Monday, October 8, 2007

Bala Jesu

b. Child (one of series of Faces, 2006: Collection of the artist.)
This is the first of a set of faces. They are Christ-faces, expressing facets of the stages in the rapidly changing life-journey of Jesus. They also express the varied faces of the elemental world (Our next theme-section looks more specifically at these).

Much earlier Jyoti had painted the scene of Jesus as a 12-year old youth discussing the ways of God with the religious experts of his time. The setting was that of a traditional Hindu temple courtyard. In preparing for this series Jyoti had visited a group of Krishna-temples connected with those who follow the medieval teacher of bhakti-theology, Madhva, on the western side of his home state (Karnataka). Whole walls are covered with series of paintings of the Krishna-story. In paintings on the wall of the Holy Cross Fathers nearby, as a Rosary-series, Jyoti depicted the events of the ‘Christ-story’.

In this Child-face, though, Jyoti imagines the youthful Christ as light, light within which the whole spectrum of rainbow colours is to be found. Those dramatically varied hues of differing human experience through which he was to pass are still to come. The sorrow, tears, stern words of reprimand, poetic playfulness, angry indignation - the whole gamut of human experience - are all there in the child, yet still to be expressed in the ways that unfold in the Gospel story.

We cannot forget that Jesus was to take the child as a model for the mind that is to mark those who would be part of his new world, his ‘kingdom’. His followers are to be child-like. A sense of wonder, spontaneity, a lack of scheming, a trusting attitude, and playfulness are the qualities most characteristic of the child. In Indian spirituality, when God is a child, it is his dancing, quick-footed playfulness - surely a quality of light too - that has most captured the imagination of the devout.

Jesus, wrote the Evangelist John, is the eternal Light of the world. He is the Light that enters into all, or that is in all - born as their inner Light - entering into the world.

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