Buddha and the Nagas

Published on 29 December 2023 at 22:22

Medium: Watercolor on Paper

Date: October 2023


Buddha and the Nagas


A Picture with a Profound Emotional Impact

This blog piece holds a profound emotional significance for me. It recalls a moment when a friend, upon first seeing the base drawing of this artwork, was moved to tears. My artistic journey began with a vision to portray a Buddha holding a cobra. After meticulous studies of cobra images, I endeavored to perfect the depiction of a radiant red cobra, investing in high-quality carmine watercolors to capture its essence. The Naga, alongside the cobra, emerged from my brush as an integral element. Delving into the subtle details, I painstakingly worked on the Buddha's skin tone and the illuminating halo around his head. What mysterious truth was I chasing? Currently, I am contemplating enlarging this piece to a striking height of 50 inches, immersing deeper into the inspirations and intricate details that breathe life into this image. Through this ongoing engagement with the artwork, I find myself uncovering deeper truths within me. These blogs serve as conduits for the exploration and discovery of my inner life. Thank you for joining me in this journey.


Quiet Meditation and the Artistic Scribble

Reflecting on my fascination with lines and colors, I realize the depth of meditation embedded in this composition. A few days ago, while pondering the inception of a new piece, a friend whimsically suggested a depiction of a phallic symbol. However, my approach is not to illustrate directly but to allow my mind to wander freely, scribbling, and discovering potential forms in these abstract lines. In this process, I observed a central figure emerging, reminiscent of a shaft, with knees subtly resembling testicles. Echoing the words of the great Cézanne, "Everything is a column, a circle, or a square," this figure, too, adorned a halo, symbolizing the sacredness of our bodies, particularly the sensitive parts of our genitalia. The halo, comprising primary colors of red, yellow, blue, and white, encircled with pink – the color of love and affection – represents not just the phallic head but also a deeper, sacred connection to our bodies.


Buddha and the Central Cobra

In this portrayal, the Buddha, emanating from his halo, gazes upon a cobra rising from his navel. This cobra extends along his body and merges into the form of a Naga, framing the base of the image. This symbolism represents the universal energy inherent in each of us – an energy of growth, sexuality, regeneration, and transcendence.

Expanding on this theme, the intertwining of the Buddha and the cobra symbolizes the harmonious balance between spiritual enlightenment and primal energy. The Buddha's calm and contemplative demeanor juxtaposed with the dynamic and potentially dangerous cobra reflects the duality of human nature – the pursuit of spiritual wisdom alongside the recognition and acceptance of our more instinctual aspects. This artistic depiction serves as a metaphor for the journey towards self-awareness and the integration of all aspects of our being.


The Radiance of Buddha Surrounded by Nagas

The Buddha's radiance, amidst the Nagas, evokes themes of fertility, reproduction, and the natural process of species continuation. It highlights the profoundly sacred aspect of our connections with one another. From the smallest cells to complex organisms, the act of reaching out to one another for the creation of new life is, perhaps, the most crucial and sacred aspect of our existence. Sex, in this context, is more than an act of pleasure; it's an act of regeneration and continuation. In the quiet and kindness towards others, we find our need for Buddha, amidst the symbolic snake-like phalluses, the Nagas.

Furthermore, the image underscores the vital role of interconnectedness in our lives. The intertwining Nagas around the Buddha serve as a visual metaphor for the interconnected web of life, where each entity, from the smallest to the largest, is intrinsically linked. This artistic representation echoes the Buddhist concept of interdependence, suggesting that our individual actions and existence are intimately connected to the larger cosmic dance of life, reinforcing the idea that in caring for others, we care for ourselves and the world at large.


Nagas: Fear, Respect, and Worship

Snakes, as symbols, invoke a mix of fear and fascination. In religious and mythological contexts, they often symbolize fears related to coupling, connection, and the initiation into the cycle of life and death. Their unique, sinuous movement, potential for speed, and venomous bite command a blend of fear and respect. This duality is what makes the Naga, with its fierce yet formless and undefined shape, a powerful symbol in spiritual contexts, often used to guard sacred spaces like the Nagas of Angkor Wat.

In addition to their role as guardians, Nagas in various cultures are also seen as symbols of transformation and renewal. Their ability to shed their skin is often interpreted as a metaphor for rebirth and the shedding of old habits, beliefs, or past traumas. In this artwork, the presence of the Nagas not only signifies protection and respect but also alludes to the potential for personal growth and transformation. This dual role of the Nagas enhances the depth of the artwork, inviting viewers to contemplate their own paths of spiritual and personal evolution.


Sexuality/Fear and Sexuality/Radiant Happiness

Contemplating the paradoxical nature of sexuality, I think of species where mating can lead to death, like the black widow or the praying mantis. This dichotomy is evident in the natural world, where life and death coexist in a delicate balance. The phallus, reminiscent of a snake-like creature, embodies this paradox – attractive yet repulsive, bringing both pain and happiness, and offering a deeper understanding of our place in the universe.

This paradox extends to the human experience, where sexuality can be both a source of profound connection and deep vulnerability. It's a realm where the highest forms of pleasure and intimacy meet the fears and insecurities rooted in our nature. In this artwork, the depiction of sexuality as both alluring and daunting challenges the viewer to confront their own perceptions and feelings about this fundamental aspect of life. It invites a deeper introspection into how we navigate these contrasting emotions and how they shape our relationships and understanding of ourselves.


Sexuality in Mythology

In the realm of mythology, the tales of heroes and heroines, and the life aspects they represent, underscore the importance of reproduction, interconnection, and survival. These stories are not just narratives; they are reflections of the dance of courtship, the play of sexuality, and the continuity of life, symbolized by the Nagas and their connection to our lives.

The rich tapestry of mythological stories provides a window into the collective psyche of humanity, revealing timeless truths about our desires, fears, and aspirations. These myths often portray sexuality not just as a biological act but as a sacred and mystical experience that transcends the physical realm. By weaving these mythological elements into the artwork, a deeper layer of meaning is added, suggesting that our sexual nature is not merely a biological imperative but a vital part of our spiritual and emotional existence. This perspective invites viewers to see sexuality through a more holistic and reverent lens, acknowledging its role in the larger narrative of human experience.


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