Sculptor Arun Yogiraj recounts his journey

When Prime Minister Narendra Modi unveiled the statue of Adi Shankaracharya at Kedarnath on Friday, city-based sculptor Arun Yogiraj, who watched the proceedings from Mysuru, was overcome with mixed feelings.

Though there was a sense of joy of having successfully completed the task, it was supplanted by grief over the recent death of his father – B.S.Yogiraj Shilpi – from whom Arun had inherited the family tradition. His father was a recipient of many awards including the Amarashilpi Jakanachari award instituted by Karnataka Shilpa Academy and the Karnataka Rajyothsava award.

An MBA from the University of Mysore, Arun Yogiraj trained for six months in the HR Department of a private company. “But I listened to my inner voice and abandoned the private sector job without much thought and returned to Mysuru to carry forward the family tradition’’, he said.

He worked for 9 months on the project and completed it sometime in June. “I spent a month at Kedarnath for the installation of the statue but had to return a week ahead of the unveiling. Though everybody appealed to me to stay on for the unveiling by the Prime Minister, my mother’s health was sinking due to my prolonged absence and hence I rushed back’’, said Arun Yogiraj.

Around the same time he had to be in Kedarnath, Arun Yogiraj also won a project from Czech Republic but had to turn it down to complete the installation of Shankaracharya’s statue.

The statue was a labour of love for Arun Yogiraj and did not entail any difficulty though he worked on it for almost 14 hours daily for nine months. “The statue was transported by road for most part and airlifted from Chamoli airbase by the IAF’s Chinook helicopter, to Kedarnath’’, said Mr. Yogiraj.

The black granite was procured from H.D. Kote and the raw material was originally 80 tonnes. After the completion of the project the statue weighed 28 tonnes. In recognition of his contribution, the district in-charge Minister S.T. Somashekar and others felicitated the sculptor at his residence on Friday.

But Arun Yogiraj is not resting on his laurels. He has another project on hand – a 25 ft. tall monolithic statue of Anjaneya which will be installed at Chunchunkatte – and he is looking forward to its completion.

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