A series featuring inspiring words from various sources, words that speak of timeless truths, words that remind me of the deeper and hidden truth behind surface events and phenomena, words that shine light when all seems dark, words that are just what I need – for this moment and for all times to come.
I recently had the opportunity to witness some of the great marvels of Indian sculpture and temple architecture in southern Karnataka. The world-renowned temples of Belur, Halebidu and several other small towns and villages on what is famously called as the Hoysala trail showcase some of the masterpieces of the magnificent scultpural heritage of India.
One could write plenty of words to describe what the experience of being in the presence of such splendid works of art is like. Or one may simply say nothing. Today I am inclined to choose the second option.
But the other day as I was trying to re-live, for myself, some of those moments of standing in a silent awe when faced with the marvelous and intricate beauties of these ancient temples, I recalled some words I had read some years ago.
I recalled the words on Beauty and Ananda by Nolini Kanta Gupta, a great yogi-scholar, a poet and one of the foremost disciples of Sri Aurobindo from his revolutionary days. These are words which remind us that great art, perhaps all art, is not merely about creative expression or aesthetic satisfaction.
Great art has the potential to open the mind and heart to the Truth. To the Knowledge, knowing which all else may be known.
Great art can be an opening to the Delight. Delight in and of the Truth, Beauty, Knowledge, Power, Love. Delight in and of the Divine.
Both for the true artist and the true rasik.
|At Hoysaleswara temple, Halebidu
Photo by Suhas Mehra
OF BEAUTY AND ANANDA
Truth is Beauty’s substance — it is Beauty self-governed. Beauty is Delight perfectly articulate. Love is Beauty enjoying itself. Knowledge is the light that Beauty emanates. Power is the fascination that Beauty exerts.
All Art is the re-creation of Truth in Beauty. Rhythm is the gait of Truth dynamic with Delight. The Truth of a thing is its native substance, the being in its absolute self-law. Satyam is that which is of Sat.
Beauty is delight organised. Poetry is the soul’s delight seeking perfect expression in speech.
Speech is self-expression. It is the organ of self-consciousness. The nature of the speech shows the nature of the self-consciousness. The degree of perfection in utterance measures also the extent to which one is conscious of oneself.
Beauty is the soul’s delight perfectly articulate and organised. Where the soul does not speak out, where the rhythm of the spirit does not manifest, there comes in ugliness.
Things are ugly when they are not true to themselves, not sincere, not self-expressive. In a sense, natural and beautiful are the same, the perverse commensurate with the ugly.
Beauty is not merely balance, symmetry, measure, a regular disposition of features. A form, an embodiment, need not be pretty to be beautiful.
Mere formal beauty is a power, but a surface power; there is a deeper unity of rhythm in the embodiment that is beautiful by its transparent soul-expression.
Art is the incarnation of Truth in Beauty, The Divine the truest Truth and the Beauty most beautiful, The incarnation of the Divine the supreme Art.
An art with the Divine left out is like a trunk without the head: It is built with the lower members and not with the higher members of Beauty; Skill it may possess but not greatness; it may please the senses, but cannot enrapture the soul.
The very nature of Art is rhythm and harmony. The Divine is integral harmony and perfect rhythm.
The element of divine harmony and rhythm is the measure of the beautiful in Art. Even so it is with the art of life.
All things are beautiful, for the All-beautiful is in every thing. The domain of Art encompasses the entire creation. The Divine is present everywhere, but in essence. In the manifestation there is a varying and developing degree of the Presence.
The Brahman is there equally in the saint and the sinner, in the knowledge and in the ignorance, — it is the static Brahman. But the saint and the knowledge manifest and embody the dynamic Brahman.
The stress of Life is to reveal and incarnate more and more of the dynamic Divine, the creative Ananda of consciousness in its self-nature.
The progress of art too consists in recording this march of the soul in its ever-growing consciousness and ever-deepening Ananda towards a higher incarnation of the Divine.~ Collected Works of Nolini Kanta Gupta, Vol. 2, pp. 357-359