About the Author and the Illustrations
Harish Johari (1934-1999) was a distinguished North Indian author, Tantric scholar, gemologist, poet, musician, composer, painter, and sculptor who held degrees in philosophy and literature and made it his life’s work to introduce the culture of his homeland to the West. He authored 12 books on Eastern spirituality, including Tools for Tantra, Chakras, Numerology, The Planet Meditation Kit, and Ayurvedic Healing Cuisine, and he created the illustrations that accompanied each of them.
The painting tradition founded by Harish is a combination of the overall spiritual Indian art traditions and the special wash painting technique that he learned from his teacher Shri Chandra Bal, who himself learned it from Shri Bhawani Prasad Mittal, who learned it at Shanti Niketan.
The style of the figures is a mixture of three existing forms of Indian artwork that can be found in the painted or sculptured art forms in temples throughout India.
The faces--specifically the eyes, nose, and lips--and the hands and feet are drawn in the style of the paintings located in the Ajanta caves. They represent a two-thousand-year-old fresco style of artwork.
The proportions used in the figures are like those of the sculptures in the Elephanta caves near Bombay. These proportions were chosen because they are so beautiful and delicate, unlike the proportions found in the Ajanta cave paintings, which are very heavy and result in dwarflike figures. The sculptures in the Elephanta caves represent a style that is thousands of years older than the familiar Rajasthan style of artwork that is generally recognized as Indian art.
The postures and movements are inspired by the ancient sculptures of the Ellora caves and the Khajoraho temple because of the grace, preciseness, and expressiveness that these sculptures exemplify.
Another important feature of the artwork is the rich use of hand postures. There are not more than ten hand postures that are generally drawn by artists throughout the world. Indian art, however, uses as many as sixty-four hand postures, reflecting the sixty-four hand postures used in Indian dance rituals and worship. These hand postures, or mudras, have their own symbolism and language and are used as a way to express emotions. The richness that is found in the hand postures of Indian art is a gift to the entire world. The artwork uses these hand postures as a language of the heart as opposed to the language of the head.
The images can evoke spiritual feelings in the viewers, while for those that use the illustrations as objects of meditation, the images can become a vehicle for spiritual contact with the divine beings.
As Harish said of the subjects of Indian spiritual art, “science is very beautifully explained in Indian iconography; the entire science of physics, the science of psychology, the science of sociology, interpersonal relationships . . . all these things are interwoven in Indian painting and in mythology.”