The Wheel of Life, 2014, 3.5×3.5, acrylic and oil on Masonite board, never exhibited.
In early 2014 I had my first-hand encounter with Buddhism in Ladakh, India. Not only did the beauty of this area amaze me, but the incredible Buddhist monasteries also jolted my consciousness as well as my imagination.
Every monastery was covered with the most beautiful paintings. Not a single surface was left unpainted. Colourful artwork covered walls, furniture, sculptures, ceilings, pillars, wall hangings, and crockery. As an artist, I felt like I had landed up in a place that is too good to be true. This trip then inspired me to make a beautiful painting. This is the wheel of life.
Each hand has its own significance and makes a meaningful gesture. We can start with the central hand, that is the most important one. The hand in the centre depicts the eye held in the palm of the Goddess White Tara. This symbolises perfection and wisdom. It represents refuge and protection from the dangers that all the other circles of hands warn about. The second , third and fourth hand from the centre —in typical Buddhist style—are threatening and point to danger outside the circle.
Life is difficult is what is painting says. There is a refuge which is completely under our own control if we focus on controlling our mind and finding peace.
All the hands have long nails. The deities of South India inspired this style. I paint long nails on the hands of many female figures in my later works. These nails look like sharp knives and are meant to protect women and show a hidden power that can be used.
My mother, who is a tapestry weaver, really liked this painting. She made a beautiful tapestry based on it that is just the same size as the original. It is included here.