Divine Humanity- Paintings by Sujata Achrekar.
Hindu culture has always attracted the attention of intellectuals from various fields. It is vast and has various perspectives. Every perspective has an image or a metaphoric representation. Fine art of India is rich due to allegories from our mythology and folk tales. Painting artist Sujata touches upon one of the most complicated theme- the divine descent on earth or in simple words- Manifestation of God on this earth. We, modern Indians find it difficult to believe that God takes birth on earth in mortal form and lives the life full of challenges along with us and at the same time works to rescue us from evil and problems. Is this topic significant to a common man? Can a common man try and attain divinity?
We see in this series every form or Avtāra, right from the very first Matsyavtāra to Shri Krishna the ninth form. She has worked only on incarnation of Lord Vishnu. But in all we have 25 incarnations that are important part Hinduism and Indian culture. Sufism, Buddhist scriptures, Jainism also preaches and states about manifestations. This would make series voluminous. So, as an inspiration a few selected manifestations of God are presented in this series.
The reason to ponder Avtāra is the grave situation that the world is facing. The tenth Avtāra Kālki is expected to arise in this age (a fierce form of death riding upon a white horse) and is supposed to destroy all evil and save the world. Right from Satjug (Satya-truth, yug-age) till today Kaljug, God has manifested himself in one or the other form, not necessarily in the form of human being alone. Animal forms, like the Matsyavtāra (fish) or Varah (Bore) or Hamsa (Swan) or animal-human Narshinmhā (Lion headed human) are also the manifestation of God in different periods.
The question arises, that if God is so powerful and can alter the world according to his will and can avoid descending on earth, then why does he need to acquire immortal body and make a subtle presence on earth from time to time? Every age has different story, and every avtāra of that particular period has a very interesting reason.
Speaking about the present age, we are the eye-witness to the fearful and dangerous situation cropping up every day, this makes future of the earth dark. No scientific progress or technology will give a correct solution to these critical problems. So, the probable incarnation Kālki cannot be rejected as unreasonable thought. By presenting all nine forms, Sujata also presents her thought on this near-future fact of having such divine presence on this earth, who would rescue world from deluge and evil. Her paintings can be taken as an inspiration to this positive thought.
Her thinking is not based on heard and read philosophy of enlightenment. Sujata herself is a staunch believer and strictly follows all the good practices that would lead to enlightenment. She frankly confesses that it is easy to listen and understand to philosophy preached in Indian culture but it is very difficult to adopt and comprehend. Our life is full of Māyā (delusion) and it is not possible to spend our life purely to help others free from evil and injustice, so the self-love and selfish desires are bound to restrict our actions. This self-love and desires have to be overcome to gain true knowledge and be live Supreme power, attain self-consciousness. The paintings do not only reveal the power of manifested God, but represent the state of consciousness that is possible to attain with practice and dedication. She is hopeful of this tenth incarnation because she observes that like her there are many people who practice virtuous lifestyle to attain highest spiritual knowledge. Practice makes the man perfect, attaining highest knowledge is also possible.
Viewing this series from purely artistic point of view also becomes an interesting affair. It is very fascinating to view this series as it has all the qualities and techniques of Indian miniature paintings. Sujata loves Indian miniature painting. The theme itself is based on ancient Indian allegories. The pale colours are highlighted by the darker shades. Mostly we find blue, grey or green colour images. Blue is prominent colour supported with grey, black and other basic colours. The background of bold images of human images are filled with Avtāras and the scripts depicting ancient Indian scriptures and it gives a mythological effect to the paintings.
As told to Pankaja JK.