Savitri Era of those who adore, Om Sri Aurobindo and The Mother.

Saturday, May 23, 2015


Savitri Era of those who adore, Om Sri Aurobindo & The Mother.

Check out @The_RHS's Tweet: could I miss this excellent post?! Anyway, better late than never. The wit, sarcasam and humor of your post is fantastic, and totally on the point. But I have a serious point to make :) Yes, our culture is not weak that it can be so easily shaken by those ill-informed books, non-sensical portrayals in films etc. And I am totally with you on the positives that we should be working on (like not defacing our monuments, protecthing and preserving our heritage temples, encouraging and promoting classical art forms etc.). But I still feel that there is a need for a strong, well-informed, well-articulated defense. I say this because in present times the global discourse on global cultures is still very asymmetric. And culture as a soft power is commonly used for the purposes of international and foreign policy purposes. I am not saying this, many serious thinkers have been documenting this for quite a while now. Of course you would know that I am not speaking of the sort of misinformed and misapplied aggression that protestors of valentines day and those advocating covering up women etc. Every time a book that speaks of Shiv-lingam as phallus (and only that, and nothing else) is used as a textbook in a classroom in the US or anywhere else in the world, a seed for the misperception of Hinduism is planted in young minds right there ! And this is just one small example, there are many such things that happen on regular basis. It is such things that need to be challenged and challenged strongly.


  1. Beloo! I differentiate between the 'preserving' means of upholding culture and the 'destruction' means. A true response to an ill-informed book about our culture IS a well-informed one that gets written and widely circulated and NOT burning copies and filing cases to ban the book. What the latter does is ensure that THAT book gets more publicity and higher circulation than before, if not within this country outside the country.

    In other words, I would rather that we ignore these things, by way of not even referring to them, and concentrated on building a better understanding of our own culture among both our people as well as others. In that, what I mean is that we do tackle the arguments posited by these people but NOT in direct reference so as to be seen to be making a defense. To me, the idea of defending my culture against ill-informed people is to give too much stature to ill-informed nuts :)
  2. Totally with you on this point about not giving too much or any publicity to the ill-informed nuts. And also on the point about doing well informed critiques of controversial books. But my concern still remains that the nuts who oppose a certain book or film and demand their ban and pulping get more publicity in our asymmetric discourse than the well-researched critique. This makes the problem even worse. Ultimately I agree the best defense is to strengthen our own bonds with our cultural roots and encourage others to do the same through meaningful education. But unfortunately there is a lot of apathy, ignorance and indifference among the so-called educated Indians about their own roots.

Monday, August 04, 2014

Conflict between Aesthetic and Ethical tendencies

[Oscar Wilde and Sri Aurobindo in a conversation on the blog, about art, aesthetics, ethics and utility. All Art is Quite Useless": What a Wild(e) Idea! Beloo Mehra
A new post in the series - Satyam Shivam Sundaram A series featuring inspiring words from various sources, words that...]

[Wilde added this Preface to the book, along with several other changes, after the first, 1890 edition of the book was highly criticized. He used it to "address the criticism and defend the novel's reputation." The collection of statements in this Preface also "serves as an indicator of the way in which [he] intends the novel to be read." 
But the main reason why I became fascinated by this Preface is this: It serves as an excellent illustration of what Sri Aurobindo refers to as the conflict between Aesthetic and Ethical tendencies of the human mind. In his major work on social philosophy, The Human Cycle, he writes:]

Saturday, September 21, 2013

Joseph Allen Stein: Less is more

Joseph Allen Stein: Less is more
~Elizabeth Kuruvilla (HT Sunday Magazine , October 14, 2001)

Monday, October 08, 2012

Friday, October 14, 2011

Creative Voyage curated by Ranjan Mallik

You are cordially invited to Inaugural Function of "Creative Voyage", an Exhibition of Paintings at the Lokayata Art Gallery, Mulk Raj Anand Centre, Hauz Khas Village, New Delhi on 14th October, 2011 at 5 P.M. I am participating along with eminent and young artists. (See Invitation Card for details.)
Looking forward to your encouragement and appreciation.

Lipsa P. Mohanty S.K. Mohanty
e-mail: Cell: 9818236472

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Creative Voyage curated by Ranjan Mallik

You are cordially invited to Inaugural Function of "Creative Voyage", an Exhibition of Paintings at the Lokayata Art Gallery, Mulk Raj Anand Centre, Hauz Khas Village, New Delhi on 14th October, 2011 at 5 P.M. I am participating along with eminent and young artists. (See Invitation Card for details.)
Looking forward to your encouragement and appreciation.

Lipsa P. Mohanty S.K. Mohanty
e-mail: Cell: 9818236472

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Solo showcase of ceramics and paintings by Adil Writer

Textured with feeling The Hindu October 20, 2010 SRAVASTI DATTA
Renowned artist Adil Writer uses sand and clay to render a tactile element to his paintings
Meet Adil Writer. He is a renowned Auroville-based artist with an important mission: to bridge the gap between paintings and high temperature ceramics. He knows his stuff and is quick to correct any misconception you might have about art: […]
Sitting on a potter's wheel and throwing clay on it is both a creative and a spiritual experience for Adil. He is loath to categorise art into watertight compartments. “There is no differentiation between art and craft. It's all kalaa. In schools, art and craft are taught separately. We should sensitise young artists that no such distinctions exist,” says Adil.
Adil has had a number of successful exhibitions of his works nationally and internationally.
This month, Bangaloreans can look forward to his solo exhibition “Treasures” which will have on display ceramic works and paintings. An interesting part of the exhibition is that it will feature miniature treasure boxes made of a variety of clays that are “small, intimate objects that want to be held, you can discover hidden secrets within”. You can also “cradle them, turn them around and explore”. His paintings of acrylic on canvas will also be on display. Some of these paintings are categorised as “painted media” that essentially started out as “bad' pixelated pictures on phone cameras, then got edited, later printed on canvas, stretched on wooden frames, and finally painted upon, almost to a point where the original photographic images are past-life memories.
On October 23, a workshop “Fun with clay” will be held. “You don't have to be a potter or an artist to participate. Besides, it's going to be seriously fun,” Adil says with a smile. Prior registration is required. There will be a charge of Rs. 2,200. All material for the workshop will be provided.
“Treasures” will be on display at Gallery Time and Space, 55, Lavelle Road from October 21 to 30 from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. Call: 22124117.
Treasures, a solo showcase of ceramics and paintings by Auroville-based artist, Adil Writer will be on display at Gallery Time & Space.

Friday, September 24, 2010

How language came into being from the nervous system of the human body

THEORY NOW by (Mark Cameron Boyd)
Thank you, Ms. Lipinski, for the invitation to attend the exhibition of Mr. Boyd's work and help panel a discussion related to the show. I would be honored to accept. I am not sure, however, if I would be a voice that would celebrate the kind of approach that this show intends. I look forward to seeing the work myself before I draw any conclusions. In general, though I feel I should admit my own bias: especially when it comes to the topic of Divinity, I find art that is used as a tool of philosophy ends up as limited art and limited philosophy. This begs many questions, I know, like are art and philosophy mutually exclusive, etc. and we could discuss this, but God and art are matters of the heart, for me, and not of the head, and so other faculties of knowing than the intellect are engaged in a primary way. You may know from Nora that I am a sculptor as well as a PhD candidate in Religion and Culture and my work deals in issues of devotion to God, so I feel I could contribute to this discussion from both an academic and artistic perspective. My academic work is based on the thought and legacy of Sri Aurobindo Ghose (1872-1950), an Indian who was a revolutionary, poet, thinker, yogi and teacher.
Knowing all this (and I am sorry to be so disorganized in my thoughts), if you still would like to have me on your panel, I would be delighted to contribute. Thanks again for the email and give my very best to Nora. Patrick 
 Dear Mark,
I too am teaching these days, all day on Wednesdays. So, I am glad to get your response and have a chance to reply. It has me thinking more of the connections I see between Derrida, et al. and different understandings of the silence as experienced and addressed in mystical traditions. To deconstruct language is to expose it to that silence that is broken up by words and sounds--by noise. I have more experience in Christian, Sufi and Hindu worldviews of mysticism so I would approach it from these angles. That "there is nothing but the text" is not the experience of those in these traditions, but there is some overlap I think.
The Hindu-based thinker I am writing my dissertation on is Sri Aurobindo Ghose (d. 1950), who has an interesting view of language. He knew Vedic and classical Sanskrit (among about ten other languages, both Western and Eastern) and saw an evolution of how language came into being from the nervous system of the human body such that the meaning and the word used for it were organically connected, where it was not arbitrary but a natural linkage, I suppose totally onomatopoetic. I have been studying Sanskrit myself and one can see there the way it preserves this kind of consciousness in its root words, which can actually feel like they sound and feel like they mean.
Gradually (and this has been the case for most of recorded history in his view) language came to be abstracted such that ideas/meanings had nothing whatsoever to do with the word used and they were linked conventionally. I will leave our conversation for November but I liked very much how you made clear the connection between Heidegger and Derrida. That was not so conscious before for me. I wish you the best of success as you continue to build your show. Cheers, Patrick
A Modern Meditation on The Five Proofs of God: The Art of Mark Cameron Boyd; An exhibition at Salve Regina Gallery, Catholic University of America, November 11-December 17, 2010. POSTED BY MARK CAMERON BOYD AT 4:17 PM

Monday, June 07, 2010

Timeless Deities: An Invocation to the Spirit of the Ancient Mother

To Shri Tusar N Mohapatra, President, Savitri Era Party & Director,
Savitri Era Learning Forum
Dear Mr Mohapatra,
I am writing this to share a small project titled Timeless Deities: An Invocation to the Spirit of the Ancient Mother- these are paintings albeit symbolical ones that talk about the evolving consciousness in nature and about the cosmic love and the resurrection of it.  The series is, of course, inspired by Sri Aurobindo and Divine Mother,  it has one central image which is An Invocation to the Spirit that can be checked at:
The rest includes a. River-Ant b. Zen-Poet c.Grace-Eagle d. Snow-Cow
e. Time-Hen f. Wild-Horse g. Sky-Rat. and can be checked here:
I thought I should share this with you, hope you like it. Regards

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Pastoral idyll are repeatedly painted or photographed by him

‘The Making of a Modern Indian Artist-Craftsman – Devi Prasad’: Naman Ahuja from Kafila This is a guest post by Naman Ahuja. Naman Ahuja teaches in the School of Art and Aesthetics, JNU 

As we move toward concretising a national policy on culture for a liberalised India, we can look upon the period from the 30s to the 60s with historical hindsight. Gandhian, and Tagorean definitions of cultural practice, even in the latter’s cosmopolitanism, was avowedly located in philosophical bases at the grassroots, with roots that stretched via Coomaraswamy and others to the context of the Arts and Crafts Movement.  The resulting ideology for artisanship and design was founded in a structure of educational pedagogy which certainly stands buried today, even if its mandate has not been achieved. […]

In her monumental 2005 exhibition at LACMA, Wendy Kaplan argues for a telling of Arts and Crafts history that shows the inexorable link between ‘Design and National Identity’ that arose from the philosophies of ‘Art and Industry’ and ‘Art and Life’.[1] As that exhibition’s catalogue demonstrates, in all countries involved, the idea of ‘the land’ was a potent force; one to be reclaimed as industry and urbanisation were destroying time honoured social modes and relations of production, and destroying also a pastoral (if, as some argue, a ‘medieval’) idyll, and equally, the currency of the Movement gained as the emerging ideas of ‘nationhood’ depended on holding on to some essential place considered the heart of the nation. Tagore and Gandhi both tried to locate that essential ‘place’ in their ideologies and in each of their ashrams – Santiniketan and Sevagram – places with which Devi Prasad was intimately connected. [Art, the basis of education (Creative learning series)]

Monday, March 08, 2010

Abanindranath's art was a hermeneutic negotiation between modernity and community

Friday, Feb 12, 2010
Debashish Banerji seeks to set the record straight about Abanindranath Tagore.

Abanindranath Tagore (1871-1951), was the founder of a ‘national' school of Indian painting, popularly known as the Bengal School of Art. His admirers term him as the first modern Indian artist to have successfully inculcated among his illustrious students a sense of belonging and allegiance to the rich tradition of India's culture. But then, his legacy of artistic nation building is often debated.
Professor Debashish Banerji, the great-grandson of Abanindranath who teaches at the Pasadena City College and at the Department of Asian and Comparative Studies at the California Institute of Integral Studies, San Francisco, has attempted to provide a revisionary critique of the art of pioneering artist in his latest book, “The Alternate Nation of Abanindranath Tagore”. Published by Sage, this well researched book, illustrated with many of Abanindranath's creations, has created a debate in the art and history circles. Excerpts from an interview with the author:
Why a book on Abanindranath after such a long gap?
I have been working on it for over five years. I felt that the accusations on Abanindranath that he was precursor of an anti-colonial political revolution and being an elite artist, neglected the underclass or ‘subaltern' cultures, needs to be sorted out now.
How did you do that?
I have argued that the art of Abanindranath which developed as part of what has been called the Bengal Renaissance in the 19th to 20th centuries, was not merely a normalisation of nationalist or Orientalist principles. Instead, it was a hermeneutic negotiation between modernity and community. It worked towards the fashioning of an alternate nation which resisted the stereotyping of identity formation of the nation-state. I have established through his various plates that his art which was embedded in communitarian practices like kirtan, alpona, pet-naming, syncretism and storytelling through oral allegories, sought a social identity through dialogues within the inter-subjective contexts of locality, regionality, nationality and trans-nationality.
Are his works in suitable condition still? We don't get to see them anywhere.
That's the saddest part. I had very difficult time in picking his works. There is a private organisation run by a lawyer in Kolkata. It has shut his important works in a trunk in a dingy room which is never opened. These works hence don't get displayed and they have all got damaged inside.
I have also learnt that they extort money from those who come to see these works or take photographs. It is in a state of utter neglect. Kala Bhavan, Santiniketan, has some wooden toys he made towards the end of his life which are again inaccessible to commoners. Albert Museum in London has some of his letters that I could see.
Was he overshadowed by Rabindranath Tagore and his charismatic legacy?
I would say that he was well recognised within the country and especially Calcutta (then) but not in the school that developed around him which was marginalised. His making was sophisticated and he was immensely impressed by the style of Rabindranath, who introduced him to Y.B Yeats. What he felt about him is very clear in a ‘theatrical' portrait in which he gags his eyes and ears in 1929. He respected him but the portrait suggests he certainly felt the pinch. RANA SIDDIQUI ZAMAN

Monday, February 08, 2010

Debashish Banerji, great-grandson of the protean genius, Abanindranath Tagore

Shoe ad on Ram's slippers Calcutta Telegraph - Sunday , January 31 , 2010
The man who wrote Buro Angla and Kshirer Putul, and was an artist, also produced a jatra. It was a retelling of the Ramayana.
Abanindranath Tagore had called his take on our oldest epic Khuddur Jatra. The text, written between 1934 and 1942, draws on a multitude of images from the time, particularly from advertising, cinema and politics. What makes the manuscript special is the way he has added layers to the story by doodling and sketching on subjects as varied as fashion and natural history, and pasting whatever he fancied — emblems, labels, wrappers or advertisements.
The manuscript lay all this while with Abanindranath’s grandson Sumitendranath Tagore and then his wife Shyamashree. It has now surfaced in print courtesy Priyabrata Deb of Pratikshan.
The printed facsimile preserves the feel of the manuscript, including a folded flap. The pictures pasted on the sidelines provide commentary on the text and vice versa. “We can see the period through his work and his criticism of it,” said poet Sankha Ghosh at the launch.
Next to Ravana declaring war is a picture of Hitler. When Bharat carries his brother Ram’s wooden slippers on his head, he has an advertisement of Radu shoes for company. The shoe ads recur where Manthara, the scheming maid, exults over Ram’s expulsion. At the beginning of Lankakando is a picture of a chilli. Beside a page describing Ravana’s room are bathing beauties in a still from the 1926 film A Roman Scandal. Hanuman searches for Sita in Lanka next to a newspaper cutting with the heading “Information wanted”.
As art historian R. Siva Kumar said: “Everything about Abanindranath is happening late not because of weakness but because of the strength of his work. We are trying to match up to his concepts 70 years later.”
But one needs to sample how he has played with the language, giving it a lightness of touch and a flippancy of tone that underlines his irreverence. In one chapter, Sushen, the physician, enquires on the state of soldiers wounded in war and is told by Jamboban how all are cringing at the arrows like caterpillars. Says Jamboban: “Ar khobor, baney baney sobai gutishuti gutipokar baba shuopokar borabor…
“There is scope for research on the interrelation between picture and text or even what the pictures stand for,” feels Samik Bandyopadhyay, who has provided an English commentary and a shortened translation. There is also a transcript of the hand-written text.
Man who wrote pictures
The school of art that Abanindranath Tagore founded had too many facets to be just labelled “Bengal School”. Debashish Banerji, great-grandson of the protean genius, who described himself as the “man who wrote pictures”, argues in his book, The Alternate Nation of Abanindranath Tagore, that “the art of Abanindranath, developed during the Bengal Renaissance in the 19th-20th centuries, was not merely a normalisation of national or oriental principle, but conducted a critical engagement with post-Enlightenment modernity and post-colonialism,” to quote the press release.
The book, brought out by Sage Publications, was released on Thursday evening at the Oxford Bookstore by Tapati Guha Thakurta, a professor at the Centre for Studies in Social Sciences in Calcutta.
Guha Thakurta said with the recent publication of several new books on him in English, Abanindranath was enjoying a wider audience today, and he was being “relocated” beyond the nationalist framework.
The later Abanindranath of the 1930-51 was a complex figure who was outside the public domain, although the Jorasanko household itself was like a small township. Banerji, who is a professor of Indian Studies and the educational coordinator of the University of Philosophical Research, Los Angeles, read out a section of the book in which he analysed Abanindranath’s painting of Sindbad. SUDESHNA BANERJEE

Georgina Maddox  IE »  Story: Thursday , Feb 04, 2010

Of the three prolific Tagore siblings Rabindranath, Gaganindranath and Abanindranath, the latter’s work is perhaps the least applauded. In fact, art historians like Ananda Coomarayswamy who wrote in the ‘50s and ‘60s slotted Abanindranath’s Bengal Renaissance as quaintly Revivalist. Now a new book titled The Alternate Nation of Abanindranath Tagore, authored by Debashish Banerji, also his grandson and published by Sage at Rs 995, explores his work again.
“The Colonialist reading of art done in the Pre-Swadeshi period thrust upon us a certain preference for the masculine brand of nationalism: something that was not sentimental about the past,” says Banerji. It is perhaps ironic we are discussing this at Delhi’s Imperial Hotel that celebrates the Raj through its wonderfully nostalgic interiors.
“The style fostered by Abanindranath was marginalised and given a very narrow reading,” says the 53-year-old art professor who teaches in Pasadena City College in Los Angeles. The book is not for the layperson and does not fall in the coffee table category either. It’s for those interested in either history or art. However given that there are fewer books that attempt to reclaim our histories, it is an essential piece of scholarship.
To put it very simply, the book attempts to reclaim Abanindranath’s space on the stage of those who contributed to an emerging Independent India. “Abanindranath may have been sidelined for his miniatures on the Arabian Nights since it reinforced the one nation theory of India and Pakistan,” contemplates Banerji. “His painting Bharat Mata was first known as Bongo Mata of the Sakti cult. Abanindranath was a Neo Vendantist and a Sufi, not orthodox and believed in the fluidity of religion,” says Banerji.
While Banerji met Manindranath, Tagore’s youngest son and his uncle, and gleaned details of his grandfather’s personality, he also had to keep a distance as a scholar while approaching the artist’s work critically. “Abanindranath was very introverted but he was also observant and took in details of the world around him,” says Banerji.
We wind up with a final glimpse at Tagore’s painting Last Days of Shah Jehan a painting that has often been described as romantic but is layered with a comment on India’s pluralism. “Let us not forget that Shah Jehan had a Mughal father and a Rajput mother,” concludes Banerji.

Spirit of love and family bonding Calcutta Telegraph - BOOK READING
January 28 at Oxford Bookstore, Park Street; 6.30 pm: Oxford Bookstore and Sage Publications host a book-reading session on The Alternate Nation of Abanindranath Tagore by Dr Debashish Banerji, to be followed by a panel discussion with Prof. Tapati Guha Thakurta.
Fashion for a cause Calcutta Telegraph - Jan 29, 2010
January 30 at Sri Aurobindo Bhavan, 8 Shakespeare Sarani; 6.15 pm: Dr Debashish Banerjee will speak on Sri Aurobindo’s Record of Yoga: Shakti Chatusthaya and The Mother

Thursday, January 28, 2010

As passive spectators we risk consumerist oppression

Jacques Rancière (Author), Gregory Elliot (Translator)
Following up on his acclaimed work The Future of the Image, Rancière explores the meaning of critical art and suggests how we may overcome the potential trap of being a spectator. As passive spectators, he argues, we risk consumerist oppression and an upheaval of social relations. Suggesting a more active part in the process of observation, Rancière reveals how we may affirm the status of spectatorship and build upon it. In our contemporary age of mass visual media, Rancière’s lucid perspective stands alone in a sea of trivializing critiques of spectacle. 

Monday, November 23, 2009

Sri Aurobindo thought Ravi Varma’s use of realistic style was like using the cast off clothes of the west

pareltank Sunday, November 22, 2009 Of Mallus, Bongs, Van Gogh and Don Mcleans

I remember being very angry with Sri Aurobondo for ridiculing Raja Ravi Varma who was my hero because he, Ravi Varma, was a mallu. Mr. Aurobindo thought Ravi Varma’s use of realistic style was like using the cast off clothes of the west! The western artists had already graduated from the realistic to impressionistic.

I found umpteen numbers of explanations which smacked of ignorance and parochialism and the fire of youth to explain away Mr. Aurobindo’s take. He was a bong, I once argued heatedly with my friend during a seminar, when Mr. Aurobindo’s article came up for discussion. Bongs think that only what they have adopted from the west are worth it, I snapped. They behave as tho the rest of India has no right to appropriate anything of the west, I snarled. And they claim to be the seat of the renaissance in India during India’s miserable colonial days - the ones who lit the lamp of creativity in the Indian soul darkened and skewed by centuries of colonial subjugation. I’d have none of it, no matter what Mr. Aurobindo said.

I argued that Bengal’s creativity smacked of slavishness and slavery, for Calcutta was the seat of the Company and the Empire for long years. I remember the lecturer intervening at that point and asking both of us (my rival, by the way, was not a bong but a tambram who was just trying to needle the usually silent-as-death mallu that was me) to shut up as neither of us knew anything of what we were talking - one more uninformed than the other, she fumed !

Needless to say, I later felt ashamed of my unusually vocal performance, but I justified myself to myself on the grounds that this mallu needling had gone too far this time! Posted by kochuthresiamma p .j at 3:47 PM Labels: , ,

Friday, October 09, 2009

Partha Mitter has completed his trilogy on Indian art

Based in Oxford, noted art historian Partha Mitter has completed the third part of his trilogy on Indian art. He spoke with Romain Maitra about modernist and contemporary Indian art:

What were the main features or tendencies of modernism in Indian art during pre-independent period?

By the modernism, I mean the particular discourse of the avant-garde that arose in the West and then spread globally (in literature, for instance, Eliot, Proust or Joyce; in music, the dissonance of Schoenberg, Stravinsky or Bartok; in art, cubism, surrealism or expressionism), representing rebellion against classical taste. Its nature and inflections changed radically outside the West.

In India, even though Gaganendranath used the syntax of cubism to construct his fairy-tale world, far more significant was the primitivist tendency. It was a form of critical modernity that challenged capitalist urban modernity which lay at the base of colonial empires.

What was avant-garde in the works of India’s artists during that time?

Gaganendranath’s poetic cubism brought a new era of modernism in India. However, from the naive art of Sunayani Devi to Amrita Sher-Gil’s melancholic images of peasants, Rabindranath Tagore’s animals, masks and other compositions, and Jamini Roy’s creation of a new collective art that repudiated the ‘aura’ of a work of art and artistic genius, as well as the art teaching of Nandalal that led to Benodebehari Mukherjee’s moving representations of common folk and Ram Kinkar’s heroic image of the Santhals — all these went against the historical and nationalist allegories of the previous gene-ration and were self-consciously avant-garde and radical.

Does contemporary Indian art have any real appeal in the mainstream artistic appreciation in the West?

Let us not forget that most of the enormously expensive paintings are bought by the NRIs. Even today apart from a few open-minded art critics and historians in the West most are indifferent to what goes on outside New York, Paris and London art markets. This situation can only change from constantly scrutinising the underlying assumptions of western modernism.

Please comment on M F Husain’s paintings which have generated fundamentalist reactions.

Husain is not anti-Hindu. On the contrary, he is one of the few who constantly engages with Hindu mythology with bold imagination and creativity. Hindu deities have been depicted in the nude and semi-nude since at least the 2nd century AD and similarly in the texts their physical descriptions are explicit. This is because in Hindu tradition, there is a constant intermingling of sacred and profane love and the erotic has never been denied.

Unfortunately, during the colonial period we imported Victorian prudery and now seem to be thriving on it. Finally, Husain’s depictions of Hindu goddesses are hardly erotic.

Thursday, October 01, 2009

Bratin Khan has embraced Sri Aurobindo's famous speech to be his inspiration

Finding the soul within - "Home > Lifestyle > Report
Sujata Chakrabarti DNA ednesday, September 30, 2009 23:59 IST Mumbai:
Kolkata-based artist Bratin Khan has embraced Sri Aurobindo's famous speech to be his inspiration. This memorable historical event that took place in the pre-independence era was epoch-making.It was one of the most significant speeches in the revolutionary turned spiritual leader's lifetime. The speech -- his first after his release from the Alipore Jail in Kolkata -- announced his exit from the ongoing revolutionary freedom movement.
Khan says, 'Unlike Sri Aurobindo's regular speeches, this one was non-political and announced his adoption of the sanatan dharma that propagated that every object had a soul within.' ... His show In A Silent Way is on view at the Point of View art gallery in Colaba.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Presentation-cum-interactive display on Tribal Art by Lokesh Khetan

Indira Gandhi National Centre for the Arts
Schedule of Programmes September 2009

1. 3rd September, 2009 (5.30pm) Illustrated talk by Prof. Adam Hardy on “Temples, Templates, Texts : making monuments in medieval India” K.D. Main Exhibition Hall, Ground Floor, 11, Mansingh Road
2. 4th to 13th September, 2009 Veena Navarathri & Viswa Veena Yagna (Shri V. Raghurama Ayyar) K.D. Bharatiya Vidya Bhavan, Chennai
3. 8th September, 2009 (6.00pm) Seminar in collaboration with Bharat Soka Gakkai on Dr. Daisaku Ikeda’s 2009 Peace Proposal titled “Toward Humanitarian Competition : A New Current in History” J.S. Main exhibition hall & ground floor Kalakosa building
4. 8th September, 2009 (4.00pm) Lecture by Prof. P.S. Filliozat on “The Heart of the Temple according to Saiva Siddhanta” K.K. NMM Hall, 3rd floor, 11, Mansingh Road
5. 9th September, 2009 (4.00pm) Lecture by Prof. Vasundhara Filliozat on “Musicality and Dance in Kannada epigraphs of 12th & 13th centuries” K.K. NMM Hall, 3rd floor, 11, Mansingh Road
6. 10th September to 15th September, 2009 (10.00am to 8.00pm) Documentation of Bharai Ramakatha J.S. Stage, 3, Dr. R.P. Road
7. 15th September, 2009 Presentation-cum-interactive display on Tribal Art by Shri Lokesh Khetan K.D. Auditorium, Media Centre, No.3, Dr. R.P. Road
8. 24th September-20th October, 2009 11:00AM Exhibition on “Monasteries of Rinchen Zango” in collaboration with Shri Benoy K. Behl K.D. Exhibition Hall, Ground floor 11, Mansingh Road
9. 25th September, 2009 4.00pm Tattvabodha Lecture NMM NMM’s Hall, 3rd Floor, 11, Mansingh Road Schedule subject to change due to unforeseen circumstances: For details contact: 011 - 23388341 [ Home Search Contact Us Index ]

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Dharmesh Jadeja, calligraphist and architect lives in Auroville

Home > Lifestyle > Indian calligraphy makes a mark
Riddhi Doshi DNA Sunday, August 9, 2009 23:59 IST Calligraphist Dharmesh Jadeja who has been exploring his art for the last 20 years has been invited by the University of Sunderland to talk about his subject. Mumbai:

Dharmesh Jadeja, a calligraphist and architect who lives in Auroville is the first artist of his ilk to be invited to be a part of the residency at the University of Sunderland in the United Kingdom. The university's faculty of design, media and culture has an International Centre for Research in Calligraphy where which has been exploring the links between the different cultures and researching deeper insights in to the calligraphy traditions of different cultures. It is mainly run by two Your browser may not support display of this image. well-known calligraphers and researchers in Europe, Ewan Clayton and Manny Ling. [...]

Dharmesh concentrates on the letter forms, their combinations, formation, and structure and explores the ideas behind the forms of ancient Indian letters, in particular, the Devanagari script. He explains, "I have worked on the beauty of these forms for many years, exploring the relation of the phonetic traditions with the written traditions among other things."

Saturday, June 06, 2009

Spellbound expressions of Rasa have been truthfully bought out by Sangeeta Dash

Photo Exhibition of Indian Classical Dance forms
by Dr. Susil Pani, Sri Geetagovinda Pratisthana, Puducherry
7th - 30th March, 2009
at the art gallery of DakshinaChitra

The photo exhibit on Indian classical dances begins with Shiva and Parvati in Ardhanarieswara in Odissi style, denoting that the manifest (Parvati) and the unmanifest (Shiva) are one and can not be separated. Next to it is Shiva in his supreme Ananda Tandava Murti, again in Odissi, Shiva as Nataraja is the cosmic dancer and is the source of all art forms including all dance, theater, music poetry, painting etc. A brief write-up about Nataraja inspires the viewer at the entrance of the exhibition hall. As soon as one enters inside the rasika is invited by an offering of pushpanjali (flower offering) by Sangeeta Dash to Shakti (Durga) without whom even Shiva can not manifest.

The artist tries to immerse the rasika into the RASA of life with a splendid presentation of Navarasa, the nine rasa with a brief description of each rasa. The spellbound expressions of Rasa have been truthfully bought out by none other than Sangeeta Dash, foremost Odissi dancer. The Odissi section continues with a rare presentation of Bhramari, again by Sangeeta Dash, frozen in eternity by the artist (usually seen and easily captured in Kathak but never yet presented in Odissi) Sangeeta Dash's dedication and personal care to details even for her students are beautifully captured in two photos she is seen doing makeup for a little girl. Sonal Mansingh is seen at the end of the Odissi section in classic sculpturesque posture. At the beginning of each section a very brief description of the style of Indian classical dance is well written for the lay person.

The next series on Bharatanatyam is complete in itself with Shiva in Ananda Tandava, a beautiful child artist in classic posture, Chitra Visweswaran as Sakhi of Radha trying to persuade her to go to Krishna for Rasakrida is also seen.

Radha forms and symbolizes 'Complete Surrender' to her lord, the lord of the universe 'Sri Krishna' which forms the essence of true love, is presented in three pictures of Manipuri Dance. Rani Kannam, the doyen of Kathak dance graces the exhibition by her total devotion to the Lord. Sobhana Narayanan is the leading contemporary Kathak dancer is seen as the "Abhimanaini". There are few more pictures of Kathak showing the essence of the art form both the science and the art of it as movements, Radha and Krishna, Ardhanarieswara etc.

Kuchipudi dance from Andhra Pradesh transports the viewer to different moods of love, happiness etc. The graceful dance of lord Vishnu as MOHINI has been most beautifully presented by none other than Shivaji Bharati in Mohiniattam. The last photo symbolizes that all Indian classical dances may appear to be different in costume; makeup style and presentation etc. but essentially are one, as the source is only The Divine. Three great artists Kiran Segal from Odissi, Shivaji Bharati from Mohiniattam and Shobana Narayanan from Kathak have come together in a classical dance posture at the end of the exhibit. All Indian dances are essentially spiritual in nature trying to represent the divine and its manifestations in its myriad forms. The artist has made a sincere attempt to present his own quest for Moksha in this exhibition. Home 4:36 PM

Friday, May 08, 2009

Auroville is one of the major active fulfillments of 1960s social idealism that was totally planetary-minded

Art Robert Lawlor with Christopher Bamford and Dorothea Rockburne Brooklyn Rail - New York, NY, USA
After an absence of many years, Robert Lawlor, who began as a sculptor, and whose book Sacred Geometry has had a great influence in reawakening us to the importance of geometrical principles, symmetries, and proportions—not only for art and architecture but also for science and consciousness studies—was recently back in New York for a few days. Dorothea Rockburne, the painter, who had come to know Robert through his work in geometry and had worked with it herself intensely, arranged a reception for him to meet a few old artist friends and others. One of these was Publisher Phong Bui. Dorothea and Phong thought Rail readers would be interested to hear what Robert had been up to. Because I have known Robert for many years, I was asked to come along and help facilitate the conversation. So, one Sunday, Phong picked us up in Manhattan and drove Dorothea, Robert, and I out to the Rail Headquarters to talk.
—Christopher Bamford

Chris Bamford: Robert, you’ve been away from America for many years, so we welcome you back. You began here, in New York, as an artist. Your life journey then took you out of that world into another, the world of ideas and spiritual exploration. You went to India. You fell in love with it, exploring it inwardly and outwardly. Finally, after many adventures, you found your way to Pondicherry, to the Sri Aurobindo Ashram, where, by a stroke of destiny, you discovered the work of Hermetic Egyptologist R. A. Schwaller de Lubicz. These works revealed to you the profound geometric and metaphysical knowledge—the temple wisdom—of Ancient Egypt. You returned to the U.S. where you and your (then) wife Deborah worked tirelessly to transmit that wisdom. You both even learned French from scratch, and translated many of Schwaller’s books, including his massive masterpiece, The Temple of Man. That done, you went to Australia. You explored the indigenous world and cosmology of the aborigines. You wrote Voices of the First Day. My first question is: how do you tie all these elements together?

Robert Lawlor: I was thinking about that this morning after we talked. It made me recall sitting in the south Indian desert in a grass hut as part of an international community that was one of the major active fulfillments of 1960s social idealism. It was called Auroville and the plan was to build an international city where people could divorce themselves from their national identity and become part of a group that was totally planetary-minded. It was led by two spiritual figures: Sri Aurobindo, who had passed away in 1950, and his counterpart, known as “the Mother.” It was a highly idealistic place. By that time I had been in India about six years, and someone said to me one day, “if you stay in India very much longer, India will either absorb you or destroy you” and I didn’t feel I was ready for either one of those options. I had by that time come to know someone who had been friends with Schwaller de Lubicz, and through this contact I became aware of his work. There were only fifty copies of his major work in the world at that time, but one copy was in the Sri Aurobindo Ashram Library and I was able to get it out. At the same time I was getting to know a French disciple of Sri Aurobindo and she happened to have another of the only 49 remaining copies. She loaned me that copy and there I was sitting in this avant-garde futuristic community almost compelled to translate this book. Simply to enable me to read it, Deborah and I found ourselves often cycling seven miles a day to take French lessons so we could sit there that night by candlelight trying to translate this work. This enormous cross-fertilization of traditions (such as those of Egypt and India) gave some new shape and meaning to our lives. I realized: No, I cannot live by ideals alone, I have to involve myself in ideas.

Dorothea Rockburne: That’s quite a statement.

Lawlor: Yes, it was a big realization. Until then I hadn’t realized that I was by nature a highly idealistic person, someone who threw all his energy into an enclosure of mind that might be called an idealistic tunnel. But here I was, reading Schwaller’s work—it made me aware of the difference between ideas and ideals. Both of those words, by the way, are derivative from a goddess—Dia, a female deity.

Bamford: Ideals usually come from ideas, but all-too-often those trying to bring the ideals into practice have forgotten the ideas.

Lawlor: And that becomes a big problem in the world, because then you get the evolution of ideologies, which govern religious or socio-political groups. That’s one of the reasons why it’s really important to keep the two—ideals and ideas—in contact so you know what the underlying ideas really are.

Dorothea Rockburne, “Pascal, State of Grace” (1986-87). Oil and gold leaf on gessoed linen, 6´ × 5´. ©Dorothea Rockburne. Image courtesy of the artist and Greenburg Van Doren Gallery.

Bamford: Then there is the question of doing, acting. Previously, in New York, you had been making sculpture, which is about making. Then you pursued ideals, which led you to discover ideas. When you did so, was there still a need to connect ideas to work, to making?

Lawlor: Well, in India what I had found very appealing was making village architecture—how they just cut palm leaves and bamboo shoots with mud foundations to make buildings. I thought it was so beautiful and so remarkable that every man had to make his own home. There was a whole platform of indigenous values under that. So I started making buildings with palm leaves and bamboo. I would start living in one, and then more people would come from another part of the world, and I would build another one. I had to learn how to stabilize the earth, and stabilize the leaves because there were termites. The minute you got a building up you heard munching. The houses would cave in so that people were always re-building their buildings. I worked out a way of using bitumen to make earth adobe permanent. As far as I know it works, because I saw a photograph of a wall I had made. It was still intact twenty years after I built it. The whole thing was totally an experiment, I bought drums of bitumen, I had many village men working with me and they were all covered in black tar. To make the leaves permanent I worked out a way of dipping the leaves. I was really hungry for color, so I dipped leaves in paints of various colors—thinning them with kerosene and using local pigments. Some people thought it was really gross! But in the end, I covered the land with a number of these buildings. I learned how to soak the bamboo to make curved structures.

Bamford: That’s interesting because the Schwaller de Lubicz book you discovered was not only about Egypt and geometry, but also about architecture, and, in a sense, building these little dwellings has to do with space and architecture and structure.

Lawlor: But, unfortunately, I didn’t know about proportion.

Bamford: Proportion is inherent in the creation of space.

Rockburne: Robert, last night you spoke of how you came to write the book Sacred Geometry from an experience you had at the Pondicherry library. You mentioned André Vandenbroeck, who introduced you to Schwaller.

Lawlor: André came to know Schwaller toward the end of Schwaller’s life. Later he went to Pondicherry where I met him. He started teaching me sacred geometry. André wanted to write a book [Philosophical Geometry (Inner Traditions, 1987)] on that subject. I stayed in India for four years then left and came back to the States in 1972. I met up with André again and continued to study geometry with him. It really intrigued me. It was very basic stuff. So I left the ideals to begin chasing ideas.

Bamford: Interestingly enough André too had been a painter.

Lawlor: So had Schwaller.

Bamford: Schwaller had studied with Matisse, so this link between art and number and geometry is very tight. Schwaller was also an alchemist, which is the royal art—as much of an art as a science or spiritual path. This all harks back to ancient times when art, science, and religion were one—a single gesture.

Lawlor: The other person I discovered during that period in India was the distinguished Indologist, Alan Daniélou who was a linguist, like André, and an artist. He painted, he danced, he was a musician, and at one time he was completely involved in the Parisian art world. When he got to translating Indian work, ancient Indian ideas, he also got involved in numbers.

Bamford: In this unity—of science, art, and religion—number and geometry were fundamental. They were the initiatory technology, if you would. But many people still don’t understand what number and geometry are in this initiatory sense. So I have to ask: what in this sense is sacred geometry?

Lawlor: It is an examination of the inherent laws of time and space that are embedded in the symmetry of geometric forms. I should add that as the principles of time and space are embedded in the symmetry of form—so are the principles that underlie consciousness. That is a definition that I have synthesized from the work in general. That was one of the things that Danielou pointed out in his translations of the Puranas: Indian thought is dominated by a sacred trinity—the trinity of consciousness, space, and time—and these three are bonded so that you can never really consider one separately. That idea really stuck with me: that is, in the triangulation of number we observe a genesis. One (as Unity) becomes Two (as Duality), Three (as the principle of Trinity), Four (as Manifest Reality). The triangulation of number holds the passageway of the mysteries that are embedded in form, and which move our level of awareness, our consciousness of time and space.

Bamford: So time and space really have to do with the ontological principles present in consciousness and creation, because consciousness and creation are one.

Lawlor: They are the essentials of being.

Rockburne: But back to the subject of making, what interests me about your book, Robert, as compared to other books on sacred geometry, is that pragmatically it can be used as a possible inherent structure in painting. Since sacred geometry is no longer taught in art schools, I recommend that every artist read your easy and lucid, but profound, book. Using the golden mean, if properly understood, can present an open sesame to successful work. Other books I’ve read on the subject seem only to relate to nature and natural progressions. They don’t explain its use in painting. For me that represented a huge difference. Then, too, the specific quotes you gave, such as that of Bernard of Clairvaux (1090-1153), stating that there should be no decoration, only proportion spoke to me in the language of mathematics, a language I was seeking. Some time later I came across a book titled The Plan of St. Gall, which, as I looked into the evolution of medieval monasteries, led me to realize that many of them, especially those designed by St. Bernard, were designed as a series of acoustically resonating rooms, based on sacred geometry. When the monks sang at one end of the Abbey their voices resonated from room to room throughout the whole Abbey. I was so fascinated and moved by their discoveries that I made a work called The Plan of St. Gall based on that study.

Lawlor: It must have been my previous interest in painting. When I discovered geometry, I discovered that all painting in almost every culture, right up until the 17th Century, was involved in a geometric grid that is called a “canevas”—a previous structuring of the space in proportional units before any painting began. All Renaissance painters did this, and that was a real revelation. I had been through the whole education of arts in America and no one ever even said the word “proportion,” nor gave any indication that there was a systematic method underlying the entire history of art. And then in the 17th and 18th Centuries, it was forcibly removed from the arts. Teaching proportion in art academies in France was prohibited at that time, so there was a strange, almost conspiratorial, attack on people who had that kind of knowledge in the visual field. I don’t know who, or what their motivations were, but it’s very interesting.

Bamford: If we go back only to the Middle Ages, to medieval music, for instance, everything was proportion. Proportion was the expression of living relationships and at the same time the harmony of these relationships.

Lawlor: Living in the sense that it connected everything that is a part of man to the creation of nature and to the metaphysical. Life was defined by the connection between those levels. Once we became a material culture of industrialization we lost that knowledge.

Bamford: That, and the reality that a living proportion becomes invisible when it’s alive—it is the spiritual. When you increasingly identify it with the fixed form, the proportion itself ceases to bring life into it. Art becomes dead when it uses proportion mechanically. Proportion is a living thing: a spiritual thing.