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Life of Gautama Buddha
in Devasthanakala
Paper cutting art
Shiva in
Devasthanakala Paper cutting art
Gitagovinda in Devasthanakala
Paper cutting art
Mahabharat in Devasthanakala Paper cutting art Durga in Devasthanakala Paper cutting art Krishna in
Devasthanakala Paper cutting art
Ragamala in Devasthanakala
Paper cutting art

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Portfolio on Devasthanakala Paper cutting art

Gitagovinda and Devasthanakala, a divine correlation in art
by Prabal Pramanik

Gitagovinda and Devasthanakala, a divine correlation in art
by Prabal Pramanik

Human consciousness aspiring to reach the ultimate through self-realization in terms of devotion finds one of the greatest poetic expressions in Gitagovinda.
Gitagovinda, or the song of Govinda, allows presentation of human feelings of love and devotion in the light of superhuman joy.
Love is depicted not just as gratification of physical senses but as a medium of expression in the path of supreme devotion in this poetic form.
Gitagovinda gives an analytical presentation of a devotee's mind in allegorical forms when depicting the moods of Radha in her Lila with Krishna.
Love that goes much deeper than any sensuous sensation and an adoration that forms a basis of worship glows with an ardent light illuminating the soul.
Faith of the devotee as depicted by Radha's conviction that Krishna's is her own and that she is with Krishna in a metaphysical manner even when Krishna is away and in the company of other gopis is striking in its intensity.
In Rasa-Lila, where allegorically the Lord satisfies each gopi according to her personal desires, the human feelings are portrayed through divine relationship of Lord and the devotees.
These human feelings create an empathy allowing the reader of this poetic form a feeling of intimacy in a personal manner.
Gitagovinda follows the Vaishnava philosophy of reaching the ultimate from the immediate utilizing the basic human urges.
The rhythm of this flowing classical poetic form, rich in alliteration, created for musical presentation, has swayed souls throughout the centuries ever since it was composed.
Easy flow of the "shlokas" emphasizing more on poetic rhetoric than on dry grammatical craftsmanship enhances the appreciative quality of this literary form.

This poem is written in twelve parts or "Sargas" :-
1. Samodadamodara, 2. Akleshakeshava, 3. Mugdha Madhusudana, 4. Snigdha Madhusudana, 5. Sakanksha Pundarikaksha, 6. Dhrishta Baikuntha 7. Nagara Narayana, 8. Bilaksha Lakshmipati, 9. Mugdha Mukunda, 10. Mugdha Madhava, 11. Sananda Govinda, 12. Suprita Pitambara.

Each "Sarga" is emphasizing on a particular mood of the Lord, and Radha in her devotional aspirations reacting to those moods.
Composed with absolute faith in the apparent and beyond, this poetic form is a self-realization of the poet.
Although the story of Radha and Krishna was known through some literary works composed before Jayadeva, most probably he was the first poet to describe this divine relationship in such a magnitude and significance. Undoubtedly this soulstirring poetic form inspired many literary expressions created by other poets later and gave Vaishnav philosophy a new impetus.
It is interesting to note that there are about forty annotations or "Tikas" of Gitagovinda and these annotations were composed in different parts of India.
The emotional appeal of Gitagovinda found visual expression in fine miniature paintings of Rajasthan created at a later age.
The Shlokas of Gitagovinda composed about eight hundred years ago give an idea of the high mastery of the classical language and rhythm by the poet Jayadeva.
At the end part of Gitagovinda Jayadeva mentions his father Bhojdeva and mother Bamadevi. From Gitagovinda we also know about Padmavati, his wife, for whom he showed his love by calling himself "Padmavaticharanacharanachakravarti". We find the name of "Parashara", Jayadeva's friend, to whom he dedicated Gitagovinda.
Jayadeva also gives in short an estimate of other eminent poets of eastern India (Umapatidhari, Sharan, Acharya Gobardhan and Dhoyi) in an interesting manner, mentioning the traits that distinguished these poets in the literary field.
We get a clear idea about Jayadeva's consciousness of the intellectual world in his age and his own place in it from some shlokas in this literary work. Gitagovinda is meant to be sung in a flowing melodious way and the presentation is made in such a specific manner.
The intensity of rasa in this poetic form depicts the sensual aspects of pleasure in Love in a most uninhibited way. In fact this uninhibited manner of depicting sensual pleasure may not be acceptable to those biased with social prejudices. We must remember, that the relationship of Radha and Krishna is beyond social taboos and supersedes common earthly values. Radha's "abhisara" or the allegorical journey of "Sadhaka" in meditation in the way of "Sadhana" to unite the self with the ultimate in "Sahasrara" illustrates "Yogasutra" in "Bhaktimarga" or the path of devotion.
In Gitagovinda sensual pleasure is used as a "dharaka" or a carrier for the devotional joy that goes beyond the limitations of the cruder sensual feelings.
To the people who are unable to comprehend any aspect of rasa beyond a crude carnal form, Gitagovinda is only a literary work of sexual appeal, but the real philosophy of the relationship of the devotee and the Lord unfolds to an understanding and oriented mind.
In Indian culture, we have often found examples of defining metaphysics with physical allegories in art and literature both.
Beauty, love and sex can be viewed from many different angles depending on the attitude of the viewer. In Indian literature and art, often allegories of desire have been used as a medium to a state that transcends all craving through devotion. The devotion that Radha had for Krishna in a metaphysical unity dissolves the line between the sensual and the spiritual.
The gap in the time frame makes it difficult for an ordinary 21st century person to emphasize with the feeling of devotion that is the main creative impulse in this lyric.
Devasthanakala paper cutting art, that was used to depict "Radha Krishna Lila" for decorating Vaishnav temples during festivals is a medium especially suitable to render a visual presentation of Gitagovinda. This rare form of art that requires the ability to cutout complete compositions without the aid of drawings or tracings had been used in Bengal, Orissa, Mathura and Vrindavan for hundreds of years, depends the intense concentration of Yogic meditation for its successful execution. The paper cutting art pieces that I created are made entirely from my imagery and are original compositions involving rare technological expertise. My Devasthanakala paper cutting forms illustrate how sensual scenes can be depicted without sexual grossness.
I have a complete set of these art-works that depict the eternal divine love.
This near-extinct decorative oriental art allows the viewer to enjoy the subtle moods of the Divine "Lila" in a free flowing manner in keeping with the flowing rhythm of the literature.
In this aspect, it has been possible to reach a perfect co-relation between the visual and literary forms of the "rasa" or the emotional entity through the visual presentation of Gitagovinda in Devasthanakala paper cutting art.

Prabal Pramanik
Published in Indian Horizons
Indian Council For Cultural Relations


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