The Hindu Spiritual World: Sacred Relics & Paintings of Gods/Goddesses in India

CULTURE & THEME: The non-western culture I chose to display in this Google Art Gallery is Hinduism, and the overall theme of my exhibition revolves around the Indians’ various Gods & Goddesses depicted in their art.  There are various systems in Hinduism.  One of them follows the concept of Bhakti (blissful devotion) and becoming one with God which is achieved through Puja (the active devotional practice).  The main form of Hinduism is monotheistic and follows the cast system (very superstitious and men have higher hierarchy) where there is one main source, Brahman (the Supreme).  Brahman branches off into Trimurti (the united trinity) which consists of three roles: Brahma, who is creator through AUM song; Vishnu, who is Preserver through avatars; and Shiva, who is Destroyer through dance.  Samsara is the life cycle that Trimurti creates: death to birth to rebirth and back around.  Moksha is when you are free from Samsara.  As for my theme, I was very fascinated with the consistent use of blue portrayed in the skin of the Gods & Goddesses - those who are transcendent, enlightened, tranquil, and high-vibrating. The blue is a symbol of total purity.  Not all Divine Spirits in the Hindu culture are presented with that color for some reason…and it appears to only be a male dominating color.  RELATION OF ARTWORKS TO THEME: The artworks are self-explanatory with their titles.  In this exhibit, you will see the following: #1. "Companion Persuading Radha as Krishna Flutes, Folio from the Lambagraon Gita Govinda, Song of the Cowherd" (basically a painting capturing that particular night), #2. "Vessel” (a blue vase with godly engravings), #3. “The Festival of Gangaur” (a painting that depicts a big special occasion), #4. “Yashoda swinging Baby Krishna” (an ivory carving of his play), #5. “The Hindu Goddess Bhudevi” (a figurine depicting this earth idol), and #6. “Mahalakshmi” (a fiery painting of the wealth goddess). The first piece (as well as the third) has a blue idol within it along with a very blue night sky, while the second piece is an entirely blue vase.  I can almost imagine one having a completely blue room as their shala (home/abode in Sanskrit) and shrine (holy sacred place), with this vase in a corner next to a cow statue (blessed divine creature).  The fourth piece (http://collections.lacma.org/node/248225) of the ivory swing set gracefully represents Krishna with hard-labored skill and patience (as well as spiritual energy & meditation) clearly put into the creation process.  The fifth piece (Bhudevi) may be copper alloy, but because after time it transitions into an aqua greenish blue hue, it still gives off a very pure vibration (http://collections.lacma.org/node/236865). The last piece shows the difference in hierarchy for my theme, and also expresses much symbolism which is incredibly prominent in India with the consistent use of mudras and ritual items. Their art has many figurative language elements.  ART REFLECTIONS ON AESTHETIC & CULTURE VALUES: Hindu aesthetics all have in common Visual Abundance (a feast for the eyes), Symbolism (everything has a meaning), and Prana (sacred breath).  Their composition is usually always meticulously detailed with a plethora of ornamentation and vibrant colors from their clothing to their environment!  The space in this culture's style varies in different periods of life - earlier ones typically have a flatter appearance like watching a puppet play and is intently illustrative.  The latter ones (today's) have much more realistic three-dimensional depth, refined technique, layered renderings, smooth textures, & improved form.  But in the beginning, it was not about the form or mastery of realism, but about the message.  That is the point of Hindu Art; it all started with the religion, culture, country, traditions, superstitions, beliefs, morals, tales, myths, legends, etc… They create painting scenes, portraits, idol figurines, registers, and carvings to depict an order of events important to them spiritually or to represent the gods & goddesses in their stories they live by.  CONCLUSION (RELEVANCE OF THEME TO CULTURE): My theme relates to the culture because they are one and the same…you cannot have one without the other.  In Buddhism, my own practice, there is no identity.  But in Hinduism, all of their gods have a specific face and design, yet are spiritual beings.  They have personalities like humans.  Similar to Greek Mythology where their immortals have their own idiosyncrasies, faults, and imperfections.  And I feel that these artworks strongly depict that.  To end with a saying to you, “The Divine in Me sees and honors the same brilliant Divine Light in you…” Namaste…  CITATIONS:  1. (http://yoganonymous.com/get-to-know-radha-krishna-a-love-story)  2. (http://www.whitewavedreams.com/vasemeaning.html)  3. (http://www.festivalsofindia.in/gangaur/History.aspx)  4. (http://www.premiumproseindia.com/wp-content/uploads/files/Mother-Yashoda-Tries-to-Bind-Mischievous-Lord-Krishna.pdf)  5. (http://www.newworldencyclopedia.org/entry/Bhudevi)  6. (http://qz.com/545655/the-ancient-story-of-goddess-lakshmi-bestower-of-power-wealth-and-sovereignty/)

 

 

This Folio from the "Lambagraon" Gita Govinda (Song of the Cowherd) is an opaque watercolor and gold on paper depicting a moment in time where Krishna's friend was telling the beautiful Radha to go over and meet with the man playing the luring music. It was in India, Himachal Pradesh, Kangra that this painting was created, documenting symbolic historical myths; legends; explanations to beginnings in Hinduism ways. "Radha Krishna" (rādhā-kṛṣṇa, Sanskrit राधा कृष्ण) are collectively known within Hinduism as the combination of both the "feminine" as well as the "masculine" aspects of God; Divine; Universe. "Krishna" is often referred as "svayam bhagavan" (The One eternal Supreme Being called Brahma, Vishnu, Shiva; Trimurti) in Gaudiya Vaishnavism theology and then "Radha" is Krishna's supreme beloved and acknowledged as the Supreme Goddess, for it is said that she controls Krishna with Her pure transcendental (Universal) love and is His Life Energy. It is believed that Krishna enchants the world, but Radha (a powerful "gopi" dancer; comes from the word gopala that means "person in charge of herding cows") enchants Him; together representing the absolute truth. It is a spiritual, not physical relationship like romantics may think or want to believe. Krishna had a relationship with all (which many unfortunately interpret as a physical affair); with anyone who was mentally ready to accept the truth and experience Krishna that always lied within everyone. CITATION SOURCE: (http://yoganonymous.com/get-to-know-radha-krishna-a-love-story)
The vase, water-pot or pitcher is a universal symbol for the Great Mother. It contains the cosmic waters as the Feminine Receptive Principle, the Life Source. It stands for acceptance, fertility, and the heart. The vase or vessel is a symbol for the Hindu Shakti. In religious rituals, it stands for the body of the deity invoked for worship; the small space of the vase becomes the universe in the centre of which the supreme forces exist so the initiate may gather them to oneself. As the maternal symbol the vase implies nourishment, flowing waters. In general, the function of the vase is related to holding the immersion of all characteristic qualities of the Mother Goddesses. Furthermore, this vessel was chosen to be blue, expressing its divinity. Dieties wrap all around the vase's body meticulously. The intense detail takes patience and passion for such a task which conveys much devotion to the message on the artist's part. CITATION SOURCE: (http://www.whitewavedreams.com/vasemeaning.html)
Gangaur is a festival celebrated in the Indian state of Rajasthan and some parts of Gujarat, West Bengal and Madhya Pradesh. Parvati or Gauri, the consort of Shiva is a symbol of virtue and devotion and considered a legendary figure for married women. The festival is held in her honour. Gangaur is the most important enthusiastically celebrated local festival in Rajasthan. The common belief associated with the festival is that if unmarried girls observe the rituals of this festival they get a nice life partner of their choice. And if the married women observe the same, she is said to be blessed with a happy married life and long life of their husbands. The celebrations in Jaipur and Udaipur have a unique charm and attraction. On the fortnight, the girls worship all the goddesses before, and almost a day after the start of the festival begins. A group of women from the town hold a procession and carry colorful idols of Gauri. Many people from nearby villages too come to take part in the procession and roam around with them from village to village. The idols of Gauri and Isar are dressed in new attires and bejeweled with sparkling ornaments especially made for the occasion. Vidaai songs are sung as Gauri departs to her husband’s house. The idol of Gauri was offered water by the ladies present in the procession, they then comes back. On the final day, the procession came to an end with the Visarjaan of all the idols in the waters of a tank or a well. This painting is theme-related due to the amount of joy exuded towards their gods and goddesses (particularly enhanced on this day), as well as the vibrance and "colorist" take from the artist's hand which envelopes India's world. CITATION SOURCE: (http://www.festivalsofindia.in/gangaur/History.aspx)
Yashoda is many times described as Krishna's mother. However there are stories of Krishna acting as a mischievous child and "cannot be caught, bound, or restrained," an analogy like how a yogi can never catch Nirvana, keep it, and limit it. One always has it and merely has to "receive" and allow it to reveal itself while releasing all restrainers containing and hiding it. In the stories, I believe that Yashoda's spiritual relationship/journey is treated as if it were her own child. Others may interpret it more literally. And on this swing, it is assumed that once again, Krishna is up to something. Even though the "Supreme Personality of Godhead" (as stories name Krishna) has compassion for Yashoda and wants her to not be distressed with her labor intensive work, Krishna also wants to throw obstacles her way to see how she deals with it...how she reacts or does not react...how she keeps her calm tranquility or succumbs to frustration and tired thoughts, etc... CITATION SOURCE: (http://www.premiumproseindia.com/wp-content/uploads/files/Mother-Yashoda-Tries-to-Bind-Mischievous-Lord-Krishna.pdf)
Bhuma Devi (Bhumi Devi or Bhu Devi) (Sanskrit: "The goddess who is the earth") is a Hindu earth goddess and the divine wife & consort of Varaha, third Avatar of Vishnu, according to the Puranas. She is also considered one of the two divine wives of Vishnu himself along with Lakshmi; accordingly, Bhudevi and related goddesses representing or personifying the earth often accompany incarnations of Vishnu. She is also known by the names Bhumi, Bhudevi, or Bhuma Devi, as well as the epithets Dhra, Dharti, Dhrithri, all of which refer to her sustaining beneficence as "that which holds everything." In the story of their pairing, Bhudevi takes on the role of the earth in its most literal, elemental form, while Varaha assumes the form of a boar. When mother earth is carried off by asuras and submerged under the vast ocean by the orders of the demon Hiranyaksha, Varaha comes to her aid, diving deep down into the great waters. At ocean's bottom he kills Hiranyaksha and steadies Bhudevi on his snout, carrying her above the water once again. He then maps the geography of the earth as it is known today, sculpting mountains and valleys, and dividing it into the continents. This mythological pairing of Bhudevi and Varaha is consistent with a common motif during the Puranic period which linked earth goddesses and the avatars of Vishnu. CITATION SOURCE: (http://www.newworldencyclopedia.org/entry/Bhudevi)
Draped in red saree, bedecked with gold ornaments, seated on a lotus, pot in hand, flanked by white elephants, the image of Lakshmi adorns most Hindu homes and business establishments. Lakshmi is the goddess of wealth, fortune, power, luxury, beauty, fertility, and auspiciousness! She holds the promise of material fulfilment and contentment. She is described as restless, whimsical yet maternal, with her arms raised to bless and to grant! As you can see, this painting is much more recent than the others in this exhibit. This one was made in 2005, which shows how this culture is still being carried on, as well as all the stories and traditional hindu styles of painting still being followed, replicated, inspired by, experimented with, and evolved into what today's art has become while still holding remnants of our past artist ancestors. CITATION SOURCE: (http://qz.com/545655/the-ancient-story-of-goddess-lakshmi-bestower-of-power-wealth-and-sovereignty/)
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