Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Artist Silpi and the rules of divine art


I stared at another work of this great artist, a form of Shiva, dancing within his chamber, that brings alive the heavens. The definition of paradise has been described in riches with flowers and fragrance, lit up with fiery lamps housing the very lord within it.

To decorate the heavenly abode of the Lord on earth within the temple is one thing, to create the same vision through the mind's eye with devotion is yet another. This is not about proportion or color of hue or form as much as it is about the power to create the vision of the Lord by hand into paper, meticulously capturing every detail without even an inkling of personal imagination mingled with that displayed in reality as per the defined rules of Shilpa Shastra and Samudrika Lakshana.

The Vishnudharmottara describes the methodology of painting, the power to create and imagine and yet remain within the realm of the canons of divine art that describe the true essence of a deity. Artist Silpi, maybe unknown, but he displays such devotion, that is beyond words and leaves us really awe struck, with that "something" in his paintings that we ourselves really don't know how to explain.

When we see the paintings of this artist, there is a sublime sense of awe, there is a sense of emotion that render us wondering whether such power is pure skill and talent or much much more than that. Artist Silpi, follows the canons of art, as well as those described in the Vishnudharmottara that define the rules of divine painting as put down by Sage Agastya himself.

Sage Agastya displeased with the performance of the apsaras in Indra's court, described in mango juice, the form of Urvashi, the epitome of beauty and grace in dance and gave her life to perform at the court. Such was the potency then that her beauty and grace was appreciated by all.

The same appreciation, if it comes from all quarters, be it a perfectionist looking for divinity and grace, or a connoisseurs looking for hue and color, or a lady admiring the jewelery or a layman appreciating the glamor; the painting has achieved its divine status.

This form of Shiva, captured by the artist, indicates clearly that he surpassed every qualification of a divine artist, not just in mere brush strokes, but in his deep devotion for the Lord as well as his immense love for Paramnacharya Chandrasekhar Swamigal.

He is an example of one who attained Nirvana, in his meditation of 40 days, every time he picked up his tools to create divinity in a different form. When we see his paintings of divinity, we are touched by his devotion, by the power of the deity captured in his canvas, by the grace of the Lord living and awakening us to their presence every time we set eyes on them.

This artist is a miracle to us, an example of developing and reproducing beauty through the mind power to create and give life, and not just a painter who got the picture right!

Artist Silpi, is not just another painter, and as I rediscover the secrets behind this great artist, I witness the very grace of divinity dance in my mind.

Monday, August 4, 2008

Aghora Shiva, Thiruvengadu, Tamil Nadu

Within the darkness of the night, walks this form of Lord Shiva, Shiva Aghoramurthy. He rules the night, kala and these hours are for the other world spirits to worship him. Aghora Shiva is worshiped by all, the night is alive with divinity as it wakes the other world, of ghosts and ghouls and aghoris to follow this form - the left hand path of worship.

Its not scary as much as it is eye opening, that we prefer to see a beautifully clad aghora rudra within the temple wall in stone and not the real fiery self that walks the night. Aghora Shiva, raw energy, raw power, raw beauty of anger and fury rising from the being, from his eyes, forming a halo of flaming light around his head, this multi handed deity adorns the temple precinct around the main shrine of Lord Shiva in his iconic form.

In the early hours of the morning at the temple of Thiruvenkadu, Veerabhadra, resides within his chamber, surrounded by flickering lights that turn this earthly chamber into divine heaven with his presence. Adorned in the glint of gold, decorated in royalty this ash clad Lord is dressed like a King. Decked in jewellery and covered in flowers, one can sing the Rudram and bathe themselves in his presence. Such beauty can be found nowhere else, which is just brought to light by the glowing lamps.

Aghora Shiva is powerful, fierce, graceful, and yet terrifying. He kills all evil, he protects us, he brings us our peace and yet we fear this form! And as we mindlessly move on, little do we notice a painter furiously at work. Seeped
in silence, a passionate painter catches the glimpse of this fiery Lord into his canvas.

40 days of passion, with hours spent during Brahmamuhurta, the painter sits before Him and absorbs his form. And in a lightening flash he awakens the very Lord Veerabhadra to come alive in his brush and begins to render this unthinkable form!

The glint of gold, the sheen of silver, the blackness of mahakala just bathes the dimly lit interior...such a beauty that the mind just rests, there is no room for thought, there is just music in the heart to see the Lord display his presence through the eyes of the painter who prays to him, requesting him to make his appearance divine in his canvas.

The mind is a powerful tool and it performs many unthinkable miracles. One such miracle is the way this painter religiously renders the beauty and form and divinity of every God as he imbibes them into himself. Truely miraculous. There was never another of his kind, Artist Silpi was the chosen one, one who would paint, one who could capture even Lord Aghora Rudra into his brush and request this fiery Lord to descend into his canvas to stay there and bless all those who worshiped him.

With the rhythm of the Rudram in my mind, I salute this great artist for his passion and bhakti, a silent devotee who left his art and expression behind for us to feel the presence of the Lord.