Table of Contents
1. Examples of sattvik art and its comparison with normal art
If there is one thing that unifies artists, it is that they want to improve their sense of art to produce better artwork. Every artist wants to develop in their chosen style and field and give their best through their art. Artists employ a variety of techniques to do so, including observing one’s surroundings, collaboration with other artists, simple practice and more. However, there is a whole dimension to art that most artists do not explore, and that is improving the spiritual purity of their art. In this article we, we question the status quo of the world of art and the criteria we use to evaluate art.
As mentioned in the introductory article to this section, the subject of any painting should be sāttvik and have some spiritual purpose. This means the subject should either increase the sattvikta in the environment or help the observer to grow spiritually. Accordingly, such subjects of art can include a deity’s picture, a portrait of a Saint, the cover design of a spiritual text, a textile pattern that is sattvik, etc. Painting a beautiful scene or a portrait of a famous person who is of an average spiritual level, while it may be aesthetically pleasing, has no value from a spiritual perspective. However, if the scene were to include a place of worship that evoked devotion in the observer, then such a painting would be considered sattvik and would be in accordance with the spiritual purpose of life. Therefore, this limits the scope of subjects that artists should consider painting. In the following section, some criteria are listed that artists can consider before undertaking an art project to ensure that it is sattvik and in accordance with the spiritual purpose of life. These criteria show how an artist should be thinking before attempting any work of art.
2. Criteria for sattvik art
The first criterion to consider when creating a work of art is one’s intention. Artists can have a variety of intentions when undertaking a work of art, but the intention generally comes down to a need to express oneself, advocating a vision, a need for appreciation and/or some material gain. From a spiritual perspective, however, it is most important that the artist keeps the intention to progress spiritually by making the artwork and to reduce ego. When art is made as spiritual practice, one receives guidance on how to make the art from a spiritually evolved guide. When art is made in this manner, it emits spiritual purity and the artist realizes that it was due to the guidance of the evolved spiritual guide that it was possible to make the artwork. This evokes gratitude in the artist, which helps to reduce the aspect of ego called doership, or the feeling that the artist has made the artwork. This is how making art as a part of one’s spiritual practice reduces ego. In later stages, the artist is guided directly by God, and then the artist realizes that God only is getting the art made, which also reduces doership.
Another criterion to consider is what is the purpose of the work of art. Generally, artists create art to communicate ideas or as a form of self-expression. This can be to send a political, spiritual or philosophical message, to create a sense of beauty (aesthetics) or to generate strong emotions in the viewer. For a work of art to be aligned with the spiritual purpose of life, the purpose of the artwork should be to increase the spiritual purity in society, increase devotion in devotees and inspire others to make efforts to progress spiritually.
A third key criterion is whether or not the art is made as per the spiritual science of art. There is a spiritual science which governs how to depict the subject of a work of art in a spiritually pure way. For example, a sattvik design can be selected when choosing a design on a piece of cloth. Another example can be painting a picture of a deity while making efforts to draw the deity in such a manner that it resembles its actual form. Making the art under the guidance of a spiritually evolved guide helps to ensure that the art is made as per the spiritual science of art. Additionally, as an artist increases their spiritual practice, the artist’s sixth sense develops and this enables the artist to perceive the spiritual vibrations from the art they are creating. This helps the artist to understand first-hand the importance of making art as per the spiritual science of art.
As per the spiritual science, though God is one, He manifests in numerous ways to perform various functions in the known and unknown Universe. For example, there is a form of God that is responsible for knowledge, protection, health, etc. According to the science of Spirituality, each form of God has unique attributes and is known as a deity. Therefore, each deity is a specific Divine Principle.
One of the most difficult types of art is drawing the picture of a deity. This is because a deity is very subtle in nature and it is difficult to perceive the form of a deity. Drawing a picture of a deity is the closest one can get to representing God visually. It requires a highly advanced level of sixth sense and the constant guidance of a spiritually evolved guide to perceive the deity’s form and draw it accurately.
At the Maharshi Adhyatma Vishwavidyalay (MAV), seeker artists have made different spiritually pure paintings of Deities both by hand and digitally keeping the above criteria in mind. When spiritually pure paintings are created, it gives many of spiritual benefit which are listed below.
3. Painting a picture of a deity with the right spiritual purpose
A painting of a deity made with the right purpose has the potential to spiritually benefit the observer and the environment. If a painting of a deity is made as per the spiritual science of art under the guidance of a spiritually evolved guide, then the following benefits are obtained.
- The painting of the deity attracts and generates that deity’s Principle and energy.
- The painting of the deity also emits spiritually pure vibrations into the environment.
- It increases the spiritual purity in the environment.
- The spiritual purity of the painting helps to increase faith and devotion in a devotee. Due to the faith and devotion of devotees, the Deity Principle is attracted to the painting to a greater extent.
- Distressing energies in the environment are eliminated due to the positive energy of the painting.
Numerous digital paintings of Deities have been made at the Spiritual Research Centre and Ashram. The benefits listed above have been noted with these digital paintings. Additionally, due to the high proportion of the Deity Principle present in these paintings, some have taken on lifelike attributes, and these attributes are listed below.
4. Digital paintings becoming lifelike
When a digital painting is made as per the spiritual science of art, it becomes more positive (sattvik). In the case of a deity’s digital painting (picture), the deity Principle is absorbed into the picture and it starts to gain lifelike attributes. The following are some of the characteristics observed in digital paintings of Deities drawn by seeker-artists.
- The eyes of the deity follow the observer.
- As the observer moves around the picture, it seems as if the deity moves with the observer to constantly face him.
- Different observers perceive different expressions from the deity. This may depend on the observer’s spiritual emotion (bhāv) and devotion.
- Observers of digital paintings of Deities (drawn by seeker-artists) have perceived movement within the picture. For example, movement of the hair, ornaments, breathing etc.
- Observers have also felt positive energy from these pictures. For example, observers feel drawn to the pictures, they experience spiritual healing or have various spiritual experiences by looking at the pictures etc.
Some artists are able to intentionally produce some of the above effects in their paintings by manipulating light and shade to create the illusion of perspective. However, seeker-artists from MAV have not intentionally made any efforts to create such effects. Even so, the pictures have acquired these lifelike attributes.
When a painting becomes lifelike it gives added spiritual benefit. This is because it is a unique spiritual phenomenon that invokes the spiritual emotion of the onlooker. There is also a higher proportion of the Deity Principle emitted when pictures take on a lifelike quality, which purifies the onlooker and the environment even more.
The benefits of sattvik art are not limited to paintings of deities, and they apply to all types of art. One example, involving designs is given below.
5. Sattvik textile design vs tamasik design
The applications of producing spiritually purer designs and art forms are many. They can include designs in relation to textiles, jewellery, clothes, upholstery, bed linen, etc. In this section, two examples of designs on cloth have been shown. One depicts a sattvik design (Figure A), while the other depicts a tāmasik design (Figure B).
When seekers were asked to conduct a subtle experiment to determine which design emitted more positive spiritual vibrations, most seekers found that figure A emits positive vibrations while figure B emits negative vibrations. These findings have been confirmed through advanced sixth sense by the spiritual research team.
The sattvik design has been prepared by the arts department at MAV. It has sattvik colours such as light blue and white along with a symmetrical design of flowers. The shape of the flowers is also sattvik. In contrast, the tamasik design is asymmetrical. The shape of the pattern is also haphazard, and it emits Tama predominant vibrations. The colours used are not complementary to each other.
Clothes are closest to the body, so they have a large impact on a person at the vibrational level. A person who wears clothes with a tamasik design for the whole day will be affected by the Tama predominant vibrations. On the other hand, a person who wears clothes with a sattvik design for the whole day will benefit from their positivity. Some of the adverse effects one can face when wearing Tama predominant clothes include headaches, less clarity of thoughts, negative thoughts, etc. On the other hand, some of the benefits associated with wearing Sattva predominant clothes include feelings of lightness, clarity of thoughts, chanting becoming deeper, etc. This is just one example of how designs can affect people on a day-to-day basis. Any design we come into contact with impacts us at a spiritual level. Clearly, making the designs around us sattvik would benefit everyone spiritually.
The applications of sattvik art are numerous. The above two examples show how sattvik art can benefit people in their lives. In the following articles in this section, we will cover the process of how seeker-artists at MAV have practically applied these principles when creating works of art and some different key principles underlying sattvik art. We are all affected by the art around us at a spiritual level, so we can all benefit by learning these principles. As an artist one is not just limited to creating artwork which appeals to the senses, but one can actively contribute to increasing the spiritual purity in society through his or her artwork.