Archive for November 28th, 2011

From: “Will Deva”
To: am-global@earthlink.net
Subject: Harmful Art
Date: Mon, 28 Nov 2011 22:38:06 +1000


“A’mi jyotisamudre eka an’u tava…” (PS #1121)


O’ Parama Purusa, You are the ocean of effulgence and I am a drop within You.
Whatever I get from You is incomparable, it’s beyond all perception. [1]

O’ Ever New, You surround me in all directions, across infinite space – from beginninglessness up to infinity. So You are boundless – You have no limit, O’ Ever New. [2]

In the divine liila of creation, You go on dancing. You express Yourself through the chirping of birds and the peacock’s call. Although I hear, I do not listen to Your call, O’ Most Precious. [3]


[1] In this grand universe, human beings do not own anything. Whatever anyone has it is all due to the causeless grace of Parama Purusa. No one is the owner of anything. But because of their ego, people often take great personal pride both in what they have acquired and what they have accomplished. But, in reality, those possessions, those credentials, and those actions do not belong to them. That is why devotees always remember that, “Whatever I have, whatever I did, whatever I have attained, it is all because of Him.”

[2] In these first two stanzas, the sadhaka is not alone but rather surrounded by Parama Purusa. “I am unit, and You are cosmic. I am but a drop of water in Your grand ocean. I am never alone; You are all around me.” It is similar to first lesson.

By this way, sadhakas develop the spiritual outlook that, “Everything around me is the expresssion of Parama Purusa.” Wood is not wood; zebras are not zebras; and leaves are not just leaves. Every object – animate and inanimate – is verily Parama Purusa in His multitude of shapes and forms.

One furthermore realises whatever one receives in the spiritual realm has no comparison.

[3] In the third stanza, Parama Purusa is guiding us through all kinds of expressions. And indeed every sadhaka has experienced this in one way or another. A dog might bark and by turning towards the dog you notice that you had dropped your wallet or important papers on the road. In such ways, Parama Purusa uses His vast array of expressions to save His devotees from trouble and torment and goad them onto the right path.

Alas, one may not always listen. That also happens: We fail to listen. He is calling me towards Him, but under the spell of avidya maya, I do not not listen to His call. Although the voice is heard by my ears, I do not pay attention.

Here is one such common example: I overeat, get a stomach ache, but do not take that stomach ache as a message from Him. So again I overeat. This is the way the cycle goes: Parama Purusa tells, I hear, but I do not listen.

It is same as being taught the do’s and don’ts of dharmic life but not sincerely trying to follow those mandates. Even then Baba always tries to goad us unto the path of supreme fulfillment in all kinds of ways.

The sounds of all the creatures are His sounds, they get their energy from Him. So Parama Purusa guides in countless ways. We must always remember this divine fact and try to learn from each and every situation and hear His direction in all kinds of circumstances. Devotees realise this eternal truth. Those with eyes to see and those with ears to hear, get the guidance of Parama Purusa through various expressions of His creation.

There are countless examples from reporting and dharma samiiksa wherein Baba would recount instances of one life’s wherein He was directly and indirectly saving and guiding the sadhaka through all kinds of expressions. A “”stranger might have come up to you and offer his house when you needed shelter, or so many things might have happened. And in reporter and dharma samiiksa, Baba would say, “Did I not help you in that dire circumstance – was I not there with You.”

Here the entire point is that Baba uses all His various forms to help and guide us and good sadhakas realise this truth each and every moment.


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 personyou can understand what their diet is, similarly, when you see the stats of society, you can understand the nature of their art. Society i 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 like.

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)


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