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Ajanta art not a flash in the pan, says art historian
New Delhi | Sunday, Jan 18 2009 IST
 
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The cave paintings at Ajanta, the earliest surviving murals in the Indian subcontinent were no "flash in the pan", an isolated extraordinary achievement, according to noted art historian and photographer Benoy Behl.

Delivering an illustrated talk on "Murals of India" organised by the Bharatiya Vidya Bhavan here on Friday evening, Mr Behl said the paintings dating back to the second century BC, are known to be the fountainhead and inspiration for Buddhist paintings across Asia.

"Ajanta paintings were once viewed as a 'flash in the pan', an isolated, extraordinary achievement," Mr Behl said. As a photographer, he wanted to establish through his pictures that the splendours of Ajanta trace their roots to a more unified and extensive continuum of paintings in ancient India.

"We are reminded in the ancient paintings that the stated purpose of art was not to present the photographic reality, but to convey the essence and harmony which underlies all of creation," he added.

Mr Behl told UNI that the murals depict art's intimate connection with the philosophic wisdom contained in the Upanishads. It inspires people to higher ideas of wisdom, harmony and gentleness along with vigour to slay the demon of ignorance within.

"One should observe the facial expressions of Goddess Durga to understand this. She slays the demon lying at her feet with all the vigour yet remains serene throughout," he said.

These ancient artists illustrated epic histories to convey intellectual thoughts across the generations. They had the felicity to express themselves in sophisticated form, as the deities engraved in the murals are not Gods but embodiments of concepts within human beings. Their rendition of 'Bodhisattvas', (seekers of truth) 'Vajarapani'(bearer of thunderbolt) and 'Padmapani' (bearer of lotus) in Ajanta murals brings out the majesty and the tranquility of the spirit. The art is meant to transcend the Mithiya (illusion) of the material world and bring eternal peace and satisfaction to our being.

"The great Bodhisattvas, who are painted upon the walls of Ajanta, always look within. It is this life of the spirit which pervades the entire world of these paintings," he added.

-- (UNI) -- 18DI1.xml

 

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