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Prabal Pramanik's Academy of Arts
Bhamlada, Punjab -145 022, India
Mobile : 09417735631/09417170998

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ISBN No. 978-93-81200-03-2


Paintings on Ragas in Pahari Art

Raga means a musical mode in general sense, but in the subtle way the meaning goes much deeper.
Raga is not just any ordinary musical mode or rhythmic tune, and there are much deeper implications. These implications are dependent on certain hypothesis.
According to ancient scriptures, the basic musical modes with their rhythmic setups were created by Shiva.
These special musical modes are presentations of the basic forces of nature in forms of rhythm and tune.
These tunes can be in forms of vocal melodies or have instrumental presentations.
Now, the hypothesis that is rather difficult for a materialistic person to understand or accept, takes us to the realm that is generally "unseen" or little known in the universe.
According to the ancient scriptures, these special musical modes, Ragas, and Raginis, have "conscious souls" that are parts of the Universal vibration or "Nada".
The entire existence in which countless universes are being born and destroyed each and every moment is made of vibrations. All the visual forms and invisible forms are created by vibrations.
The Ragas and their female counterparts, Raginis are part of that Eternal force of vibrations that create and recreate in this everlasting play of birth, existence and destruction.
For a materialistic person influenced by the psychic limitations of so called "scientific reasoning", such a spiritualistic hypothesis concerning musical modes may not be acceptable, but the theory of Ragas had been based on such ancient knowledge about the world of the hidden for thousands of years.
So when appreciating Ragamala paintings we must keep these age old theories in mind, or else we will not be able to realize the motivation and the philosophy of the master artists of olden times who painted the visual forms of the musical modes.
The attempts to render physical forms to metaphysical world, keeping the mood and the inner meaning of the musical mode intact, is not easy to innovate.
In fact the artists of the earlier era, based their compositions on those that had been used in paintings of Rajasthan and other places of India when depicting pictorial representations of Ragas and Raginis.
It is interesting to note, that though the basic form is more or less the same and the idea must have been carried on from master to pupil throughout the ages, regional influences are visible in such paintings.
Stylistic differences also are important when depicting such subjects through different traditional schools of art in different parts of India.
The subjective depth of each Raga has its individual importance and the symbolic personification introducing the apparently unseen in the realm of material presentations has to be accurate in regard to the philosophy of the concerned musical mode.
The later artists, obviously repeatedly copied the set compositions concerning these subjects of subtle philosophy.
Minor variations are normal, but no major change in the composition was possible when depicting this subject.
The personifications of the "musical modes" evoke the mood of the musical mode, and this mood when created through Pahari paintings, was presented in fine details of decorative oriental art.
Undoubtedly these Ragamala paintings in Pahari miniature art were popular amongst understanding and music loving people in the hills and the orientation of the modes of classical Indian music was much greater in the society at that time than today.
Ragamala paintings not only speak of the skill of the artists but also of the refined attitude of the discerning art and classical music lovers of those times.

Prabal Pramanik
(from the published book "My views on Pahari paintings")
ISBN No. 978-93-81200-03-2

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Prabal Pramanik



The articles presented here are from the published book "My views on Pahari paintings" by Prabal Pramanik published by M/s Orient Book Company. These articles are original. These articles are not compilations made from other articles and no chapter or portion of these articles have been taken from any other published work.
These articles are from my own published work, with ISBN number, and these are copyright reserved.
Anyone found to print or publish or use in any form in the internet or in print media these articles or portions from these articles without the prior written permission of the author and publisher will be liable to pay damages to the author and publisher.
The pictures displayed here are by artists who have passed away more than fifty years ago. According to international copyright act, art works and written matter become public domain, fifty years after the death of the artist and the writer.
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