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Archive for September 25th, 2008

For all the long years that was in my motherland, i had not yet discovered by true thirst for my language, thought the love for art was there since long. It was a chance introduction of one of well wishers Sri Divakar who brought me into a forum that made me realise the beauty of my mother tongue and like a toddler learning to walk, i relearnt my mother tongue, trying to find my release through the amazing mintamil forum. I was egged on during those initial stages of just a few lines on sculpture to deeply analysing and inferring literature, bakthi and their interplay with sculpture - was catalysed by the interactions i had with Mr. Kannan. a stunning academic whose love for the language and the great devotional hymns, amazed me. As luck could have it, Mr Ashok my photographer friend came up with a set of amazing sculptures from Tirukurungudi, one look a them and i decided inorder to do justice to the mastery of these beauties, the right person to write about them would be Mr Kannan. Grateful to him for agreeing to do so and come up with such a great post in such a short duration. Read on and enjoy…..

It often amazes me! You and me look at a rock, a barren hill as stone. But an artist sees a temple inside. How else could we have those marvelous cave temples in Mamallapuram, Ajanta and Ellora?
There are plenty of stones around us. But only an artist sees God in a stone. A poetry is hidden in words. Poetry is hidden in stones as well. I shoot a butterfly on the other day. It was so beautiful that I felt that this butterfly is nothing other than a Haiku written by the flower! Can we say this? Yes! we can. Beauty and order are the
essence of creation. Whenever there is beauty there is poetry. Vijay has rightly called his blog “Poetry in Stone”.

But of course most of us don’t see a poetry in rock or a flower. We need to develop those aethetics. Tirumular a saint poet of India says that when you see a wooden elephant, at that moment you ’see’ only an elephant and not the wood. In the same way, when you see nature, you see only the elements but not the god. This is certainly an art. To see a poetry in stone and God in everything.

Thirukurungudi.jpg
Thirukurungudi2.jpg
unfinsihed gopuram.jpg

Nammalvar, the poet saint of southern India expresses it in a different way. He visited Tirukurungudi. He saw God there. He saw ONLY god and nothing else. Not even the ’seer’. Only ONE existed. He says
then “If then, how dare I call myself an entity?” I think Nammalvar is correct. After seeing these beautiful sculptures, one forgets oneself. Only the Poetry in Stone Exists.

Govardhana Giri.jpg
krishna flute.jpg
narasihmar.jpg
vastra haranam.jpg

The popular belief is that Sriman Narayanan decends now and then as Avatars on earth, as it is one of the playgrounds for him (Leela Vibhuti). Among the most popular Dasavatar (ten) Vamana is celebrated by saints and poets. As it reflects the sentiments of Tirumular and Nammalvar beautifully. Pali was a great ruler,in fact, he was referred as ‘Mapali’ the great one! All the worlds under the heaven was his (in fact, he owned the heaven as well). He naturally forgets God, the creator. This story repeats after his great grand father Hiranya who was a tyrrant and egoist. He was slayed by Vishnu for the same reason. However, Pali is also the grandson of Prakalatha, a well known devotee
of Vishnu. So, Vishnu didn’t kill him but he wanted to show him a lesson. He came as a dwarf and asked for three feet of land as alm. Without relizing the fact that he was God himself, Pali promised HIM his land. Next moment HE grew so big that the entire known universe is under one feet and the unknown universe under another feet. Even Brahma the creator of universes got baffled by this enormous BEING. He realized that HE must be the ‘real’ creator and so he washed HIS feet using water in his kamandala. The water flew in the heavens there after as “Akasa Ganga”. Later Siva brought that to earth for earthly uses. The God who resides in Tirukurungudi is none other than this
huge entity. This beautiful myth is captured in stone.

tiruvikrama.jpg

HE appeared once to the call of Gajendra. Under distress Gajendra called for help. He requested the roots of all roots to appear in front of him to remove his distress. So he called “Adi Mulame” (the
one from it everything springs, the undifferentiated ONE). Before THAT appeared everything else such as all the Devas, Trimurthi, Rishis and Munis appeared. Why? They wanted to see who THAT one was? At that moment Sriman Narayanan appeared in his Eagle cart (Garuda vahanam)
majestically. This story is depicted as poetry in stone as well.

tirukurungdui tiruvikrama.jpg
tiruvikrama.jpg

However, the most interesting one is Krishna stealing butter. The most popular myth of India and elsewhere. Krishna is an avatar of Vishnu as well. However, with a difference. While rest of all avatars are magnificent and majestic. This one is ‘down to earth’. A playful child, mischievous to the core. Naughty and charming. Nothings escapes his charm. Not even the cattle and trees in Brindavan. Krishna is embodiment of beauty, simplicity and benevolence. He undertook major tasks for the benefit of people around him like a child play (the samhara or the destruction of evil in this avatar is unparalleled) mainly to make himself accessible to his dear ones as a child companion to play with. That’s why Krishna is accepted by everyone without cast, creed and religion. This beauty is etched on stone with the same charm in Tirukurungudi.

When poetry emerges, it charms, it enchants and it mesmerize. At that moment only poetry exists. Paranirvana, Satory, Moktsha. Don’t you feel that at this moment in this blog?

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Couple of weeks back, my good friend Mrs. Lakshmi Sharath asked me to do a guest post on her site.
Travel blogs of a backpacker!

My thanks to Lakshmi for asking me write this blog in her site as a guest. After dabbling in many subjects, I finally found my hearts fill in sculpture. The call of this dying art is unique -these images are dormant yet speak volumes, and like learning a new language once your learn their tongue, its sheer poetry in stone.

Since her site was about backpacking and travel, thought I would mix a bit of both in this post - so I introduce you to a little known monument - Masroor.

Call it serendipity, but i was looking for a good picture of the Mahabalipuram test panel when i came across a familiar face - a real stud who turned out to be my buddy from preschool - Albert. We chatted up and promptly in a couple weeks he sent me some pictures of his visit to Himachal Pradesh, to a hither too unheard of place (at least to me) called Masroor.

masroor long shot.jpg
masroor.jpg

What I saw blew me away. The Masroor temple complex is in Himachal Pradesh ( near Kangra - 20kms and Dharamsala - 45 kms. At a distance the sandstone hill doesn’t quite give up it secrets - a late 8th Century rock cut Shiva temple. Hailing from Chennai Rock cut shrines and caves are my particular favorites, not just for their artistic skill but also for their complexity ( need to carved in situ on live rock - top down) - they are many superb examples of this in South India and western India but had not expected something of this scale,size and most importantly the style.

intricate carvings masroor.jpg
masroor charming.JPG
masroor intricately carved lintel.jpg
masroor maybe muruga.jpg

I am sure all of you have heardof Angkorwat - a 11th Century Cambodian temple complex. What interested me with Masroor is the uncanny resemblance /similarity between these two - complete with the tank in front - beautifully mirroring the structure on top.

http://news.nationalgeographic.com/news/2007/08/photogalleries/Angkor-pictures/

angko.jpg
masroor.jpg

The relief carvings are amazingly detailed but have borne the brunt of nature, yet my imagination runs wild when I think of how these beauties would have looked when they were sculpted or does the aging adding to their beauty. Angkor got its fame from the overgrowth of vegetation and Angelina Jolie/ Lara Croft, maybe Masroor needs
Priyanka Chopra to do a similar one to gain recognition.

Could this have been the inspiration behind Angkor ?

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