Glance Sideways is a cultural warfare project and conceptual scapbook of Isha Black, an antidote to the mind warp of pop culture and social media. Sharing insights into concepts of artmaking, life and reality the beautiful.

Dancing at the intersect of the conceptual perspective housed within the ontological framework of Śrī Sāraswat Gauḍīya Vaiṣṇavism and
contemporary artistic language, it offers a cultural discussion and social critique from this viewpoint while also giving an doorway to step outside to the literal interpretation of theistic narratives.

Since the beginning of the Vedic cultural invasion of the western cultures in the early 20th century, mixing with the reverse influence of
colonisation, the walls of the Eurocentric artistic vision of divinity has been transformed into a more complex dialogue influenced by the
philosophies of India, the Orient and tribal cultures.

Yet the for all this discussion, influence, cross cultural pollination of ideas, a divine realm of divine form has yet taken place on the cutting edge of art and design.

Glance Sideways seeks to become a starting point of this dialogue.

The Glance

Seeing is an essential act of our existence. It is more than the processing the light reflecting off objects with our eyes.
Seeing is the assimilation of reality with our consciousness. Artists play and delight in this process of assimilation.
As they played, Humanity has developed a vast cultural language of visual and auditory interpretation that affects how we see reality. This relationship between language, conceptualisation and communication can affect how we see the world around us.
In the process of sharing the description of what we perceive we are be able to see deeper and absorb more nuance details of the world around us. Our perception and experience of reality is sculpted by our story telling.
In Art and cultural theory there is the concept of the gaze. The seat in which the viewer positions their idea of self in relation to what is seen.
In general the objective of these writers and theoreticians is to discuss and highlight the relationships of power, such as the male gaze and colonialism. With the ability to gaze you can look down and have power over the subject being observed
The ontology of the Saraswat Gauidiya Vaisnavas offers a different perspective to the position on which a viewer will make their gaze upon reality.
There is the objective, subjective and super subjective perceptions of reality.
Consciousness is the essential foundation of reality. The gaze or focus of consciousness can be outward, into the objective reality, of matter and material energy. And the
Consciousness can distill consciousness and consciousness can experience consciousness free of the influence of the material energy.
In this exploration of consciousness, it is possible to experience consciousness of greater quality and concentration than one’s own, where the subjective experience is under the gaze of the super subjective reality.
This is conception in expressed in the ancient verse from the rig Veda.

viṣṇo paramaṁ padaṁ sadā paśyanti sūrayaḥ divīva chakṣur ātatam

“ Like a sun, the grand eye with mercy extended towards us on our head.

I am taking bath in the sunray, the graceful ray of the Beautiful Divine Consciouness. I am taking bath always in that.”

Ṛg-veda: 1.22.20

Establishing further upon this reality of the super-subjective gaze of consciousnesses the Vaisnava ontology and creation narratives reveals that the Jiva souls are injected into the this material of reality by the sidelong glance of a form of Vishnu at boundarary of the external energy – Maya Shakti and internal energy – Svarupa Shakti.

This Karanodakasayi Vishnu, lying on the the ocean of all causes ( Karana), is the original Puruṣa, – the master of the illusory external energy, cast a sidelong glance into the womb of of the Goddess Maya who is the personification of this external material energy.

With this glance the Jiva Souls, who like sparks of light in the ray of the gaze of Vishnu’s consciousness are impregnated into this womb of material energy consisting of Earth, Water, Fire, Air and Ether.

Then Mayadevi responds to the desires and searching of these souls who are activating and sculpting reality by their agency shining from the light of their own consciousness.

This is elaborated in the follow excepts from the ancient Vedic text, Sri Bramha Samhita with contemporary purports by Srila Bhaktivinode Thakur written in 1897.

Verse 8

niyatih sa rama-devi tat-priya tad-vasam tada

tal-lingam bhagavan sambhur jyotirupah sanatanah

ya yonih sapara saktih kama-bijah mahadd-hareh


(That indirect association with Maya is being described.) The Personification of the Transcendental Potency of the Lord, Ramadevi, is Destiny, Beloved Consort of the Supreme Lord. At creation, the appearance of the effulgence of the Portion of Krishna’s Plenary Portion is Bhagavan Sambhu, the manifest male organ of the Divinity—the reflection of the Eternal Effulgence. Subject to the Potency of Destiny, that male symbol is the portion of the Absolute responsible for the generation of the material world. The reproductive potency that evolves from Destiny appears as the female organ, the embodiment of Maya, the inferior potency. The union of these organs brings forth the existence of the Mahat-tattva, which is only a reflection of the Supreme Lord Hari’s Original Seed of Desire (Kama-bija).


Being endowed with the creative desire, the Plenary Expansion of Krishna, Sankarsana, takes the initiative in bringing about the creation of the mundane world. Taking the Form of the first Predominative Descent (Purusavatara), He reclines on the Causal Waters and casts a glance at Maya.

That glance is instrumental in the cause of the creation. The twilight image of that reflected effulgence of the Almighty is effectively the organ of generation, Sambhu, which unites with the reproductive paraphernalia of Maya, the shadow of the Rama Potency. Then, the reflection of the Original Seed of Desire, Kama-bija, emerges as the Mahat-tattva, the great or universal seminal principle, and engages in the creative function. The initial manifestation of the desire created by Maha-Visnu is known as Hiranmaya Mahat-tattva; it is the mental principle of readiness for universal creation.

The inner conception here is that assuming both the instrumental and efficient causes (nimitta-upadana), the Will of the Predominator or Purusa creates. The instrumental cause is personified as Maya, who represents the female reproductive organ; the efficient cause is personified as Sambhu, who represents the male generative organ; and Maha-Visnu is the Predominator, or the Inaugurator by His Will.

The primordial ingredients or substance (Pradhana) is efficient, while the female receptacle principle (Prakrti) is Maya; and the Willing Factor that unites them is the Manifestor of the illusory mundane world, the Predominator (Purusa), who is a Plenary Expansion of Krishna. These three form the Agency of universal creation.

The Original Seed of Desire, Kama-bija, that exists in Goloka, is Pure Transcendental Cognition, and the seed of desire that exists in the material world is a manifestation of the shadow potency personified as Kali and other forms. Despite being the prototype of Maya, the Original Seed of Desire is infinitely distant from Maya; the mundane seed of desire is an illusory reflection. The process of Sambhu’s birth is described in verses ten and fifteen. [8]

Verse 9

linga-yony-atmika jata ima mahesvari prajah


The world’s entire progeny in Maya’s kingdom is the embodiment of the sexual union of male and female organs.

Purport :

The Sovereignty of the Supreme Personality of Godhead covers the entire four quadrants of the Infinite Majesty of God. Lamentation, death and apprehension are absent in the three quadrants of the Lord’s Majesty that are the Divine Abodes of Vaikuntha, Goloka, etc. In this illusory world, all beings from gods to men, etc., along with all their planes of existence, are under the reign of Maya; here, all that be is efficiently and instrumentally generated, that is, born of sexual union. With all the discoveries of material science, everything knowable is of sexual origin. Trees, plants and even insentient beings are all produced of the union of male and female.

It deserves mention here that although the allusion to male and female organs presupposes a kind of vulgarity, in a scientific context the exposition based on the principle of sexuality is most appropriate and excellent for its profoundness in illustrating elementary principles. The vulgarity felt is nothing more than a concept of social formality, but science and transcendental science cannot compromise the element of truth with mere social formality.

So the application is indispensable in expounding on the primordial principle of the material world, that is, the illusory seed of desire. The predominating potency or masculine active potency and the female potency or predominated active potency are all that is to be understood by the use of such terms herein.

Verse 10

saktiman purusah so ‘yam linga-rupi mahesvarah

tasminn-avir abhul-linge mahavisnur jagat-patih



Mahesvara Sambhu, the male principle of the efficient cause representing the primal male organ, is united with the instrumental cause represented by his Maya potency. Maha-Visnu, the Lord of the universe, partially advents within him by the casting of His glance. [10]


Sri Narayana, nondifferent from Krishna, presides in the Paravyoma, the area of the Spiritual World predominated by majesty and reverence. Maha-Sankarsana is one of Sri Narayana’s Quadruple Expansions or Catur-vyuha, so even He is a Plenary Portion of Krishna’s Narayana Form. By His Spiritual Potency, Maha-Sankarsana’s Plenary Expansion eternally reclines on the Viraja river, which is situated at the point midway between the Transcendental World and the mundane world; and at the time of universal creation He casts a glance at the distant shadow Maya potency.

At that moment, the reflection of the Intrinsic Form of Godhead in the Form of His Divine glance—Sambhu, the lord of the Pradhana or primordial material elements, the energy of which is personified by his Rudra form—unites with the mundane instrumental cause, Maya; but he is unable to act without being empowered by Maha-Visnu, who represents the direct Divine Power of Krishna. Therefore, the material seminal element (Mahat-tattva) can come forth only when Krishna’s Plenary Expansion, that is—the Primal Avatara Maha-Visnu who is a Plenary Portion of Maha-Sankarsana, who is a Plenary Expansion of Krishna—sanctions the mutual function of Siva’s Maya potency and the efficient causal primordial material elements.

With Maha-Visnu’s sanction, the Siva potency progressively creates ego (ahankara) and the five basic elements (panca-bhuta) of ether, etc., the subtle form of their attributes (sense objects, tanmatra), and the mundane senses of the (conditioned) soul. The individual souls or jivas emanate as particles of the rays of the Effulgence of Maha-Visnu. This will be elucidated later in this commentary.

Verse 11

sahasra-sirsa purusah sahasraksah sahasra-pat

sahasra-bahur visvatma sahasramsah sahasra-suh


That Lord of the universe, Maha-Visnu, possesses thousands upon thousands of Faces, thousands upon thousands of Eyes, thousands upon thousands of Feet, thousands upon thousands of Arms, thousands upon thousands of Incarnations in thousands upon thousands of Plenary Expansions; He is the Soul of the universe and the Creator of thousands upon thousands of living beings.


Maha-Visnu, the Object of worship of the hymns of all the Vedas, is endowed with Infinite Senses and Potencies, and He is the Original Avatara from whom all other Avataras descend.

The average reader’s mind may exploded in disbelief or convulsed with cultural rejection from this esoteric explanation.

But as a visual artist the implications and revelations of this are mind blowing. The act of creating art, where the gaze of the artist into the “blank canvas” sculpts reality into whatever is conceive is in sync with the very fabric of esoteric reality.

“The mind hurts as the heart inverts,
one’s conception of reality.”

~ I.B. Das