Ancient legendary Indian healers portrayed in art

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New Delhi: A reporter working the health beat has turned her focus to art and its healing effects through an exhibition that portrays some of the ancient legendary healers like Charaka, Jivaka and Susruta and various Tibetan thangka paintings.

Curated by Shubhadarshini Singh and her younger sister, Sunrita Lama, the exhibition "Medical Dreamtime" that was inaugurated here on May 16 is dedicated to doctors and the medical world is being showcased at the Visual Arts Gallery.

The exhibition is scheduled to continue in the capital till May 22.

"I used to cover the medical beat. During my work in print and also in TV, I realised there were not many visuals available of medical practitioners in India. We used to face difficulty in making our programmes. That is when I started painting and had the research work of over 20 years behind me," says Shubhdarshini Singh a journalist turned artist.

She felt medical science has not received its place in the visual arts in India as it has everywhere else.

Concerned by apathy of Indian artists towards medical science, a sister-duo has teamed up for an art exhibition that portrays legendary healers like Charaka, Jivaka and Susruta and Tibetan thangka paintings with healing effects.

"I feel medical science has not received its place in the arts in India as it has everywhere else. I searched for paintings and statues of our legendary healers like Susruta, Charaka and Jivaka or Nagarjuna. There seemed to be none. I found a few good depictions of Dhanwantari only and most of them were garish calendar art," says Singh,a journalist-turned artist.

self-taught painter, Singh says this is the culmination of her research for over 20 years and also a tribute to all the doctors who opened their doors for her, gave her their time and shared their knowledge and experiences with her.

"During my research, I found that there was only a single photo available of India`s first female physician, Kadambini Ganguly. It is a pity for artists. Why didn`t Raja Ravi Varma, who gave our gods and goddesses a `face` paint our medical legends," says Singh.

Painted in acrylic on canvas, the artworks says Singh are visuals that came to her mind in a dream like period when she was ill.

"I hope they can fill a micro unit in the hollow that exists in the matter of medicine in art in India," she says.

Sunrita Lama, her younger sister who is collaborating with her says Singh has been helping in her creations.

"Thangkas are related to what Shubha is doing. They bring good luck and long life. Many people have come back to thank me as they were blessed with positive changes in their lives," says Lama.

Thangka is a Tibetan silk painting with embroidery usually depicting a Buddhist deity. Her `Medicine Buddha` thangka, believed to be healer of outer and inner sickness will be part of the exhibition.

"The use of the analogy of Buddha being depicted as a doctor, who cures the suffering using the medicine of his teachings appears widely in Buddhist scriptures. Medicine Buddha is the embodiment of the collective healing power of all the Buddhas," says Lama.

Shubhadarshini also plans to start a medical museum that will trace Indian medical history.

"I have been appealing to people who have or had doctors in their family to send me their photos, their medical uniform and instruments. It will be a good way to make a start at least," she says.

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