Artist Silpi and Maha Periyava


artist-silpi-maha-periyava-1956
Many Jaya Jaya Sankara to Smt. Gayathri for this awesome share. Ram Ram

Artist Silpi & Maha Periyava

It was a moment in unsung history when the Maha Periyavar of Kanchipuram granted Aritst Silpi an audience, a moment that the artist had waited for over a month foregoing his work; it was a moment that changed the life of the Artist completely. In the late hours of the night, after the entire world had sunk into deep slumber, a dialog commenced between two people. One was a revered saint, loved and respected by all and the other was an artist, talented but unsung. Within the sacred room, in the light of an oil lamp, the bright and clear eyes of the saint lit up as he whispered the truth to the painter. He said, “You have lived many lives, and in all of them you have worshipped the Lord sincerely. You have been a Sthapathi at various temples in your past lives where you have sculpted various forms of the Divine. This is your last birth. Do not dilute this sacred skill anymore. Take a vow that you shall paint the form of the divine alone hence forth. Your talent is divine, you are blessed, and you are already aware of the sciences of the Shila Shastra and Samudrika Lakshanam, you need no more education. Go into the world again, at sunrise tomorrow, with a goal to bring the divine into every home, through your paintings.”

The artist took leave and went across the land, to the remotest temples across the country to capture the very form of the Divine into his canvas. It was not an easy task that lay ahead, for the restrictions were tough, and only the orthodox and pure hearted could perform such a miraculous feet. He was told, “You shall not use your imagination, you shall not change anything that you see within the shrine chambers, you shall follow the law of Shilpa Shastra, and you shall capture the character of the Divine in various forms as described in the Samudrika Lakshanam. You shall not use extra lights, you shall work within the limited lamps lit within the chamber, and capture the changing swarupa (features) of the Divine as you meditate through the experience of painting. In this way, you shall capture the power of the Divine within the shrine chamber into your painting, the secret of which shall be expressed through the strokes of your brush.”

The artist did as told, and started a whole new life dedicated to the Lord, to his Guru, his guide who blessed his every breath through the rest of his life. Artist Silpi, was a family man, and his wife was a staunch devotee of Maha Periyava. As age took over, she was unable to visit the saint at Sri  Matam and seek His divine blessings. She requested her husband to go and capture the essence of Maha Periyava in his painting and make a portrait that she could worship at home for the rest of her life. In the year 1956, Artist Silpi made another visit to the Saint to capture His portrait, for his wife. It was a difficult proposition as the Saint did anything but co-operate. He moved around, to make it extremely difficult for the artist, testing his devotion and his patience to capture His being. When it finally ended, the painter held a master piece in his hand. An expression of devotion, one that captured every finger and toe that the Saint otherwise hid, one that even captured the divine light the enveloped the form of the Saint. It was a true masterpiece. Within the color the Saint stares on, the clarity in His eyes so beautifully captured, the vivla leaves still so fresh, the divine glow of spiritualism in His being which no photograph could ever catch. The only lamp that lit the room lay at His feet, a light that lit up so much of his Divine form, this celebrated Saint has never been captured such. Within the chamber where he posed and watched an artist paint, He blessed this work by granting us a vision of His divine presence for the world to feel, to imbibe. Kanchi Mahaperivar Sri Jagath Guru Chandrasekarendar Saraswathy Swamigal lives on in the painting of Artist Silpi.

Above is the beautiful painting of Maha Periyava done by the great artist Silpi in 1956.



Categories: Devotee Experiences

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6 replies

  1. Great,simply

  2. This is a wonderful post.
    We have known the greatness of the art of “Silpi”, but only now we know the secret behind it.
    He had been a dedicated sculptor and artist in previous births, and Periyava ensured that he remained so in his last birth! What thrilling piece of information this is!
    We used to enjoy the temple drawings of Silpi in the old Ananda Vikatan Dipawali issues, and feel thrilled by its supreme likeness to real sculpture ie Silpam. Well, now the secret is out: ‘Silpi’ was a real sculptor for many births! ஒருமைக்கண் தான் கற்ற கல்வி ஒருவற்கு எழுமையும் ஏமாப்புடைத்து! But Periyava ensured that for ‘Silpi’ this was the last birth- no need for another six!
    Fortunately, hundreds of his drawings of temples and deities have been preserved for posterity in two superb volumes brought out by Vikatan Publications with the title: ‘தென்னாட்டுச் செல்வங்கள்’. [ Unfortunately, it is only printed on glazed newsprint, and not art paper, but still it is worth having.] All astikas must have these volumes , as the pictures take us to the very temples and make us feel the real presence of those places and their sanctity. The first volume has an excellent introduction by Gopulu where he calls ‘Silpi’ The 64th Nayanmar and depicts the austere and dedicated life of this great artist so grandly blessed by Periyava!

  3. Jaya Jaya Sankara Hara Hara Sankara. What a beautiful colour portrait of Sri Maha Periyava ! WILL HAVE TO BE PRESERVED AND WORSHIPED. jANAKIRAMAN. NAGAPATTINAM.

  4. Simply great
    Blessed artist
    Unparalleled in temple drawings

  5. Jaya Jaya Sankara, Hara Hara Sankara, We Devotees have been Blessed by reading this rare piece of information on Sri Shilpi brought out by the “Mahaperyavaa Blog.”

  6. This is a great information for us. Silpi is a gem. I use present tense because he is alive through his fantastic sketches. I proudly own his painting print of Goddess Meenakshi of Madurai and it is not an exaggeration if I may say that this picture is more appealing, divine and realistic than the Goddess at the Sanctum Santorum because Sri Silpi has brought the essence, Jeevan, soul of great Ambigai. If one gets a chance he/she should see his paintings of Lord Ranganatha, Akhilandeswari, Tirumala Sri Venkatachalapathy, Tiruttani Sri Murugan, Vallabha Ganapathi as described in Maha Ganapathi Moola Mandiram, oh God, the list is endless. I had the fortune of meeting him and he is a great soul. Naturally Maha Periyava could spot his talent and his past births, as the Sarvagnan. Our humble countless prostrations to Mahaperiyava for bringing out the best in Sri Silpi. Our bountiful thanks and deepest regards for Sri Silpi and seek his blessings.

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