by
            PADMA KRISHNAMURTHY

    In introducing this presentation, a few words on the background from which it took shape, may be appropriate. In the year 1990, at the age of 61, I was felled by a stroke,
that left me wholly paralysed on my left side. The fact that I pulled through  and retrieved sufficient motor function through seven years of rehabilitative therapy, left me convinced that there  was some divine dispensation in this, and perhaps some unfinished work I had yet to complete.  The only activity that was really open to me, was to take to my paint brush again.  Perhaps, I thought,  it was here that my unfinished work  lay. My lifelong passion for painting, of course, provided the driving force. Thus  it was that I started and completed  a series of 30 paintings of flowers that have figured in  the Indian religious tradition. And I made them  my  humble offering to  the deities that seemed to have stalled my departure in 1990.  The paintings were displayed in an Exhibition in the Shrishti Gallery at Hotel Chola Sheraton, Chennai,  from the 4th. to the 9th. April, 1999, under  the thematic title "A Divine Thought - Flowers for Deities". My grateful offering was, not a garland of flowers, but a garland of paintings of flowers.

     "Flowers are the smile of the Divine", said the Mother of Pondicherry. At a time when I saw only colour and beauty in flowers, I owe it to her that she opened my eyes to their divinity. Flower, fruit and leaf offerings  have, since time immemorial,  had a central place in Hindu religious tradition and ritualistic procedure. Every God or Goddess has his or her favourite   and these flowers and leaves are often specially grown in tanks, gardens and orchards attached to temples, for use in every day worship. The texts of prayers and devotional hymns, the Stotras and Sahasranamas, in Sanskrit are replete with references to the names of these flowers as seen from the following examples :
    The 21 stanzas of Ekavimsati Pushpapuja { @kiv<zit   pu:ppUja ) lists 21 flowers and 21 leaves with which to worship Ganesa, and typically one of these stanzas  refers to the Wild Weed (Erukka)  thus :

$zg[ptye   nm>  AkRpu:p<   smpRyaim
    The Conch (Sangu), the Oleander (Arali), the Midnight Blossom (Parijatha)  and the Nagalinga figure among several Puja compilations as favourites of Siva. The Vilva of course, has a special place as seen in the following sloka from the Vilvashtakam :
 
iÇdl<   iÇgu[akar<   iÇneÇ   iÇyayu;m!     ,
 iÇjNm   paps<har<   @kivLv<   izvapR[m!   .
    So too, the Lotus and  the Tulasi (appropriately if significantly, the Latin botanical name of Tulasi  is Ocimum Sanctum) are prominent among the favourites of Vishnu, as typified by the following sloka from the Tulasi-Ashtakam :
tulSya>   pLlv<   iv:[ae>   izrSyaraeipt<   klaE ,
Aaraepyit   svaRi[   ïeya<is   vrmStke         .
    The Goddess pantheon, Lakshmi, Saraswati and Parvati, share a thousand names in the Lalita Sahasranama, and many of these names reflect their flower favourites :
kdMbkannavasakdMbkůsumiàya, kad<brIiàya ,ca<peykůsumiàya, paqlIkůsumiàya, pÒiàya The Phalasruti, which is the end sequence in a formal  recitation of the Lalita Sahasranama has the following beautiful summing up :
  pÒEvaR   tulsIpu:pE>   kl!harEvaR   kd<bkE>
c<pkEjaRit   kůsumEmRiLlka   krvIrkE>
  %TplEibRLv   pÇEvaR   kůNdkesr   paqlE>
           ANyE>   sugiNxkůsumE>   ketkI   maxvImuoE>   .
     The 30 paintings referred to above represent  perhaps a novel example of  Bhakti as a vehicle for artistic creativity in the area of  painting. Nine of these paintings are reproduced below :

 
The Weed flower (Erukka) for     The Midnight Blossom (Parijatha)
                  GANESA                        (blown up to tree size} for SIVA

 
    The Conch (Sangu) for                      The Nagalinga for
           SIVA                                                           SIVA

  
       A bed of Lotuses for                           The Hibiscus for
                  Vishnu                                                  Devi
 
           Neem leaves for                A garland of betel leaves for
                Bhagavati                                     Hanuman

 
                                                            Oleander (Arali) for
                                                                         SIVA

 
 
 

BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCH OF THE ARTIST

Name                   : Mrs. Padma Krishnamurthy
Date of Birth       : 01-05-1929
Education            : B.A.(Economics), Queen Mary's College, Chennai.
Occupation          : Housewife,  Amateur Painter & Arts Teacher
Arts Training      : Under Sushil Kumar Mukherjee
Awards :
   1948, 49, 50     - Award for Water Colour works - All India Congress Exhibition
Solo Exhibitions  :
   1958, 1968       - Coimbatore
   1960, 1971       - Lawley Institute, Uthagamandalam
   1964                 - Max Mueller Bhavan, Chennai
   1968                 - Artist's Centre, Mumbai
   1967 to 72        - Wellington Gymkhana, Coonoor.
   1970                 - Bangalore
   1972                 - British Council, Chennai
   1978, 1983       - Lalit Kala Academy, N.Delhi
   1978, 79, 80     - Participated in National Exhibition.
   1990                 - Vimonisha Gallery, Chennai
 
Commissions      : By Eastern Command a series on the Pakistan/Bangla Desh War

Quotes from Critics
   1968 : N.S.BENDRE :
              Her work can compare with Rabindranath Tagore in that, each piece tells a
              tale and there is a happy fusion of powerful drawings and ideas. She is a
              strong  colourist
  1977 : J.SWAMINATHAN :
             Her work is honest and in many paintings the approach to Nature takes on the
             mantle of artistic vision. I am moved by the simplicity of approach
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