Wednesday, July 27, 2011

One morning at the Chennai Museum !


Dreams do come true !

May 21st - Had a dream that I was on an elephant safari trip and I vaguely recollect seeing atleast 7 elephants.
May 25th - Had a dream again on Elephants - This time 2 of them with those BIG ears like African elephants !
May 26th - It was my birthday (Now the date is for all your future reference :)). My cousin Anitha who had been on a trip to Nepal for her paper presentation, had got me a gift. The minute I opened the wrapper, I almost threw it off shocked - It was "One Big elephant along with 6 small elephants around it - 7 elephants.” Unbelievable!! Yet true !!




June 30th - It so happened that myself and my buddy Veena had an opportunity to visit the Chennai Egmore museum as part of our mentorship program. We chose the topic “Greco-Buddhist Sculpture”. Now on to a little bit of history based on the sculptures that we saw there.




Greco-Buddhist art resulted from the confluence of classical Greek culture and Buddhism. Around 600 AD, Alexander the great’s kingdom extended from North Afghanistan to Punjab(Then this region was known as Bactria). Same was taken over later from Bactrian rulers by Seythians and then Parthians. Greco Buddhism spread and art was a form of expression.
There were sculptures of Adoration of Buddha at Peshawar, Buddha's head dress, bowl, Elephant – head of Bodhisattva, Hercules in Peshawar, Bodhisattva’s birth




Veena and I were so engrossed in looking for Buddha at the Bronze section that we saw Manikavasagar‘s hair style !! and mistook him for Buddha






Chennai Museum – Bronze Section
There were also sculptures excavated from Velipalayam, Nagapatinam around 10th century showcasing that Buddhism had spread over till there.




Buddhism then was almost taking place like a reform movement. Hinduism was looked at by some as a culture with excessive ritualism. Moksha was seen as the freedom from all rituals. In Hinayana Buddhism – symbols were used to denote Buddha while in Mahayana Buddhism human form of Buddha was used. It was also believed that a person’s previous births were looked at as a training ground. Based on punya, higher life forms would result else in lesser ms.




Overall it was an eye opener on this new form of Indo Grecan Buddhist culture and we hope to explore more in the months to come.


So what does the past teach us
1. Helps us understand the present !!
2. Gives new meaning based on collective knowledge that one possesses
3. For some of them gives natural fascination and energy high



July 4th DLF – The day I moved from my beloved WCB to DLF. It was an auspicious day and I decided to decor my desk inspired by Veena.(Its really good to see all her awards, her kids snaps etc :) at her desk). In the morning I was searching for something a little religious ….may be a small Buddha I thought. Searched a bit and unfortunately did not find one. . I did take the 7 elephants with me that Anita had gifted and placed at my desk. Around lunch Kavitha S came to my desk and enquired on the 7 elephants statue that I had placed in my desk. She asked me where I had got it and I told her the entire history !!. She then exclaimed “ A Pillaiyaar should be there on the back”. I searched on the back and Ghosh I found “Buddha’s face carving !!!” - something that I had not noticed in the past 1 month that this 7 elephants statue was with me .








References:
http://www.chennaimuseum.org/draft/gallery/01/02/buddh1.htm
http://www.chennaimuseum.org/draft/gallery/01/05/051/budd1.htm
http://www.chennaimuseum.org/draft/gallery/01/02/buddh2.htm#

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