Sunday, March 8, 2015

conquering yourself

Thought behind the thought
We are always in pursuit of excellence! To be better than others is at times, the only definition of excellence that we accept. But is it really so? In fact, being better than others is hardly a scale by which to measure excellence.
Real excellence comes from bettering yourself, being better today than what you were yesterday, acquiring knowledge and skills that you did not previously have, learning new ways of being the best. It is really about conquering your own self!

About the art
The first name that comes to my mind when I think of conquering my own self is that of Buddha, the enlightened one! We, in India, venerate him for his teachings and the eight fold path that he showed us for bettering ourselves. Almost all art that depicts the Buddha, be it painting or sculpture, always communicates a sense of serenity that comes out of being the master of your own  heart, mind and soul.

Image of Buddha in stone (source: website of the Sarnath museum)

The stone sculpture of Buddha from Sarnath, dated to the Gupta period (5th Century BC), is a remarkable example of spirituality and inner peace conveyed through art. Apart from the symbolism that the sculpture embodies, (the Dharmachakra, the Mudra, the lotus, etc) the sculpture is a fine study of geometry and proportions in visual art.

Graphics prepared by designjatra, based on original analytical images from the book
The three 'chakras', that are one of the base concepts in Buddhist philosophy, are symbolically represented through the three circles that define the geometry and proportions of the sculpture. The overall size, the progressive visual lines, the various elements of the sculpture viz the arms, hands, ears,etc. and also the lotus seat and the disciples of Buddha are placed on the lines generated by the geometry of the three intersecting circles and the grids hence derived.

An in -depth study reveals even finer points of proportioning, an important aspect for achieving excellence in visual art.  It also brings a sense of organisation and preciseness to the art, adding visual serenity to the composition, heightened by the closed eyes and serene facial expression.

The above study is based on the analysis presented in the book Concepts of Space Ancient and Modern By Ms. Kapila Vatsyayan, a leading Indian scholar of classical Indian dance, Indian art and Indian architecture and art historian. She was the founding director of the Indira Gandhi National Centre for the Arts, Delhi, and continues as its chairperson. 

Credit and source of information 
Concepts of Space Ancient and Modern By Ms. Kapila Vatsyayan (

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