It is learned that the said sculpture had briefly surfaced in the art market in London in 1988

A priceless 10th century Vrishanana Yogini idol missing since the 1980s from a temple in Uttar Pradesh is being repatriated to India from the UK.

Minister of State for External Affairs Meenakashi Lekhi tweeted about this development and added, “Our government under the leadership of PM Narendra ModiJi is committed to restore the Cultural Heritage of Bharat and its glory”.

A press release from the Indian High Commission in UK said that it was happy to announce the recovery and repatriation of the very special 10th century stone idol.

The Indian High Commission said it had received the idol on the auspicious day of Makar Sankranti (Friday); it is being dispatched to the Archaeological Survey of India, New Delhi.

“The sculpture is of a goat-headed Yogini that originally belonged to a group of stone deities carved in sandstone and installed in Lokhari temple,” it informed.

These had been the subject of a study by Indian scholar Vidya Dahejia on behalf of National Museum in New Delhi in 1986 which was later published under the title, ‘Yogini Cult and Temples: A Tantric Tradition', the press release said.

It is learned that the said sculpture had briefly surfaced in the art market in London in 1988, the High Commission's press release mentioned.

In October 2021, the High Commission of India received information about the finding of a goat-headed Yogini sculpture that had matched the description of the Lokhari set, in the garden of a private residence near London.

“India Pride Project, Singapore and Art Recovery International, London swiftly assisted High Commission of India, London, in the identification and recovery of the statue while the High Commission of India processed the requisite documentation with local and Indian authorities,” the statement said.

“Interestingly, a similar sculpture of the buffalo-headed Vrishanana Yogini, apparently stolen from the same temple at Lokhari village had been recovered and repatriated by Embassy of India, Paris in 2013,” the release further stated.

The Vrishanana Yogini was installed in the National Museum, New Delhi in September 2013.

“Yoginis are a group of powerful female divinities, associated with the Tantric mode of worship. They are worshipped as a group, often 64 and are believed to possess infinite powers,” the High Commission further said.