Friday, May 4, 2012

Art’s Own God

By Jigna Padhiar
Photography: Courtesy Gallery Pradarshak

To pray or not to pray? How many ‘followers/fans’ of The Buddha will perform rituals on the occasion of Buddha Purnima, which falls on May 6 in India this year?

Is Buddhism about belief in the god or merely fascination with the form, could well be the right question to ask. Take a minute to ponder and you can conjure up different images of The Buddha – in tattoos, on t-shirts, fine art paintings, cave paintings, handicraft items, popular art and sculptures. Evidence that Buddha has well become a part of our everyday, or at least the image has.



The syncretism at play with the image of Buddha cannot be missed… not even in the mainstream arts. The pluralistic approach towards this god, as seen in representations by various artists has come to form a whole new system of interpretation.



The Buddha appears sans the Bodhi tree; generously reinterpreted with humanly attributes –reclining in leisure, in conversation with a bird and more such mundane activities; stylized in form, eulogized in a heterogeneous manner with elongated neck and body parts; celebrated in various postures, some as a study in meditation even.



In certain instances, His androgynous forms misleads the viewer in identifying the gender and at other times, the ghostly silhouette adds nothing to this system of significance or reinterpretation, other than adding to the artists’ identity.



Most images seem to be trying to fit into the contemporary visual culture, with a formula of merging belief with appropriation. The representation of Buddha merely seems to have conveniently become a meeting point of faith, resistance, “possession” of aesthetic art – an appropriated form and figure. Theory of convenience, is it?



Think about it, how many people among you friends and family have a Buddha tattoo and are members of Buddhist chanting groups… and who are these people?



The question that rings is: Is Buddhism and the image of Buddha beginning to get increasingly associated with a certain class of people? And has The Buddha thus become an idiom and a genre in itself?


  1. Perhaps the idea of asking is in fact the energy of Buddha asking us to rememeber. Much like Hanuman who i feel is a protector of the people and is glorifed in imagery. It is the spirit of Buddha that moves the art to manifest the inner vision of Buddah.

    Think abouit it does the spirit need form or does form need the spirit.

    The spirit/Buddha can exist without form.

    However form can not exist without spirit.
    Perhaps Buddha is tapping the artist on the shoulder as inspiration to remember the path.

    Just because you can be offered money for your artist renderings does not diminish the image.

    Money is but a manifestation of the spirit in which you welcome. You are rewarded for your visions/labors.

    Ok it might seem like hyperbole but why now do we/the people have a need for so much visual imagery exposure.

  2. Buddha and Jesus Christ are often portrayed in a similar manner, with flowing robes, serene, contemplative expression and hand poised to give blessing.

  3. Be your own Buddha. No need for prayers anymore.
    Posted by Ad van Riel

  4. Art greetings art ..... especially in India has its own characteristics and traditions in contemporary art related to each other from time to time ..... The Buddhist objects never disappear with age continues to be a symbol of the world as an art medium ..... is universal. For my friends congratulate Vesak day ... may all be happy and peaceful .......... good work.
    Posted by Hwie Janto on Linkedin Group: ART Professionals Worldwide in response to IAnD's discussion thread: Is mythology and art truly a theory of convenience?

  5. Art is prayer.
    Posted by Bill Buchman

  6. To answer to the question is a resounding,No. And to be metaphysical however this is my understanding it is claer and simple truth, no doctrine , idoms, just the wide awake awreness of the actuality of our condition as Human Beings.

    Because when I feel therefore i pray
    i breathe therefore i pray
    i think therefore i pray in all i do is a pray because
    as such one is a pray there is no separtion.
    The mere fact i experence life while in this body is evidence of that observable truth.
    I am alive as a result of the interaction of the physical and spirit which is the prayer of the spirit. The spirit is manifested into the body giving birth to my brain and such as it maybe my body.
    One is always observing the enlightened one.
    It is not possible not to do so as long as you are in your here experencing this world then you are connected.

    The culture we live in tells us we must do this or that to be accepted hence forth classifed into a section of the culture.

    I am not a Buddahist, how can i be something for which i am already.

    It is like saying i am trying to be Human- I can not try and be a Human.

    I am a Buddhist because i am/we are the Buddha.
    And i am not even a Buddahist,

    May Hanuman and Buddha and Christ and all the enligtened ones continue to tap us on our artist shoulder.
    Posted by Jerry Rushing on Linkedin Group: Art Lovers & Artistic Creations in response to IAnD's discussion thread: Is mythology and art truly a theory of convenience?

  7. as well as in christianity etc, these figures can be an inspiration also for the arts.

  8. amazing ... art is a beautiful gift of god, I like your article, submit a work is the best way

  9. The Buddha is one god that is welcomed by all. And is one god, the image of which has not really been exploited in popular culture like the other gods, for example Hanumaan, Jesus and Sai Baba.

    But yes come to think of it, Buddhism is increasingly becoming popular because everyone is looking for peace. Buddhism is pure peace. The root cause of Buddhism being followed by more and more people is that we are all living in Kalyug.


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