Abhilash Sivadas: “Art is Meant to Elevate Our Consciousness”

Part of our “Art and Artists are Essential” collection and invitation.

“I am working on the divine form of Goddess Durga in the sacred rhythmic measure known as navatala. I decided to draw this form in bhanga (spatial flexion). When the bhangam is applied, the height of the divine form is found to be less than that of the erect figure. According to the ancient manual for divine image making there are three kinds of bhanga: abhanga (3 units of measure); aamabhanga (4 units); atibhanga (5 units). These are the three bhangas used for making an image for worship. The traditional artists of India communicate the emotion of their subject through the expression of bhangam. When the image is represented in an abhanga posture, it portrays the serenity and gentleness of the satvikabhava (roughly translated as “eternal blissful state”). Samabhanga posture characterizes sensuousness (sringara rasa) and passion (rajasa). Atibhanga signifies the aggression and pride of valour (vira).

Durga is the fierce form of protective mother Goddess. In the Shakti tradition she is equated with the ultimate reality known as Brahmam. So I decided to draw her in samabhnga. According to the treatise for traditional image making, if you follow the principles of sacred measurements, then the image has the gracious ability to cleanse the minds of its seekers.”

“I made this during the stay-at-home order. It was a great tool for me during this difficult time. Art is meant to elevate our consciousness and, in my experience, when I work with the sacred measures prescribed by the ancient rishis it transcends me. And that is exactly what I wanted during this difficult time. To me, sacred art is a great tool and I hope by sharing, maybe someone will benefit from using it.” — Abhilash Sivadas, Certificate Student at the Center for Documentary Studies

Abhi Sivadas’s family builds temples in South India. He is completing his studies in documentary filmmaking at the Center for Documentary Studies at Duke University. An artist, designer, and builder of traditional South Indian architecture, he is a scholar and independent researcher in the field of temple architecture and Agama Shastra. Abhi also teaches art, and likes to share his knowledge with other enthusiasts through workshops, seminars, and hands-on experimentation.