Manavatar

This is an online exhibition of my drawings. I plan to execute these drawings into large canvases someday whenever time and space permits. May be thoughts would evolve by then and something new could happen.

These thoughts have been running through my mind for quite few years, from the days when I was involved in the rehearsals of a Bharatnatyam dance ballet Dashavatara which depict 10 popular avatars/descent of Lord Vishnu in Hindu mythology. Lord Vishnu who is said to be the preserver of the universe , seeks from time to time to redeem the world and as an avatar (incarnation) manifests his divine being into the life of man or a living being, whenever evil threatens it.

There are 1000s of views, representations or interpretations of the Dashavatar episode done by various traditionalists, modernists, filmmakers, writers, artists, groups, communities etc., I have thought of them in my own ways, with whatever modest knowledge I have heard and seen in televised visuals, calendar pictures etc., My granny explains these stories as if she has lived through the times and seen the episodes live. These are my reactions to what I see in everyday life and the mind divided over contradictions.

Dashavatar is the all-encompassing epic in Hindu mythology that celebrates the recurring triumph of good over evil – tenfold. The trade-off situations we are in, I find it difficult to recognize what is good and what is evil. Man is on both sides and he administers the proceedings multi-fold. The power and pursuit of man is such that it is easy to have a sense of disbelief in these super power characters or any gods. Nothing can stop man and he will stop at nothing.

I am neither agnostic nor religious or conventional. I have used the characterizations from the Dashavatar epic and in my thoughts; there is no place for the spirit called God. Everything is man – his life, material, equipments, products, relationships, ideas, desires, contradictions with himself and the spirit or character of Lord Vishnu’s avatar.

I would like to call my series of drawings as Manavatar (Avatars of Man). I see man as a self-appointed God or supreme power dictating the complete trial of the world. It is a cliché and yet surprising to observe how we behave and what we keep looking for. The most important thing that can make us humans happy is the sense of achievement! And we want to continue achieving something or the other. So I am and my works.

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Narasimha Concrete Mixers
Title: Narasimha Concrete Mixers, Pencil on paper.

Lord Vishnu emerged as Narasimha (half lion-half human) from a pillar of the palace to save his ardent devotee and killed the demon king. Narsimha is the embodiment of valour. In my version, the simha(lion) merely becomes a designed utility of a concrete mixer which is helplessly on the other side of making a concrete pillar.

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Title: Varaha Earth Movers, Pencil on paper

A demon had taken the earth and carried it to the bottom of the cosmic ocean, the Lord appeared as a wild boar, killed the demon and lifted the earth out of the flood waters in which it had been submerged. He lifted the Earth between his tusks and restored it to its place in the universe as a symbolic representation of the resurrection of the world from the deluge of sin. We see a different kind of picture in the nook and corners of our homes. A boar/pig like creature with an insatiable hunger to eat the earth from both the ends and smartly creating cultivated/civilized areas for us to live.

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ambrosia stay young forvere
Title: Tortoise Brand Ambrosia(Amruth) - Stay young forever! Pencil on paper

Lord Vishnu incarnated himself as the Kurma (the tortoise) in order to support the mount Mandara, which started sinking during the churning of the ocean. Thus, the Kurma sat on the bottom of the ocean with a mountain, being placed on his back by the other gods so that the gods & demons could churn the sea and find Amrit – the nectar of life and immortality.  Vishnu also appears as Mohini the female fatale, an enchantress, who acquires the pot of Amrit from thieving Asuras (demons) by trick, and gives it back to the Devas (demi-gods), helping them retain their immortality.

Mohini still remains an enchantress who sells all kinds of so called immortal,colossal, attractive products to us and helps us maintain a consumerist state of mind throughout.  The insatiable word “More” bears the brunt of  mountainous desires and keeps the products life cycles alive.

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ram kris tagged
Title: Ram and Kris are tagged, Pencil on paper

Rama and Krishna avatars are well-known to many as in the epics Ramayana and Mahabharata respectively.  Both the characters are the center of all human relationships in the epics. The purpose was to ensure that justice and peace (dharma) ruled when there aroused family disputes, ego clashes, wars, gluttony etc., I am part of a similar world that is more individualistic but casual in interrelationships for a change. An ironical situation in which we are in – we are neither connected nor left alone.

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fishy kiddos
Title: Fishi kiddos play school, Pencil on paper

As Matsya the fish, saviour of srishti or creation, Lord Vishnu saved the four Vedas(books of knowledge) from destruction by flood. Quality education was dictated and savored by the mighty Brahmins and Kshatriyas in the older world . Even now, we see a similarity with the capitalist classes (the affluent) only having access to qualified training and accepted streams of knowledge.  A priced commodity as it has evolved to become, knowledge or education is a mere means to make more commodities.

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The Dwarf
Title: The Dwarf, pencil on paper

Lord Vishnu’s incarnation – as a dwarf was to show the people that they should live in their own places and should not be greedy to occupy the other lands. The dwarf man in my flex poster drawing doesn’t seem to be in his place, publicizes a larger than life figure of his and claims responsibility of  things that happens for the betterment. We all can recognize the dwarf man. He is within us as a narrow, corrupted  and dwarfed mind – who can be neither be got rid nor lived with.

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CD available
Title: CDs, DVDs available at all leading stores, Pencil on paper

Buddha is also considered one of the incarnations of  Lord Vishnu.  Today, every other person on the road, his uncle is an enlightened person and a self-appointed Buddha.  Of all the things in the world, I am confused whether this spiritual pollution renounces the world or embraces with all it’s riches/luxuries.  It is simple. Man makes and makes products. He needs a break and some peace. Hence he practices meditation, makes peace related stuff in his free time and returns to make more another things. You see, mediation gives you the power to do ”More”.

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auto tree feller
Title: Automated Axe, Pencil on paper

As Parashurama or Ram with axe, Vishnu annihilated the demons in their battle with the gods. The axe becomes the automated tree feller in my version and the human omnipresent in the barren lands.

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horse power
Title: The immovable Knight , Pencil on paper

The Kalki Avatar is the only avatar of Vishnu that is set in the future. It is believed that at the end of the present age (Kali Yug), there will be a deluge when Kalki – the tenth and the last avatar of Vishnu, will ride forth on a horse (half horse-half man) to redeem humankind and re-establish righteousness. The cynical mind ceases to believe. Such is the power of  man that the Knight(horse) cannot move in any direction despite being powerful and mighty. Everything would go as is and man will still keep achieving.

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10 thoughts on “Manavatar”

  1. No words.. Just so happy to see the artiste back at work.. Hope to see the canvases sometime soon.. All the very best!

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