Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Kusu Island

Chinese Temple at Kusu Island, Singapore. Ink on cartridge paper.

Thursday, July 2, 2015

The Origins of Time

Origins of Time is a graphic design project that explores the varied perceptions and interpretations of the concept of time by ancient cultures. It looks at stories of creation and myths about the nature of time in an effort to understand the historical background of our current notions about time.

Human kind has always measured time but the earliest concepts of time come from stories of the origin of life and time itself. Ancient cultures not only contemplated about the origin of the universe but also delved into the complicated nature of time – often describing it as linear, concurrent or even cyclical. 

Greek Mythology

The ancient Greeks had two words for time. The first was chronos, which we still use in words like chronological and anachronism. It refers to clock time – time that can be measured – seconds, minutes, hours, years.

Kronos (Roman – Saturnus) the God who devoured his own children (Poseidon representing the sea, Demeter the earth, Hera the air, and Hestia heavenly fire) symbolised the destructive ravages of time, which consumed all. Kronos, or Saturn to the Romans, is the being that kills you. It takes away everything you have and then it eats you too. Much like time, which consumes everything.

Where chronos is quantitative, kairos is qualitative. It measures moments, not seconds. Further, it refers to the right moment, the opportune moment. The perfect moment. Kairos refers to the right time, opportune time or seasonable time. It cannot be measured. It is the perfect time, the qualitative time, the perfect moment, the “now.”

It is significant and decisive. These moments transcend kronos, stirring emotions and realities to cause decisive action. It is not an understatement to say that kairos moments alter destiny. To miscalculate kronos is inconvenient. To miscalculate kairos is lamentable.

Kairos, is depicted as a young man, lithe and handsome. The wings on his feet, suggest his swiftness, borne by the seasons, he goes rolling on through all eternity. 

His youthful beauty, that beauty is always opportune and Kairos (Opportunity) is the only artificer of beauty, whereas things whose beauty has withered have no part in the nature of Kairos (Opportunity). The lock of hair on his forehead indicates that while he is easy to catch as he approaches, yet, when he has passed by, the moment of action has likewise expired, and that, if opportunity (kairos) is neglected, it cannot be recovered.

The Ancient Greeks, the seedbed of existential thinkers, sought to understand kairos at multiple levels. They applied kairos thinking in arenas of legal, political, and epideitic (the artfully skilled and heightened rhetorical expression of praise). 

In legal rhetoric, kairos was related to justice beyond the written law. Political rhetoric concerns the elements of usefulness, suitability, and honor. Kairos is seen as the orator’s ability to adapt to and take advantage of the contingent circumstances.

Ancient Indians had the same divided notions of time: chronological and kairotic. And like the Greeks, they mistrusted Chronos. The Sanskrit equivalent of chronos is kala, from which the destructive goddess Kali takes her name.The image of her dancing on corpses with a belt of skulls and severed hands reminds one of the destructive nature of time.

Hindu Cosmology

With its cyclical notion of time, Hinduism teaches that the material world is created not once but repeatedly, time and time again. Additionally, this universe is considered to be one of many, all enclosed “like innumerable bubbles floating in space.”

The concept of eternal and cyclical time lies at the heart of the Hindu world view and is closely related to the concept of atman. (Hindu sages claim that the individual’s self-understanding determines his or her perception of the world.) Hindus consider the real self to be ever-existing, not only in the future but also from the past. This notion of two-way eternity, however, is not reserved solely for the realm of spirit (Brahman) but extends to this temporal world. Within Hinduism we find no “year dot,” nor a final cataclysm. The closing of one door implies the opening of another. Destruction of the cosmos only portends its re-creation. The entire material world is thus subject to everlasting cycles of creation, sustenance and destruction.

This universe is said to exist for a lifetime of Brahma, the creator. His one day is 1,000 maha-yugas (great ages). Each maha-yuga consists of four yugas (ages), each progressively shorter and more degraded. They are the golden, silver, copper, and iron ages. According to tradition, we have had just over 5,000 years of Kali-yuga and there remain 427,000 years. At the end, the final incarnation of Vishnu, Kalki, is scheduled to appear, heralding the dawn of yet another golden age.

Accounts of creation differ in many respects. As per Hindu mythology, Brahma was born from a lotus springing from Vishnu’s navel and created the world through his daughter Saraswati. According to Manu Smriti, the Lord manifested to dispel the darkness enveloping the universe. 

He created the waters and deposited a seed that became a golden egg from which he was born as Brahma. He divided the egg into two parts to construct the heaven and earth much like the Chinese myth of creation. By a third account, the Lord separated himself  into two parts, the male and the female after dividing the golden egg. From him sprang Viraja and from him Manu. 

Ramayana states that Brahma sprang from the ether and that sages Marichi, Atri, Angiras, Narada, Sanaka, Sanandana, Sanatkumara, Sanasujata and others are his manasa putras (mentally conceived sons). From Marichi sprang Kashyapa from whom sprang Vishwavata who created Manu, the procreator of all human beings. Thus, Manu is Brahma’s great grandson.

Brahma is commonly represented as having four heads, four arms, and red skin. Unlike all the other Hindu gods, Brahma carries no weapon in his hands. He holds a water-pot, a spoon, a book of prayers or the Vedas, a rosary and sometimes a lotus. He sits on a lotus in the lotus pose and moves around on a white swan, possessing the magical ability to separate milk from a mixture of water and milk. Brahma is often depicted as having long white beard, with each of his heads reciting the four vedas.

Chinese Mythology

The Chinese myth of the creator Pan Gu can be traced back to around 600 B.C. The legend says the universe was a formless chaos. This chaos coalesced into a cosmic egg for about 18,000 years. Within it, the perfectly opposed principles of Yin and Yang became balanced. Inside the egg, at first was “a mass called no thing”. 

Pan Gu was the being that was to develop from the egg. Pan Gu emerged and become the creator. “Pan Gu was the size of a giant. He grew ten feet a day and lived for eighteen thousand years”. With his chisel, Pan Gu shaped the entire earth. Yin became the earth and yang the sky. To this day the concept of yin and yang represents all types of balance within our universe, and stresses the need for balance in all aspects of life.

Pan Gu acted as the ultimate architect, carving out all of earth and adorning the heavens with the moon and stars. Only when Pan Gu died could the process be complete. When his death came, his body and soul all became parts of the earth. From his head were created the Sun and the Moon, from his blood the rivers and seas, from his breath the wind, and from his voice the thunder. Finally, human beings were generated from the fleas which lived on him.

Some versions of the Pan Gu creation myth state that the giant had help from four mythical beasts. First, the turtle: the Chinese were not the only ones to use it in their creation myth; various world myths, creation and otherwise, include the turtle for its strength and immortality. The qilin, though indigenous to Asian mythology, is said to have been dragon-like. While being central to Asian mythology – dragons are also found world-wide – as bearers of wisdom and a symbol of power, also connected to the succession of the early emperors. Finally, the phoenix which has consistently been a symbol of rebirth.

The interesting aspects of this tale are its similarities to other myths. For example, the cosmic egg is a common concept that is indicative of the universe before the Big Bang occurred, scientifically speaking. While this may, at first glance, be a very primitive way of describing such an event, one cannot help but notice how very insightful it is.

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Two Faced

This piece tries to express the anger at having a dichotomous mind. What is it that we want anyway, and why is it that there are parts of us that are completely out of sync with what the rest is trying to emulate?  

Thursday, April 4, 2013

The Phoenix Rises Again

This is a personal illustration, one that carries surreal and symbolic meaning only for me. A new illustration style, I quite like the surreal/collage feeling to it, might continue working in this style for a few weeks I think.

Friday, March 1, 2013

Pandit Parody

This illustration was rejected from one of my graphic design projects, so obviously it lands up on my blog. This is a commentary on how orthodox pandits who preach of life without luxury and a life that revolves around religion etc. are now nothing but ginormous hypocrites. Here is one who answers the pizza delivery guy in the middle of a ceremony - something that is quite common in contemporary times! 

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Goodbyes Suck

Had to say a lot of goodbyes at the end of last semester, to friends who I will probably never meet again since they are going back to their home universities after their exchange program at my university. But the toughest goodbyes are the ones you say to people you are in love with. 

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Running Away And Hiding In My World Of Sketches

Certain things I can't deal with, the worst of them all is saying goodbye, so instead of saying my goodbyes I chose to hide - hide as I sketch urban landscape and the people who face life head on and keep passing through the city like ghosts.

Yet eventually I did part with my feelings and the security that they represented in the present - for happiness, hope and faith for a better future. For belief and faith is all we have, if we lose them we might as well become a bunch of cynical, pessimistic, sore losers.

I believe that letting go of the security of today doesn't mean that the rest of my future has to be altered by the ugly wrath of time, for no matter how much I change and the world around me changes it doesn't necessarily have to be for the worse. Believing in that is the hardest thing to do especially when you are so happy in a moment that you just want to freeze it forever and never let go. However, if you don't let it go you will never get anything better or worse, you will forever be stagnant just like the ghosts who walk through this urban landscape.  

Monday, December 17, 2012

Blue Christmas Without You

"I'll have a blue Christmas without you
I'll be so blue just thinking about you
Decorations of red on a green Christmas tree
Wont be the same dear, if you're not here with me

And when those blue snowflakes start falling
That's when those blue memories start calling
You'll be doing all right, with your Christmas of white
But I'll have a blue, blue blue blue Christmas" 

- Elvis Presley

Right, that's just about how much I shall miss anyone who is not with me during Christmas.

i.e. as much as I miss tentacles, mountains, a falling Big Ben tower, a real Christmas tree, a fire to keep me warm, and the cold. Since Mumbai has no winter and hence no Christmas! So I shall have myself a BLUE CHRISTMAS! :)

Sketching Trip to Singapore Zoo

Swimming animals are hard to draw, yet drawing animal anatomy is fun because it challenges my conventional sense of form. Drawing animals really makes you use your eyes to draw because we are so used to drawing human figures that most of the time we assume what the anatomy or form will be like, but since animal anatomy is so unfamiliar it poses a greater challenge to a live drawing artist! 

Sleeping animals make me happy since they don't move and its easy to draw them!

Just as I was getting warmed up there was a thunderstorm and I had to rush to the shade, this is all I could see or draw from there. 

A sketch of the river in the Zoo, if you get the chance do go to the Singapore Zoo its an amazingly well made and well planned zoo! It makes me wonder what equatorial Singapore would really be had it not been this heavily urbanized.

Sunday, December 16, 2012


"Life's too short to even care at all oh!
I'm losing my mind, losing my mind, losing control"

- Cough Syrup by Young The Giant

All my days are about control, the battle to be in control of my life and destiny starts in the morning and is lost every night. Yet I must wake up the next morning and keep fighting for it is the illusion of control or the idea of it that sustains me.