The Bhakti Lata
By Isha Black December 2009
Acrylic & Pencil on Canvas
800 mm x 1200 mm
This recently completed work is a product of years of contemplation of how to make artwork from a vaiṣṇava perspective. It portrays an allegorical landscape of the Bhakti Lata. The Bhakti Lata is described in vaiṣṇava scripture as the creeper of devotion, that is planted in the heart of the sadhaka – the spiritual practitioner when they take initiation from the bonafide spiritual master. By the practice of devotional service this seed is watered and as it grows the bhakti lata searches for it’s origin in the spiritual sky.
The abstraction of colour, brush, mark, swirls and flowing lines, represents the dynamic of the material energy. I very much like this portrayal as without the activation of the jīva soul, the material energy is simply unamalgamated energy of earth, water, fire, air and ether that is sculpted by the desires of the jīva souls into the various forms of the living entities and the necessities of their habitats to explore this desire. In the presence of bhakti, these desires are transformed into spiritual aspiration that waters the bhakti lata. The heart hardened by these desires has becomes rocklike that also melts in the process of the loving search for a relationship with the divine.
The plant itself is a characterisation the sacred tulasi tree, which is an important deity for the vaiṣṇava. Worshiped as a Divine goddess her leaves are used to make offerings as it is said that lord krishna will take the offering if these leaves upon the food preparations presented.
mālī hañā kare sei bīja āropaṇa
śravaṇa-kīrtana-jale karaye secana
“When a person receives the seed of devotional service, he should take care of it by becoming a gardener and sowing the seed in his heart. If he waters the seed gradually by the process of śravaṇa and kīrtana ( hearing and chanting ) , the seed will begin to sprout.”
Śrī Caitanya Caritāmṛta Madhya 19.152