In a remarkable interfaith gesture, to “celebrate the landmark papal visit to Philadelphia”, Free Library of Philadelphia is displaying a 64-foot Hindu “Bhagavata Purana” scroll (ca. 1750-1800).
Its “Sacred Stories” exhibition, till January 30, is also showcasing a leaf illustrating the famous Hindu legend of “churning of the ocean of milk” (1598), an 1813 illuminated manuscript of the Mahabharata, Birth of Krishna miniature (1650-1700), Krishna and Holi miniature (1600-1625) and illustration of scholars translating the Mahabharata (1598).
Commending Free Library of Philadelphia for displaying Hindu texts, miniatures and illustration; Hindu statesman Rajan Zed, in a statement in Nevada today, said that art had a long and rich tradition in Hinduism and ancient Sanskrit literature talked about religious paintings of deities on wood or cloth.
Rajan Zed, who is President of Universal Society of Hinduism, urged major libraries of the world to frequently organize Hinduism focused exhibitions, thus sharing the rich Hindu heritage with the rest of the world.
Besides Hinduism, “Sacred Stories” is also showcasing rare texts of Christianity, Islam, Buddhism and Judaism “that share the broadly human experiences of belief, faith, and worship, mediated through the written word” and narrating “a journey through 1,000 years of history”.
Chartered in 1891, the 61-location Free Library of Philadelphia system; with millions of digital and physical materials, 25,000 yearly programs and workshops, rich special collections, over six million in-person and millions more online visits annually; boasts of a worldwide impact. Siobhan A. Reardon is President; Pamela Dembe is Board of Trustees Chair; and Caitlin Goodman is Rare Books Curator.