An artist tells how art brought her to Krsna consciousness
and how Krsna consciousness is improving her art.
In Sweden most people don't go to church at all. My parents are not at all religious or philosophical. But as long as I remember, I believed in God. When I was eight or nine, just by looking at the scenery, the lake, the way the clouds move in the sky, I felt there was something divine in nature, something behind it an intelligence, something extraordinary.
Although art was my best subject when I was small, I didn't have the idea that I would become an artist. I wanted to find the purpose of life. That was more important. I was looking for God consciousness. At that time I didn't connect my interest in art to God consciousness.
When I saw the painting of Kesava Visnu on the cover of Sri Isopanisad, I thought, "This is really something. If there's a God, He has to be something very special. He has to be an extraordinary personality." I had the feeling that God was a person. I didn't have to read the book the picture told me so much. "This must be God."
I was at a back-to-nature festival, and devotees came and sat down to sing. It was so attractive. The vibration and the Hare Krsna mantra just went into my heart. And I just knew that this is the truth. I didn't need to go to a lecture and be philosophically convinced. I'm more intuitive. I find things more with my feelings and my intuition. It was such a wonderful experience.
My interest in art has always been there, but in the background. It has been like a thread throughout my life. I feel now that I was waiting for an opportunity when this interest would be activated. I knew I could express something through art.
I joined the Hare Krsna movement when I was 20, in 1978. There was no emphasis on my developing as an artist. I did book distribution, deity worship, temple services, got married, had a child. But I'm grateful for those years because bhakti-yoga is very purifying, and I feel that now I'm on much better ground to be more active as an artist and to develop as an artist.
I see what I'm doing now and what I did when I started in Krsna consciousness. I feel I can express myself better now, although I have not been practicing so much. I feel that as I'm progressing spiritually and as a person, it is making my art better.
I'm happy that I can express my conviction and my Krsna consciousness through art, because Krsna consciousness is such a treasure.
What is art? An artist has a certain mind and a certain way of looking at things. But I don't think I would be satisfied to paint just for the sake of making a nice picture. I feel that art is to express divinity. I think nowadays this has become somewhat lost.
I like to work with watercolors. It's such a wonderful medium, very delicate. The colors are so beautiful. You can express the lofty and dreamy and esoteric. With painting you can interpret. It comes from within yourself. How do you paint the spiritual dimension? The spiritual dimension is totally different from the material dimension, although we can get an idea of the spiritual from the material. Watercolors are nice for painting the spiritual dimension.
I'm convinced that every person has a special gift for himself and for the world and it can take a little time before you know what your gift is. When you discover that, you can live a more fulfilling, satisfying life because you understand your own uniqueness. And this uniqueness is not something like, "Oh, look at me. I'm this or that." But you understand that it's a gift from God, and you want to use it in His service.
If you're a devotee of Krsna you naturally want to share. Some people might be able to share by giving knowledge, or producing a magazine, or being a teacher, or taking care of kids. I hope to share my Krsna consciousness through art.
This is my life. My art reveals that Krsna is my life and soul. Krsna is so beautiful.
I've been living in the country for sixteen years. That environment influences me in a good way. I like to be able to see the sky and the trees. And to be in a temple is a very nice uplifting experience. I depend on my surroundings to be in balance. If I'm not in balance, I don't think I can work much with art. Through spiritual life, year after year after year, I've come to a balance with myself.
Krsna consciousness has helped me a lot as an artist. If you paint pictures of Krsna, they're spiritual pictures. Krsna is a spiritual person. To paint pictures of Krsna I feel I have to be very serious in my spiritual life. For Krsna to come alive in my pictures, I have to say, "Please Krsna, I'm your servant. Please help me to express myself and to paint You. It is very much what I would like to do as a service to You."
I find that it's hard for many people to understand that the Absolute Truth is a person. Explaining to them that God is blue and plays a flute and so on doesn't have the same effect as their seeing a painting. When they see a painting, they appreciate Krsna's beauty. Krsna can speak to them.
The purpose of Krsna consciousness is to fix one's mind on Krsna. Just imagine that you want to paint something about Krsna. You just fill your mind with Krsna's pastimes. Just take a vision of Krsna within yourself how He's dressed and how He's wearing a garland. And you can almost smell the flowers and see His hair and His expressions and His dealings with His devotees. Painting is a meditation.
After living on a farm in Sweden for many years, Annapurna Devi Dasi currently lives in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, with her husband, Yogindra Dasa, and their teenage daughter, Vrnda.