EAST OF EDEN
TABLE OF CONTENTS
***ALL ARTWORK AND LITERATURE COPYRIGHTED BY CHRISTOPHER TEMARES
Here is a rendering of the 'anti-god' Ahriman that I completed about a year ago that I hope you folks will appreciate. In this particular illustration, I borrowed from Assyrian iconography to better illustrate the image...the ancient Mesopotamian war god Rhimmon, who at that remote period, seems to have represented to the Persians the most appropriate symbol of 'evil' than any other. Are the linguistic similarities of any significance? The anti-god here is depicted being supported by a foreign goddess, perhaps Druj, while flanked by two gryphins which are evocative of the Assyrian god, Nisroch. He is seen emerging from the winged disk, a long established representation of power and sovereignty throughout the region at that time. Ahriman, in contrast to those forces if Nature which evoke the phenomenon of 'What Is', represents and articulates the cosmic condition of all that 'Is Not'. The original Devil in humanity's historical iconography.
As leader of the Daevas and ruler of the
Heavens according to the Vedas of Hindu religion, Indra is the god of
rain and thunderstorms. In His right hand, He wields the lightening bolt
(Vajra) and rides the storm cloud in its manifestation as the elephant
known as Airavata.
Brahma is the
first personality of the Hindu trinity with Vishnu and Shiva. He is
essentially a creative force, father of god-forms and all sentient
beings. Transcending Space and Time, the world universe is manifest
darkness,...unknowable, shapeless, absolutely without form, sleeping.
A recent working I just completed originally
inspired by a 9th century Nepalese sculpture which decorates the Temple
of Cangra Narayan(a). Here, MahaVishnu, preserver of the Cosmic Order,
is seated upon His Vahana (vehicle), the anthropomorphic winged man-god,
Garuda. Vishnu is one of the three triumvirate divinities including
Brahma and Shiva who represent the three conditions of the Universe;
Creation, Sustaining and Destruction. Vishnu may have been, at a very
early time, a form of the Sun-god, but over time had evolved into the
prime deity par excellence' alongside Shiva. His main purpose is in His
capacity to re-manifest in the Universe in one of His many 'avatar'
forms to wage battle against demons and asuras.
Medium: Sharpie marker, colored pencil and graphite on 20lb. paper.
The Divine Family:
Isolated in oblivious solitude in His secret sanctuary in the Himalayas, Lord Shiva seated with His Vahana, Nanda the Bull, endeavored to perform His Tapanas...the sacred Meditations which produced within Him magnificent power, resplendent with energy and heat. This great potential, lying dormant within, alas took form in the manifestation of Kundalini, the Coiled Serpent, His Shakti.
After much effort and with the help of the Divine, Shakti, in the visage of the goddess Parvati (daughter of Himavan, Lord of the Mountains) succeeded in utilizing Her awesome powers of Tapana to thus awaken Shiva from His meditation in order to win His affection.
On the banks of Lake Manasaravar in the Kalais Mountains, the couple enjoyed married life. From this union were born their divine offspring.
From the icy waters of the River Ganges came forth Kartikeya (Skanda), the celestial warrior. But, strangely enough, it was Ganesha whom Shiva accepted as the first of His sons...who had become the elephant headed guardian of the threshold, the sacred doorkeeper which became the obstacle to all that is undesirable.
Ganesha also became known as the patron of The Arts, Sciences and Wisdom...symbolic of Good Fortune. He is also often accompanied by the mouse (Mooshika) believed to be his Vahana (sacred vehicle), but this seems to have been the case only after the 7th century C.E.
The Union of Shiva and Parvati, as well as their subsequent family structure, might be interpreted in many different ways. The ultimate realization of the Consciousness in communion with the Kundalini as it is defined in Tantric terminology.
Most commonly, however, this state of marital bliss between metaphysical Hermeticism and worldly devotion demonstrates the harmony between Matter and Spirit.
The name Krishna literally means ‘The dark colored one’. Recognized as one of the most revered gods of Hinduism, He is a hero beloved in many aspects; as a prankish child, an amorous adolescent, a wise warrior whose lessons are the central theme of the ‘Bhagavad Gita’. Krishna seems to have had many origins… Aryan, Dravidian, and perhaps Mundaen. Therefore, no other divinity of the Hindu pantheon has exerted so much appeal, this god famed for His adoration of Humanity.
The eighth avatar of Vishnu was born at Mathura, between Delhi and Agra, the son of Devaki, a sister of the demon king Kamsa who had murdered each of her children as soon as they were born, since it had been prophesized one of these would assassinate him. To avoid Kamsa’s wrath, He was traded while still an embryo, for the exchange for a daughter of a humble cowherd.
According to texts, the goddess Earth asked the Lord Vishnu to liberate Her from the many demons who oppressed Her, and as a result Vishnu descended as the eighth child of Vasudeva, a relative of the demon king.
Krishna grew up amongst the herdsmen of Gokula, protecting them from the nefarious attacks of demons. Like any other child He was often troublesome, at times malicious. But His extraordinary strength and stark handsomeness made Him obviously unique, especially amongst the young milk maidens He was always so prone to come into contact with.
Krishna played the part of divine trickster, causing devotees to worship Himself instead of their own gods. As an amorous lover, His escapades were so many He was at task to multiply Himself when women left their villages to join Him in the moonlit countryside to participate in His ecstatic dances.
Forgetting their customary reserve and modesty, they left their work and houses as soon as they heard the hauntingly beautiful sound of His flute, the irresistible call to love which has made His name synonymous with joyful pleasure and eroticism.
The ‘Gita Govinda’ Song of the Herdsman, celebrates the many raptures of Krishna and the Vrindavana gopis as well as the lamentations of his favorite wife, Radha … ‘whose tears in the end bring back the faithless one, always smiling and always beloved.
As an adult, Krishna left the herdsmen and milkmaids, never to return. He killed a number of demons including Kamsa. In the famous war between the Pandavas and the Kurus, Krishna was the friend and advisor of Arjuna whose charioteer He had soon become. But, Arjuna hesitated to take part, deploring the senselessness of carnage and the futility of friends and relatives shedding blood.
Krishna reminds him of his caste, of entering heaven as a coward, and most importantly that the soul is eternal. All those on the battlefield have always existed and will never cease to exist. They can only be killed in appearance. In the end, both armies were destroyed but Krishna’s wisdom teachings are in this way revealed in the ‘Bhagavad-Gita’.
In the face of ruin, Krishna takes refuge in mediation. The vicious cycle of the universe continues. His task as Avatar has been fulfilled. While hunting in the forest, a clumsy archer mistakes Him for a deer and pierces meditating Krishna in the heel of His left foot, the only vulnerable spot on His body.
The hunter approached Him in despair, lamenting, but Krishna consoled him by telling him to fear nothing and not to grieve. And these words were the last He spoke on Earth. He illuminated and ascended to the gods. The Sun darkened and shadow fell upon the Earth.
Such is the gallant romance, the heroic chivalry and fatal human destiny of the existence of Vishnu’s most endeared incarnation, the epic of the immaculate god with a human heart.
Those who break with tradition to indulge favor with Krishna may be taken to task, but Krishna offers salvation. In whatever way He touches, through love or war, He gives liberation to both friend and enemy.
Through the workings of art, music and literature He inspires His devotees to put forth, and through His charming and heroic qualities, He remains closer to humanity than do the others of His pantheon.
Vishnu’s eighth incarnation descending to Earth to liberate Her seems to combine material, …. or ‘ substantial’, qualities with a transcendent wisdom inspiring not only philosophical and theological reactions, but religious practices as well. For the first time, communion with the divine finds an expression free from the strict protocol of official doctrine.
This faculty of the spirit is most commonly termed ‘Bhakti’, meaning devotional attachment. The devotee of Krishna develops a relationship between oneself and the divine through the emotional experience, and not through rational thought or the performance of impersonal rites.
The flowering of the emotional Bhakti first appears in southern India in the middle of the first millennium with the songs and dances of ‘Alvars’, Immersed Ones, as they spread their music through the villages in homage to Vishnu and Shiva. This devotion is even now closely associated with art, music and dancing, full of the emotional flavor poetically expressed as ‘Rasa’. This denotes the aesthetic sensuality transposed into religious experience. Thus, Krishna is touched in such a way that He was touched by His many admirers during His lifetime. Much of the music of India indulges in this essence.
From yet another perspective not outside the Hindu path of understanding is that the life of Krishna and His relationships are allegorical, symbolizing the trials and tribulations of the Soul that is fain to find union with the divine, the Spirit being fleeting and capricious as it is. Some knew and sought Him as a son, some as a brother and friend, some as a lover and even as an enemy, … but all in the end receive His blessing and deliverance.
Here is a pen and ink rendition of a 9th
century bronze sculpture of the goddess, Bhairavi from Himachal Pradesh.
Bhairavi, otherwise known as Baala, is the consort of Shiva Bhairava.
She is 'the fierce and terrifying' aspect of the Devi and is,
consequentially, indistinguishable from the goddess, Kali.
Born of a tear of the All-Compassionate Avalokitesvara, which symbolizes sublimated passion. Her lower right hand makes the gesture of 'vara mudra,' a formality of charity.
This illustration is titled 'Sky Dancer'...
Art by Zap Tripper
Mahakala Paramashiva', consort of Kali...'The Boundless One', guardian of Dharma.
Medium: Sharpie marker, graphite, colored ink and pencil on 20 lbs. print paper.
Art by Zap Tripper
Photography by Kali Karnivora
Inspired by a 9th century work of the T'ang
period from Bezeklik, Chinese Turkestan. The abstract linear style,
however, is reminiscent of the Northern Wei Dynasty which resembles the
Romanesque of Europe, but is most commonly found in the sculptures
rendered by pious craftsmen and monks which decorate the cave sites at
Yun-Kang and Lung-men. The intricate design on the halo is
characteristic of works from the mid 5th century Mathura Gupta period.
Medium: Sharpie marker, colored pencil and pastel on wood. 32 and 3/16ths X 12". Because of the original coat of white gloss paint on the wood, this was a very difficult medium to work with and I loathe ever trying it again. It undoubtably contributed to the 'serenity' of the effect, but painstaking measures will have to be taken in order to preserve the subtle hues.