Salutations to Shiva
The longest running indigo painting on durable hand-spun Khaddar textile, which pays homage to Bhagwan Shiva, has now entered the prestigious 2020-2022 edition of the Limca Book of Records. This painting bears witness to the Sanatan Dharma whose imprint can be seen on the indigenous fabric which is organic. In fact, the chemical-free textile gave the painting a look that Bharatiya is inscribed all over.
It was made with meticulous precision by Sangeeta Gupta, a devotee of Shiva, in a nondescript village in Rajasthan.
This work is born from the infinite and formless energy of Aadiyogi Shiva, Ardhnarishwar. There is no beginning, no end, everything is inclusive. “Shankaracharya traveled across the country to revive Sanatan Dharma. It was very important for the survival of Hinduism. Inspired by this, my work seeks to highlight Aadi Shankaracharya’s efforts for the revival of Sanatan Dharma. I propagate Shiv which is within all Bharatiyas. It is all encompassing and omnipresent. says the artist, who inscribed an Aadi Shankaracharya mantra on his work.
On the relevance of Sanatan Dharma, the former IT commissioner says that the beginning of the universe is with Sanatan Dharma. “It’s a way of life that guides us throughout life in everything we do and also in everything we don’t do.”
This eternal truth elucidates the teachings of Hinduism. For the work titled “Aadiyogi Shiv – A Journey into Cosmic Indigo”, the artist did extensive research. She studied everything about Shiv as well as Shakti and saw a number of videos about the life of Aadi Shankaracharya.
The longer painting was divided into panels for the convenience of art lovers during an exhibition which ended at Bikaner House on October 12. It looks like Sangeeta has done the impossible – merging fashion with art.
Sangeeta tried to remind the people of Bharat to be proud of their heritage. “Khadi and Neel have been ours for ages. Our block printing technique is our own centuries-old method of Chhapakala which is dying out. The machine has made everything so mechanical and impersonal. I just wanted to give our chhapakala some new abstract idioms that can be refreshing and contemporary,” she said, while addressing Organizer.
Above all, Khaddar was glorified during Bharat’s struggle for independence. “Glorified during the freedom struggle, as a Swadeshi symbol, Khaddar is natural, enduring and modest. Its essence is a reflection of the true values of the Bharathiyas,” says Raghvendra Rathore, a famous designer from the Desert State.
‘My inspiration has been the Ardhnarishwar, Bhagwan Shiv, which has both forms of energy, male and female’ —Sangeeta Gupta
Hand spun and hand woven in a coarse weave, Khaddar is used throughout Bharat. “In Rajasthan, it’s a way of life – protecting people from extreme weather conditions,” says Rathore, who created the khaddar Jodhpuri kurtas.
Interestingly, Sangeeta Gupta has been conceptualizing this painting since late December 2019. “I first made hundreds of sketches of Shiv as the ultimate feminist, Ardhnarishwar on my sketchbook.”
Executing her plans was a daunting task as she chose a difficult background. “As an abstract artist, Shiva appeals to me the most. After purchasing hand-spun khaddar fabric and natural indigo color and dye (which Sanganer is famous for), I started painting proper said on February 25, 2020”, explains the artist, while explaining the operating mode to create such a long and extraordinary work.
West refuses to acknowledge his contribution
The village of Ratalya, located in the Sanganer tehsil in the desert state, was deliberately chosen by this former income tax commissioner as the location for her masterpiece. This district town of Jaipur is known for its prints and the hand-printing of Sanganeri West refuses to acknowledge its contribution
Sangeeta Gupta’s nomenclature would have easily reached the Guinness Book of Records but fate would have it otherwise. “Textile paint is not recognized by the Guinness Book of World Records. For technical reasons, it was rejected. It follows UK guidelines and textile does not fall into the category.
Sangeeta first painted with dabu, a muddy paste with a brush, then put sawdust on it, after which she dried the paint in the sun. Painting process
Explaining the painstaking process, which took a lot of patience and perseverance, Sangeeta said, “After drying the fabric, it was dipped in drums of indigo dye, then washed and dried again.” The second method she applied to the paint was very tedious as she first dyed the khaddar cloth in light shades of indigo, then dried it and finally she painted over the cloth with a brush in dark indigo color tones. “I used both of these methods to paint on the fabric.” It required back and forth. She completed the 185 meter works in nine days, at Shilpi Sansthan, Ratelia village, Jaipur. She then returned to Delhi on March 4, 2020, as COVID-19 had started to wreak havoc on the lives of people in the Pink City. “The rest of the 15 meter painting I completed in my studio in Delhi.”
A strong proponent of social engineering, Sangeeta Gupta started a movement for the revival of the natural indigo color. She wants to revive the cultivation of indigo, a cash crop as a mass movement to make it a commercially viable business for farmers, dyers and artisans.