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Sandhya - Panel from Yayati

Oil on canvas
20' x 8'

Sandhya is the last section of 'Yayati'. “Yayati is a powerful king of the Lunar clan and a winner of many wars. He is also an inveterate hedonist who enjoys the companionship of beautiful women including of his two wives Devayani and Sarmistha. He is cursed for his intemperance by Sukracharya, father of his incensed wife Devayani, and inflicted with premature old age. To escape his fate Yayati pleads with his five sons to lend him their youth in exchange for his kingdom. The youngest of them, Puru, finally accedes to his wishes and frees him from his curse. Yayati returns to his life of pleasure once again but even after aeons of indulgence, he finds his desire insatiable and eventually realizes that indulgence only feeds human desires. He then returns his son’s youth, takes back his decrepitude and leads a more satisfied and wiser life. Yayati is not one of the central characters of the Mahabharata but Ramachandran found his story deeply moving. Unlike the usual hero he is not miraculously powerful or invincible, or the usual brave man who undertakes impossible tasks against all odds. He is a hero who is flawed, is vulnerable and all too human. It is this aspect of Yayati that appeals to Ramachandran. Explaining this is an interview, he says: ‘He is a human being with normal human failings and foibles. He is self-centered, even selfish.’ And more importantly, ‘unlike the major characters of the Mahabharata, he is not bound by a traditional set of values…He recognizes the call of the body and spirit. He does not negate one for the other. This makes him a complete man.’ A man complete with desires, aspirations and failings, Yayati is the ordinary man as hero and his story, Ramachandran recognized, is the story of everyman expressed in an archetypal myth. Yayati is conceived as a temple to human vulnerability, a temple to man who does not aspire to be God, and to the sensuality he finds irresistible…”
(This extract has been taken from ‘A Ramachandran: A Retrospective’ written by Professor Siva Kumar) A professor of Art History at Viswa Bharati University at Santiniketan (West Bengal, India), Professor Siva Kumar has done extensive research on Indian modern art. His numerous publications include ‘The Santiniketan Murals’, ‘Santiniketan: The Making of a Contextual Modernism’ and 'K G Subramanyan: A Retrospective’. He has also curated several major exhibitions for the National Gallery of Modern Art, New Delhi, including the recently-held centenary retrospective of Benode Behari Mukherjee (curated with artist and Professor Gulam Mohammed Sheikh).