Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Bet you didn't know the palate has a chakra

     Yoga: The Art of Transformation, at the Arthur M. Sackler Gallery in Washington, DC, is the world’s first assemblage of yogic art ever and something anyone within striking distance should see. Practicing yoga (I admit to occasional yogic recidivism) or even caring about it isn’t a necessity, since this is a rare cultural experience and a glimpse into the origins of Indian religions that have had a profound impact on the western world.
      Something for everyone here: ancient sculpture and painting, myth and reality, including Thomas Edison’s 1906 movie, the first ever made about India, Hindoo Fakir. Even determined enophiles will be interested in the painting of the “subtle” Shunya, as opposed to the quite frightening “cosmic” one, which shows the location of the sixth chakra, associated with the palate (the blue spot on the chin in the photo).
      The early renditions of evolving Hindu gods and goddesses with their girdles of skulls reminded me not of downward dog or overripe cabernet sauvignon but of a difficult, fascinating trip I once took to India and Nepal on assignment for a magazine interested in the spread of AIDS. The investigation took me to, among other places, the charnel grounds outside Katmandu where bodies were burned.
     I’ll run the piece in two parts, starting Friday.

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