Art work on Anjaneya

Today is the first night of navaratri which is holy and auspicious to all Hindus. Here in SA, the Divine Mother Goddess Durga is worshipped in Her three aspects as Mahakaali, Mahalakshmi and Mahasaraswati, three nights each during this nine-day celebration. Not only Sri Ramakrishna kept in his room several pictures of Gods and Goddesses but also advised devotees to do so. “Divine feeling is awakened through such pictures” he said. Once he went all the way to see a home of a devotee, hearing that he had a large collection of religious pictures! You can also enjoy seeing one hundred ninety-nine ennobling pictures of Hindu Goddesses, one hundred twenty-seven of which especially on Durga at this Flickr site. The Lord of Durga – Neelakantha Shiva has eleven aspects that are called Rudras. The Shiva puraana speaks about the Eleventh Rudra who incarnates as Sri Hanuman. I am thankful to Simon Ram of UK who gave permission to place a rare picture of Hanumanji with Gauri-Shankar which you can find at the bottom of this post.

The drawing and a write-up on Visual Art Work that is displayed in a box down below, is by one 14 year old school student who regularly attends our Sunday School for Children. Presently this boy is schooling at Ladysmith High School and in Gr.9. His name is Yashteel Raj. He attends the Ramakrishna Centre – Ladysmith branch. He also enjoys reading and learning about Hindu religion through stories like the Ramayana, etc. Recently he wrote to me an email which I reproduce here:

Yashteel Raj of Ladysmith
Yashteel Raj from Ladysmith

Om Namo Narayanaya Swamiji

It was very good to see you on Saturday after such a long time.

I had to make an artwork about my culture this week and I was so inspired by your talk on Sri Hanumanji that I made a drawing of him carrying the Drona Mountain. I wanted to show you how it looks – I hope you like it.

Mom, Dad and Chiara also send their pranams.

Durga Durga

Yashteel Raj

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Yes, beta Yashteel, I  am immensely pleased to see your art work. Congrats! Indeed, your devotion to Sri Hanumanji has brought Hanumanji’s grace to you and you have excelled in it. May He bestow you the three essential things which Tulsidasji, in his mystical prayer hymn, demands from Sri Hanumanji – bala, budhi, vidya!

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Inspired drawing - an Art work on Anjaneya
Inspired drawing - an Art work on Anjaneya

Arts & Culture:

Visual Artwork Project

What is Culture?

Culture, as I understand it, is a word which describes an individual’s lifestyle. One’s culture is basically their way of life: their social and religious norms, cuisine, literature, and choice of music and art. Culture thus consists of person’s customs and traditions.

What is your Chosen Culture and

Why can it be defined as a Culture?

I have chosen to make my artwork about my own “hybrid” Hindu culture as it would be personal and I already know much about it.

My chosen culture can be described as a culture as it includes all of my social and religious norms. It consists of the food I eat (spicy) and governs, to an extent, the type of literature, art and music I come into contact with. It also consists of all of my customs and traditions.

My religion plays a very important part in my culture, so I chose to make an artwork which is relevant to it. My artistic talent lies in drawing; hence I chose to depict an event from the epic tale, the Ramayana, in this form. Here Lord Hanuman carries the huge Drona Mountain on his shoulders, from the Himalayas to Lanka, as it contains the rare sanjeevani herb required to heal Lakshmana.

What I found Difficult

I faced many difficulties while creating my artwork and tried to overcome them as best I could. These problems were:

  • My colouring was uneven and looked bad, so I “smudged” or “shaded”.
  • Some garments blocked vital muscles, so I made them semi-transparent.
  • I had some trouble drawing Hanuman’s hands and feet, but I got it right in the end.
  • Lord Hanuman’s ape-like mouth was hard to blend in to the face so I experimented with sfumato.
  • It was hardest for me to give texture to Lord Hanuman and the mountain. I tried utilizing tonal value to aid me in my plight.

What I Learnt and Enjoyed

  • I learnt how to draw another type of abdomen and six-pack, which stems from “Hercules-type” animation.
  • I discovered how to add tonal value to give texture and depth to an artwork.
  • Shading, in some cases, is more effective than colouring.
  • If you shade on differently textured surfaces, their texture will be implied on your artwork. This can be a easy way to create texture.
  • I enjoyed drawing Lord Hanuman and experimenting with different muscle-types and colours, etc.

Conclusion

I really liked making this artwork. Drawing is lots of fun and I really enjoyed expressing my culture in this form.

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Sri Hanumanji with Sri Gauri-Shankarji - a rare picture
Sri Hanumanji with Sri Gauri-Shankarji - a rare picture, Courtesy: Simon Ram, UK

21 comments

  1. Revered Maharaj
    Om Namo Narayanaya!
    Please accept most humble pranam!
    The picture of Hanumanji, together with the rare picture are really impressive and artistic.
    On our first meeting with Yashteel in his home at Ladysmith, we could immediately understand how talented and versatile a lad he is. His recital of the Hanuman Chalisa together with his family so beautifully, his intelligent questions on Spirituality, his well-mannered behaviour etc. made us realise his maturity and his innate good qualities, and of course his help in preparing delectable ‘eats’ for the guest-devotees was really noteworthy.
    A real versatile ASSET TO HUMANITY!
    With most humble pranam on this auspicious Navaratri!
    Avitha
    Pietermaritzburg, SA

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    1. ||Sri Ramakrishna sharanam||
      Dear Avitha
      Yes, I was impressed by Yashteel’s eagerness and earnestness towards his quest to know about God. This enthusiasm towards spirituality, I am sure will be sustained by his parents’ devotion’. His regular attendance at Satsangs and Sunday school, will further enhance his mental aptitude towards learning the Teachings of the Holy Trio. Who knows he may even become an extraordinary artist in his own right!
      Swami Vimokshananda

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  2. Revered Srimat Swami Vimokshanandaji Maharaj
    Om Namo Narayanaya
    I humbly offer my pranaam at the holy feet of Revered Maharaj.
    During this springtime, the seeds of love that we have planted during the year, have blossemed just in time into beautiful and fragrant flowers of devotion, which we lovingly offer at the feet of the Divine Mother on this most auspicious occasion of Navaratri.
    Our level of love and devotion for God is elevated even more so after seeing these beautiful pictures of Simon Ram and Yashteel Raj, as though we have had the darshan of God through these DIVINE pictures.
    Thank you to Revered Maharaj, Simon Ram and Yashteel Raj for sharing these pictures with us.
    With Mother’s Grace, we look forward to having a Divine weekend, in the holy company of Revered Maharaj, firstly at the Havan on Saturday and secondly at Asherville on Sunday. And then on Monday………, maybe we should leave that out for the time being as we continue to bask in Mother’s radiant love and beautiful presence this Navaratri?
    Pranaam Maharaj.
    Jai Sri Ma!
    Avinash and Anu
    Durban, SA

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    1. ||Sri Ramakrishna sharanam||
      Dear Avinash
      Yes! I agree fully, with spring in the air – birds chirping, bees humming, water ducks cawing, fragrance from flowers wafting – What a magical sight to see, hear, smell, touch and taste by all the five senses – all God’s creatures rejoicing in the Divine Mother’s wonderful glory. Truly indescribable!
      This is, indeed a good time to advance in our spiritual path. Have intense devotion and be immersed in the thoughts of the Divine Mother. May She grant you devotion and immense faith.
      Another Yes to you! I am seeing how many hundreds visit our Chandi havan every year! What an enthusiasm among the devotees! This Saturday being a weekend I expect more number! And of course I too look forward to meet all of you at Asherville on Sunday when I am expected to deliver a discourse on the Significance of Durga navami.
      Shubh Navaratri!
      Swami Vimokshananda

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  3. Om Namo Narayanaya
    Revered Swamiji,
    It is really amazing to view and know that there is such talent out there amongst our youth.
    Yashteel’s artwork and write up truly portrays the innocence and intelligence of a very cultured youngster, who at the same time is proud of Hinduism. Our children of the Holy Trinity are really fortunate to be part of the Ramakrishna family in SA, where moral and ethical values are taught from a very young age.
    Well done Yashteel on your portrayal of Hanumanji and the article! We hope to see many more like you who can uphold and be proud of their culture.
    Thank you Revered Maharaj for publishing Yashteel’s write up and most beautiful drawing of Hanumanji.
    My Humble Prostrations at Your Lotus Feet.
    Anusha
    Durban, SA

    Like

    1. ||Sri Ramakrishna sharanam||
      Dear Anusha
      Yes! our children are indeed blessed! Our parents must also be commended for keeping Hindu Dharma alive in their homes in spite of in-congenial conditions inside and outside. The field of education is enormously vast. But the basic trait of all training is the shaping of character. Character comprises of righteousness, truthfulness, humility, honesty and many such ideal qualities. These virtues have to be cultivated at an early age, then, and then only will our youth shine in keeping the Teachings of our ancient scriptures alive.
      May our Holy Trio be the beacon of hope and light to all!
      Swami Vimokshananda

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  4. Om Namo Narayanaya
    Revered Maharaj
    Firstly hoping that you are having a blissful Navaratri Festival.
    I am greatly impressed when children take to drawing pictures of our gods and goddesses as these are very intricate and indeed difficult to sketch.
    One has to have some divine inspiration to draw the way that Ladysmith boy has done. Well done Yashteel Raj excellent attempt!
    Anoop and Sumi
    Newcastle, SA

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    1. ||Sri Ramakrishna sharanam||
      Dear Anoop
      This is verily Yashteel’s inborn tendency. His flair for art and thirst for knowledge has been quite an inspiration for me too.
      Yes! I have witnessed the devotees’ no-bargain love, firm faith and dedicated devotion to the Divine Mother at the Sub Centres that I have thus far visited. The recollectedness of the Divine fervor at Belur Math during Durga Puja time comes alive to me at this moment.
      May Mother be ever so gracious and grant you, Sumi, and the boys divine love.
      Swami Vimokshananda

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  5. Om Namo Narayanaya.
    Salutations and prostrations at the feet of the Holy Trinity, Swamiji Maharaj and Swami Saradaprabhanandaji Maharaj.
    I just read about Yashteel’s artwork.
    Maharaj’s personal and loving interest in the activities, achievements and welfare of each and every devotee of Sri Ramakrishna is ever so heart-warming.
    Navaratri in Ladysmith (as is probably the case elsewhere too, but I am being partial here!) is a very special occasion. Last night I did a review of the sacred book, Devi Mahatyam, at the satsang. It was a learning experience for me as I previously had limited knowledge about the miraculous exploits of Devi. I had to do a small amount of research and what a rewarding exercise that was! Now I can only marvel at the power of the Mother who comes in so many different forms, including that of the unassuming guise of Mother Sarada. Such is Devi’s Maya!
    By the way, five copies of the book were sold after satsang.
    When is Maharaj going to bless Ladysmith with a visit? All here look forward to that.
    Hari Om Tat Sat.
    Nirmala Balkaran
    Ladysmith, SA

    Like

    1. ||Sri Ramakrishna sharanam||
      Dear Nirmala
      Today’s youngsters are tomorrow’s citizens. But it is equally true that the quality of the future citizens depends of today’s elders, teachers and the type of education they impart to children. My heartfelt thanks to ALL the teachers in All sub centres for imparting the Teachings of our Holy Trio to our children.
      I am happy to hear that Navaratri Celebration is well received and is bringing joy to the devotees at Ladysmith. I must add here that likewise Mother’s Manifestation is being celebrated at other centres too with much devotion and solemnity. Many devotees are in attendance and the chanting of “Om Aim Hreem Kleem Chaamundaye Vichhe” in chorus is still reverberating in my ears.
      I am glad that re-reading of Devi Mahatmyam was a revealing experience to you. Know well that the inspiration to purchase that scripture and study came to the listeners through you – that is you were chosen as a fit Instrument by the Divine Mother for that occasion. She controls all actions. Lord Shiva addresses Devi as “Sarva kaarya vidhaayini” Controller of All Actions! (vide Saptashloki Durga intro-verse). A bengali song beautifully gives this idea “Tomaar kormo tumi koro maa, loke bole aami kori” while you alone perform all actions, people say that ‘I do’.
      How shall I say when I shall visit next Ladysmith? It is all Her Will. Lets abide by that.
      May Mother grant you peace and bliss.
      Swami Vimokshananda

      Like

  6. Om Namo NarayanayaSwamiji
    Thank you Swamiji for being such a wonderful inspiration to our youth, and for enlightening them on our Hindu Dharma.
    Swamiji, you do this with such love and devotion that they are attracted to you like magnets. I feel so happy, as a parent, that the youth of today, unlike in the past, are not embarrassed or shy to depict our Hindu religion in school tasks, projects, and speeches in their schools, which are so westernized.
    May Mother’s Divine Grace always be upon you.
    Shub Navratri !
    Durga Durga
    Roshnie and Chucks
    Ladysmith, SA

    Like

    1. ||Sri Ramakrishna sharanam||
      Dear Roshni and Chucks
      I would like to quote Abraham Lincoln’s words:
      “Teach him the wonder of books, but also give him quiet time to ponder the eternal mystery of the birds in the sky, bees in the sun and flowers on a green hillside. Teach him to have faith in his own ideas, even if everyone tells him they are wrong. Teach him to always have sublime faith in our Creator and faith in himself too, because then he will always have faith in mankind”.
      While interacting with children and youth what gives me joy is this: that the moment they are told that they belong to the Eternal Religion (sanaatan dharma) and the legacy that our ancient sages and saints have left for us, is immeasurable, they just grasp this idea with sparkle in their eyes. More we bring Swami Vivekananda to them, more they understand Hinduism scientifically.
      May our Holy Trio grant you and the family with knowledge and love.
      Swami Vimokshananda

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  7. Om Namo Narayanaya Swamiji
    Thank you so much for putting my picture on your blog! Swamiji, I really appreciate it. There were so many wonderful comments from devotees regarding the drawing which made me feel very happy.
    Enjoy the rest of Navaratri.
    Durga Durga
    Yashteel
    Ladysmith, SA

    Like

    1. ||Sri Ramakrishna sharanam||
      Dear Yashteel
      May the blessings from Holy Trio be with you all is my prayer.
      Yes, a busy but blissful Navaratri celebration for me. On 26th morning we are having Sri Durga Hawan too.
      Swami Vimokshananda

      Like

  8. Revered Maharaj
    Pranam
    How are you? Hope that the South African centres had a vibrant Durga Puja.
    I have seen the Belur Math website and adored the Kumari Puja pictures there. The joy and fervour of all the Revered monks at beholding Mother as a baby, communicates itself so well.
    Pictures do speak more than a thousand words sometimes.
    Your recent post is just as enchanting as always Revered Maharaj.
    Yashteel’s drawing and his native sensibilities have amazed me! To be an artist of any sort consciousness is the prerequisite. The writers, poets, ascetics live in the same world as the rest but their heightened consciousness determines the quality of their life.
    Perhaps that is why Sri Ramakrishna would say that artists may find it easier to meditate on the Lord.
    And it also moves me to read of how Swamiji loved Wordsworth’s poems, and appreciated Raja Ravi Varma’s art.
    To this day I keep on thinking just how delighted Swamiji would have been to read the poem “If” by Rudyard Kipling…
    It becomes a good topic for contemplation.
    Looking forward to more such beautiful posts from you, Revered Maharaj!
    Skendha Singh
    New Delhi, India

    Like

    1. ||Sri Ramakrishna sharanam||
      Dear Skendha
      My Vijaya greetings to you!
      By the Grace of Thakur self is keeping well.
      Yes! all the sub centres along with HQ, celebrated Navaratri with much devotion and solemnity. An atmosphere of divine calm and peace reigned during this auspicious time. Its not exactly Durga Puja as our Indian centres observe there. From Day 1 Navaratri celebrations began. The first three days dedicated to Mahakali, the next three days to Mahalakshmi and the rest to Mahasaraswati. The 10th day was Vijaya Dashami with the picture of Saraswati. North and South Indian traditions have been mixed suitably here. We of course kept a metre height Durga murti from day one and on the Dashami day it was immersed in the sea.
      Yasteel is a talented boy, and I felt it is necessary to bring out his talents to our readers, so that other youth will be inspired. I hope that they too will allow their hidden talents to shine forth, be it art, oratory, music, dance, writing, etc.
      Our youth must be bold, fearless and brave. Swamiji’s wonderful words come to mind : “It is good to leave some mark behind, otherwise where is the difference between you and the trees and the stones? – they too come into existence, decay and die”. Swamiji’s love for fine arts is well known. I am especially inspired by one of his poems from a letter written on September 4, 1893 to Prof. J.H. Wright of Boston, who introduced the Swamiji at the Parliament of Religions. You may read it here. But, what happened to your ‘penshots’? Why have you stopped writing poems in your blog? Well, if Life is polychromatic pageant, then pageant should pass on never to stop!
      May your devotion to Thakur be on the increase!
      Swami Vimokshananda

      Like

  9. Revered Maharaj
    Pranam
    My mother and grandmother are Shaktas by inclination and initiation, also we are from the Rajput clans by birth therefore for us also the Navratri celebrations are dedicated to the worship of the Divine Mother as SriMahakali-Mahalaxmi-Mahasaraswati.
    This is what I have grown up watching and admiring.
    Revered Maharaj! the words that you quote are wonderful. I shall make a note of them, but sometimes things get so tough that all we care for is comfort and convenience rather than courage or class.
    I am somewhat embarrassed to learn that you visited my blog Revered Maharaj.
    I don’t know if I have anything worthwhile to say… but I will try.
    See Revered Maharaj! you inspired me to post again and I did. Its not much but its a start… Thank you!
    Pranam!
    Skendha Singh
    New Delhi, India

    Like

  10. Revered Swamiji,
    Om Namo Narayanay.
    The above picture of Sri Hanumanji with Sri Gauri-Shankarji is really rare one and I have never seen. This picture and your blog on 11th Rudra ‘incarnation as Sri Hanumanji’ reminds one significance. Sri Shiva burnt Madana (Kaam Deva) with his third eye and in Hanuman incarnation, Hanumanji followed ‘Bramhacharya’. His whole life devoted to Sri Ramchandra also shows that to serve humanity is the biggest worship. Though being 11th Rudra he served Sri Ramchandra (incarnation of Sri Vishnu) through his whole life and set many examples. One of the example as best student (The Sun who taught Sri Hanumanji and Sri Hanumanji in turn helped son of the Sun Sri Sugreev through Sri Ramchandra as ‘Gurudakshina’)

    Durge Durge
    Hemant Gajanan Borate
    Thane, Maharashtra, India

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  11. Revered Maharaj,
    Please accept our belated Vijaya Dashami pranams.
    After a long time we opened our emails. In the meantimme, we left Ranchi after my superannuation. We have shifted to Peerless Nagar, on B. T. Road, Sodepur near Kolkata.
    At present, we came to visit Pune and Mumbai. Also visited Hyderabad and Ramakrishna Math there.
    We request your blessings for our new innings in life,
    We also request you to please let us know in advance when you visit Kolkata next.
    Please accept our Pranam and respect,
    Rupen and Chitra
    Kolkata, India

    Like

  12. Revered Maharaj
    Pranam!
    Glad you liked the photo of Revered Swami Shantatmananda. If you so wish I can send you all the photos I took. I had a good seat :)
    You are right Maharaj, there the idol of Mother granting abhaya and vara, and all the monks and devotees in a rapture along with the majestic sounds of the aratrikam!
    It was elixir to the gods!
    Skendha Singh
    New Delhi, India

    Like

    1. ||Sri Ramakrishna sharanam||
      Dear Skendha
      Oh! No! I won’t bother you about ALL the photos, but I would like definitely to see the photo of Ma Kali’s image – near, close up, arati time, straight, sideways etc.
      While two arms give abahaya (refuge) and vara (boon), see the other side two arms! They have khadga (sword) and munda (cut head)! the whole symbology of Ma Kali is very heart-warming especially some of the songs by Ramprasad. Hope you understand those wonderful Bengali songs hearing which many a time I was moved to tears!
      May Mother ever shine in your heart!
      Swami Vimokshananda

      Like

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