Wednesday 17 August 2022

Matter or Maya?

PC: Smitha Keeran Warrier
[A Souvenir Shop at Boudhanath Stupa, Kathmandu, Nepal]

This little shop. And its pretty wares. Made from the grossest matter, by gifted hands. Such divine creations too! The artisans would have created them with so much love. So much care. And how they would have revelled in this process of creation! In that way, aren't these craftsmen quite next to God? But of course! It’s only second nature to them to mould such beautiful stuff while they go about their life and its more serious businesses.

I wonder what they feel about displaying their handiwork  these pieces of their heart and soul  right out there in the market. For millions of pairs of eyes to watch them and furtively look at the price tags. For as many hands to fondle them with desire, grab them at the conversion rate that's so favourable to the wallets they hold, or just flick them back and return them on some pretext or the other. By the way, who are we to speculate and haggle over the value of such priceless creations?

And what are these works of art made of anyway? Clay, wood, metal, cloth? Ropes, wires, threads, beads, stones? But they – the jewels, artefacts, prayer bowls, and all – beckon all our senses. They catch our eyes and we remain captivated.  We pick them up and caress them in our hands. We breathe in the smell of their earthy newness. We listen in rapture to the prayers that swirl and vibrate within them. What are they after all? Just matter? Or, maya, as per the beliefs the Stupa stands for?

Yes. Maya. The name board confirms.


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