S.C. Sekhar's Mansarovar

Amidst all the other images, it is Sekhar’s Mansarovar image that stands as the piece de resistance of a pilgrim’s journey, in search of the sacred and the sublime

S.C. Sekhars Mansarovar

Visitors to Mansarovar have often recorded the majesty and myriad energies of Mount Kailash and stated that there is a certain light, which is found only in the mountains, and it embraces us, gets into our inner being and travels with us as we ascend.

At the Shridaharani Gallery, S.C. Sekhar's exhibition is one that reflects the fabric of India's faith. And amidst the holy city of Varanasi and many other images, it is his Mansarovar image that stands as the piece de resistance of a pilgrim's journey, in search of the sacred and the sublime.

"Mansarovar is difficult to shoot," says Sekhar who has been one of the best brains in the finance world who retired as EVP of ITC Hotels. As an astute meticulous finance chief, his travels over nearly four decades mirror his finesse with his camera.

The Mount Kailash image is one that encompasses the five elements of Creation. The scene is one of atmospherics, the cumulus cloud that passes by seems to have bathed itself in the golden light that kisses the mountain peak.

This is an image of many hues, it is as if the world beckons at its foothills. Legend has it that the Mother Goddess would come down from Kailash to take a dip in the Mansarovar's waters at dawn. "A dip in the waters is an experience that washes over your inner senses and soul," says Sekhar who had taken the trip with the Shankaracharya of Hampi.

"Everything about Mansarovar and its lake is enchanting," says Sekhar."The air is crisp and clean, and it is the light that is distinct as well as different."

What emerges is a scene that invites you to imagine the split sunbeams on the mountaintop, the layers of rocks emanating the refractive indices of light that seemed to have quietened its little crevices to manifest divinity at its imperial best. You cannot look at Mount Kailash and not think of Nanda Devi. In Hindu mythology, Nanda Devi is the mountain bride of Lord Shiva, who sits in meditation on Mount Kailash. Travelers have said that if we were to ride on the wings of a Himalayan griffon across the mountains, soaring from Bandarpunch to Nanda Devi, then follow a straight line towards Tibet, the trajectory of our flight would take us directly to Kailash, no more than 300 kilometers away. This show unveils as a maze of ancient faiths and modern facts, citing Hindu and Buddhist religious rituals as well as modern-day tales of experiences.

Another image that is riveting in its poise and still life perspective is 'Trishul'. Scarlet painted trishuls grouped together at a wayside wall on the road to Sikkim is at once a brilliant rustic, reflection on religious rituals and practices that alternate with wry observations on the eccentricities of some of the Indian pilgrims.

Among the most famous of all transcendental weapons is Lord Shiva's trishul-astra. This three-pointed astra is one of the symbols most commonly associated with Shiva in Vedic iconography. The origin of the trishul-astra is described in the Vishnu Purana. Created in association with Lord Surya – the Sun God, it is said to have been carved out of matter from the Sun. The beauty of this image is the multiple references it throws up to us.

Lord Shiva's Trishul-Astra, or trident, has come to be associated with numerous triad attributes. Held in Shiva's right hand, it represents the three gunas. The three prongs represent three shaktis of Shiva: iccha (will), jnana (knowledge), and kriya (action). Trishul's points also symbolize

three aspects of Shiva: paramashiva, parashakti (paranada or shiva-tattva) and parabindu (parameshvara or shakti-tattva). Shiva is known as the Lord of Omkara (Omkareshvara), thus in transcendental sound, the three points of trishul-astra are associated with the three syllables of Omkara: A (akara), U (ukara) and M (makara).

The show runs till September 20 at Shridharani Gallery.

Uma Nair

Uma Nair

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