19 October, 2020

Pandora, Meet Vishnu

Forget about where the treasure came from. To whom will it be going?

Illustration by Sorit
Pandora, Meet Vishnu

Faith, that invisible spiritual product, is undoubtedly the biggest wealth creator in India. Tongues and eyeballs had been popping throughout the subcontinent over the past month with every zero added to the value of the treasures secreted away in the vaults of the Sree Padmanabhaswamy Temple in Thiruvananthapuram.

And yet, the lavish spread of the round integer somehow seems conservative. One gets the feeling they are only calculating the price of everything while discerning the value of nothing. The temple itself is over 500 years old and the vaults with all its caches were sealed over 150 years ago. There is a certain historic value to some of the objects that cannot be estimated in the mundane, pedestrian terminology of a cash economy.

There was an instance six years ago when an attempt was made to estimate the worth of Indian antique objects by parties who were out to lobby Parliament for changes in the Indian Antiquities Act and get most of them cleared for sale in the market. At the time, the net worth of the objects was...



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