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Friday, November 6, 2015

Art and Artifacts: What for?

“Is it to see these ruined remains of the temple that you bought us all the way from Hyderabad to this far?” questioned a fellow visitor.  

It simply floored me. For a while I remained silent. In that silence … an answer had, of course, struck to my mind. But it took some time for me to pull up courage and say, “These broken pillars, dilapidated walls, topless mantapas—halls, chipped-off images, and the unkempt surroundings ‘connect us humanely, across the centuries’”.

Encouraged by the silence of the group, I continued: “When you step into such ancient ruins you feel emotionally touched by your own past… you feel as though someone from down the ages is speaking to you…. explaining you how they lived their lives, the longings of their age, the motive/philosophy behind their erecting such magnificent cathedrals, the pains and pleasures behind such ventures, and what not! Listening to them, you feel humbled.

That aside, when you are amidst such marvels of yore displaying the ancestry, what strikes to a Sahrudaya is the image of a living, perspiring man, devotedly wrapped in his faith, carving an idol pulsating with life out of the hard granite, which indeed posits a battery of questions:
Who was this nameless, ageless artist?
How he looked?
What he ate?
Why he glued himself to such back-breaking task?
What his expectations were?
Who was really behind this artist, driving hundreds of artists like him to get themselves engaged in the labour of delivering such masterpieces?
And think of them who sat—who knows for how many days?—around that granite slab and started painstakingly chiseling, softening, smoothing, polishing and who knows what else he did to give that fine finish to this nice figure ….the beauty of which radiates even to date that too, from such dilapidated status. 

And the real wonder is: Did that sculptor had any expectation from it in terms of a return for all his labour, or is it merely for deriving the aesthetic pleasure of carving a sculpture, for he didn’t care to etch out his name anywhere around it, that he expended his life in turning that hard rock into a masterpiece, that too, with primitive tools, of course, charged with passion, or with utmost devotion? Watching these ruins, when such indefinable thoughts swarm over your mind, you would be overawed by a kind of humility.

And how many more such fabulous, exotic, and exquisite survivors are around the Indian peninsula! What an unfathomable accomplishment of those artists of the yore! What an amazing power of these artifacts:  Millions of people have been thronging to these places ever since they were erected and they kept every visitor enthrall to them!

And it also prompts us to think how beautiful these surroundings might have been in their heydays with neatly laid-out lanes and by lanes dotted by meadows with bowers in full blossom with purple, yellow, red and pink flowers—rioting colours all around that were fenced by tall palm trees.

It also raises another very pertinent question: Food or art? For, even in India of today that is gloating much about its growth in GDP during the last decade and a half, there being millions of children and women who are suffering from malnutrition and stunted growth, what could have been the plight of people of those days? No one is sure of it, for our classical literature does not speak at all about any such suffering of those days! And we don’t know if it means that there was no such human suffering in those days or by design they were silent about it!

Whatever might be the truth, one thing appears obvious: Art by itself generates hubris and in its creation, it surpasses all the known boundaries of human suffering, including poverty and the resulting impoverishment—it simply gives its creator a kick!  And watching such art and even its leftovers, perhaps, not only affords visitors listen to the voices of those ancestors, but also facilitates good training to the eye to catch beauty wherever present and particularly, marvel in it ignoring all other mundane bickerings.

Believe it or not art-watching relieves you from the pains of the present—the immediate leading to something beyond the present—at least for a while. Such is its power. That perhaps must have been the philosophy behind our ancestors building such beautiful edifices for the posterity to cherish.

And that is what a visit to these ruins is for!


gaddeswarup said...

Gurajada said
"ప్రాచీన శిధిల భవనాలను, శిల్పాలను, అవశేషాలను చూసినప్పుడు మనం వ్యాకులపడతాము. వ్యాకులముతోపాటు మనకు ఆసక్తి కలుగుతుంది. ఆ వస్తువులచుట్టూ జాలీ, ఆసక్తీ గొలిపే వాతవరణం అలుముకొని ఉంటుంది.
రూపు చెడని కోట కన్నా, రూపు చెడిన కోట, విశేషించి దానికి చరిత్రలో అనుబంధం వున్నప్పుడు, మనకు ఎక్కువ ఆసక్తిని కలిగిస్తుంది. ఊహించుకొందుకు వీలున్నప్పుడు మన ఆసక్తి మరీ ఎక్కువౌతుంది. సహజంగా మనకు కొన్ని ఊహలు పుడతాయి.
కొన్ని వందల సంవత్సరాల క్రితం ఈ కొటలో కొందరు నివసిస్తూవుండేవారు. అనేకుల జీవితాలు వింత వింత అభిరుచులతో, అనుభవాలతో, ఆశలతొ, నిరాశలతో, ఇక్కడ గడిచి పోయాయి. వాళ్ళ కష్టసుఖాలు, సుఖదుఖాలు, ఎటువంటివో. ఇక్కడివాళ్ళు ఒక్కొక్కొప్పుడు అత్యంత ధైర్యోత్సాహాలతొ ఇంకొక్కప్పడు మహాభయాలతో కాలం గడిపి ఉంటారు. జీవితంలో అనేక జయాపజయాలను చవిచూసి ఉంటారు. వీళ్ళ ఆశలతో నిరాశలతో ఆనందంతో విచారంతో ఏ వాతావరణం ఒకప్పుడు నిండివుండేది. ముఖ్యంగా ఇక్కడ నివసించిన చివరితరం మనుషులు ఎక్కువ ఒడిదుడుకులను ఎదుర్కునివుంటారు. అనేక కష్టాలుపడివుంటారు.
ఛారిత్రకంగా వీటి ఉనికి ఏమిటో? "

karpuramanjari said...

Thanks a lot Dr Gaddeswarup for the visit… more particularly, many thanks for posting that nice excerpt from Gurazada’s literary work, which is which is quite interesting to read besides being educative …..

gaddeswarup said...

I saw it in an article by Arudra included in మరోసారి గిడుగు రామమూర్తి which was republished by DLTC. Parts of your artcle reminded of that piece. Normally I am not that familiar with telugu writings. On a different note, I used to see the books by many Tenali writers when in school (before 1954) but read only a couple of books by Gopichand and may be a few stories by Kodavatiganti. Through your blog, I am beginning to know about some of them like G.V. Krishnarao whose books keelubommalu and jegantalu I saw but never read. Thanks for writing about them. At one time I thought that if I did not get a Ph.D. in mathematics, I would probably try to become a lecturer in a place like Tenali. It seems that I could have been a colleague of G.V. Krishnarao but unfortunately I compl;eted my Ph.D. and went on with mathematics most of my life.

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