Archive for February 4th, 2010

Harmful Art

From: “Will Chaucey”
To: am-global@earthlink.net
Subject: Harmful Art
Date: Thu, 04 Feb 2010 16:51:08 +1000


“Jyoti-ujjval pra’n’occhal tumi priyo…” (P.S. 2229)


Baba, O’ Parama Purusa, You are the Divine Controller of this vast
universe. You are the brilliant effulgence– full of vitality & saturated
& with the love. Baba, You are my dearmost. By Your own glory You are glorified.
O’ Parama Purusa You are ever-adorable.

Baba, I do not have the strength to catch hold of You. With my little
strength and with whatever means I have, I try to catch You– but it is
impossible for me. Instead I remain engrossed in my own self– unit “I”.
This ‘unit I’ is preventing me from coming close to You. Baba, please
transform my ‘I-feeling’, make it Yours.

Baba, with my own strength I will not be able to get You. With the
thread of the spider’s net I will not be able to bind You and hold You.
Because of this, please by Your causeless grace, allow Yourself to get
held. This is my only request to You. Please keep this open for Your

Baba, in my mind & in my heart, I have deep longing for You– to have
You close. Please grant me this by Your causeless grace. Baba please
come in my shravan, manan, niddidhyasan, & dhyana and make me Yours…


One of the great guiding forces in society is artistic expression. If
used properly it can uplift an entire people. Unfortunately, it can also
work in the opposite direction. Seeing the degraded state of humanity
these days, one can easily infer that the art is also of a lowly nature
– spinning society awry. To truly serve humanity means the field of art
must be addressed.


As we all know, Baba Himself gives tremendous value to the role of
artists – setting mandates in both Caryacarya and Human Society to
ensure artists are properly compensated for their contributions. At the
same time, Baba adamantly defines what is art and who can be an artist.


Tragically, today, much of what appears as art is nothing but an open
sore for humanity – dragging our society toward depravity. Certainly
what is happening outside AM is worse, but artistic expression within
our Marga is – sometimes – also sub-standard.

Within our human family, there has to be a call for a true renaissance
in the realm of artistic expression – certainly AM should lead the way.


Before getting into the standards of good and bad art, let’s take a
moment to review the gamut of artistic expression. Because art does not
just mean painting a picture.

Art encompasses: Drawing, sculpture, poetry, short stories, lullabies,
drama, dance, narration, film, humor, digital art, novels, tragedy,
magazines, comedy, sketches, sound, pantomime, oration, television,
advertising, interviews, biographies, body painting, music, voice,
graphics, computer art, graffiti, street acts, podcasts, direction,
speeches, design, and much, much more.

Thus we come in contact with art throughout the day in so many ways and
forms; art nearly represents the totality of human expression.


The main problem is that today’s art is not leading people toward
service and blessedness – per Baba’s guideline – but rather toward
sensual degradation and crude materialism.

Baba says, “[Art] is that which moves together with the society, which
leads society towards true fulfilment and welfare by providing the
inspiration for service. The statement “Art for art’s sake” is not
acceptable; rather it is better to say, “Art for service and
blessedness.” ” (AFPS-1)

Unfortunately, nowadays in the west, the slogan art for art’s sake is in
vogue. In the name of art, all kinds of vulgar acts are done. And the
east has mostly fallen into that trap as well.

When the mind is devoid of ideological understanding, then it will be
led by instinct and drawn toward the crude material plane. That is why
art and art history in the west is dominated by nudity, crudity,
sensuality, and the ways of the 5 senses and 5 motor organs. Art has
been limited to lowly expression motivated by baser propensities.

We see this everywhere: Billboards by the roadside, images on the
computer, bodies on the silver screen, even so-called classical art in
the museums, and in so many forms in our daily life. Tragically, this
pulls humanity down and still further down.

All businesses use lewd images in order to promote their products.
“Artists” then become purchased slaves for the capitalist enterprise.

In this way and more, art just becomes nothing but a tool to entrap one
in all the lower tendencies of mind – such that art merely ensnares one
in the sadripus (six enemies) and astapashas (eight bondages).

And in our Marga, we certainly see some signs of this happening as well
– wherein AM has been adversely influence by trends in the general society.

Thus inside and outside AM, we often see that art is but a degrading
tool. There are evidences of this in so many realms – I think we need
not review them all here. Suffice to say that such art does nothing for
the welfare of humanity.

Baba says, ” It is such [artists] who indulge in such utterances as “Art
for art’s sake.” A little examination will reveal the harmful influence
of this idea on human society.” (PNS-10)

So many of the crimes against humanity – rape, killing, theft, female
suppression etc – are present or even magnified in daily life by
so-called art forms that goad the human mind toward crudity. When human
beings get fed that idea they carry out those nefarious acts – it happens.

The more sex that is on TV and in films, the worse the problems arise in
society surrounding sexuality transmitted diseases, teenage pregnancy,
extra-marital affairs, the objectification of females etc. There is a
direct relationship between crudity in art and harm in society.

Just as when you see a grossly obese person you can understand what
their diet is, similarly, when you see the status of society, you can
understand the nature of their art. Society is a reflection of the art.



Baba’s declaration is the art should be for service and blessedness. So
we have to ask ourselves what does that mean and what will that art look

With regards to “art for service”, we can say art that depicts social
welfare and spiritual inclination. And “art for blessedness” refers to
guiding one towards supreme benevolence and divinity.

Thus, art might depict: Narayan seva’ (feeding the poor); someone doing
asanas or meditation or tandava; svadhyaya; or people rising up against
dogma and injustices such as slavery, economic exploitation or
otherwise; bhaktas singing kiirtan. And there are so many ways that the
varied expressions of art can lead people toward the subtle and the
sublime. In essence, proper art should bring the good works of good
people to life.

Some years ago in NYC, there was a brave gentleman who jumped down onto
the subway track in front of a running train in order to save someone
who had fallen. The train ran over both of them, yet they were saved
because the hero kept them beneath the level of the train. That scene
would also make for excellent art as it represents the spirit of human

In the many lands there is a history of racism or casteism, whether it
be white-black or brahmin-harijan. Our art should not just highlight the
tortures done as that only incites further violence in society; that
just creates rifts and tension between people. Art should also highlight
the struggle, unity, and perseverance of the exploited group as they
rise up and reclaim their dignity. Art should also depict those whites
and brahmins who helped in that cause. It should inspire, unite, as well
as reveal the pain.

So art cannot be relegated to displaying the bleak or the impoverished.
The hope and struggle for victory is also a necessary element. Art as a
medium of history should inspire human to move forward in a unified
fashion and not incite people toward further rioting and bloodshed.
Merely recounting old wounds is not helpful. The message should also
project brotherhood and universal welfare.

In sum, our plays, music, speeches, and all art forms should reflect the
more benevolent side of humanity that goads one toward welfare
activities and spiritual realisation.

There are artists in AM who depicted those who sacrificed their lives
for great cause of dharma. One photographer or painter captured those
who performed self-immolation in order to uphold AM ideals. Others have
made pictures of srsti cakra (cycle of creation). And many more have
captured the essence of neo-humanism in their art. Those are wonderful
expressions of art.

And of course, Baba’s lengthy enterprise wherein He guided artists of
Bengal to create dioramas are ideal examples of artistic expression.


We must remember that art is a most powerful tool. Artists are most
often dynamic people who are highlighted in society. Naturally then our
youths are drawn to them. Yet if their art forms are degrading then that
will lead an entire generation of young people astray. We see that
happening now with many adolescents and youths in our society. They are
rushing headlong toward degradation and sensuality because that is what
their (pseudo) cultural heroes are doing.

Baba says, “The youth of a country are attracted to artists; it is
therefore the duty of society and the state to monitor these artists’
ideals and character. Otherwise they may exert a harmful influence on
young men and women who are the future hope of society. For this reason
it is essential for artists to have impeccable conduct, a healthy
lifestyle and strength of character. If those whom youths respect as
ideal men and women possess an ideal character, the characters of those
whom they influence will no doubt also be positively affected. In
addition, ideal artists and actors who have a strong character will be
able to express their artistic brilliance more sweetly and completely.
Characterless, drunken or greedy artists will be considered liabilities
by their fans and society.” (HS-1)

Thus artists cannot just be given the distinguished title based on their
artistic endeavour – they must also be proper in their all-round
behaviour as well.


By Baba’s grace He has blessed us with clear-cut guidelines in the realm
of art. Without that society cannot progress. By propagating AM ideals,
all aspects of life – including art – will reflect great social
consciousness more more sublime realisation.

Baba says, “The only way to save oneself from this kind of psychological
degradation is to keep one’s mind constantly engaged in the thought of
the Great and to always look upon the world with sweet, benevolent
sentiments. Artists and actors must never forget this even for a moment
because they have a great responsibility to society and an immeasurable
influence over it.” (HS-1)


Proper Method of Sas’t’aunga Pranam

Baba says, “Prostration is called sas’t’aunga pranama…Of the five sensory
organs (eyes, ears, nose, tongue, and skin), one, the skin, can be omitted,
and of the five motor organs (vocal chord, hands, legs, excretory and
genital organ), one, the vocal chord can be omitted. This leaves the eight
constituent parts. And the prostration made with these eight body-parts is
called sas’t’aunga pranama.” (APH-6, p. 398)

Note 1: As we all know, sas’t’aunga pranam is only done to Guru, not to
anyone else.

Note 2: Here following is the etymological meaning of the term sas’t’aunga.

sa + as’t’a + unga = sas’t’aunga
(with) (eight) (parts) = with eight parts

Thus, as Baba tells us in the above quote, “the prostration made with these
eight body-parts is called sas’t’aunga pranama.”

Note 3: In Baba’s small encyclopedia book known as Laghu Nirukta, on pages
337-38 Baba clearly defines that sastaunga pranam means to lie down in
front of Guru like a stick, completely straight. Specifically, when in the
lying posture, both the arms get extended straight over the head with the
palms together. Thus from the very tip of the middle finger down to the
bottom of the feet, one’s entire body will be one perfectly straight line.

Note 4: As a general rule, the amount of floor spaced needed to do
sas’t’aunga pranam is 2-3 feet more than the actual height of the person.

Note 5: In Laghu Nirukta, Baba also clarifies that the Personality to whom
you do sas’t’aung pranam does not derive any benefit per se. Rather those
doing this practice get 100% of the benefit in the psychic and spiritual
spheres. Hence this practice of sastaunga pranam is a scientific process
for acquiring greatness.

Note 6: For biological reasons, women should not do the mudra aspect of
this practice.


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