Three Aspects of the Absolute: A Masterpiece of Indian Court Art

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Discovered within the Jodhpur Royal Collection at the Mehrangarh Museum in Rajasthan, India, “Three Aspects of the Absolute” is a 3.5-by-5-foot painting created in 1823 by the court artist Bulaki.
The painting forms part of the Nath Charit manuscript, depicting the creation of the universe according to the Nath sect’s teachings.

Unearthing a Hidden Gem

In the private storeroom of the Jodhpur royal palace, the painting’s vibrant colors and evocative imagery left an indelible impression on its viewers, revealing an unknown gem of Indian court art.
Unlike traditional miniature paintings, “Three Aspects of the Absolute” exhibited a bold, abstract style comparable to the works of Mark Rothko and James Turrell.
This discovery sparked curiosity and a year-long research endeavor to unravel the mystery behind these extraordinary paintings.

The Nath Influence

The paintings depicted Naths, a sect associated with the development of hatha yoga, whose practices aimed at gaining supernatural abilities and immortality.
During the reign of Prince Man Singh in the early 19th century, a Nath soothsayer played a pivotal role in shaping the course of events, influencing the prince’s decision to resist surrender in battle.
The Naths became spiritual advisors to Man Singh, guiding him for four decades and profoundly influencing court life.
Under their patronage, court artists illustrated Nath texts and treatises, creating a unique body of artwork.

Three Aspects of Creation

Bulaki’s “Three Aspects of the Absolute” captures the concept of a formless, timeless, and luminous essence as the foundation of the universe.
In three sequential panels, the painting depicts the emergence of matter and being.
An unmodulated field of gold represents the absolute in its initial state, followed by a Nath yogi symbolizing bliss and the birth of form.
The final stage portrays vast cosmic waters, represented as a silver river flowing from the body of a yogi.

Legacy and Rediscovery

In 1943, British suppression of the Jodhpur Naths brought an abrupt end to their influence.
The illustrated manuscripts and paintings faded into obscurity, languishing in storerooms.
The rediscovery of these paintings generated international attention and admiration, leading to exhibitions at renowned galleries around the world.
The current maharaja of Jodhpur, Gaj Singh II, embraced the recognition accorded to the artwork, which now stands as a testament to the artistry and spiritual legacy of the Nath sect.

Credit and rights belong to OMG I Yoga
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