Can Odonil Liberate you ?

Alwar Balasubramaniam is an Indian sculptor whose work is deeply philosophical touching upon various themes relating to origin and traces of things. You can read more about his body of work here :

One particular work that I liked is “Evaporating Self”. It’s a sculpture of his own image made out of the material used for air fresheners. Given the material its made from, the seemingly solid bust, over a period of time disintegrates & disappears. You can actually see the work evaporating into air in front of your eyes in a few months. A transition from form to a formless state.


The relevant portion from his TED talk where he talks about this work is here : ( Watch from 10:00 to 12.30)

And now for some Vedanta.

The primary goal of Vedanta is to remove the false identification you have with your body and make you identify yourself as Atman the pure Consciousness. Through a process of systematic unfolding of the scriptural knowledge, you shed the notion that you are a body with Consciousness to that of being Consciousness with a temporary body.

When a person is firmly rooted in this understanding, he is said to be liberated. The process by which he obtains this understanding is three fold

a) Listening to your Guru unfold the scriptural knowledge ( Called Sravanam)

b) Reflecting on the teachings and raising doubts that you may have to yourself and to your Guru till you are intellectually satisfied ( Mananam)

c) Contemplating on this understanding till it becomes a part of your being and way of life. ( Nidhidyasanam)

While the Upanishadic teaching is full of fables to drive home this teaching, I always found art to be a useful tool both for “Reflection” (Sravanam)  as well as Contemplation.(Mananam)

Listening to Alwar Subramaniam’s talk, I could easily imagine my image made of the material used by Odonil enclosed in a box and slowly disintegrating to point when nothing is left except Space or Consciousness enclosed as it were in a box. (Consciousness being beyond senses cannot be described, “space” and “light” are used as examples that point us towards it)

So the next time you sit on the potty, look out for the Odonil and construct an image of your bust made from the same material. Imagine it evaporating slowly leaving just an empty Space or pure Consciousness. Identify yourself with that space and Consciousness and you too can have your eureka moment. Only don’t be so disengaged with yourself that when you walk out you forget to wear your clothes like Archimedes did ! Remember you are Consciousness but with a temporary body.

Om Tat Sat.

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