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Padasparsam kshamasva me

An article about a painting. A painting about a Pandemic

15 Oct '23
6 min read

The Covid 19 Pandemic along with the lockdown has enabled us to see the world in new and different ways. My painting was shortlisted in the international contest “United against Corona through art” by ICCR in 2020. There have been many articles and paintings about the pandemic but even these are far from enough to express the devastating effect that the pandemic has had on our lives.

I have however tried to depict my experience in a positive manner as I believe the key take out from the whole experience should be positive, and also should be retained in our memories so that we can prevent the chances of such a pandemic or other disasters like this from occurring and opt for an alternative future.

A lot of us faced very unsettling contradictory experiences during the pandemic. The unimaginable trauma of losing loved ones, of people suffering and dying, the sheer horror of children getting orphaned, the impact on the mental health of many, the effect on our economy, the deadly message of man- made cities minus man, and many more. On the other hand, there were new routines set up with family, more time spent in peace and meditation, lower pollution levels, and the home again became the sanctuary it once used to be. The birds and animals regained their lost territories and rejoiced, in fact mother earth herself seemed to to be rejoicing while human beings were locked away and prevented from causing further destruction.

The sheer darkness the pandemic threw up in our lives was indescribable however there were tiny glimmers of light too that offered positive glimpses into a futuric versus futurisk world if we heeded the warning.

In my painting I have combined the East and the West, the traditional and the technological. In the top half of my painting, I have used a traditional composition based on Eminent artist S.H. Raza’s works with the virus replacing the “Bindu” which appeared often in his work. It has often been said it represents the cycle of life and death. The colours are similar to those used by the UN for their goals on Sustainable Development, as I feel that this is the most important message that the Covid pandemic has brought to us. Symbols are the way we communicate with the world around us. In the top half the composition is traditional and each strip instead of using conventional crosshatching artists use, I have used contemporary symbols like @, < >, http, etc. Almost every mm of the painting has cross hatching and stippling in the form of symbols and holds deep meaning for me.

The lower half of my painting depicts the Earth with earth colours and here again most of the symbols used for cross hatching are contemporary symbols we use today like airplane mode, home page, cloud, the internet, etc. However symbols of harmony, protection, peace etc. have been superimposed on the technical forms these are symbols like birds, peace, extinction, rain, light, trees, recycling, renewable energy, love etc much required today. 

These technological forms in the background have perhaps have moved forwards replacing the meanings of their origin in our minds. Again, this doesn’t mean that these contemporary symbols are bad, only that the original meanings should not be forgotten. These should be revived and technology put to other uses rather than just increasing profits.

The brown background in the lower half of my painting has been cross hatched with a weave, to imply not the internet highway but the web of life that is so important for all of us to recognize. 

“Man did not weave the web of life; he is merely a strand in it. Whatever he does to the web, he does to himself”, as Ted Perry says.

Development is required, but in a way that is not destructive to the world around us, with emphasis on points like gender equality, responsible consumption, taking care of life below water as well as above land. This balance is essential and has to be achieved. There is no other option. During the pandemic we all sat at home making do with essentials, it wasn’t easy but it wasn’t that difficult too. Sustainable Development and Responsible Consumerism are clearly the way forward.

Today there is an over emphasis on the technological era, and the way we communicate and think about other people has changed. The world has changed.  Ancient symbols and meanings have achieved a new meaning.

  • Home used to be a sanctuary where a family gathered together now it is a home page. In fact, it has taken on another identity, w3w. what3words defines the location of your home. You probably will not need an elaborate address much longer as w3w will represent your address.
  • A cloud is a computing technology not clouds in the air that form an important part of our earth’s environment and rain cycle.
  • Ether is a cryptocurrency not one of the five elements or tatvas.
  • Tree is a decision tree in a business presentation, not the tree of life or a beautiful part of nature that we need to preserve, so that we don’t ourselves die while buisnisess’ survive!

Again, the list is endless.

Finally, I have also used a border of the symbols of the five elements or tatvas:  air, water, fire, earth and ether, i.e circle, crescent, triangle, square, and oval. These forms largely are used to define the underlying structure of all things in the world. Symbols and borders were often used in tribal paintings for the same purpose, to depict the interconnectedness of nature and the importance of divine protection.

In the days gone by I have observed my grandparents say a prayer before they even got out of bed and put their feet on the ground. They used to recite a Bhoomi Vandanam shloka to the mother earth, paying obeisance to her, and asking for her forgiveness before stepping on the ground and treading on her

samudravasane devi
parvatasthana mandale
vishnupatni namastubhym
padasparsam kshamasva me

Mother Earth, with the mountains and rivers on you. The wife of Lord Vishnu, I Salute you and ask your forgiveness for keeping my feet on you.

Where has this much required reverence gone today?


Category : World


Written by Mallika Nagarajan

I am a contemporary artist, childrens book writer and illustrator and an MBA