Awaken the artist in you


A common, and unfortunate, myth about spirituality is that it demands renunciation. That it asks of you to give up something in order to gain inner peace. Nothing is farther from the truth. Spirituality asks nothing of you. It does not even ask you to awaken. It is, in fact, only when you awaken, when you understand who you really are, when you realize the purpose of your creation, that you turn to spirituality. Spirituality is always there. As is ‘everything else’. It is only when your inner awareness blossoms that you look to spiritual experiences and want more of it. And you find, in your awakened state, that ‘everything else’ is so very insignificant.  

Elango: Realize and Indulge
Yesterday I had a unique learning experience. I was invited to an art show and auction. There were two artists on stage. One was the celebrated painter A.V.Elango and the other was the famous pianist Anil Srinivasan. As Anil played the piano, Elango painted. For over 45 minutes all of us in the audience were in a trance. We watched, in amazement, as Elango created a ‘Krishna with a Cow’ on a blue canvas, even as Anil had us mesmerized with his soulful piano recital. When invited, Elango spoke very briefly, preferring to let his art speak. However, what he said appealed to me greatly and I share my learnings with you. He made three major points:

  • There is a surrendered Nandiand an arrogant Mahishasura in each of us. We need to let more of the Nandievolve, through total surrender to Life, in us. (Both Nandi and Mahishasura are bulls with unique characteristics in Hindu mythology)
  • Let us learn to be happy being alive. I am happiest when I am painting. That’s when I merge with the silence that I really am.
  • There is a simple difference between a saint and an artist: “A saint realizes and renounces. An artist realizes and indulges.”

How true. There is an artist in each of us. We don’t need to be able to paint magically with oils like Elango does or make music the way Anil does. There’s something that truly brings us alive. And it is unique to each of us. A friend of mine simply loves cooking and having friends over. He cooks each dish and serves his guests personally telling them how he has prepared it. Another friend loves to sing old movie songs sharing trivia on how the lyrics came about or nuances of how the music was composed and such. Similarly, there’s masterful artistry of some form in you. In me. The artist in each of us is often dormant for most of our lifetime, waiting eagerly, patiently, to come alive. But because we are so busy being “career professionals” and providers, we don’t have the time to be the artist that we really are. But whenever the artist in you awakens, the real youis unveiled.

Elango invites us to experience, perhaps even as an experiment, that state of awakening. We can get there provided we don’t come in the way of Life. Provided we stop being arrogant, like Mahishasura, and stop thinking we are in control of our lives and that each of us has to play the all-important role of protector, provider and lead performer in this lifetime! He says we can get there by simply surrendering, through what gives us joy, to Life!

By surrendering to Life, he is not advocating that we become saints and renounce the world. He is saying just the opposite. He says indulge by all means. But indulge in what gives you joy. When you realize and indulge in what makes you joyful, with the artist in you coming alive, you grasp the essence of spirituality. You will then not feel burnt out. You will not feel you are working harder yet are getting nowhere in Life. You will not be seeking “something” despite having everything. You will then be peace. You will then, like a flower, bloom every single day. You will then be bliss – because the artist in you is awakened!


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