Michigan, Dec 7, 2016: An 18th century manuscript in Sanskrit, which is an extract from the sacred Hindu text Puranas, will be exhibited at the Muskegon Museum of Art (MMA) from December 8, 2016 to February 12, 2016- in the “Expressions of Faith” exhibition.
According to merinews.com, a museum announcement said, “Expressions of Faith combines the written and printed word with the visual arts to examine the impact that religious faith has made on artists.” It also mentioned, “in giving visual form to religious figures and stories, artists shaped how believers perceived their faith, and in doing so influenced the evolution of the religion itself.”
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US based Hindu religious leader Rajan Zed said that art has had a long rich tradition in Hinduism and archaic Sanskrit texts also talked about paintings of deities on wood or cloth. Zed, the President of the Universal SocMichigan museum for displaying the Hindu Puranas, encouraged major art museums around the world like Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York, Musee du Louvre and Musee d’Orsay of Paris, Uffizi Gallery of Florence (Italy), Los Angeles Getty Center, Art Institute of Chicago, Prado Museum of Madrid, Tate Modern of London, National Gallery of Art in Washington DC, etc., to organize Hindu art exhibitions often to share the art heritage of Hinduism with the world.
Established in 1912, MMA, which has won many accolades claims to have a “world-class collection of visual art” is “committed to fostering the lifelong study and appreciation of the visual arts”.
The Puranas are exceptionally important and popular in Hinduism which is the oldest and third largest religion in the world with around one billion followers with “moksh” or liberation as their ultimate goal and around three million residing in the United States of America.
If one wants to connect Hindu culture with the senseless bursting of crackers and boisterous fun then he is absolutely wrong. There is no mention in any corners of the voluminous scriptures of Fireworks blasting during a PUJAS that “upset” the harmony of peace and tranquility of others. To disturb others’ tranquility falls under the heading of vices. Preserving the sanctity of the environment, and more importantly, inner purity of mind and heart is the “prime doctrine” of SANATAN DHARMA which is popularly known as Hinduism. This Hindu culture now seemingly run the risk of having been defined by other communities with what is not very pleasant to hear.
I’ve overheard many toxic comments against this blatant desecration of auspicious “puja celebrations”. During Holi festival, many people fear to move out of their homes, particularly in certain the plane areas in India. You might be blasted with a bucketful of dirty water by pranksters from the 5th floor of the building. Is this sadism the part of the puja and holi celebration? One is afraid, with each passing year, this festival of color of joy, though having strong spiritual significance, has only painted the very face of Hindu culture with vulgarity and depravity.
Matter of fact, peace in one’s life and his efforts to help bring peace in others’ lives is essentially the fundamental basis of Hindu culture and festivals. Practically speaking, there is no devotion to God without “peace”. Therefore, “Shanti” (peace) is one of the most paramount peace mantras in Sanskrit, not “Ashanti” which, of late, is the hallmark of such Hindu puja celebrations. The profound objective behind this peace mantra, as propounded in Upanishads, inspired even one of the greatest poets of the 20th Century – TS Eliot who underlined it with the purpose of life which he brought out in his epic poem – The Waste Land. That poem finally ends with the same peace mantra — Shanti, Shanti, Shanti.
It should not be misunderstood ever that Hinduism disapproves of all kinds of fun and frolic. No, it is never so. We can have various kind of festival enjoyments but without ever causing problem to others and the environment. There are sufficient mentions of fun and frolic, merrymaking even in the spiritual activities — like Krishna Lila, Ram Lila…; and there exist endless nritya shashtras for healthy recreation. But they all are within the “purview of Dharma”. Ancient sages in their meditation conceived and authored a number of treatises in which we find the elaborate approaches and procedures to evolve oneself spiritually through fun-filled dances and music. There are “ragas and layas”(musical modes and rhythm), which are meant to “recharge” the mind for the meditative concentration. The objective behind being to climb up the ladders of realization of oneness and universal uniformity.
However, there is absolutely no scope or prescription for deriving pleasure or fun by causing pain and anxieties to others? How come bursting high decibel fireworks at 2 AM or 3 AM or 4 AM is puja? In fact, it is called “adharma” or irreligion leading to self-degeneration.
Therefore, it is DIYA, as per Vedas, which symbolizes the LIGHT to dispel the darkness of ignorance, the darkness of vices, and bring forth the light of knowledge to awake the “inherent” divinity. Goddess Laxmi is the “flame” of feminine ENERGY in the infinite cosmic creation. So, indulging in earsplitting fireworks and causing continuous problem to HER creatures, and HER environment, is totally against the fundamental principle of the devotion in Hinduism. Very sadly, with the blasting of the fireworks in the name of Goddess Laxmi we have invariably set off the tank of vices alone.
Salil Gewali is a well-Known Writer and Author of ‘Great Minds on India’. Twitter: @SGewali