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Newsletter Archive

Showing 1 to 72 of 209 results
Showing 1 to 72 of 209 results
Preparation of Brushes by Miniature Painting Artists
"In Sanskrit the word Tulika is used for brushes. The artists in their ordinary language call it Kalam. It is worthwhile noting here that the different styles of paintings are also called as Kalam, viz. - Bundi Kalam, Kangra Kalam, Shah Kalam, etc. Kalams of different thicknesses are chiefly prepared for different types of works and from different types of bristles. The thick or medium size Kalam is required to fill colors in the painting."
Published in Jun 1999
Method of Preparing Colors by Miniature Painting Artists
"At first the available colors are ground on a stone slab (by rubbing or grounding) to bring them in a powder form. Some artists use mortar and pestle of a very hard quality stone. Then that color is dissolved in water along with some gum and then filtered. The filtration process is continued till the color becomes totally earth or sand free. Thereafter water is removed and the color is dried and kept in form of balls. When required, the desired color along with some dry gum is dissolved slowly in water with the help of finger or thumb.'
Published in Jul 1999
Technique of Indian Miniature Paintings
"The themes of the miniature are generally inspired by paintings commissioned centuries ago by Indian Emperors. Initially, the sketch is prepared by the artist on a smooth surface of a paper in light blue or reddish-brown ink. This primary sketch is drawn in soft lines suggesting only the outlines of the figures. These are later corrected and bold, accurate, hard lines are drawn. A thin coat of white pigment is applied to obliterate the incorrect lines."
Published in Aug 1999
Tanjore Paintings
"Tanjore derives its name from the capital of Chola empire, Thanjavoor. This place has one of the beautiful temple of Lord Shiva-Brigadeeswara temple. This art form was developed with the patronage of the Maratha rulers in the 18th century.This type of art which is famous for its ornamental relief work flourished with the patronage of the kings. The process of making a Tanjore painting requires dedicated skilled labour. There are many stages during the making of this painting."
Published in Sep 1999
Mughal School of Art
"In Indian art generally, possibly because of its predominantly religious character, the symbolic level is always the more important. The depicted surface-reality always very strongly implies some general statement. For instance, the animals and plants of the Buddhist frescoes are not just animals and plants but symbols of the whole of creation, a statement that it is animated, that it feels and suffers."
Published in Oct 1999
The Use of Colors in the Rajput School of Miniature Paintings
"The Rajput painter had inherited a legacy of mural painting as well as the art of the book. He devised a pictorial scheme with colour as a principal means of visual articulation. Conspicuously he retained the colour of complexions, costumes and architecture as local, while playing up the tenor of the natural environment in low or high key, or changing them altogether from their normal hues. "
Published in Nov 1999
An Introduction to Madhubani Paintings
"Hindu women who live in villages near the market town of Madhubani in northern India maintain old traditions and teach them to their daughters. Painting is one of the traditional skills that is passed down from generation to generation in the families of some of the women. They paint figures from nature and myth on household and village walls to mark the seasonal festivals of the religious year, for special events of the life-cycle, and when marriages are being arranged they prepare intricately designed wedding proposals."
Published in Dec 1999
Technique of Pata Chitra
"Pata is a Sanskrit derivation which literally means canvas so pata-painting means a scroll painting on canvas. The art of Pata Painting (or pata chitra) is practiced by the artists of Orissa, a state on the Eastern Coast of India. The painter first chooses two pieces (generally tussar silk) of cloth and he sticks the pieces together by means of a paste prepared from tamarind seeds. They are then dried in the sun."
Published in Jan 2000
Technique of Batik Art
"The technique of batik is a demanding one. In general, the final design must be conceived before the picture is begun. The batik artist works intimately with color; if he wishes parts of his design to be light yellow, for example, all these parts must be waxed at the same time before any subsequent dyeing. He cannot isolate one part of his design and complete it before moving on to the others as an artist in oils or watercolor may; he must create his design in stages, each of which encompasses the whole picture."
Published in Feb 2000
Sacred Buddhist Painting - The Tibetan Thangka
A Thangka is a painted or embroidered banner which was hung in a monastery or a family altar and carried by lamas in ceremonial processions. In Tibetan the word 'than' means flat and the suffix 'ka' stands for painting. The Thangka is thus a kind of painting done on flat surface but which can be rolled up when not required for display.
Published in Mar 2000
Krishna the Divine Lover in Indian Art
"...Krishna was physically irresistibly appealing... In the embrace of Krishna, the gopis, maddened with desire, found refuge...Often the colorful legends surrounding his amorous adventures with female friends prove to be of supreme inspiration to artists…"
Published in Apr 2000
The Life of Buddha in Legend and Art
"...The young prince Gautama Siddhartha was born into the ancient Sakya clan...he learned in a few days the sciences suitable to his race...Intrigued by his first encounter with old age...Four weeks after he began meditating under the Bodhi tree...on the night of a full moon, Sakyamuni attained enlightenment…"
Published in May 2000
Birds and Animals in Indian Art - The Mughal Artist as a Naturalist
"Jahangir the fourth Mughal emperor (r. 1605-27), was a lover of beauty, be it that of an artifact created by human hands or that observed in nature, the work of god. His memoirs, commonly known as Tuzuk-I-Jahangiri or, Jahangirnama, are as much an album of his aesthetic experiences as a chronicle of his reign. With his keen sensibility, these experiences were a permanent source of joy for him. Nature and beauty were preserved through the brush of his artists."
Published in Jun 2000
Love and Passion in Tantric Buddhist Art
"...The word Tantra itself is derived from the verbal root tan, meaning to 'weave'...Often the mother is shown in a posture with both legs around the father's waist...refer to the union of a lotus and vajra..."
Published in Jul 2000
Mother Goddess as Kali - The Feminine Force in Indian Art
Kali's fierce appearances have been the subject of extensive descriptions in several earlier and modern works. Though her fierce form is filled with awe- inspiring symbols, their real meaning is not what it first appears…
Published in Aug 2000
Mandala – Sacred Geometry in Buddhist Art | Exotic India
The word mandala itself is derived from the root manda, which means essence, to which the suffix la, meaning container, has been added. Thus, one obvious connotation of mandala is that it is a container of essence…
Published in Sep 2000
Ganesha - the Elephant Headed God, Art and Mythology
What is the symbolism of Ganesha's elephant head? Why does Ganesha ride on a mouse? What is the spiritual significance of Lord Ganesha? How was Ganesha especially devoted towards his mother Parvati? What are the different symbols Ganesha holds in his hands? These are some of the questions this article answers.
Published in Oct 2000
Green Tara and White Tara: Feminine Ideals in Buddhist Art
"Goddess Tara, a female Buddha and meditational deity, is arguably the most popular goddess in the Buddhist pantheon. She is considered to be the goddess of universal compassion who represents virtuous and enlightened activity. The word Tara itself is derived from the root 'tri' (to cross), hence the implied meaning:' the one who enables living beings to cross the Ocean of Existence and Suffering'. Her compassion for living beings, her desire to save them from suffering, is said to be even stronger than a mother's love for her children."
Published in Nov 2000
Hindu Goddesses - Lakshmi and Saraswati- Exotic India Art
The role of the goddess as one who fulfills wishes has remained one of enduring strength and consequence. In the ancient collection of sacred hymns known as the Veda, this aspect of the goddess already becomes manifest. The two most shining examples in this context are The Great Goddesses Lakshmi and Saraswati.
Published in Dec 2000
Shiva as Nataraja - Dance and Destruction In Indian Art
"Shiva the Hindu god of destruction is also known as Nataraja, the Lord of Dancers (In Sanskrit Nata means dance and raja means Lord). The visual image of Nataraja achieved canonical form in the bronzes cast under the Chola dynasty in the tenth century AD, and then continued to be reproduced in metal, stone and other substances right up to the present times. The Chola Nataraja is often said to be the supreme statement of Hindu art."
Published in Jan 2001
Wrathful Guardians of Buddhism - Aesthetics and Mythology
"An enigmatic aspect of Buddhist iconography is the presence of wrathful, terrifying forms. Though these awesome, hair-raising images seem contradictory to Buddhist ideals, they are not personifications of evil or demonic forces. Rather they symbolize the violence that is a fundamental reality of the cosmos in general, and of the human mind in particular. In addition to destroying the passions of the mind, the purpose of gods is to protect the faithful. The wrathful deities, who symbolize the tremendous effort it takes to vanquish evil, especially perform this function."
Published in Feb 2001
The Indian Sari - Fashioning the Female Form
"The Sari, it is said, was born on the loom of a fanciful weaver. He dreamt of a Woman. The shimmer of her tears. The drape of her tumbling hair. The colors of her many moods. The softness of her touch. All these he wove together. He couldn't stop. He wove for many yards. And when he was done, the story goes, he sat back and smiled and smiled and smiled".
Published in Mar 2001
Durga - Narrative Art of a Warrior Goddess
"...The Great Goddess Durga was born from the energies of the male divinities...The awesome three-eyed Goddess was adorned with the crescent moon...seas trembled as the Goddess engaged the Great Demon Mahisasura...Thus the reveries of Mahisa are exterminated..."
Published in Apr 2001
The Taj Mahal - Architecture of a Love Story
"As a tribute to a beautiful woman and as a monument for enduring love, the Taj reveals its subtleties when one explores it at leisure and not hurriedly. The rectangular base of Taj is in itself symbolic of the different sides from which to view a beautiful woman. The main gate is like a veil to a woman's face, which should be lifted delicately, gently and without haste on the wedding night. As per the charming Indian tradition the veil is lifted gently to reveal the beauty of the bride, in the couple's first night together."
Published in May 2001
Ritual Implements in Tibetan Buddhism: A Symbolic Appraisal
"Rites and rituals are an essential part of Tibetan religion and reflect its practical side. Not restricted to temples alone, they are performed in a variety of places and circumstances, for a myriad of purposes. Daily ceremonies are conducted in temples, although they are perhaps not so elaborate as those that take place in Hindu temples in India and Nepal."
Published in Jun 2001
Parvati - Goddess of Love & Devotion - Hindu Goddess - Exotic India Art
"In classical mythology the raison d'кtre of Parvati's birth is to lure Shiva into marriage and thus into the wider circle of married life from which he is aloof as a lone ascetic, living in the wilds of the mountains. The goddess represents the complementary pole to the ascetic, world-denying tradition in the Hindu ethos. In her role as maiden, wife, and later as a mother, she extends Shiva's circle of activity into the realm of the householder, where his stored-up energy is released in positive ways."
Published in Jul 2001
Mudras of the Great Buddha: Symbolic Gestures and Postures
"...symbolic sign based finger patterns taking the place, but retaining the efficacy of the spoken word, and are used to evoke in the mind ideas symbolizing divine powers or the deities..."
Published in Aug 2001
Tantra - The Art of Philosophy
"...art which has evolved out of tantra... is especially intended to convey a knowledge evoking a higher level of perception, and tapping dormant sources of our awareness..."
Published in Sep 2001
Islam - Aesthetics of a Mystic Religion
"...Islamic art conveys the spirituality and quintessential message of Islam through a timeless language which precisely because of its timelessness as well as its direct symbolism..."
Published in Oct 2001
Philosophy of "Namaste" and Comparison with the "Handshake"
"...the sacred sound 'namaste' is believed to have a quasi-magical value, corresponding to a creative energy change. This transformation is that of aligning oneself in harmony with the vibration of the cosmos itself...."
Published in Nov 2001
Om - An Inquiry into its Aesthetics, Mysticism, and Philosophy
"...God first created sound, and from these sound frequencies came the phenomenal world... Matter itself is said to have proceeded from sound and OM is said to be the most sacred of all sounds. It is the syllable which preceded the universe and from which the gods were created..."
Published in Dec 2001
Every Woman a Goddess - The Ideals of Indian Art
"...the originator of families, the preserver of the established order and the perpetuator of traditions...As the Great Goddess rules the heavens, her earthly counterpart, the woman, rules the home..."
Published in Jan 2002
Color Symbolism In Buddhist Art
"...there exists in Buddhism the concept of a rainbow body... the rainbow body signifies the awakening of the inner self to the complete reservoir of terrestrial knowledge that it is possible to access before stepping over the threshold to the state of Nirvana..."
Published in Feb 2002
Women and Jewelry - The Spiritual Dimensions of Ornamentation
"...each and every part of the feminine physique... have consistently been used to support ornaments... the simple appearance without ornament is "not enough"... Hence the stress on adornment of the women, who are but the poetry of nature..."
Published in Mar 2002
The Dance of Shiva
"God of eroticism, Shiva is... the master of Yoga, which is described as the method used to sublimate virile power and transform it into mental and intellectual power. He is therefore the 'great Yogi.'... 'I have never renounced any vice: it is they who have left me' summarizes the message of Shiva."
Published in Apr 2002
Wisdom Goddesses - Mahavidyas and the Assertion of Femininity in Indian Thought
"Iconographically, they (Mahavidyas) are individually shown dominating male deities. Kali and Tara are shown astride Shiva, while others like Shodashi sit on the body of Shiva... By subverting... conventional social norms, the adept seeks to liberate his or her consciousness from the... inhibiting categories of proper and improper, good and bad, polluted and pure."
Published in May 2002
The Bodhisattva Ideal - Buddhism and the Aesthetics of Selflessness
"A bodhisattva wishes to help all beings attain nirvana. He must therefore refuse to enter nirvana himself, as he cannot apparently render any services...after his own nirvana... A bodhisattva can never love the body for its own sake... he cherishes it...because he will...save someone sometime somewhere... in the moment of tribulation."
Published in Jun 2002
Each of us a Healer: Medicine Buddha and the Karma of Healing
"Karma is both action and the consequence of that action...if we want to create happiness in our own lives, we must learn to sow the seeds of happiness for others...In Buddhist tradition the first and primordial healer was the great Buddha himself...The Buddhist tradition identifies the Medicine Buddha as the ideal healer, and it also stresses that the utmost powers of healing lie within our own selves."
Published in Jul 2002
Rama The Ideal Man: The Epic Adventure of a Hero
"Nobility is always a defining quality of the mythic hero. His actions are severe and punishing, or gentle as per the demand of the situation...(The) supreme display of detached attachment was worthy of Rama... Rama was a man. He was also a god...he inspires all of us 'ordinary' mortals to follow the path of a just and upright existence, unswerving in our faith of the correctness of it. This is the true inner journey of the hero, leading to the divine spark that blazes inside each of us, waiting to be discovered."
Published in Aug 2002
Dance of the Yogini: Images of Aggression in Tantric Buddhism
"Iconographic representations tend to show the dakini as a young, naked figure in a dancing posture, often holding a skull cup filled with menstrual blood or the elixir of life in one hand, and a curved knife in the other. She may wear a garland of human skulls, with a trident staff leaning against her shoulder. Her hair is usually wild and hanging down her back, and her face often wrathful in expression, as she dances on top of a corpse, which represents her complete mastery over ego and ignorance. Practitioners often claim to hear the clacking of her bone adornments as the dakinis indulge in their vigorous movement. Indeed these unrestrained damsels appear to revel in freedom of every kind."
Published in Sep 2002
A Kali in Every Woman: Motherhood and the Dark Goddess Archetype
"It is well established in the canons of Indian thought that every woman mirrors in herself the divine feminine... Envisioned as totally naked, the visual tales of her terrible form do not end with her dense black color or with the skirt made up of decapitated hands...(or) the necklace made up of heads she has severed from the torsos of beings...The truth behind the mystery of Kali, it seems, is to not be found by a conventional appraisal of her physical appearance....it is the female of the species who comes out with honors here, by resolutely establishing that when they are wives and when they progress to being mothers, Kali forms an integral part of their characteristic buildup."
Published in Oct 2002
The Wheel of Life - Aesthetics of Suffering and Salvation
"'The Wheel of Life'...serves as a powerful inspiration to spiritual aspirants...to look deeply into their own inner beings...it is an attempt to convey spiritual insights behind our 'physical existence' in purely visual terms...(It) symbolically represents how...beings, who have not practiced the Dharma and liberated themselves, are bound in a cycle of existences whose very nature is suffering...One should intently and seriously contemplate the meaning of this wheel...Once this happens, the wish to be free of this mindless suffering is spontaneous and constant"
Published in Nov 2002
The Philosophy of Yoga - An Aesthetic Appraisal
"Human nature is like a chariot yoked to a team of powerful horses. One of them is prana (breath), the other is vasana (desire)...the yogi masters the science of breath and by the regulation and control of breath, he controls the mind and stills its constant movement...Yoga is one of the most ancient spiritual concepts of East, and despite a philosophical look it has an equally significant physical basis...Yoga is a collection of simple practices...consisting of action, method and technique...the method by which the restless mind is calmed and the energy directed into constructive channels"
Published in Dec 2002
Vishnu - A Symbolic Appreciation
"'The world rests as the lotus in the palm of my hand, the cosmos revolves around my finger like a discus. I blow the music of life through my conch and wield my mace to protect all creatures'... Vishnu is the Preserver, the protector of all humanity. A deity who saves mankind from calamities which result from its own foibles... (a) popular icon of Vishnu shows him in a dreamlike state reclining upon a mighty serpent and floating upon the primordial waters. Vishnu in his dream state represents that gap in time when creation stands withdrawn and eternity awaits the birth of a new age..."
Published in Jan 2003
The Stupa - Yoga's Sacred Architecture
"Since its beginnings in India, Buddhism has spread over an area... wherever you travel throughout this vast area, there is one type of architectural monument which is everywhere... This ubiquitous Buddhist monument is the stupa... it was the Buddha himself who outlined the basic design of the stupa... The Buddha's physical form... finds an echo in the stupa... The stupa by virtue of being the monument of Buddha's choice is deemed especially sacred... The spiritual merit of this monument is enhanced... by it being a reflection of the Cosmic Man, visualized in the ideals of Yoga, who resides in each of us..."
Published in Feb 2003
Shakti - Power and Femininity in Indian Art
"The earliest term applied to the divine feminine... is Shakti... Specifically, Shakti means power, force and feminine energy. She represents the fundamental creative instinct underlying the cosmos, and is the energizing force of all divinity, of every being and every thing... The yoni or female generative organ is... venerated for its obvious properties of fertility and growth... While Durga is the most potent icon to express the aggressive and destructive behavior of Shakti, Lakshmi is the quintessential goddess who proclaims her creative aspect... (It) is emphasized in the Gandharva Tantra (that) 'She who is the sun, moon, and fire, lays down the purusha (male) and enjoys him from above.'..."
Published in Mar 2003
Buddha - A Hero's Journey to Nirvana
"The Buddha's journey to spiritual awakening or 'Nirvana,'... perfectly mirrors the ... progressive development of a hero... Not at ease with his immediate environment... a constant unease gnaws at his heart, prompting him to question the very nature of his existence. This inner strife is the first inkling that a greater destiny lies ahead of the potential hero... Buddha was born an ordinary mortal. His path to fulfillment... was a journey full of exciting experiences and mistakes made. He learned from each of his mistakes, making it a springboard for all future, and finally the ultimate success... each of us... is capable and deserving of Nirvana, having a potential Buddha hidden in us..."
Published in Apr 2003
The Hindu Temple - Where Man Becomes God
"The Hindu Temple (dissolves) the boundaries between man and divinity... by putting into practice the belief that the temple, the human body, and the sacred mountain and cave, represent aspects of the same divine symmetry... The thought behind the design of a temple is a continuation of Upanishadic analogy, in which the atman (soul or the divine aspect in each of us) is likened to an embryo within a womb or to something hidden in a cave... Temples appeared on the horizon only in the Kali-yuga...(when) the gods ceased to come down and appear in their own or disguised forms. The architecture of the Hindu temple recreates the archetypal environment of an era when there was no need for such an architecture..."
Published in May 2003
The Shiva Linga - Images of Cosmic Manhood in Art and Mythology
"Shiva is worshipped in the form of the male organ of procreation, often alone, and frequently conjoined with the corresponding female organ, which is sculpted as a receptacle to receive Shiva's seed... The distinctive sign by which one can recognize the nature of something is called lingam... The linga is... a great equalizer... worshippers, regardless of sex, caste, or creed... (pour) generous libations on the linga, while simultaneously caressing it intimately... Shiva's liberated phallus represents this illuminating power rising heavenward beyond the material world. Thus is the linga likened to a pillar of light, guiding us to true knowledge..."
Published in Jun 2003
The Five Meditating Buddhas - An Enquiry into Spiritual Aesthetics
"The five Dhyani Buddhas represent the five basic types of human personality and demonstrate the absolutely perfected form of these personality types... It is an ample demonstration of the genius of Vajrayana Buddhism that... weaknesses are not denied or suppressed... hope lies in the belief that the human mind holds within itself the potential to metamorphose these negative traits into positive attributes... All the five Dhyani Buddhas are said to have originated from Vajrasattva himself... Color is logically... one of the significant means through which Buddhist art gives a tangible form to human emotions and nowhere is this more explicitly displayed than in the typical iconography of the five Dhyani Buddhas..."
Published in Jul 2003
Ganga The River Goddess - Tales in Art and Mythology
"Ganga is...(the) divine grace flowing on to our material world, as is visible in the prosperity of the fertile and rich crop-yielding regions adjacent to her banks... The intense devotion and love which her devotees feel for Ganga is no small measure due to the fact that she is the only accessible physical entity that flows both in the heavens and on the earth... Ganga is a river that has been at the core of sacred Hindu lore and tradition... As a mother, Ganga is tangible, approachable, and all accepting... Ganga's icon at the (temple) doorway... implies her status as a remover of pollution..."
Published in Aug 2003
The Rhythm of Music - A Magical and Mystical Harmony
"Mysticism is the inherent desire to seek oneness with the ultimate reality... the sense organs provide the only window to perceive this supreme state of being... This state is non-material, just like music is... the first musical instrument was the human body itself, and the first created music, the human voice... In mysticism, everything is vibration... all material forms made up of vibrations... The drum, through its rhythms, replicates these vibrations... the beating together of cymbals is said to signify the symbolic union of opposites... an activity which is necessary to maintain the harmony of the dynamic universe... the flute... gives forth a clear, pure and simple sound... both intensely melancholy and entrancingly sprightly... The sacredness and reverence for the flute can be gauged form the fact that it is often deified as an extension of Krishna's own beauty"
Published in Sep 2003
The Eight Auspicious Symbols of Buddhism - A Study in Spiritual Evolution
"Buddhism has evolved over the centuries a complex, yet discernable scheme of symbolism which has found adequate expression in Buddhist art... Buddhist motifs [are] soaked in rich spiritual symbolism... [They are] said to represent Buddha's deep and resonant voice, through which he introduced his followers to the path of dharma... Undoubtedly, the most popular of such symbols is the group of eight, known in Sanskrit as 'Ashtamangala,' ashta meaning eight and mangala meaning auspicious. Each of these symbols is also individually associated with the physical form of the Buddha... Artistically, these motifs may be depicted individually, in pairs, in fours, or as a composite group of eight. Designs of these eight symbols adorn all manner of sacred and secular Buddhist objects, such as carved wooden furniture, metalwork, wall panels, carpets and silk brocades."
Published in Oct 2003
Buddha and Christ - Two Gods on the Path to Humanity
"Christ and Buddha, two manifestations of divinity, showed us that true salvation lies only on the path of humanity and compassion towards all. Indeed, through their humanity they are both related to us, and through their divinity, to god... 'Buddha and Christ are but local inflections of a universal archetype: the Cosmic Person imaging wholeness.'... Just as Buddha gained enlightenment by conquering the five senses, Christ, pinned in five places... nails down the five senses... Since they both embodied universal human aspirations and their ultimate realization... the art they inspired too would develop motifs which would elaborate similar principles, though the metaphors deployed would vary, being dependent upon local contexts."
Published in Nov 2003
Playing with Krishna - God as Child in Art and Mythology
"Wordsworth... said: 'Heaven lies about us in our infancy.'... as an infant and a child, Krishna is approachable... He can be approached with the intimacy with which a parent approaches a child... Such a god invites man to dispense with cumbersome formality and come to him openly, delighting in him intimately... Krishna's incarnation represents the human dimension of the divine... Krishna removes the poison of evil from this world while he joyously feeds on a mother's bosom... God as an infant does not govern the world from a majestic throne, but makes the world his playground and even while enjoying himself maintains the cosmic order. A child too seeks only to amuse himself, expressing his essential nature in every action..."
Published in Dec 2003
The Ideals of Motherhood  - Aesthetics of Form and Function
"providence has blessed women with the primary responsibility of the perpetuation of the human race. Understandably her physical body has been richly endowed for this glorious function… To the connoisseur of Indian aesthetics, the profusion of voluptuous women dominating its canvas comes as no surprise… But while celebrating the female body in glorious images the artist never loses sight of the fact that whatever nature creates, it creates with a purpose. No form is accidental and every natural form must have a divinely ordained function. Whatever be the artistic representation, it must glorify this inherent natural function…"
Published in Jan 2004
Nepal - Adventures in a Living Museum
"One enters Nepal as a traveler, and leaves as a pilgrim... Nepal is the ideal place to rise above the theoretical... textbooks, and see the twin strands of Tantra and Shamanism... rooted in the eternal and faithful depths of Hinduism, and tempered by the sobering influence of Buddhism... the gods of Nepal do not represent a forgotten era of the past. The deities here are living, and participate in the ordinary existence of everyday life as much as we mere mortals do..."
Published in Feb 2004
The Life of Buddha and the Art of Narration in Buddhist Thangka Paintings
"In its characteristic unique way, Buddhist thought divides the eventful life of its founder into twelve glorious "events." These defining incidents of his life are given visual form in densely packed sequences narrated in a special genre of paintings... These artworks not only delineate Buddha's gradual progress towards spiritual enlightenment, but also present a visual depiction of a vast number of abstract philosophical notions underlying esoteric Buddhism..."
Published in Mar 2004
Putting The Ocean in a Bowl - The Origin of the Buddha Image
"The Buddha image...has constantly been under debate as to its origin and evolution...Some believe that the first Buddha image had come into being during the lifetime of the Buddha himself...For most scholars however...he earliest Buddha images come from around...some five hundred year after Buddha's Mahaparinirvana...early Buddhist art...sought to represent him by a number of symbols, or material motifs, which had remained associated with him...These motifs, the empty throne and stupa in particular, depicted rather, and with utmost thrust, only Buddha's absence, as it was in his absence that his devotees realized the presence of their Master...the artists, working as per the Buddhist tradition itself, saw Buddha more in the Dharma rather than in a human form...Even during the subsequent late phase...not a single Buddha image...has so far come to light, which does not depict one aspect or the other of the Dharma...It does not so much portray the Buddha as it does the Dharma..."
Published in Apr 2004
Evolution of the Buddha Image
"...the first ever image defined by humanity was not a thing chiseled to a likeness, but such likeness was only discovered in it...the image of the Divine, discovered or made, and its worship, were quite in vogue much before Buddha's days...Buddhist themes first make their appearance in...a number of monolithic pillars surmounted with animal capitals aiming at invoking man's reverence for all creatures, which was the prime thrust of Buddhism...the mind of the Buddhist sculptor, which had so far wrestled between the 'image' and the 'non-image', had at last discovered 'one' in the 'other', that is, the motif in man and the man in motif...it is yet a matter of debate whether (the) early...images were sculpted at Mathura or in Gandhara region...Gandhara images of Buddha are more akin to Greek models, whereas Mathura images show a continuity of its own indigenous tradition...During over 2500 years of its emergence the Buddha image has always been growing and evolving and is today the most loved and preferred image for a drawing room, irrespective to whom and to which land it belongs"
Published in May 2004
Conception and Evolution of The Mother Goddess in India
"The Mother Goddess is India's supreme Divinity... In fury or in frown, she is always the same protective, caring, loving Mother with a benign face and a blessing hand... In her material manifestation, She represents, with absolute motherhood, also the absolute womanhood. She causes life and sustains it, and is also the cause of life, its inspiration and aspiration, and the reason to live... She is the eternal upholder of Dharma and truth, the promoter of happiness and the giver of salvation and prosperity but also of sorrows, grief and pain... As Adi Shakti, She represents Prakriti, which operates in and on all things, the manifest or otherwise, materially present or abstract..."
Published in Jun 2004
Mughal Miniature Painting - An Alternative Source of History
"The art of painting is often made to face a question: Is it an instrument that calibrates past... whether art is different from history or is only one of its alternative sources...haunt the minds of art critics and as often the conference halls of academic institutions... our mind is always keen to discover in art, whatever its genre, the world that it realizes through its senses or by its intellect and other faculties... Mughal art better reveals the world of Mughal days than do written histories or literary annals... (Indian) miniature art (is) both imaginative and realistic, but it is not imaginative in the sense in which are some of the abstract or symbolic art modes that seek to transform a materially 'existent' into an abstract symbol... The truth of an Indian miniature stands midway, somewhere in between the 'real' and the 'unreal', or imagined, and it is in this dilemma that it discovers its uniqueness..."
Published in Jul 2004
Mysterious and Inspiring Stories of Hanuman Ji
"In Hindu symbolism, a monkey signifies the human mind, which is ever restless and never still... Hanuman is symbolic of the perfect mind, and embodies the highest potential it can achieve... Hanuman's name...illustrates his self-effacing character, being made up of 'hanan' (annihilation) and 'man' (mind), thus indicating one who has conquered his ego... Hanuman never threatens the world with his virility unlike say Shiva whose virility often has to be restrained by goddess Kali... He is...a perfect karma yogi since he performs his actions with detachment, acting as an instrument of destiny rather than being impelled by any selfish motive..."
Published in Aug 2004
Iconographic Perception of Krishna's Image
"Lord Krishna...is now for centuries the most cherished theme of arts in India... Unlike Lord Vishnu, who he incarnates, Krishna is...an entity beyond time, without end and without beginning... He has been represented in visual arts... but no...form could ever define him... Forms decompose, erode and are subject to transition, Krishna is not... He exists in what he creates, yet is always beyond it. Thus, all are his forms and yet he is beyond them all... This defines Lord Krishna related art vision and the entire creative endeavor, which always fell short of its theme…"
Published in Sep 2004
Exploring Karma - Tales of a Universal Principle
"The word karma is derived from the Sanskrit root 'kri,' meaning 'to do,' implying that all action is karma. Technically, the term incorporates both an action and its consequence... we...confront a dilemma...namely, the relative impurity and purity of an action... What determines the nature of the karma is the will or intention behind an act... We read in the Bhagavad Gita again and again that we must all work incessantly. There it is also mentioned that all work by nature is composed of good and evil... Good and evil are not constant - they change according to time and circumstance... every act is sacred since we are not the doer but a higher reality is acting through us... Karma yoga is a means for seeking divinity in action and life itself..."
Published in Oct 2004
The Iconographic Genesis of Shiva
"Shiva, the Mahadeva, represents...dissolution or destruction of the cosmos...(among) the functional aspects of God, namely, the creation, preservation and dissolution (of the cosmos)... Brahma and Vishnu have their roots in the Vedas, and not before. Shiva has a pre-Vedic origin, as his worship cult seems to have been in vogue amongst the Indus dwellers, even around 3000 B.C... excavated material includes a number of terracotta seals representing a yogi icon and the phallus type baked clay objects...suggestive of some kind of phallus-worship cult of the non-Aryan settlers of the Indus cities... Shiva's divine perception as well as iconic visualization developed into two directions, one growing out of his serene sublime benevolent Saumyarupa and the other out of his awe-striking Raudra-rupa... The violent jungle god of Vedas and the grim looking horn wearing Yogi of Indus emerges upon the altar of the believing ones, on painter's canvas, in metal casters' mould and in the strokes of hammer and chisel, as the harmless Bholanath, the innocence Lord and the good incarnate, as the supreme auspice, the most formidable of divine powers, the paramount lover and the holiest model of the Vedic family cult..."
Published in Nov 2004
Awakening the Inner Woman - Bhakti and the Doctrine of Love
"The intense passion of Mirabai, which sought to model itself on the fervent ardor of the gopis of Vrindavana, suggests that the lord can be worshipped very effectively if the devotee imagines himself to be a woman... Chaitanya's mystic-ecstatic form of worship openly encouraged male devotees to imagine themselves in the role of gopis... the female...is the more emotional of the two sexes, and bhakti being a necessarily emotional experience, Chaitanya's 'hyper-sentimentality' found adequate expression in the personality of Radha whose intensity of passion can said to have paralleled Chaitanya's own frenzied devotion to the Lord... The Padma Purana says that when the great lord Rama entered the forest named Dandaka, the virtuous sages residing in its wild surroundings desired to engage in lila with the lord. Hence they were all reborn as gopis in Vrindavana, and through physical passion they found liberation from the ocean of existence... Similar descriptions of divine romanticism are found in the mystical literature of other traditions: the Kabbalah speaks of approaching the Absolute with the divine passion of a lover... Indeed, since between lovers there are no secrets, by approaching divinity as a lover we enter into the mystery of god."
Published in Dec 2004
The Many Forms of Mahakala, Protector of Buddhist Monasteries
"Each of the three forms of Mahakala has some distinctly different qualities and aspects.... The continuous counting of the rosary is a symbol of perpetual activity, which Mahakala achieves on a cosmic scale.... An elephant-headed entity lying crushed under his legs represents our instinctive, primary animal force and urge... The blazing fire surrounding him demonstrates his powerful energy out to consume all neurotic states of minds.... Mahakala's typical blackness symbolizes his all-embracing, comprehensive nature, because it is the hue into which all other colors merge; it absorbs and dissolves them. Just as all colors disappear in black, so do all names and forms melt into that of Mahakala. Black is also the total absence of color, again signifying the nature of Mahakala as ultimate reality.... He is the transcendent-time (maha-kala), absolute, eternal, measureless, and ever present."
Published in Jan 2005
Life of Shankaracharya - The Adventures of a Poet Philosopher
"Shankaracharya's philosophical outlook can be summed up in one word Advaita, 'Dvaita' meaning duality and the prefix 'A' negating it... The goal of Advaita is to make an individual realize his or her essential (spiritual) identity with the supreme realty Brahman... Shankara was not the founder of the theory of Advaita... What he however did was to bring all the various streams of Indian thought...under the common roof of Advaita... In addition to composing numerous texts and verses delineating the essential principles of non-dualistic Vedic philosophy, a significant contribution of Shankara is his commentary on the principal Upanishad texts and the Bhagavad Gita as also the Brahma sutras... Shankara'a purpose is not to intimidate the reader with abstract technical jargon; but rather provide him/her with spiritual insight…"
Published in Feb 2005
Fiction in Mughal Miniature Painting
"Fiction in Mughal miniatures...are widely considered the couriers of realism in Indian art... the art is as appropriate a vehicle of fiction as the literature. Art does not always have tales to tell but is also not without them. The miniature art inclines to be realistic but even in portraying the real it often takes recourse to fiction... Realism, whether in art or literature, is not fiction's antithesis. On the contrary, it is as much an aspect of fiction as that of the realistic art... the fiction that evolved in early Indian miniatures is incidental to its source material, that is, the texts, which it illustrated... Mughal art continued with the text-based fiction illustrating...Persian classics..., the Ramayana, Mahabharata..and many others..."
Published in Apr 2005
Forms of the Formless - an Interpretive Study of the Indian Trinity
"Though by their fundamental nature arts are conditioned to use form even for representing the abstract, yet they perceive this duality- the Formless appearing with a form... the Divines and mortals are just components of the same composite whole, which is existence... It is this perception of the Indian mind...that discovers the Divine in mortals and the aspects of the born ones in the Divine... cosmic activity has three aspects - the creation, the preservation and the dissolution... (the) three aspected cosmic act is the role of the Formless and it is only in such role that the Unmanifest manifests. The Indian tradition conceives the Great Trinity - Brahma, Vishnu and Shiva, as representing these three aspects and thereby the Unmanifest One..."
Published in May 2005
Ardhanarishvara in Art and Philosophy
"Barring a few exceptions, the right half of the Ardhanarishvara images comprises of male anatomy and the left that of the female. A few images, obviously influenced by Shakta cult, have a vice versa placing of the male and female parts also.... Despite a similar anatomy of the two parts, the female part imparts the feeling of elegance and tenderness. An elegantly modeled prominent breast is the essentiality of the female anatomy.... A Greek myth also comes out with a hermaphroditic form. Salamacis, a nymph, falls in love with Hermophroditus, the son of Aphrodite. After Hermophroditus turns down her proposal, Salamacis prays gods to put her into his body. And, thus, the two join limb to limb into a single frame. This Greek hermaphroditic form has mythical dimensions but it is neither divine nor cosmic or procreative, such as is the Ardhanarishvara form."
Published in Jun 2005
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