Tulsidas uses the image of Manas or Mind Lake to expound his text. It has four ghats from which you can dive deep into this Mind Lake. The act of diving produces vibrations and ripples. Radiations are then sent up these ghats. Building up on this image, the exhibition “Leela” builds itself around two inseparable aspects – the non-manifest and undifferentiated Supreme Consciousness and its manifest form, the lila.
The first ripple in the Lake gives rise to shabda, the word; the word acquires vibration and manifests as dhvani– sound − oral and aural. Sound then translates itself into form and akara appears; combines with the nama and rupa, and lila becomes manifest in its full glory. Through this lila the supreme consciousness makes itself knowable as grace; beholding this grace the seeker transcends the known and the knowable. The universe of names and forms ceases and once again the lila dissolves into the Supreme Void, the Unfathomable Brahman.
The theme is presented through more than 100 objects on display, sourced from 20 museums across India – including Allahabad Museum, Assam State Museum, Government Museum at Alwar, Jhajjar Museum, Indian Museum (Kolkata), Rampur Raza Library and the National Museum in Delhi. Besides, some rare objects have also been loaned from private collectors, individual artists and scholars. The display comprises manuscripts, sculptures, miniature paintings, wooden, olegraphs, bronze and stone sculptures, terracotta art and textiles, besides audio-visual and multimedia presentations.
The theme of cosmic lila is presented through categories such as Brahman – the origin of the cosmos, and its evolution through the concepts of shabda – the word, dhvani – the sound, nama – the name and rupa – the form. It then moves on to explore the various katha and lila traditions prevalent across the country, and ends in bhakti, which aims to seek redemption and liberation. The dhvani section comprises a range of indigenous musical instruments sourced from the Sangeet Natak Akademi and IGNCA’s own archives. The rupa section has a selection of oleographs by Raja Ravi Varma, sourced from Delhi’s Ojas Art Gallery.
The display ends with a work by veteran artist Arpna Caur, titled “Body is just a garment”, denoting the merging of self into the cosmos. Kaushal adds, “The aim has been to showcase not just the traditions of Ramlila in the country but also to highlight the concept of leela as the process of cosmic creation.”
The exhibition is on display till December 25. For information, log on to http://ignca.gov.in/events/