• Monday, December 11, 2023


Modi’s gifts for Biden: Ganesh in a sandalwood box and Yeats translation of ancient Indian text

Indian officials reveal how the gifts reflect India’s respect for experience…

The sandalwood box with Ganesha which Indian prime minister Narendra Modi presented to US president Joe Biden in Washington. (ANI photo)

By: Chandrashekar Bhat

PRIME minister Narendra Modi gave Joe Biden a special sandalwood box with a carved silver idol of Lord Ganesha as he met the US president on the first day of his state visit in Washington DC yesterday (21).

Sourced from Mysuru in the south Indian state of Karnataka, the box features intricately carved flora and fauna patterns handcrafted by an expert from Jaipur.

Modi was hosted by the president and his wife Jill during an intimate dinner at the White House on Wednesday (21).

The box contains the idol of Ganesha, who Hindus worship as a destroyer of obstacles; its silver form was crafted by a family of fifth-generation silversmiths of Kolkata, officials said.

According to an ancient Indian text, an individual becomes ‘Drishta Sahasrachandro’ or the one who has seen one thousand full moons when he completes the age of 80 years and eight months, a milestone Biden will reach next month.

“The life spanning one thousand full moons is considered to be an important milestone in the Hindu way of life. The gap between two full moons is about 29.53 days, so the time span covered by a thousand full moons would be approximately 29,530 days or 80 years and 8 months,” a press note said.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi with US President Joe Biden and First lady Jill Biden during a private dinner at the White House, in Washington, USA, on June 21, 2023. (PTI Photo)

Modi’s gift reflects the traditional respect associated with a person’s experience, officials said.

Another gift to Biden was a tribute to the US president’s admiration for Irish poet William Butler Yeats.

Biden often quotes poetry from Yeats and made references to his writings and poetry in his public speeches, officials said.

Yeats also had a deep admiration for India and was influenced by Indian spirituality.

His friendship and admiration for Nobel Prize winning author Rabindranath Tagore is known and the poet also helped popularise Tagore’s Gitanjali in the Western world, officials said, adding Yeats’ admiration for Indian spirituality ran deep and he was influenced by the Upanishads and other ancient knowledge streams of India.

In 1937, Yeats published an English translation of the Indian Upanishads, co-authored with Shri Purohit Swami. The translation and collaboration between the two authors took place in the 1930s and it was one of the final works of Yeats.

A copy of the first edition print of this book, ‘The Ten Principal Upanishads’, published by M/s Faber and Faber Ltd of London and printed at the University Press Glasgow was gifted to Biden, officials said.

Modi also gifted a 7.5-carat lab-grown green diamond to First Lady Jill Biden.

Biden presented a handmade, antique American book galley from the early 20th century as the official gift to Modi.

He also received a gift of a vintage American camera, accompanied by an archival facsimile print of George Eastman’s Patent of the first Kodak camera; a hardcover book on American wildlife photography and a signed, first edition copy of ‘Collected Poems of Robert Frost’.

Eastern Eye

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