Parā  crystal 28 x 20 x 20 cm  Parā (the Supreme) is the Goddess of primordial Creation, the power of Consciousness to represent itself to itself. She may also be referred to as Parā Devī (the Supreme Goddess), or Parā Vāc (the Supreme Word).  Parā is the lineage deity of the Trika tradition of Tantric Śaivism also referred to as Kashmir Śaivism. The valley of Kashmir was once its epicentre. Islamization took place in Kashmir from the 13th to 15th century, leading to the decline of this tradition, and the destruction of its art. Even though the tradition has been through a long process of attrition since the 12th Century, and almost died out, its teachings, practices and philosophy were passed on from guru to disciple through the ages. The last Kashmiri guru associated with this Goddess, Swami Laksman Joo, transmitted the tradition to a few Westerners as well as Indians in the decades before his death in 1992. Aspects of the teachings and practices from this tradition were also passed on through Swami Muktānanda, Maharishi Mahesh Yogi, and Swami Satyananda Sarasvatī. The tradition barely made it through into the 20th Century and is now undergoing a process of revival.   Photograph by Mariya Karagyozova at the home of Dr. Mark S.G. Dyczkowski in Varanasi, India.

Parā
crystal
28 x 20 x 20 cm

Parā (the Supreme) is the Goddess of primordial Creation, the power of Consciousness to represent itself to itself. She may also be referred to as Parā Devī (the Supreme Goddess), or Parā Vāc (the Supreme Word).

Parā is the lineage deity of the Trika tradition of Tantric Śaivism also referred to as Kashmir Śaivism. The valley of Kashmir was once its epicentre. Islamization took place in Kashmir from the 13th to 15th century, leading to the decline of this tradition, and the destruction of its art. Even though the tradition has been through a long process of attrition since the 12th Century, and almost died out, its teachings, practices and philosophy were passed on from guru to disciple through the ages. The last Kashmiri guru associated with this Goddess, Swami Laksman Joo, transmitted the tradition to a few Westerners as well as Indians in the decades before his death in 1992. Aspects of the teachings and practices from this tradition were also passed on through Swami Muktānanda, Maharishi Mahesh Yogi, and Swami Satyananda Sarasvatī. The tradition barely made it through into the 20th Century and is now undergoing a process of revival.

Photograph by Mariya Karagyozova at the home of Dr. Mark S.G. Dyczkowski in Varanasi, India.

  Parā  crystal 14 x 10 x 10 cm   ”Parā (the Supreme)…benevolent and beautiful, white as moonlight, pouring forth the nectar which nourishes the universe”  ~ Rājānaka Abhinavagupta  This sculpture, which comes in two sizes, is made from laser etched crystal. The form was sculpted using a 3d modeling program. The 3d model's surface was then converted into billions of tiny points, and a laser was used to send beams of light to each of these points. At the focal point of each beam of light a tiny vacuum occlusion in the crystal is created and her form becomes visible when light from the outside refracts through these occlusions.

Parā
crystal
14 x 10 x 10 cm

”Parā (the Supreme)…benevolent and beautiful, white as moonlight, pouring forth the nectar which nourishes the universe”
~ Rājānaka Abhinavagupta

This sculpture, which comes in two sizes, is made from laser etched crystal. The form was sculpted using a 3d modeling program. The 3d model's surface was then converted into billions of tiny points, and a laser was used to send beams of light to each of these points. At the focal point of each beam of light a tiny vacuum occlusion in the crystal is created and her form becomes visible when light from the outside refracts through these occlusions.

  Parāparā, Parā, Aparā  gold plated bronze variable dimensions  From Parā Devī emanates all three of the Trika goddesses. They are the powers of Willing, Knowing and Action.  ” The goddesses of the Trika symbolize the universal forces of Reality itself. While they may be cloaked in terminology and iconography associated with some religious systems, in truth these potencies of Consciousness, and the teachings around them, are not limited by or specific to any culture, religion or social understanding. Rather, they are revelations born of yogic experimentation, inspired perception of the all-embracing fabric of Reality itself, and of the universal functionality of that Reality. The process of engaging with the Shaiva Tantra tradition has nothing to do with any sort of external conventional practice of any religion whatsoever -- it is more akin to a scientific theory on the basis of which we build profound practical applications. The teachings of this tradition recognize that by aligning our individuality with the autonomous, free, self-guiding and self-regulating nature of Consciousness, a higher functioning capacity, greater insight, increased creativity and an ever deeper recognition of the bliss of the universe begins to take place within us.”  ~ Paul Muller-Ortega

Parāparā, Parā, Aparā
gold plated bronze
variable dimensions

From Parā Devī emanates all three of the Trika goddesses. They are the powers of Willing, Knowing and Action.

The goddesses of the Trika symbolize the universal forces of Reality itself. While they may be cloaked in terminology and iconography associated with some religious systems, in truth these potencies of Consciousness, and the teachings around them, are not limited by or specific to any culture, religion or social understanding. Rather, they are revelations born of yogic experimentation, inspired perception of the all-embracing fabric of Reality itself, and of the universal functionality of that Reality. The process of engaging with the Shaiva Tantra tradition has nothing to do with any sort of external conventional practice of any religion whatsoever -- it is more akin to a scientific theory on the basis of which we build profound practical applications. The teachings of this tradition recognize that by aligning our individuality with the autonomous, free, self-guiding and self-regulating nature of Consciousness, a higher functioning capacity, greater insight, increased creativity and an ever deeper recognition of the bliss of the universe begins to take place within us.”
~ Paul Muller-Ortega

  Parā  gold plated bronze variable dimensions   "She is the primordial Word, the very essence of the highest reality, pervading all things and eternally in creative motion: She is simply luminous pure consciousness, vibrating with the greatest subtlety as the ground of all being"  ~ Rājānaka Abhinavagupta (trans. Prof. Alexis Sanderson)

Parā
gold plated bronze
variable dimensions

"She is the primordial Word, the very essence of the highest reality, pervading all things and eternally in creative motion: She is simply luminous pure consciousness, vibrating with the greatest subtlety as the ground of all being"
~ Rājānaka Abhinavagupta (trans. Prof. Alexis Sanderson)

  Parāparā  gold plated bronze variable dimensions   ”…playful like a streak of lightning in a sky dense with monsoon clouds”  ~ Rājānaka Abhinavagupta (trans. Prof. Alexis Sanderson)

Parāparā
gold plated bronze
variable dimensions

”…playful like a streak of lightning in a sky dense with monsoon clouds”
~ Rājānaka Abhinavagupta (trans. Prof. Alexis Sanderson)

  Aparā  gold plated bronze variable dimensions   “Like blazing fire, garlanded with skulls, with three glowing eyes, carrying the Kapalika’s trident-topped skull staff (khatvangah), seated on a corspe, with a tongue that flashes like lightening, huge bodied, adorned with serpents, gaping-mouthed, revealing great fangs, staring ferociously with puckered eyebrows, decked with a garland of corspes, ears adorned with severed human hands, thundering like the clouds of the final cataclysm, seeming to swallow the sky.”  ~ Rājānaka Abhinavagupta (trans. Prof. Alexis Sanderson)

Aparā
gold plated bronze
variable dimensions

“Like blazing fire, garlanded with skulls, with three glowing eyes, carrying the Kapalika’s trident-topped skull staff (khatvangah), seated on a corspe, with a tongue that flashes like lightening, huge bodied, adorned with serpents, gaping-mouthed, revealing great fangs, staring ferociously with puckered eyebrows, decked with a garland of corspes, ears adorned with severed human hands, thundering like the clouds of the final cataclysm, seeming to swallow the sky.”
~ Rājānaka Abhinavagupta (trans. Prof. Alexis Sanderson)

  Aparā  (close-up) gold plated bronze variable dimensions

Aparā (close-up)
gold plated bronze
variable dimensions

  Parāparā  (close-up) gold plated bronze variable dimensions

Parāparā (close-up)
gold plated bronze
variable dimensions

  Parā  (close-up)   gold plated bronze variable dimensions

Parā (close-up)
gold plated bronze
variable dimensions

  Matsyendranath  gold plated bronze variable dimensions     Despite the tantamount significance of Matsyendranath in the history of Yoga, surprisingly few sculptures of him still exist and little is commonly known about him in contemporary yoga communities. Matsyendranath is the Adi- guru  (Source teacher) of Śaiva Tantra, said to have been taught the secrets of Yoga from Lord Śiva himself. Rājānaka Abhinavagupta, the ancient eminent scholar/yogin of Kashmir, in his most significant written work the  Tantrāloka , honours Matsyendranath as ‘The Father of Yoga’. Matsyendranath is mentioned by the author of the Haṭha Yoga Pradīpikā, Yogi Swātmarama, as one of the Great Siddhas, who destroyed the hold of the time through the power of Haṭha Yoga, and became able to traverse the Universe at will. In more recent times, Kriṣhṇamācārya, who taught and spread the form of yoga in the west commonly referred to as “modern postural yoga” claimed to have received direct transmission of sacred knowledge from a disembodied siddha called Nātha-muni whose lineage traces back to Matsyendranath. Likewise, in Ganeshpuri India, locals claim that Matsyendranath took bodily form in visions to the contemporary siddha Bhagawan Nityananda and transmitted to him the techniques and teachings of Kriya Yoga.  Matsyendranath is estimated to have lived sometime between the 7th and 10th Century, in Assam. He is known by different names according to different scriptural sources: Matsyendranath, Matsyendranāth, Matsyendranātha, Matsyendra Nath, Matsyendra Nāth Matsyendra Natha, Matsyendra, Macchendra, Maccandanath, Maccandanātha, Macchindranāth, Machandar Nāth, Mīnapa, Mīna, Mīnapāda, Mīnanātha, Matsyangha, Māchlī Ghana, Macchaghnapāda, Macchendrapāda, Macchendapāda, Matsyendranāthapāda, Macchindranāthapāda – all names for one and the same.

Matsyendranath
gold plated bronze
variable dimensions


Despite the tantamount significance of Matsyendranath in the history of Yoga, surprisingly few sculptures of him still exist and little is commonly known about him in contemporary yoga communities. Matsyendranath is the Adi-guru (Source teacher) of Śaiva Tantra, said to have been taught the secrets of Yoga from Lord Śiva himself. Rājānaka Abhinavagupta, the ancient eminent scholar/yogin of Kashmir, in his most significant written work the Tantrāloka, honours Matsyendranath as ‘The Father of Yoga’. Matsyendranath is mentioned by the author of the Haṭha Yoga Pradīpikā, Yogi Swātmarama, as one of the Great Siddhas, who destroyed the hold of the time through the power of Haṭha Yoga, and became able to traverse the Universe at will. In more recent times, Kriṣhṇamācārya, who taught and spread the form of yoga in the west commonly referred to as “modern postural yoga” claimed to have received direct transmission of sacred knowledge from a disembodied siddha called Nātha-muni whose lineage traces back to Matsyendranath. Likewise, in Ganeshpuri India, locals claim that Matsyendranath took bodily form in visions to the contemporary siddha Bhagawan Nityananda and transmitted to him the techniques and teachings of Kriya Yoga.

Matsyendranath is estimated to have lived sometime between the 7th and 10th Century, in Assam. He is known by different names according to different scriptural sources: Matsyendranath, Matsyendranāth, Matsyendranātha, Matsyendra Nath, Matsyendra Nāth Matsyendra Natha, Matsyendra, Macchendra, Maccandanath, Maccandanātha, Macchindranāth, Machandar Nāth, Mīnapa, Mīna, Mīnapāda, Mīnanātha, Matsyangha, Māchlī Ghana, Macchaghnapāda, Macchendrapāda, Macchendapāda, Matsyendranāthapāda, Macchindranāthapāda – all names for one and the same.

  Matsyendranath  gold plated bronze variable dimensions   One of the oldest written records of the life story of Matseyndranath is found in the Ancient text called the Caturaśīti-siddha-pravṛitti (The Life Stories of the Eighty Four Siddhas) by Abhaya Datta. The text below is the English translation from Hindi made by Yoga Nath.   Guru Matseyndranath was born in the Eastern India and was a fisherman by caste. His Guru was Mahadeva (Śiva), who blessed him with mundane siddhis (powers). At some distance from Kamarupa (modern Assam), there was an ocean, Ita by name (modern Bengal Bay). Fishermen who lived there, were catching the fish from the ocean daily, and selling it at the local market. One day, one of the fishermen fitted a hook into the net made of cotton, fixed a peace of meat on it and cast the net into the ocean. A very huge fish entered it. When the fisherman tried to draw it out of the ocean, he was not able to; instead the fish dragged him deep into water, until he finally sunk down. Then the fish swallowed him, but miraculously he, protected by his (good) karma, didn’t die. About the same time, Uma Devī asked from Mahadeva (Śiva) to narrate her lessons of Dharma, to which he answered that his teaching was very secret, and not for just anybody, ‘You make a house deep into the ocean (where nobody will listen us), then I will initiate you there,’ he told her. Uma Devī did this, and after they both reached there, Śiva started narrating his lesson. While he was speaking, the fish (the same fish that swallowed the fisherman) swam by and and stopped right beneath the underwater ocean house that Uma and Śiva were sitting in. Śiva had not finished his lesson yet, but Uma became overpowered by sleep. Śiva continued narrating and from time to time he was asking her, “Do you understand what I am saying?’ And it was the fisherman, who while listening (from the stomach of the fish), was answering, ‘Yes, I understand.’  When Mahadeva completed his lessons of Dharma, Uma Devī awakened from her sleep, and started to say, “Now you please continue.”Mahadeva answered, “I finished the lesson, what else do you want to know?”To which Uma confessed, “I was listening up until some moment, but then I fell asleep...”Puzzled Mahadeva has asked her, “Then who was saying, ‘Yes I understood?’ ”. Uma answered, ‘it was not me!’  When Mahadeva then applied his yogic vision, he saw that a man who was inside the stomach of the fish under the house they were sitting in had listened to all whole Teaching, from beginning till end. He thought, ‘Now he has become my disciple. But he will have to wait, till his time has come.’ So he initiated the fisherman, and ordered him to practice the sadhana he taught him while remaining inside the fish, and he declared him as his disciple. For twelve long years the fisherman practiced his sadhana, sitting inside the fish.      One day at the place called Shree Tapri, other fishermen caught that big fish and dragged it out of the water. Seeing its unusual heaviness, they thought that it might have in its stomach some gold or silver. They took it out of the water, cut open her belly, and saw a man sitting there. Totally shocked by this, the fisherman asked him, ‘Who you are?’ And was answered, ‘I was a fisherman like you. At the time of the ruling of the King Amuk, this fish dragged me into the ocean and swallowed me afterwards.’When people gathered to see him and calculated the time that had elapsed since that moment they found that twelve years had passed by. Everyone was greatly astonished to see this wonderful event. Since that moment, he became famous and known as Matsyendranath.The people started to praise him, and he immediately started dancing. As he danced, his feet entered deep into the earth, as if it was wet. When he continued his dance on a big stone, his feet entered deep into it, as if it was wet and soft mud. All around people were amazed to see this miracle. On seeing their astonishment, Matsyendranath sang:  ‘Because of previously accumulated good karma And as the power of chanting the Sacred Mantra I have got these wonderful qualities, Hey ho, my Mind Jewel!'  He then spent five hundred years performing various deeds to uplift humanity. Minapa, Vajrapada and Achintapa (Achintya), these are three names under which he became famous in different places. At first he got mundane Siddhis (supernatural powers), but later he entered the True Path and became dissolved into the Eternal Void.

Matsyendranath
gold plated bronze
variable dimensions


One of the oldest written records of the life story of Matseyndranath is found in the Ancient text called the Caturaśīti-siddha-pravṛitti (The Life Stories of the Eighty Four Siddhas) by Abhaya Datta. The text below is the English translation from Hindi made by Yoga Nath.

Guru Matseyndranath was born in the Eastern India and was a fisherman by caste. His Guru was Mahadeva (Śiva), who blessed him with mundane siddhis (powers). At some distance from Kamarupa (modern Assam), there was an ocean, Ita by name (modern Bengal Bay). Fishermen who lived there, were catching the fish from the ocean daily, and selling it at the local market. One day, one of the fishermen fitted a hook into the net made of cotton, fixed a peace of meat on it and cast the net into the ocean. A very huge fish entered it. When the fisherman tried to draw it out of the ocean, he was not able to; instead the fish dragged him deep into water, until he finally sunk down. Then the fish swallowed him, but miraculously he, protected by his (good) karma, didn’t die. About the same time, Uma Devī asked from Mahadeva (Śiva) to narrate her lessons of Dharma, to which he answered that his teaching was very secret, and not for just anybody, ‘You make a house deep into the ocean (where nobody will listen us), then I will initiate you there,’ he told her. Uma Devī did this, and after they both reached there, Śiva started narrating his lesson. While he was speaking, the fish (the same fish that swallowed the fisherman) swam by and and stopped right beneath the underwater ocean house that Uma and Śiva were sitting in. Śiva had not finished his lesson yet, but Uma became overpowered by sleep. Śiva continued narrating and from time to time he was asking her, “Do you understand what I am saying?’ And it was the fisherman, who while listening (from the stomach of the fish), was answering, ‘Yes, I understand.’

When Mahadeva completed his lessons of Dharma, Uma Devī awakened from her sleep, and started to say, “Now you please continue.”Mahadeva answered, “I finished the lesson, what else do you want to know?”To which Uma confessed, “I was listening up until some moment, but then I fell asleep...”Puzzled Mahadeva has asked her, “Then who was saying, ‘Yes I understood?’ ”. Uma answered, ‘it was not me!’

When Mahadeva then applied his yogic vision, he saw that a man who was inside the stomach of the fish under the house they were sitting in had listened to all whole Teaching, from beginning till end. He thought, ‘Now he has become my disciple. But he will have to wait, till his time has come.’ So he initiated the fisherman, and ordered him to practice the sadhana he taught him while remaining inside the fish, and he declared him as his disciple. For twelve long years the fisherman practiced his sadhana, sitting inside the fish.

One day at the place called Shree Tapri, other fishermen caught that big fish and dragged it out of the water. Seeing its unusual heaviness, they thought that it might have in its stomach some gold or silver. They took it out of the water, cut open her belly, and saw a man sitting there. Totally shocked by this, the fisherman asked him, ‘Who you are?’ And was answered, ‘I was a fisherman like you. At the time of the ruling of the King Amuk, this fish dragged me into the ocean and swallowed me afterwards.’When people gathered to see him and calculated the time that had elapsed since that moment they found that twelve years had passed by. Everyone was greatly astonished to see this wonderful event. Since that moment, he became famous and known as Matsyendranath.The people started to praise him, and he immediately started dancing. As he danced, his feet entered deep into the earth, as if it was wet. When he continued his dance on a big stone, his feet entered deep into it, as if it was wet and soft mud. All around people were amazed to see this miracle. On seeing their astonishment, Matsyendranath sang:

‘Because of previously accumulated good karma
And as the power of chanting the Sacred Mantra
I have got these wonderful qualities, Hey ho, my Mind Jewel!'

He then spent five hundred years performing various deeds to uplift humanity. Minapa, Vajrapada and Achintapa (Achintya), these are three names under which he became famous in different places. At first he got mundane Siddhis (supernatural powers), but later he entered the True Path and became dissolved into the Eternal Void.

  Matsyendranath  gold plated bronze variable dimensions   What can we learn from the story of Matsyendranath? There have are several versions and interpretations of the myth of Matsyendranath. Matsyendranath is unique among all the siddhas, as he is the only one who did not receive initiation from a guru, but rather from Śiva himself. He was involuntarily engulfed by the fish. The fish is universally symbolic of the spiritual life. Equivalents exist in various different faiths. Spiritual practice is a fluid, uncertain and indeterminate realm, and initiation into the practice of yoga is the necessary container for us to dive to the depths of our oceanic being. Matsyendranath was immersed in the belly of the “fish” for 12 years. This gives us an idea of how long he performed his sadhanā, before touching earth once again and teaching disciples. The story of Matsyendranath is a beautiful illustration of what is humanly possible if one is left in peace for an extended period of time and if initiated into practice of yoga and meditation. This potential is not the exclusive domain of the siddhas. Anyone and Everyone can reach this extraordinary progress on the Path. Such a condition - to have the grace to come into contact with authentic teachings, and the clarity and quietness to put then into practice, is rare today but not impossible. To make yogic practice successful it must be given through initiation, and it must be a continuous practice, uninterrupted for an extended period of time.Only then can one turn within, redirect one's sight from the outside world towards inner reality, first becoming aware of its existence, then becoming established there permanently, then moving from that state into the world and serving others.  Another interpretation of the myth of the Matsyendranath, which David Gordon White puts forward in his book  The Alchemical Body , is that the story is actually an esoteric teaching of Haṭha Yoga and subtle body anatomy. The swallowing into the belly of the fish, he explains, is at once a macrocosmic map of the subtle body, as well as an explanation of specific yogic practice whereby the downward flow of  pranā is reversed and moves up the central channel.

Matsyendranath
gold plated bronze
variable dimensions


What can we learn from the story of Matsyendranath? There have are several versions and interpretations of the myth of Matsyendranath. Matsyendranath is unique among all the siddhas, as he is the only one who did not receive initiation from a guru, but rather from Śiva himself. He was involuntarily engulfed by the fish. The fish is universally symbolic of the spiritual life. Equivalents exist in various different faiths. Spiritual practice is a fluid, uncertain and indeterminate realm, and initiation into the practice of yoga is the necessary container for us to dive to the depths of our oceanic being. Matsyendranath was immersed in the belly of the “fish” for 12 years. This gives us an idea of how long he performed his sadhanā, before touching earth once again and teaching disciples. The story of Matsyendranath is a beautiful illustration of what is humanly possible if one is left in peace for an extended period of time and if initiated into practice of yoga and meditation. This potential is not the exclusive domain of the siddhas. Anyone and Everyone can reach this extraordinary progress on the Path. Such a condition - to have the grace to come into contact with authentic teachings, and the clarity and quietness to put then into practice, is rare today but not impossible. To make yogic practice successful it must be given through initiation, and it must be a continuous practice, uninterrupted for an extended period of time.Only then can one turn within, redirect one's sight from the outside world towards inner reality, first becoming aware of its existence, then becoming established there permanently, then moving from that state into the world and serving others.

Another interpretation of the myth of the Matsyendranath, which David Gordon White puts forward in his book The Alchemical Body, is that the story is actually an esoteric teaching of Haṭha Yoga and subtle body anatomy. The swallowing into the belly of the fish, he explains, is at once a macrocosmic map of the subtle body, as well as an explanation of specific yogic practice whereby the downward flow of pranāis reversed and moves up the central channel.

  Matsyendranath  gold plated bronze variable dimensions    “May mighty Sage Macchanda, originating founder of the Kaula dispensation, be gracious and kindly disposed to me! He who, in every outward direction, operates and sets in motion by means of the differentiating energies, the reticulated magical net, red with passion, formed of an alternating pattern of knots and empty spaces, and which appears as the vast canopy of extended cords.”  ~ Abhinavgupta (trans. Paul Muller-Ortega)

Matsyendranath
gold plated bronze
variable dimensions


“May mighty Sage Macchanda, originating founder of the Kaula dispensation, be gracious and kindly disposed to me! He who, in every outward direction, operates and sets in motion by means of the differentiating energies, the reticulated magical net, red with passion, formed of an alternating pattern of knots and empty spaces, and which appears as the vast canopy of extended cords.”
~ Abhinavgupta (trans. Paul Muller-Ortega)

  Matsyendranath  gold plated bronze variable dimensions   In the research for this work I studied many representations of the Mahāsiddhas, to get a sense of how they are traditionally portrayed. There were no existing sculptures of Matsyendranath, so a degree of improvisation and puzzling together was required. I have tried to portray the ecstatic dance that is so characteristic of Mahāsiddha representations throughout history. It is way of showing the fruition of their practice, their liberation, their innate unity with the very force of life itself, and their state of freedom which is beyond the limitation of sectarian religion, caste, sex, and social codes, beyond even the mind’s ability to comprehend their state. The Mahāsiddhas are completely free.  It is said Matsyendranth was born in Assam, so I researched the facial features of males from that region to arrive at a likeness that at once approximates what he could have looked like, while at the same aligns with the style and iconographic tropes of the traditional Mahāsiddha imagery. I have decorated Matsyendranath with all hallmarks of a Śaivite Yogi. He has dreadlocks and he wears the  rudrakśa  beads around his neck and at the junction points of the  nāḍī s on his body. He wears the thick earrings that are characteristic of the Nāth lineage. These earrings are ritually given to the disciple by the  guru  in the final stage of initiation. They are worn in the middle of the cochlea through a deep cut. It is said that splitting the ear in this way opens a specific  nāḍī  that assists in yogic attainment. The round earring is the symbol of closed space in a form. It also is the union of the Sun and the Moon energy. The Aipanthis of Haridwar say that Matsyendranath, when he began to learn yoga, saw that Śiva had his ears split and that he wore great rings. He longed to have similar ones himself. So pleased was Śiva with Matsyendranath’s worship of Him that his desire was granted, and Matsyendranath was then ordered to split the ears of all who became his disciples.  In this sculpture Matsyendranath also has the  tripundra on his head and arms.  Tri  means three, and  pundra  means one who is released. It is a mark of holy ash from the sacred fire, traced along the forehead. This is Śiva’s threefold power - will ( icchāśakti ), knowledge ( jñanaśakti) , and action ( kriyaśakti ). To those who apply it, it is a reminder of the spiritual aims in life, the truth that the body and material things shall someday become ash, and that liberation in this life is a worthy goal.

Matsyendranath
gold plated bronze
variable dimensions


In the research for this work I studied many representations of the Mahāsiddhas, to get a sense of how they are traditionally portrayed. There were no existing sculptures of Matsyendranath, so a degree of improvisation and puzzling together was required. I have tried to portray the ecstatic dance that is so characteristic of Mahāsiddha representations throughout history. It is way of showing the fruition of their practice, their liberation, their innate unity with the very force of life itself, and their state of freedom which is beyond the limitation of sectarian religion, caste, sex, and social codes, beyond even the mind’s ability to comprehend their state. The Mahāsiddhas are completely free.

It is said Matsyendranth was born in Assam, so I researched the facial features of males from that region to arrive at a likeness that at once approximates what he could have looked like, while at the same aligns with the style and iconographic tropes of the traditional Mahāsiddha imagery. I have decorated Matsyendranath with all hallmarks of a Śaivite Yogi. He has dreadlocks and he wears the rudrakśa beads around his neck and at the junction points of the nāḍīs on his body. He wears the thick earrings that are characteristic of the Nāth lineage. These earrings are ritually given to the disciple by the guru in the final stage of initiation. They are worn in the middle of the cochlea through a deep cut. It is said that splitting the ear in this way opens a specific nāḍī that assists in yogic attainment. The round earring is the symbol of closed space in a form. It also is the union of the Sun and the Moon energy. The Aipanthis of Haridwar say that Matsyendranath, when he began to learn yoga, saw that Śiva had his ears split and that he wore great rings. He longed to have similar ones himself. So pleased was Śiva with Matsyendranath’s worship of Him that his desire was granted, and Matsyendranath was then ordered to split the ears of all who became his disciples.

In this sculpture Matsyendranath also has the tripundraon his head and arms. Tri means three, and pundra means one who is released. It is a mark of holy ash from the sacred fire, traced along the forehead. This is Śiva’s threefold power - will (icchāśakti), knowledge (jñanaśakti), and action (kriyaśakti). To those who apply it, it is a reminder of the spiritual aims in life, the truth that the body and material things shall someday become ash, and that liberation in this life is a worthy goal.

  Anuttara Śiva  gold 1 x 2 x 2.5 cm

Anuttara Śiva
gold
1 x 2 x 2.5 cm

  Anuttara Śiva  gold 1 x 2 x 2.5 cm

Anuttara Śiva
gold
1 x 2 x 2.5 cm

  Anuttara  could be translated as “without superior” or “beyond the beyond”. The non-dual Kashmir Śaiva tradition holds that the  Anuttara , or Ultimate reality, cannot be accurately expressed by the finite concepts of thought and language. We cannot depict that which cannot be conceived of. Vajrayāna Buddhists, in their appropriation of Śaivism represent  Anuttara  as "Samantabhadra", but they conceive of him as male with a female Samantabhadri. This is rather different from what Śaivists were seeking in their "ultimate" understanding of Anuttara Śiva. Paul Muller-Ortega in translating Abhinavgupta explains that Anuttara Śiva is pure consciousness - the absolute, the incomparable, the highest; where there can neither be a question by the disciple nor an answer by the teacher; where there is no need for crossing to the other shore in order to attain liberation. So the  Anuttara  state is liberation free of methodology. I have attempted here to give form to that which is ultimately is formless. The figure therefore is barely a figure, it is as minimal as possible, and it is without qualities – no gender, no personality, no motive, no facial expression, no action, no gesture. Even his gaze can barely be met. In the two dimensional image I made of the three dimensional sculpture, Anuttara Śiva is quasi-discernable, uniformly cobalt blue, One with its background. The blue backgound blends with the figure because the universe is impartial, it supports everybody, nourishes everybody. A (अ), the first letter of the Sanskrit language, is Anuttara Śiva, the absolute, the primal source of all existence. It also symbolizes the ground from which the initial emergence of all the other letters takes place; the potential development of the Word, of which our world is composed. It is through the practice of meditation that one enters into and abides as  Anuttara , the Ultimate, the absolute Heart.

Anuttara could be translated as “without superior” or “beyond the beyond”. The non-dual Kashmir Śaiva tradition holds that the Anuttara, or Ultimate reality, cannot be accurately expressed by the finite concepts of thought and language. We cannot depict that which cannot be conceived of. Vajrayāna Buddhists, in their appropriation of Śaivism represent Anuttara as "Samantabhadra", but they conceive of him as male with a female Samantabhadri. This is rather different from what Śaivists were seeking in their "ultimate" understanding of Anuttara Śiva. Paul Muller-Ortega in translating Abhinavgupta explains that Anuttara Śiva is pure consciousness - the absolute, the incomparable, the highest; where there can neither be a question by the disciple nor an answer by the teacher; where there is no need for crossing to the other shore in order to attain liberation. So the Anuttara state is liberation free of methodology. I have attempted here to give form to that which is ultimately is formless. The figure therefore is barely a figure, it is as minimal as possible, and it is without qualities – no gender, no personality, no motive, no facial expression, no action, no gesture. Even his gaze can barely be met. In the two dimensional image I made of the three dimensional sculpture, Anuttara Śiva is quasi-discernable, uniformly cobalt blue, One with its background. The blue backgound blends with the figure because the universe is impartial, it supports everybody, nourishes everybody. A (अ), the first letter of the Sanskrit language, is Anuttara Śiva, the absolute, the primal source of all existence. It also symbolizes the ground from which the initial emergence of all the other letters takes place; the potential development of the Word, of which our world is composed. It is through the practice of meditation that one enters into and abides as Anuttara, the Ultimate, the absolute Heart.

  Between Heaven and Earth  天地之间 steel 9 x 10 x 8 m  The beliefs of ancient Chinese held that China was the ‘middle kingdom’ between heaven and earth, and located at the center of this intermediary realm was Dengfeng. Because of its unique cosmological significance, Dengfeng became the place where China’s early dynasties established their capitals and one of the first cradles for Chinese civilization. Ancient Chinese astronomers, astrologers, as well as Confucian, Taoist and Buddhist practitioners and sages, all visited Dengfeng to worship at its holy mountain. When I was approached to create a sculpture for this site, I was inspired when I discovered that the Indian Tantrik Yoga master Bodhidharma lived, practiced, and taught not far from there. Bodhi Dharma is said to have transmitted Zen to China, and trained the warriors who later became the Kung Fu adepts known as the Shaolin Monks. I called on the guidance of Bodhi Dharma for this project.

Between Heaven and Earth
天地之间
steel
9 x 10 x 8 m

The beliefs of ancient Chinese held that China was the ‘middle kingdom’ between heaven and earth, and located at the center of this intermediary realm was Dengfeng. Because of its unique cosmological significance, Dengfeng became the place where China’s early dynasties established their capitals and one of the first cradles for Chinese civilization. Ancient Chinese astronomers, astrologers, as well as Confucian, Taoist and Buddhist practitioners and sages, all visited Dengfeng to worship at its holy mountain. When I was approached to create a sculpture for this site, I was inspired when I discovered that the Indian Tantrik Yoga master Bodhidharma lived, practiced, and taught not far from there. Bodhi Dharma is said to have transmitted Zen to China, and trained the warriors who later became the Kung Fu adepts known as the Shaolin Monks. I called on the guidance of Bodhi Dharma for this project.

  Between Heaven and Earth  天地之间 steel 9 x 10 x 8 m  The title of the sculpture,  Between Heaven and Earth , refers to the significance of this region as the "Centre of Heaven and Earth", and describes the liminal space where the dynamic process of our temporal human existence is occurring.

Between Heaven and Earth
天地之间
steel
9 x 10 x 8 m

The title of the sculpture, Between Heaven and Earth, refers to the significance of this region as the "Centre of Heaven and Earth", and describes the liminal space where the dynamic process of our temporal human existence is occurring.

  Between Heaven and Earth  天地之间 steel 9 x 10 x 8 m  Flowing fabric has been important iconographic element of both the western and eastern traditions of sculpture. In the west during the baroque period, the flowing fabric adorned religious icons as a way of emphasising the theatrical nature of the subject. It was also a way that artists displayed their virtuosity. In the East, icons of the Buddhist and Hindu pantheon wear fluttering scarfs and flowing garments, because the deity is emitting prana (or Chi or life force). The implied movement is the effulgence of the deity, who is generously conveying their inner aliveness to you. In both traditions flowing fabric has a weightless quality, as if unaffected by gravity, suggesting these beings are beyond our worldly conception of space and time. The process of creating  Between Heaven and Earth  involved a formal distillation of this element of the eastern and western traditions of sacred sculpture into a secular expression of the all-pervasive energy that animates and unifies life.

Between Heaven and Earth
天地之间
steel
9 x 10 x 8 m

Flowing fabric has been important iconographic element of both the western and eastern traditions of sculpture. In the west during the baroque period, the flowing fabric adorned religious icons as a way of emphasising the theatrical nature of the subject. It was also a way that artists displayed their virtuosity. In the East, icons of the Buddhist and Hindu pantheon wear fluttering scarfs and flowing garments, because the deity is emitting prana (or Chi or life force). The implied movement is the effulgence of the deity, who is generously conveying their inner aliveness to you. In both traditions flowing fabric has a weightless quality, as if unaffected by gravity, suggesting these beings are beyond our worldly conception of space and time. The process of creating Between Heaven and Earth involved a formal distillation of this element of the eastern and western traditions of sacred sculpture into a secular expression of the all-pervasive energy that animates and unifies life.

  Between Heaven and Earth  天地之间 steel 9 x 10 x 8 m  Sculpture is inherently static. While there is a quality of dynamism to this form, there is also stillness. You see this quality of "dynamic stillness" when you watch an adept at Kungfu. There is movement and flow, but also poise and inner stillness. At the core of being is not an inert void but rather a still silent aliveness that is dynamic - a silence from which activity spontaneously emerges. The result of realising this truth in everyday life is having the countenance to get out of the way or to take a step at the right time, to be in the flow of events as they proceed without contrivance. It may sound like a capacity that one possesses, but this quality that we see in others and that we experience ourselves is always a shared phenomena as we realize the vacuity that we are - it is the innate quality of reality itself.

Between Heaven and Earth
天地之间
steel
9 x 10 x 8 m

Sculpture is inherently static. While there is a quality of dynamism to this form, there is also stillness. You see this quality of "dynamic stillness" when you watch an adept at Kungfu. There is movement and flow, but also poise and inner stillness. At the core of being is not an inert void but rather a still silent aliveness that is dynamic - a silence from which activity spontaneously emerges. The result of realising this truth in everyday life is having the countenance to get out of the way or to take a step at the right time, to be in the flow of events as they proceed without contrivance. It may sound like a capacity that one possesses, but this quality that we see in others and that we experience ourselves is always a shared phenomena as we realize the vacuity that we are - it is the innate quality of reality itself.

  Between Heaven and Earth  天地之间 steel 9 x 10 x 8 m  In the tradition of Tantric meditation which Bodhidharma transmitted to China, one of the most important teachings is that yogic power (creative energy, Shakti) arises from inner peace, from the silent mediative mind. This is not power not born of restlessness, agression, or conflict which divides and destroys. It is an energy born of concentration, devotion, and compassion, which flows forth freely, of it's own accord. What it does destroy is negativity, ignorance, and hatred. It has a will of it's own and is not bound by or emergent from the individual will. "Between Heaven and Earth" intends to embody this power which unifies and spiritualises, and serve as a reference point for us to locate that experience within ourselves. Flowing/still, stormy/silent, potent/gentle, monumental/light - to unify these apparent contradictions, these dualities, in a singular sculptural form opens space to align with the deepest nature of our own human experience, that which is beyond opposites, the non-dual essence of reality.

Between Heaven and Earth
天地之间
steel
9 x 10 x 8 m

In the tradition of Tantric meditation which Bodhidharma transmitted to China, one of the most important teachings is that yogic power (creative energy, Shakti) arises from inner peace, from the silent mediative mind. This is not power not born of restlessness, agression, or conflict which divides and destroys. It is an energy born of concentration, devotion, and compassion, which flows forth freely, of it's own accord. What it does destroy is negativity, ignorance, and hatred. It has a will of it's own and is not bound by or emergent from the individual will. "Between Heaven and Earth" intends to embody this power which unifies and spiritualises, and serve as a reference point for us to locate that experience within ourselves. Flowing/still, stormy/silent, potent/gentle, monumental/light - to unify these apparent contradictions, these dualities, in a singular sculptural form opens space to align with the deepest nature of our own human experience, that which is beyond opposites, the non-dual essence of reality.

DSC03183.JPG
©Christian de Vietri 7.jpg
  Spanda  is a 9 story-high sculpture made of carbon fiber located in Perth, Western Australia. The intention was create an icon that would transform the cityscape and the identity of the city, in effect opening its “heart”. The imagined contour of a human auric energy field was a starting point for the sculpture’s design. The exponential repetition of this form creates the impression of an infinite vibration inwards and outwards and this pattern of self-similarity is intended to trigger the viewer's inner experience of “the whole being contained within all the parts”, the recognition of themselves as individual expressions of the universal, intimately interconnected, and one with their total environment. The sculpture is large, but not heavy, the gaps between each arch still allowing people to walk through and see the sculpture and the city from any angle. It was designed to have a strong sense of presence, without obscuring any building or vantage point, and to align with site so the curvature of the form contrasts with gridded square buildings behind it. The arch-like quality of the form is mysteriously functionless as it is neither an entrance nor an exit, but stands alone, declaring its own liminal space for the viewer to merge with. The title of the work is a Sanskrit word meaning “divine vibration”. This term is used to describe how consciousness moves in waves of contraction and expansion. The sculpture is intended to be both a formal embodiment of this ‘spanda’ principle, and a tool, or means, to experience it. To create the structure, carbon fibre manufacturing and design technologies from the aerospace industry were re-purposed by a team of expert fabricators and engineers, enabling a truly unique civil structure that could not have been delivered in traditional materials.  Spanda  is now the world's tallest free standing structure made of carbon fiber.

Spanda is a 9 story-high sculpture made of carbon fiber located in Perth, Western Australia. The intention was create an icon that would transform the cityscape and the identity of the city, in effect opening its “heart”. The imagined contour of a human auric energy field was a starting point for the sculpture’s design. The exponential repetition of this form creates the impression of an infinite vibration inwards and outwards and this pattern of self-similarity is intended to trigger the viewer's inner experience of “the whole being contained within all the parts”, the recognition of themselves as individual expressions of the universal, intimately interconnected, and one with their total environment. The sculpture is large, but not heavy, the gaps between each arch still allowing people to walk through and see the sculpture and the city from any angle. It was designed to have a strong sense of presence, without obscuring any building or vantage point, and to align with site so the curvature of the form contrasts with gridded square buildings behind it. The arch-like quality of the form is mysteriously functionless as it is neither an entrance nor an exit, but stands alone, declaring its own liminal space for the viewer to merge with. The title of the work is a Sanskrit word meaning “divine vibration”. This term is used to describe how consciousness moves in waves of contraction and expansion. The sculpture is intended to be both a formal embodiment of this ‘spanda’ principle, and a tool, or means, to experience it. To create the structure, carbon fibre manufacturing and design technologies from the aerospace industry were re-purposed by a team of expert fabricators and engineers, enabling a truly unique civil structure that could not have been delivered in traditional materials. Spanda is now the world's tallest free standing structure made of carbon fiber.

©Christian de Vietri 13.jpg
  Spanda  carbon fiber   30 x 16 x 1 m Perth, Australia   “The Joy of Awareness is attained through the expansion of The Center”   ~ Rajanaka Kṣemarāja

Spanda
carbon fiber
30 x 16 x 1 m
Perth, Australia


“The Joy of Awareness is attained through the expansion of The Center”
~ Rajanaka Kṣemarāja

©Christian de Vietri 3.jpg
  Ascalon  collaboration with Marcus Canning 2011 e-glass, steel, light 18 x 11 x 9 m   The sculpture was commissioned by Saint George’s Cathedral in Australia, inspired by the myth of Saint George, and named after the lance with which he slayed the Dragon.  The European dragon has very specific connotations, quite distinct from it's significance in other spiritual traditions, for example in the East where the dragon is symbolic of auspicious power. The European dragon guards things in its cave. What he guards are heaps of gold, and virgins. He can't make use of either of them, but he just guards them. There is no vitality of experience, either of the value of the gold, or of the female who he is guarding there. Psychologically, spiritually, the dragon is one's own binding of oneself to one's ego - you are captured in your own dragon cave. The role of spiritual practice of any tradition is to free you of this bind - by slaying the dragon we free ourselves of calcified conditioning, of behaviours that limit us, of illusions that confuse us, and we open ourselves to the wider field of life experience, to the reality of our who we truly are, we dance with life, we become one with the creative force of life itself - this is result of slaying the dragon.

Ascalon
collaboration with Marcus Canning
2011
e-glass, steel, light
18 x 11 x 9 m

The sculpture was commissioned by Saint George’s Cathedral in Australia, inspired by the myth of Saint George, and named after the lance with which he slayed the Dragon.

The European dragon has very specific connotations, quite distinct from it's significance in other spiritual traditions, for example in the East where the dragon is symbolic of auspicious power. The European dragon guards things in its cave. What he guards are heaps of gold, and virgins. He can't make use of either of them, but he just guards them. There is no vitality of experience, either of the value of the gold, or of the female who he is guarding there. Psychologically, spiritually, the dragon is one's own binding of oneself to one's ego - you are captured in your own dragon cave. The role of spiritual practice of any tradition is to free you of this bind - by slaying the dragon we free ourselves of calcified conditioning, of behaviours that limit us, of illusions that confuse us, and we open ourselves to the wider field of life experience, to the reality of our who we truly are, we dance with life, we become one with the creative force of life itself - this is result of slaying the dragon.

  Ascalon  collaboration with Marcus Canning 2011 e-glass, steel, light 18 x 11 x 9 m  Saint George is a figure of monumental cultural significance across history and cultures, and is somewhat unique in his cross-cultural and cross-denominational importance. He is the patron saint of a more diverse array of places and peoples than perhaps any other, and the only one that has a tradition of veneration by Christians alongside Muslims in the Holy Land. The universal veneration applied to him surpasses that of many Christian martyr Saints. His story, and the myth that surrounds him contain a true archetype. He embodies a universal theme, the struggle for good to overcome evil, and for light to prevail over darkness. This pertains to the particular and the personal, as to the progression of the collective enterprise of humanity across time.

Ascalon
collaboration with Marcus Canning
2011
e-glass, steel, light
18 x 11 x 9 m

Saint George is a figure of monumental cultural significance across history and cultures, and is somewhat unique in his cross-cultural and cross-denominational importance. He is the patron saint of a more diverse array of places and peoples than perhaps any other, and the only one that has a tradition of veneration by Christians alongside Muslims in the Holy Land. The universal veneration applied to him surpasses that of many Christian martyr Saints. His story, and the myth that surrounds him contain a true archetype. He embodies a universal theme, the struggle for good to overcome evil, and for light to prevail over darkness. This pertains to the particular and the personal, as to the progression of the collective enterprise of humanity across time.

  Ascalon  collaboration with Marcus Canning 2011 e-glass, steel, light 18 x 11 x 9 m

Ascalon
collaboration with Marcus Canning
2011
e-glass, steel, light
18 x 11 x 9 m

Ascalon20110415_6708G WEB.jpg
 The Blessing of Ascalon by The Very Reverend Dr. John Shepherd

The Blessing of Ascalon by The Very Reverend Dr. John Shepherd

  The Gathering  2009 aluminium 70" x 48" x 48" commissioned by the Public Art Fund New York  The Public Art Fund in New York commissioned this artwork for a public square in the center of the city. Wood was gathered from forest on the outskirts of New York City and “burn cast” in a single metal-pour. It is the first in a series of permanent public sculptures made by and about fire - about the process of burning and about re-evoking the activities and connectedness implied by the form of the bonfire. Since the dawn of time the fire have served as a nexus of human activity and interaction. It brought early humans out of literal and spiritual darkness, marking the very beginnings of civilization. It is still used today as a way of celebrating, cooking, sacrificing, socializing, and story telling. The sculpture is intended to evoke such a depth and breadth of references that it transcends signification. The process by which the sculpture came into being is an important part of the artwork itself.

The Gathering
2009
aluminium
70" x 48" x 48"
commissioned by the Public Art Fund New York

The Public Art Fund in New York commissioned this artwork for a public square in the center of the city. Wood was gathered from forest on the outskirts of New York City and “burn cast” in a single metal-pour. It is the first in a series of permanent public sculptures made by and about fire - about the process of burning and about re-evoking the activities and connectedness implied by the form of the bonfire. Since the dawn of time the fire have served as a nexus of human activity and interaction. It brought early humans out of literal and spiritual darkness, marking the very beginnings of civilization. It is still used today as a way of celebrating, cooking, sacrificing, socializing, and story telling. The sculpture is intended to evoke such a depth and breadth of references that it transcends signification. The process by which the sculpture came into being is an important part of the artwork itself.

  The Gathering  (detail) 2009 aluminium 70" x 48" x 48" commissioned by the Public Art Fund New York (close-up)  To experience the sculpture, while taking into consideration its materialization, is to enter an ontological paradox. It's like a sculptural zen Kōan, which disables or disarms the mind's ability to grasp it. It appears as an unlit campfire, but the process of creating the sculpture has burnt out the wood already. This is a monument constructed through the processes implied by its own formal arrangement...in other words, fire was used to create this representation of firewood before being burnt. The final form, the image/shape of the bonfire, acknowledges the processes of its own formation, but the material shift denies the potential of this process - its solidity and material re-composition denies any possibility of being destroyed. The sculpture is both a prologue and an epilogue about fire - with the essential active element of light as fire as alchemy having passed through the sculpture already.

The Gathering (detail)
2009
aluminium
70" x 48" x 48"
commissioned by the Public Art Fund New York
(close-up)

To experience the sculpture, while taking into consideration its materialization, is to enter an ontological paradox. It's like a sculptural zen Kōan, which disables or disarms the mind's ability to grasp it. It appears as an unlit campfire, but the process of creating the sculpture has burnt out the wood already. This is a monument constructed through the processes implied by its own formal arrangement...in other words, fire was used to create this representation of firewood before being burnt. The final form, the image/shape of the bonfire, acknowledges the processes of its own formation, but the material shift denies the potential of this process - its solidity and material re-composition denies any possibility of being destroyed. The sculpture is both a prologue and an epilogue about fire - with the essential active element of light as fire as alchemy having passed through the sculpture already.

JamesEwing_PAF_DoubleTake_32 WEB.jpg
  X (Cu)  burn-cast bronze 60 x 60 x 50cm collection of Axel Nordin     Agni  (Fire), the first word of the first sentence of the first verse of the first book of the Veda: अग्निमीळे पुरोहितं यज्ञस्य देवमृत्विजम् । होतारं रत्नधातमम् ॥१॥  “I praise the divine fire of consciousness, the priest as the offerer of the oblation, the supreme giver of treasure”  ~ Rig Veda 1.1.1 (trans. Paul Muller-Ortega)

X (Cu)
burn-cast bronze
60 x 60 x 50cm
collection of Axel Nordin



Agni (Fire), the first word of the first sentence of the first verse of the first book of the Veda:
अग्निमीळे पुरोहितं यज्ञस्य देवमृत्विजम् । होतारं रत्नधातमम् ॥१॥
“I praise the divine fire of consciousness, the priest as the offerer of the oblation, the supreme giver of treasure”
~ Rig Veda 1.1.1 (trans. Paul Muller-Ortega)

  X (Al)  aluminium 60 x 60 x 50cm commissioned by Socrates Sculpture Park, New York

X (Al)
aluminium
60 x 60 x 50cm
commissioned by Socrates Sculpture Park, New York