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Arts & Culture

Indra Sharma

In A World Of Gods and Goddesses Published in the Year 2001, Dec. this book brings together at one place a selection of paintings done by the master artist Indra Sharma over the last six decades. They are an outcome of the homage paid by the artist to the multitude of Hindu deities and offer a pilgrimage to the reader in the variegated world of Hindu pantheon. A devout and ageing Indra Sharma devoted his entire life in offering his prayers through painting the divine. Through calendars and posters his personification of the various gods and goddesses reached millions of Hindu households to be worshipped in their private portals of meditation. The master artist gave a visual identity to the mystic metaphor. Scattered and ill preserved these masterpieces would have been lost and forgotten had they not been compiled and presented in a book form. Indra Sharma's daughter-Nimisha has taken the initiative to locate, search, restore, and compile the album of her father's priceless and timeless creations; the credit also goes to its American publishers - Mandala - for the decision to publish them in this unique manner.

This is not just another book of paintings of a noted painter. It is not a chronological statement about the painter's long and hard journey that brought him to the top and gave him world renown. The Text writer, James H. Bae, a Hindu monk of American origin, has imaginatively interspersed the various paintings to tell the story of glorious Hindu religion in his own masterly way. His text displays his deeper understanding of the complexity of Hindu philosophy and the wide range of Hindu mythologies. Bae has earlier authored Darshan: Sweet Sounds of Surrender and Smaranam: A Garland of Kirtan.

Professor Yogesh Atal, an internationally known social scientist, who has done foreword to the book, has added a sociological dimension to the book. His is not only a biographical account of the painter but a skilful analysis of the various socio-cultural factors that have gone into the making of this remarkable painter, and his style of painting that represents a distinct tradition. He feels that to open this book is to open the gates of the great temple of Hinduism and experience a pilgrimage within. The paintings are in fact carriers of India's ancient tradition. They transport us to the miraculously divine world of Hindu universe.

Not organised chronologically, but around important deities that are worshipped even in modern India, reading the book not only acquaints one with the stories associated with the chosen gods and goddesses, but also pleasantly provides different perspectives to view the same divine power in its different manifestations.

The book is addressed to a much wider audience. A connoisseur of art will find a wealth of material to understand and appreciate the style of painting that Indra Sharma represents. A casual visitor to a home will find this coffee-table book most engrossing with colourful portraits of the otherworldly and exotic. To a young Hindu child, particularly in those families of Indians that have settled in other countries, this book will be a useful resource for his socialization in his parental religion. It should also serve as a useful introduction to the new initiate into the intricacies of Hinduism.

Through this brilliantly illustrated Who's Who of the Hindu pantheon, Indra Sharma invites us all to enter a world of sages and kings, demigods and devis. This is not only a book of art, it is also a book of religion - a religion which is polytheistic, tolerant of different ideologies and philosophies, and constantly enriching; a religion that represents unity in diversity.

Altogether this is an important contribution to literature on Hinduism and on Indian art.

Details of the book

In A World Of Gods and Goddesses
The Mystic Art of Indra Sharma
Text by James H. Bae with a Forward Yogesh Atal
Cloth , 200 pages, 12" x 14 " , over 100 original color paintings.
First printing 10,000
ISBN : 1-886069-45-X
Mandala Publishing, San Rafael, CA 94901, USA
Publicity Nimisha - 834 52 75

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