Tracing the divine art of Yoga

Yogic history

A 9th century Buddha in stone depicting a yogic pose from Sarnath, Uttar Pradesh, as well as an 11th century stone yogini sculpture in a meditative expression, along with a series of multimedia installations are part of an ongoing exhibition ‘Yoga Chakra, Tradition and Modernity – a Multi-media encounter with Intangible Culture’.

This week-long exhibition is a part of the International Yoga Day celebrations and is aimed at offering the audience a perspective on India’s ancient yogic history and the shape this form is taking in the contemporary artistic world.

A collaborative effort between the Sangeet Natak Akademi (SNA) and museums across the world, these over 300 exhibits showcase all inclusive multicultural, multimedia Indian creativity through a convergence of illustrated manuscripts, paintings, photographs, books, interactive installations, digital work, and films for health, happiness and healing.

“It was challenging and exciting to work on this exhibition because it was important to depict the aspects of ancient and contemporary yoga traditions through different mediums,” Sushma Bahl, curator of the exhibition, tells Metrolife.

“What was important was to let these two dimensions marry each other and create a meaningful dialogue,” she adds, saying the solid ground work for this momentous
exhibition began four months ago.

Displayed in three interlinked thematic segments - Gyana, Dhyana and Karma – the exhibition explores the ancient Indian traditions and tenets, from a modern perspective through a convergence of visual and performing arts, science and lifestyles, as well as faiths - Hindu, Buddhist, Jain, Sikh, Zoroastrian, Sufi and other
sacred practices.

“We looked at yoga from a broader perspective to relate how history is seen today. So it was extremely important to fit the objects according to these divisions that address the core themes of body, soul and mind,” informs Bahl.

The SNA has partnered with cultural institutions including the National Museum, Lalit Kala Akademi, Sahitya Kala Akademi, Indira Gandhi National Centre for Arts, Museum of Sacred Arts, Belgium, and other Indian cultural institutions to highlight the importance of this great traditional Indian practice over 5,000 years old.

The National Museum has loaned 36 original art objects and five replicas of artifacts, including the dancing girl and terracotta figurines in yogic postures. Among the replicas are art objects from the Harappa and Mohenjodaro period, including a “Seated Man in Namaskara Mudra” in terracotta dating back to between 2700 BC and 2100 BC; a “Seated Man in Yoga Mudra”, also in terracotta from Mohenjodaro period between 2500 BC and 2200 BC; a “Pashupati Seal” from the Mohenjodaro period in 2500 BC, among others.
“We hope the audience through this exhibition understands the concept of yoga as it is practised today, encompassing the traditional within the contemporary context of modern lifestyles,” concludes Bahl.The exhibition is on till June 27 at the Rabindra Bhawan.

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