Thursday, February 23, 2012

Tamil Art--Chola Bronzes

Chola Bronze 11th century Govt Museum Chennai

The reason for the great resurgence of creativity in Tamilakam during Chola centuries I am researching. Because of Ananda Coomaraswamy-s writings people in West became familiar with Chola Bronzes. Since during Chola period thousands and thousands of Bronzes were cast some found their way in West--legally and not-legally. The great beauty of these bronzes is that they are cast in round and hence are equally marvelous to behold from any angle--profile, front or back. As I stayed in Kumbakonam making rounds to beautiful; little village Swami Malai by   the river I watched the invocation to heavens, to earth , to water to eternal Siva by the sthapati who appears more as a world-oblivious devotee. His broad forehead invested with the holy sandal paste and ashes, his eyes searching answers more inside than outside, his veshti (dhoti) wrapped around and folded to knee-lenght, his shirt hung in one corner of his stdio. In his bare torso he looks like devotee preparing to offer prayers in Chidambram Koil. I imagined the sky, the earth, the paddy  fields, the river were the same  more than a thousand years earlier and  forefathers of the present day stapati invoked God as is done even now. The beauty of these bronzes holds you spell bound in their spirituality as also their unsurpassede sensuality. Here is a picture of the back view of a Chola bronze from the collection of Govt. Museum Chennai.

Thursday, January 26, 2012

The best of Tamil art: Fragrance of Jasmine

A dancer n Mridangam player from Darasuram
I have been working on my book on the Art of Tamils: Fragrance of Jasmine. I travel often and long in Tamilnadu and study the exquisite art that was created by Pallavas, Pandyas, Cholas and Cheras. cholas are more famous for their monumental temples at Thanjavur, Gangaikondcholapuram, Darasuram and Kamphareswra temples. Darasuram near Kumbakonam is regarded as sculptors paradise. Here I have added a beautiful relief of a vigorous dancer and equally vigorous mridangam player.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Mathura Museum

 old building of Mathura Museum. The new building is ready but still the old building is being used as Museum.When the Museum shifts there will be more space and more works on display hopefully. No countrty can become proud of itself without keeping in mind it past history, art, culture. What we are today is the result of what our forefathers created and left for us
Lingam Kushan period (Mathura Museum) Thnx 2 Director Mathura Museum to photograph the work for my next book on Indian art 

The great art of India in North. this Yaksha was chiselled by artist with great visual n creative force 200 years before Christ was born. See the great softness and serenity conveyed (Mathura Museum) Thnx to Mathura Museum Director for permission to Photograph for my new book
If you are looking one place for the the great art of north India-ancient north including parts of China, Khotan, Pakistan, Afghanistan, Mathura it is.

Sunday, April 10, 2011

The phenomena of a New India—Anna Hazare and his Indians

Some dream for themselves some dream for others
The emergence almost overnight of a star for 1.21 billion Indians in Anna Hazare as a symbol of faith, determination, hope, honesty is a miracle of sorts. It is a great example to the world of the largest democracy on earth changing its direction for the better.  It is democracy confronting ill-functioning democracy. It is democracy vs. democracy. A man of 73 years who lives out of a bag and owns no land, house or assets and has 10’X10’ room to sleep has spearheaded and awakened even the most cynic of Indians and jolted a Govt. who and whose predecessors dithered from making an effective legislation against the corruption specially of rulers and high and mighty. Unfortunately India is a country where after swindling $20 billions a powerful person never sees even the portals of a jail while a poor person can stay for 20 years in prison on being falsely implicated of stealing Rs20, all this because the laws are lax and the system is dilatory.
A new icon is born and every Indian has appropriated him as his own and vision of future by saying, ‘I am Anna Hazare’ He has overtaken every other living person as a popular icon among the urban and rural youth and grown ups. He stands taller than any other Indian by miles. People see in him the most handsome Indian whose crystal heart beats for India and Indians. A couple of politicos called him an uneducated driver. But what a driver he is for Indians driving them out of the muck and slush of dirty dealing corrupt of India.

There are three kinds of people—
1 those who live for themselves, are indifferent and they are the majority in normal circumstances but are jolted out of their slumber when a leader of  heroic dimensions appears
2 those who live for themselves at the expense of others and that include all the corrupt politicos, bureaucrats and industrialists and all the riff raff of society
3 Those who dream and turn the dreams into a beautiful reality of hope for others
Anna Hazare is from the last category. Indian regard such likes of Narayan Murthy, Azim Premji, and Metro man Sreedharan, cricket icon Sachin Tendulkar from the third category.
Unfortunately no politician at present is regarded as an icon for the country. People have reached a stage of despair with endless march of corruption, low morality among rulers. There was hopelessness for people found no way out endemic corruption till on 5th April Anna Hazare appeared at Jantar Mantar. His simple, spotless life and a straight forward readiness to die fasting to save India and Indians from corruption endeared him to all. He asked for peoples’ right to frame an effective legislation against corruption. People came from all walks of life they gathered all over India, they sang patriotic songs, they fasted unto death, and they resolved to be with Anna Hazare. They saw a 73 year old common man like themselves in Anna Hazare who had nothing, wanted nothing rather was willing to die for them. They pledged to be with him come what may. I saw a strange light in peoples’ eyes, they talked of Gandhi, of British Colonial atrocities, of Jai Prakash Narayan’s selfless leadership, they emptied their pain, their sufferings, miseries on total strangers, but bound together by a common bond and the rope was Anna Hazare. They brought water for people and they did not mind the sun, they were polite as tender petals of a flower to each other. It was mesmerizing, and I wondered are these the same people who indulge in road rage! No the magician has worked his magic on these people and the magician par excellence was Anna Hazare.  Personal life is an important indicator of a person and we see immoral flaunting of wealth by classes. India despite it growth rate has also descended in stark inequalities.70% people live on Rs20 a day and they bear the burden of the corruption. What belongs to them as transfer of resources and redistributive justice has been stolen through corruption. The burden of corruption is the highest on the poor though no doubt India’s sizeable middle class suffers no less and has participated vociferously in the change spearheaded by Anna Hazare.

People know now that power is wielded by politicians, bureaucrats, in cahoots with super rich industrialists. The public knows that   often after climbing its shoulders politicos blatantly use the power to amass wealth through corruption.
The corporate social responsibility has acquired a new meaning and created a high social respect for Bill Gates, Warren Buffet, Azim Premji, Narayanmurthy and metro man Sreedharan The society does not view positively examples of lavish conspicuous consumption while 47% children are malnourished. A Mukesh Ambani may be the richest Indian but he stands nowhere in societal respect of the masses. The stock of industrialists generally is not very high in our country for they are seen mostly to do nothing for India other than building empires for themselves and their children.
 Among masses of India the brand value of Mukesh Ambani the richest Indian who build for himself a Rs10,000 crore house is miniscule compared with Anna Hazare who lives in 10’X10’ room in a temple.
This is an emerging India where moral values and not your wealth is the indicator of your worth.
Quite a number of industrialist are embroiled in scams in cahoots with politicos and bureaucrats, this has further eroded the faith of the masses. Imagine Gandhi called business as trustees of society but in many cases they have emerged as immoral exploiters and manipulators.

India and Indians were  bewildered and helpless till Anna arrived on national scene on 5th April 2011 and media manned by middle class journo and anchors morally felt obligated to openly take sides for the India that was almost crushed under, by the corrupt in positions of power. Yes media was partisan in favour of Anna Hazare and ordinary Indians  and when I saw Kapil Sibbal blowing his fuse on  anchor Barkha Datt of NDTV accusing her of being unreasonable and partisan she merely said, “Oh You are annoyed”. It was the same story with the anchor Arnav Goswami from Times Now. Yes media was partisan but it was partisans for the suffering people who constitute the foundation and the main pillar of democracy, yes media was partisan for a nation unable to breathe under weight of obese corrupt, yes it was partisan for Indians under siege, it was partisan for the undernourished children whose morsels of food were being snatched by the corrupt, it was partisan for the poor and above it was partisan to make democracy for the people more effective. The lawyer in Kapil Sibbal wove the web of procedures and systemic labyrinths for two days but it came to naught as anchor after anchor asked why in 42 years they could not bring legislation against corruption. The ministers were mouthing ‘us’ and ‘them’ initially but by fourth day it changed to Govt. and civil society are on the same side
 People did not see Govt. and Opposition differently and did not allow political opposition to gate crash in the movement. First time people stood above the divide of caste, class, religion, regionalism and political divisionism. From media to mobile telephones, SMSs, internet, Facebook it galvanized all Indian in India and abroad.  Media became the democratic opposition to safeguard peoples’ interest. The speechless stunned opposition and the Govt. in power appeared to be on the same side for people. For the first time the political class appeared to be on the defensive. The unceremonious ejection of Chautala and Uma Bharti was watched by all across the country. It was a different mood that Anna Hazare’s fast had created in the people. The school children came with their teachers, college students with professors, employees came in lunch hour missing their lunch and again after the office was over, women  and man in twilight of their lives, mothers with little children in tow came from  far off states, they came from here and there, they came from far and near, they came from towns, villages cities and streets  To an extent it was true, people have seen the geometric growth of the wealth of quite few of functionaries of democracy, they dithered in giving details of their assets, they were found to be in company of criminals or had criminal background, some of them were seen by people doing deals for money on the TV, they had seen hitting, slapping abusing politicos more akin to street goons. When Anna Hazare embarked on his fast unto death the stock of politicos had reached the lowest ebb. Scams after scams had just taken away any solace the political class could offer to ordinary mortals called Janta.
But remember the people have realized their power and in future they will be the ombudsmen for the correct behaviour of the servants of people. India turns the corner and a moral reeducation seems to be in the offing at least for the ruling classes.

Friday, April 8, 2011

India rewrites history via Anna Hazare

I have been taking part in the Revolution--being Anna Hazare's soldier fighting to make for a corruption-free India.With my camera I was at Jantar Mantar in New Delhi watching Indians of all colours and shade coming to join him. A Gandhian to the core Anna Hazare who own nothing and lives out of a small bag and sleeps in a 10'X10' room, has changed India in four days--from 5th to 8th April 2011. People come with little babies, old, small school children, doctors and lawyers, farmers and daily wagers, shop owners and Govt employees. We have a democracy but a leaking one. Anna Hazare comes to stop the leakage. 300 persons in Jantar Mantar joined him in fast unto death. Many were hospitalized but they carried on. I heard people talk of India's subjugation under British and felt that still we are not free to work and enjoy the fruits of honest labour. As did the Colonists carted away by force what belonged to India, so do the 'Brown Sahibs'. They came from Villages from Jharkhand, from Bihar, from UP, from Bangalore , they came with faith, they came with hope.  I saw the same emotion, same determination in the eyes of a 8 year old child as in the silver haired 80 year old. I had not seen anything like this ever before. I suddenly saw a new India and new Indians; until now i had not know this new India existed. But it was so because this new India was created in 4 days by the diminutive, humble, simple, ordinary looking but with extraordinary determination to dream a India free from corruption. His dream was not his own it was a dream which every Indian wanted to dream but could not. He has brought back dreams in the eyes of ordinary Indians and now they are willing to fight for their right to dream. Here I share some of the dreamers I saw in the multitude of Indians.