University of Iowa Museum of Art (UIMA) has “murtis” of Hindu gods.

A “murti”, per Oxford Dictionary of Hinduism, is “image, icon, or concrete form of a deity; i.e. its manifestation, or incarnation”.

UIMA has bronze murti of Brahma (creator god), brass murti of Ganesha (god of wisdom and remover of obstacles), murti of Lakshmi (goddess of good fortune and beauty) and murti of Hanuman (god symbolizing strength and devotion).

Hindu statesman Rajan Zed, in a statement in Nevada today, commended UIMA for showcasing murtis of Hindu deities.

Zed, who is President of Universal Society of Hinduism, suggested UIMA to construct a small Hindu mandir (temple) within the Museum precincts and place these murtis in that temple. It would prove to be a good educational tool for the University of Iowa students and staff, residents of Iowa City and Iowa State, and UIMA visitors from world-over, Zed added.

Rajan Zed further said that Hindu priests could ritually install these amidst chanting of mantras and other ancient installation-related traditional ceremonies which would be an educational experience to watch; with Hinduism being the oldest and third largest religion of the world. The term “murti” first occurred in the pre-BCE Upanishads, Zed noted.

UIMA described murti as “embodiments of Hindu gods”, and in its collections, UIMA also states to have Hindu religious paraphernalia used in ceremonies.

UIMA, established in 1969, with 14,000 objects including Picasso and Braque paintings and prominent African artifacts, claims to be “one of the leading university art collections in the country”. Sean O'Harrow is UIMA’s Executive Director, while J. Bruce Harreld is University of Iowa President.

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