It was a sad moment for art, when the Pune municipal corporation removed the sculpture of Dadoji Kondev. The sculpture was sadly made the symbol of the perception that it is the conspiracy of one caste to show its supremacy over the other to call Dadoji Kondev the guru of Shavaji Maharaj.
The sculpture of Dadoji Kondev was a sculpture, not a statue. Historians may have a dispute over certain historical facts and perceptions, but art is not history and sculptures are not statues.
This may be true that Dadoji Kondev was not the guru of Shivaji Maharaj. It may be a historical mistake of holding him as the guru of Shivaji Maharaj. But interpreting the historical mistake as a conspiracy of a caste to show its supremacy over the other is a perception but not the fact. And using an artist’s sculpture as the symbol of this perception is not only absurd but also deplorable.
Have we lost the intellectual ability to understand the difference between “perceptions” and “facts”, “art” and “history”? Let us assume for a moment that some historians deliberately cooked up the facts as part of the so called conspiracy. But the artist who had made the sculpture was not a historian. So it can not be said that he made the sculpture to support the conspiracy.
There was no need to use the sculpture to symbolise the perceived conspiracy. Without removing the sculpture, the fact could have been brought out to people. In stead of removing the sculpture, the corporation could have placed a written declaration alongside the sculpture: ‘Dadoji Kondev was not the guru of Shivaji Maharaj, therefore Dadoji’s gesture as shown in the sculpture does not have to represent him as the guru of Shivaji Maharaj.
However, those who opposed the statue were not interested in simply bringing out the fact that Dadoji was not the guru of Shivaji Maharaj. They were also interested in making their perception appear as a fact. In the process, the sculpture was made a scapegoat for historians’ mistake showing disrespect to the artist and his art.