
“I was digging to plant a sapling on October 12 when we discovered the idol,” Gaurikant said. “A huge crowd of people gathered as we lifted the idol out of the ground. Everybody was surprised over the find, though a Ganesh idol was found a few months ago in the nearby orchard of my brother. Some burnt mud bricks have also been discovered in the area.”
Bihar Heritage Development Society (BHDS) executive director Bijoy Kumar Choudhary identified the statue as of the Sun God as it displays the god’s wives, Usha and Pratyusha, and has seven horses at its base.
“The idol is so beautiful that the best museums in the world would be happy to display it,” Choudhary said. “The discovery of a Ganesh statue and burnt bricks indicate that an ancient temple is buried there under the ground.”
Patna University professor Jaidev Mishra, an expert in iconography, said the idol is made of black basalt stone and has all the art traits of having been made during the period of the Sena dynasty, which had its capital at Nabadwip in present-day Nadia district of Bengal around 123km north of Calcutta. “The Sena dynasty succeeded the Pala dynasty and ruled between 1070 AD and 1230 AD,” Mishra explained. “Its influence spread up to Darbhanga or ancient Dwar Banga region in Bihar. Going by the style, the statue could be of the time of Lakshmana Sena, who ruled during the late 12th century AD.”
Mishra said records and inscriptions of the Sena dynasty rulers have revealed that they belonged to the Saur sect and were devotees of the Sun God.
According to the Encyclopaedia Britannica’s online edition, Lakshmana Sena was “a great patron of literature; the poets Jayadeva and Dhoyi wrote at his court at Nadia”.
At Ghanshyampur, villagers have kept the statue in a temple and have started worshipping it with gusto, about which the BHDS executive director had a note of caution.
“Pouring water and milk applying ghee and vermilion on the idol shortens its life. We need to involve the community to protect it for the coming generations,”said Choudhary.
Shashibodh Mishra, a retired government servant and resident of Ghanshyampur, said the villagers wanted that the statue should be safe and prayers should also continue.
The government, he added, should explore the area to ascertain what else could be buried in the village.