Narthana Krishna: “Dance your life from the seat of your power centre”
Updated: Nov 6, 2020
Article by Roji Satheesh, Manjeri
(An Indian-Keralite writer from Manjeri settled at Ernakulam and a resident of Dubai, UAE.)
WHEN STILLNESS SPEAKS…
‘Shree Krishna Series’ is a humble attempt from the sculptor, Vineesh Vijayan to capture the Lord through a series, displaying His various poses from the baby form to that of His adulthood. This subject matter permits him to work with an emphasis on a range of stance, expressions, emotions, values and attitude. Krishna, as portrayed in the traditional art forms and also as described in the Hindu scriptures, has always fascinated Vineesh. It is a known fact that Krishna is a massive reel of enchanting expressions who inspires any sculptor passionate about realism in sculpting. Vineesh genuinely feels that Krishna is a powerful medium for him to work considerably around the various sculptural design principles of orientation, balance, proportion, scale, actuality and nevertheless to dive down the depths of the attitude of the subject matter to meaningfully communicate with his viewers at the physical and soul level.
Nidra Krishna, the first sculpture in the series was Krishna in the baby form sleeping calmly amid all chaos. The invitation through Nidra Krishna to the audience was to keep serene, not to give up on one’s smile by upholding and clenching to Krishna tightly during such chaotic times. That part of the myth, where Vasudeva carried the calm baby Krishna in a basket across the ferocious river Yamuna from Dwaraka to Gokulam despite all the turmoil surrounding His birth inspired Vineesh to create Nidra Krishna.
While Narthana Krishna, second in the series, is the grown-up child form of Krishna. The stance of Narthana Krishna depicts a different vibe! Through Shree Krishna Series the calmness of Nidra Krishna takes the next strata and expands into another aspect of expression, the state of joyfulness as life steers forward. Narthana Krishna is that moment of Krishna sealed blissfully, as engaged in his dance with incredible ease, rhythm and spontaneity. The artist had wanted to capture the innocence and bliss of the child phase of Krishna, the lotus-eyed Balak. He also took an effort to portray along, the ecstasy of happiness in the figurine. All in all, into this bronze idol!
Narthana Krishna: Theme
Vineesh firmly believes that Krishna is a living tree. A tree expresses its soul through its trunk, branches, leaves, flowers, fruits, seeds while firmly rooted to the earth, growing up towards the sky and extending and branching to all directions in joy through its natural movements. This same feature is simply the blueprint of Narthana Krishna sculpture. The tree moves through its stillness, expressing the potential that was latent in the seed form through its rhythmic growth. Narthana Krishna is “A still model in movement” like a tree moving through its stillness.
Krishna’s life depicts growth in a rhythmic movement encompassing myriad expression of life. He is the Paramathma from which the music of life itself flows. The expressiveness of Krishna is natural and at all times well balanced. To an ordinary human mind, His acts can seem to be simple, cute, naughty, wise and adorable as human expressions from a mere physical plane. The one who wants to get closer to Krishna feel and see the invitation hidden in each of His human expression. Krishna is the life in its wholeness. It is an endless rhythm of the divine flow of energy calling the attention of the ordinary to enter Krishna’s kingdom in complete surrender and joy.
Every person is a performer on this earth. Each one has to find his power centre to play the dance of his life. Narthana Krishna is Krishna placed in ‘Aramandi’ (half-sitting posture) position with a leg lift caught in dance movement. The leg raise of the idol vividly denotes the effortless involvement of the dancer in the ‘Karma’ he is involved. The “dheeralalitha” nature of the dancer shows the ease and cheerfulness of Krishna while engaging in the now. The artist's way of letting his subjects understand the necessity to grab life in its rhythmic flow.
When a dancer is in motion all his sense organs are aligned to the creation that is blooming through him: the eyes filled with expression, the ears attentive to the music, the lips in tune with the attitude akin to the expressive eyes, the touch of dedication flowing from tip to toe of the dancer driving the hands and legs with single-focused attention from the mind on the doing without an element of ego icing. Even the costumes, ornaments worn and the plated hair adorned with flowers of the dancer cannot resist but to dance with the doer. The sculptor had to bring all these intricacies to the idol!
The only difference between Krishna and other dancers: Krishna is the dancer and the dance in itself while other dancers are displaying characters in the dance sequence.
Narthana Krishna Mantra: Dancing the festivity of life
Dance to the music of life with a balanced mind, body and soul. Achieve it by tracking your power centre. Your soul is your power centre! Dance the festivity of life from the seat of your soul. It means to enjoy all events in your life happy or unhappy and accepting in whole the dualities.
Narthana Krishna: The Making
As an artist, Vineesh has always been a keen observer of nature, personalities, expressions, movements around him, music and art forms. Music and Indian classical dance forms specifically ‘Bharatnatyam’ has always beckoned attention of Vineesh. For him it is out of the world experience to watch the rhythmic movements aligned with facial expressions and attitude of the dancer, becoming another character “in the now”; Vineesh is always in awe to see a dancer flowing like a fluid through that character portrayed, within the given space. It has mesmerised the artist to a level where the artist within him had to release the captured vibe by sculpting it through his heart, soul, and hands giving life to his visualisation of the recorded feel. Narthana Krishna is one such soulful release from the artist. Krishna comes to Vineesh with much ease for Krishna is a well-known acquaintance of the artist since his childhood!
Narthana Krishna is the rhythmic dance movement of Krishna encapsulated. The Lord in his child form engaged in a joyful dance with such ease that the lotus-eyed Balak (child) in that posture is as delicate as a just bloomed flower swaying in the gentle breeze. Anybody who looks at that flower cannot take his eyes away. Vineesh, inspired by the attributes of Bharatnatyam, erected Narthana Krishna in an ‘aramandi’ (half-sit position) posture with a left leg raise, gracefully dancing in tune with the music played from his flute which is symbolically cast by the hasta (hand) mudras.
Vineesh paid special attention in tilting the head of the statue and the whole body of the luminary as swaying to the right yet maintaining His glance towards His little finger with a captivating smile while lifting the leg in the joy of dance. This stance is in alignment with the ‘dheeralalitha nayaka’ attitude. Since centuries, Krishna depicted in dheerallalitha nayaka stance for the very reason of taking account of his carefree sense and constant cheerful nature. The dance movement of Narthana Krishna was frozen by the sculptor to spread the bliss of Krishna in dance pose for the viewers. He wants the Narthana Krishna to be contagious in conveying the ecstasy of love and happiness in the doing of the dance (act)he got engaged.
At a deeper level, Vineesh wants to communicate through his sculpture the importance of ‘finding the balance in life’ in whatever life movement one is involved. Here, Krishna is flowing in dance with a well-balanced mind, body and soul. It is to bring out this concept that the artist chose the ‘aramandi ‘position for the figure. If we look at a peacock dancing, it only ‘performs’. It gets involved in its performance as a ‘gratitude’ to its surroundings.
As per Hindu mythology, Krishna outperformed the dance of peacocks who danced with him to his melodious flute in a forest. He received peacock feathers as a token from the king of Peacocks in recognition for their gratitude and happiness in witnessing His tireless charming dance. In return, Krishna wears peacock feathers in his hair locks. His dance with the ‘gopis’ in the ‘rasaleela’ episodes is equally enchanting and of great significance. Deeply inspired by these sources, the artist created Narthana Krishna to exuberate the joy and vitality of Krishna through his Natyam(dance).
The hasta mudra (hand position) is in the gesture of holding the flute, a vital prop of the Lord. Vineesh sculpted it intending to convey the message that through His flute, Krishna blows life into us. He invites us to do our designated dharma according to the music that flows from his flute into each one of us. He reminds us to play the God gifted-life without running away from it. Our performance on Mother Earth is the dance!
Narthana Krishna: Challenges
The art of sculpting is all about consciousness, patience and immense creativity. The work of the sculptor poses testing times for the artist to place the soul into the object crafted. Through the different stages of the process of sculpting the artist' has to infuse his visualisation about the intended figure into the raw materials before him. Vineesh took a minimum of 60 to 90 days casting the master-piece in clay. He took another 60 days for casting the bronze. The whole process calls for oodles of patience from an artist.
In sculpting Narthana Krishna, the main challenge for the artist was to build up the spontaneity in the flowing movement of the dance into the still idol of Narthana Krishna. For this he had to experiment with realism in the flow of the hair locks, the misaligned way of the ornaments, the position of anklets and hip ornaments. The overall tilt along with a curvy structure, a slight tilt of the peacock petal and the beading around the hair bun along with the flow were vital areas to work on to bring out the rhythm of dance in the effigy.
Another area to work around was to bring in the amount of lush smile on Krishna as He is engaged in His dance. To mount the joy of a child onto the figure and to display the freshness, energy and vitality of a healthy child with an overall radiance of the Lord Himself in Balakrishna were the few specifications which required vigilant attention along the way of making Narthana Krishna.
Maintaining the authenticity of traditional artefacts was a sensitive task. The ornaments of Narthana Krishna were highly inspired and adapted from the 12th century Hoysalaeswara Temple sculptures. Narthana Krishna was embellished with these ornaments to look rich in all ways be it physical appearance, spiritual radiance of a child, the glow of the Divine himself , the Bharatnatyam dance form and in particular to carry forward the theme of respecting and preserving the exquisite traditional heritage of India.
To recreate the dazzling jewellery on Narthana Krishna in the dance flow sequence was a personal pleasure to work for the artist. The neckpieces, hip chain and the layered anklets with intricate beading works worn by Krishna present a veritable cornucopia of the artist’s and his team’s art and skill.
The various attributes of Narthana Krishna, be it ornaments or hair locks, peacock feather tucked into his hair, and the designing of the platform on which Narthana Krishna is mounted, the lower lip of Narthana Krishna like a tender petal of the lotus ,the expressive eyes of Balakrishna and the flute holding hasta mudra of Krishna were the major arenas, where the artist worked around realism to give life to the structure created.