Samuel Rawlings, Subhuti’s secretary, writes from India with news of an exciting new Triratna venture: the first-ever Indian Buddhist Artists’ Retreat. He says -
“The event was the first of its kind to take place in India, with artists coming from all corners of the sub-continent to explore the relationship between Art and the Buddha-Dhamma. Most of the participants were from a Dalit background, and it was very moving to hear how deeply they had all struggled to produce their work - largely due to the crippling economic conditions and ideological abuse they had endured, often simply because they had chosen to be artists rather than follow more traditional (ie, prescribed) occupations. Modern Indian artists clearly have to struggle under the heavy mantle of the rigorous orthodox aesthetic of traditional Brahmin culture - a syndrome which reminded me of a Karl Marx’s comment; ‘tradition from all the dead generations weighs like a nightmare on the brain of the living’. Being creative on canvas here is an immediate social provocation and bound to solicit abuse in the media and in the ‘establishment’ at large. .
The initiative was skilfully orchestrated by Dharmachari Maitriveer-Nagarjuna, an Indian Order Member and led by Dharmachari Subhuti. The contribution of the internationally acclaimed artist Savi Savarkar was particularly special and worthy of note. His experience and advice was inspirational to many of the younger novice artists attending the retreat, some of whom he subsequently invited to come and share his studio space in Delhi; this being an example of the spontaneous phosphorescence of Kalyana Mitrata which really illuminated the 4 special days shared we all together. The opportunity to share struggles and successes with like-minded Buddhist practitioners was clearly invaluable. Friendships were developed and sparked off anew, and there are eager plans to repeat and develop the event in years to come.
Hopefully the short video, made by myself, gives you a more vivid idea of the flavour of our time together. If it’s not visible in the embedded player you can find it at vimeo.com/34848417. For more information and links to some of recorded talks, you can also check Subhuti’s website”.