A Painting A Day: Day 32, August 4th 2012

Transcription of "Purushakara Yantra" painting 
Rajasthan c. 18th century A.D.
from "Tantra Art" by Ajit Mookerjee

This painting has a funny story. 

First, a description from the book: "Tantra Art" by Ajit Mookerjee, first published in 1966, Switzerland. "The seven ascending planes of experience, called lokas, are then seen (lokayanta), or the experienced; and the seven descending planes are known as talas. The center of these planes is the "earth-plane" (bhurloka) shown as a circle. The planes are not like geological strata: the ascending planes are supernormal states and the descending planes are subnormal experiences, while the earth-plane is the normal experience. The complete drama of the universe is repeated here, with one inevitable end--dissolution." (pp.122)

So, let's see. The circle in the middle of the giant person is the normal experience "earth-plane;" the scenes above (although I don't count seven) are the ascending planes of experience, called lokas; the seven scenes below are the talas, or descending planes. I wish I knew what these scenes meant. To me it looks like a burial of some type. And above, a lot of scholars or people talking. The head has more people on it and there is a crescent moon with five saint-like beings of different skin tones. What are the little boxes for, and what is the writing? If you email me the answer, I will send you a special drawing or painting from this book.


The book came to me in a most unexpected way.

Arriving early for a job interview near Union Square, I decide to shop for a few books: "Bella Tuscany" by Frances Mayes, and "The Namesake" by Jhumpa Lahiri. Rather than the Strand, I end up at a Rare Books shop, the kind of place that my friend Todd Wooster would inhabit. Poking around, I quickly find "The Namesake" but am not so lucky with the Mayes. Turning to the cluttered store's single employee, I ask for the book and for the metaphysical section: a friend recommended Guy W. Ballard's writings on St. Germain. The employee examines me and the Georgia O'Keefe book I am holding, as if he is adding some equation in his head.

"Would you be interested in Yoga art?" he asks, in the manner that one would invite an initiate to a secret club. "Yes," I answer without a pause. "Come here." He takes me to a back room with books practically falling off the shelves. He emerges with two large volumes. They are about one hundred dollars each, very rare, and the last owner was reluctant to sell. He goes off to chase a shop-lifter and I open the volumes, leafing through page after page. What images! Some are eerily close to my own works, as if done from a single mind split in two. Others, like the one above, are out of this world. What could they possibly mean? I examine the covers: one book is Yoga Art and the other, Tantra. My pulse quickens, face reddens and tears leak from my eyes: This is what I want to paint. My true art teacher lives in these books! And then a realization: If I don't buy these now, I will never see these books again. The coincidences are too profound to pass up this opportunity. If this store takes credit cards, I'm going for the gold.

Fifteen minutes or so later, the deflated employee sits at his desk, unable to stop the Swiss book-napper. He sells me the books at a discount, quietly rewarding me for my patience, enthusiasm and for a missing page (whoever you are who did this, how dare you!). This is my first transcription from the books. Many more to come. I will share my knowledge and insight from the pages and from my life. Feel free to leave comments below or on my Facebook Page: Ariel Elizabeth Churnin-Artist.  


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