Thursday, June 6, 2013



Those who are worshipers of  Siva the super-ascetic may please stay away from this blog.

Idea of  writing this blog occurred to me when I could get a decent copy of  'Purusha/Prakriti' painting by  Bikash Bhattacharya during an internet search for my desktop background.  This painting - interpreted and discussed by many - is an unforgettable work of BB. Immediately , my thought turned to Sanatan Dinda's 'Durga' of Barisha Club, Puja-2012.

Famous painting by late Bikash Bhattacharya on the theme of 
'Purusha' and 'Prakriti',
marked for its social connotation.
Source - internet.
Lots of words , explaining background/origin of a concept and its evolution  through centuries and various mediums of expression,  are required to tackle the subject of this title. But, I have no big 'funda' on this subject. Therefore, whatever I write here is my very humble personal exposure to the big philosophy of 'Purusha and Prakriti' practiced by various religious groups across the sub-continent and neighbouring countries.

Variation of this concept  has been noted by philosophers studying religions and their practices  in various continents through ages.RamPrasad Sen has used this concept in many of his songs offering obeisance to Kali.  Dan Brown invoked this  concept in his famous book 'Da Vinci Code'.  I wonder if well-known Bengali writer late Probodh Kumar Sanyal used  the concept - somewhat superficially - in a few of his novels.  More visible are the creations of sculptors and painters - a selection from my collection will be presented here.

'Sankhya' is the  book to get at the root of this dualist concept. 'Purusha' is Consciousness , unchanging. "Prakrkiti' is the primordial force and ' material cause of the world'. It is through  intimate interaction of 'Purusha' and Prakriti' , life is created/sustained.The Dualism  can be identified in Yin and Yang of the Chinese, in Avalokiteswara and Tara in Vajrayana or Tantrik Buddhism and ....... in Siva and Shakti of Hindu Saivites.

Siva ( ithyphallic)  & Parvati @ 
Parashurameswara temple ,Bhuvaneswara.

Siva linga on square Gauripatta - 
anionic interpretation of Siva and Shakti.
from a small temple @ SriMukhalingam, A.P.
Iconic and anionic interpretations  of Siva and Shakti abound in Hindu temples.  Siva is super-ascetic - he is  the 'consciousness' of   'Purusha' too. In context with another Blog I wrote years ago, I found this interpretation of Siva's imagery is difficult for some modern day Saivites to accept. Nevertheless, interpretations of philosopher's and artist's  of the duo can be subject of a very interesting study. Let us examine a few more here :

Above is a Tantrik interpretation of  'Purusha' and Shakti. Here we find 'Kali' as  Shakti on top of passive 'Purusha'  - as if 'passed out' after a session of opium -  in one of the terra cotta temples of Baronagar.

Notable here is the similarity and difference from the 17th century interpretation of  Shakti vis-a-vis 'Purusha'.  Devi is on top of 'Purusha' in both the depictions. But,Sanatan has portrayed 'Purusha' not as inert or passive. He has gone deeper into  Tantra  in planning this imagery where there several layers. I have stopped at the stated interpretation of this unconventional imagery - more on this at appropriate juncture.

Present day interpretation of  Siva and Shakti. 
Devi has transformed the 'evil self ' of Mahishasura . What we find here is consciousness of 'Purusha' supporting Shakti !  
Sanatan Dinda's creation @ Barisha Club, Calcutta. Puja - 2012.

 One very interesting point of this 'work' of Sanatan is the cluster where faces of lion,'Mahisha' and Siva co-exist. In Sankhya, it is 'Prakriti' which has manifestation of 'Sattwa', 'Rajah' and 'Tamo gunas' . Here,  the artist has created a reverse imagery - the 'Purusha' manifests the three 'Gunas' !

Three Indian painters have become famous for their interpretation of  Tantra  and interplay of 'Purusha and Prakriti' .  The oldest among them is late Nirode Majumdar who also  contributed to a book on RamPrasad Sen's songs on Kali ('Song for Kali:A Cycle of Images and Songs'- published by Seagull). SH Raza and Ghulam Rasool Santosh have created  niche for their work based on Tantra among connoisseurs. A painting of GR Santosh titled 'Siva-Shakti' is copied here from the internet :

'Siva-Shakti' by Ghulam Rasool Santosh.
Source - Internet.

During last ten years, Sanatan Dinda has used Tantra-inspired motif of 'Yantra'  several times. I follow his current work in Durga's pavilions as he brings out complex interpretation of 'Purusha and Prakriti' there. Revelers of Calcutta Pujas may miss out  some of his imageries and/or their inner meaning - more on this subject in a separate blog.

Nandalal Basu painted 'Annapurna' where Siva is shown as an emaciated 'Nataraja'. Here the 'Purusha' is suffering - not the 'consciousness' unaffected by external factors. Debatable subject - let us have a look :

 AnnaPurna by Nandalal Basu.

 Is this a portrayal of Avalokiteswara and Tara ?
Buddhist Monastery, Bylakuppe, Karnataka.

The last photo of this blog is from Tibetan Buddhist Monastery of Bylakuppe, Karnataka.Their interpretation of Vajrayana Buddhism has a lot of imageries of a  'Purusha' - with specific traits and power - and his consort in deep embrace.More erudite person can compare the inner meaning/s of the imageries,  passive-vs-active 'Purusha' and explain the complexity.  Present blog's scope ends with recording the visuals from my computer's HDD.

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