If you’ve ever walked through the ground floor hallway of CLII with your head down staring at your smartphone, you’ve walked right by some hidden treasures.
In a display case below a modestly designed sign that says “World Religions” sits numerous artifacts- statues, rosaries, crosses, books- representing 13 different religions from across the world, including Hinduism, Buddhism, Confucianism, Taoism, Sikhism, Christianity, Unitarianism, Native Spirituality, Zoroastrianism, Jainism, Judaism, Islam, and Baha’i Faith.
The display was put together two years ago by RVC Professor Emeritus Kanwal Prashar and the pieces were donated to the college from the private collection of Prashar and his wife, Meenakshi. Some have been passed down in the Prashar family, while others have been given to Prashar by students from over the years.
The oldest piece, estimated to be from the early 1900’s, is Nataraja, the dancing Shiva (the third of the Hindu Trinity of Brahma, Vishnu and Shiva). Nataraja first appeared on sculptures from the Gupta period in the 5th century CE. Shiva is the Lord of destruction and renewal. There are several explanations for this icon. One explanation is that the Shiva’s dance here quickens life through his rhythmic activity releasing human souls from the snare of illusion and dancing in the heart of the devotee. The small figure crushed under Shiva’s right foot is supposed to be a demon.
You can see photos and in-depth descriptions of a few more of the interesting pieces from the collection at the bottom of the page.
The collection is more than just a display case in the basement of CLII. The artifacts are often used by Prashar and fellow colleagues who teach World Religions at RVC to enhance the lessons taught in class.
Prashar hopes the collection will expand and find a more prominent home when the remodel of CLII is completed in the future.
In the meantime, the next time you are on the lower level of the building, take a timeout from your device and stop to appreciate the significance of this unique collection of religious treasures.
The World Religions (PHL-155) course at Rock Valley College is a survey of the major religions of the world. The course includes a philosophical examination of the histories and selected teachings, practices and institutions of major Eastern and Western religions, such as Buddhism, Christianity, Confucianism, Hinduism, Jainism, Judaism, Shinto, Sikhism, and Taoism.