Like most yogis, we have a bookshelf devoted to yoga and meditation. Most of what’s there is the fruit of trainings or workshops (Light on Yoga, The Bhagavad Gita, Wheels of Life, etc,) and the books are proudly abused: dog-eared and covered in Post-Its and gribouillis, those are the ones I return over again and over again. There are, also, non-yoga books that are occasionally more valuable for their insight than the ancient texts, ones we turn to when we need inspiration from a more contemporary source: The Little Prince, It’s Not How Good You Are, It’s How Good You Want to Be, D. V.… Wisdom can be found anywhere, really, as long you are receptive to it.
While the work in Tantra Song has its roots in the seventeenth century, it has a decidedly modern, Schwitters-meets-Malevich type of pop. The pictures are totally inspiring. And the story of how these Tantra paintings came to light is almost as fascinating as the art itself—the poet Franck André Jamme nearly got himself killed in his search for the reclusive artists who created the works. After surviving a harrowing bus accident, Jamme was told by a soothsayer that his suffering constituted enough tribute paid to Shakti to earn him the privilege of finally being able to enter the artists’ communities.
These colorful and haunting depictions of Hindu cosmology are used by Tantric adepts (knowns as Tantrikas) for their meditation practices. It is thought that the paintings, which began as hand-drawn religious texts, copied and hand-duplicated over hundreds of years, evolved into abstract, almost Modernist yantras for visualization and for inciting heightened states of consciousness. Many of these images were created in secret, carried and passed on by wandering ascetics. This continuous folding and refolding of ideas by successive generations of artists, the recycling of materials and imagery, the way each concept was propagated by itinerants… The process is itself a trance-inducing meditation, a recursive weaving of past to present.