Art for the Divine (Sun Temple, Modhera – 1)

Our visit to the Sun Temple, Modhera was a special feature of our trip to Gujarat last year. And to think of it, this temple was a last minute addition to our itinerary! But once we saw some pictures on the net and read about it, we were determined to experience its magic in person, even at the cost of canceling our tickets and forgoing the advance paid for our accommodation at another place we were earlier planning to visit.

Once we stood in front of the majestic temple, we knew all that change of plans was completely worth it.  

Hope our readers have enjoyed the last two photo-essays (here and here) inspired by what we saw, felt and experienced at the Sun Temple. The last set of photographs shared in this photo-feature seems to be speaking of harmony.

These pictures seem to be speaking of something that is whole, behind all the partial truths of existence, perhaps because the hundreds of unnamed artists who worked on this temple were working to express something that is harmoniously divine within them. Maybe in their artistic process they experienced what true art is supposed to be – a means to express and realise the Divine.

The more we heard the pictures speak to us, a few deeply insightful and inspiring words and passages from some of the writings and talks of our gurus, the Mother and Sri Aurobindo, kept coming to our minds. For this photo-feature we are focusing mostly on the words of the Mother, with a couple of references from Sri Aurobindo. 

Today being the birthday of the Divine Mother, may this be our humble offering of love and gratitude at Her Lotus Feet.




“Only those parts of India which are a little too anglicised have lost the sense of beauty.” (The Mother, CWM, Vol. 5, p. 340)




“…true art is the expression of beauty in the material world; and in a world entirely changed spiritually, that is to say, one expressing completely the divine reality, art must act as a revealer and teacher of this divine beauty in life; that is to say, an artist should be capable of entering into communion with the Divine and of receiving inspiration about what form or forms ought to be used to express the divine beauty in matter. And thus, if it does that, art can be a means of realisation of beauty, and at the same time a teacher of what beauty ought to be, that is, art should be an element in the education of men’s taste, of young and old, and it is the teaching of true beauty, that is, the essential beauty which expresses the divine truth. This is the raison d’etre of art. Now, between this and what is done there is a great difference, but this is the true raison d’etre of art.” (ibid., pp. 331-332)




“Don’t you think that there are many people who have realised the Divine, who have never said anything about it, known nothing about it? There are people who have spoken about it—philosophers, whose very profession necessarily is to express what happened to them. But there are people who have had experiences but never said anything. And I know there are artists who purely by their art attained the divine realisation.” (ibid., p. 82)


“If you were doing manual work, there are any number of artisans who have had a wonderful conversion. There is the example of a shoe-maker who became one of the greatest Yogis of the world. It does not depend on what one does, happily! You have to sit in meditation, like that, with an orange robe on, under a tree, to be able to realise the Divine?” (ibid., p. 83)




“Here [in India], the majority of creations…, the majority of works, I believe even almost all the beautiful works, are not signed. All those paintings in the caves, those statues in the temples—these are not signed. One does not know at all who created them. And all this was not done with the idea of making a name for oneself as at present. One happened to be a great sculptor, a great painter, a great architect, and then that was all, there was no question of putting one’s name on everything and proclaiming it aloud in the newspapers so that no one might forget it! In those days the artist did what he had to do without caring whether his name would go down to posterity or not. All was done in a movement of aspiration to express a higher beauty, and above all with the idea of giving an appropriate abode to the godhead who was evoked. …Whilst today, there is not a tiny little piece of canvas, painted or daubed, but on it is a signature to tell you: it is Mr. So-and-so who made this!” (ibid., p. 341)




“When this craze for utility – that is the modern tendency – comes, beauty dies; people now look at everything from the point of utility as if beauty were nothing.” (Evening Talks with Sri Aurobindo, 24-1-1939, p. 252)




“What Nature is, what God is, what man is can be triumphantly revealed in stone or on canvas.” (Sri Aurobindo, CWSA, Vol. 1, p. 450)




“Skill is not art, talent is not art. Art is a living harmony and beauty that must be expressed in all the movements of existence. This manifestation of beauty and harmony is part of the Divine realisation upon earth, perhaps even its greatest part. For, from the supramental point of view beauty and harmony are as important as any other expression of the Divine. But they should not be isolated, set up apart from all other relations, taken out from the ensemble; they should be one with the expression of life as a whole. People have the habit of saying, “Oh, it is an artist!” as if an artist should not be a man among other men but must be an extraordinary being belonging to a class by itself, and his art too something extraordinary and apart, not to be confused with the other ordinary things of the world. The maxim, “Art for art’s sake”, tries to impress and emphasise as a truth the same error. It is the same mistake as when men place in the middle of their drawing-rooms a framed picture that has nothing to do either with the furniture or the walls, but is put there only because it is an “object of art”. True art is a whole and an ensemble; it is one and of one piece with life.” (The Mother, CWM, Vol 3, p. 109)





“All those who have a sure and developed sense of harmony in all its forms, and the harmony of all the forms among themselves, are necessarily artists, whatever may be the type of their production.” (The Mother, CWM, Vol. 5, p. 324)




For more on the Sun Temple, Modhera, visit:

“She creates and creates….”

Divinity in Details

To see more photo-features, click HERE


8 thoughts on “Art for the Divine (Sun Temple, Modhera – 1)

Add yours

  1. Loved this post, not that I don’t love others you post! The choice of the quotes is extraordinarily perfect. How the Mother gently ticks off those who proclaim Art for Art’s sake and plonk something totally unconnected to the scheme of things! And then this – the very definition of art: ‘Art is a living harmony and beauty that must be expressed in all the movements of existence.’

    Some of the best literature, poetry and music came out of the Bhakti movement. Somehow the adoration of the divine is inherent in all art forms including architecture, examples of which have been superbly presented here through Suhas’ pictures. Looking at them in the context of the words of Sri Aurobindo and the Mother, brings them even more alive.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Sorry for this much delayed reply, catching up with blogging things after a long gap. I agree completely with what you say about the contribution of Bhakti movement to Indian art, poetry, music, literature etc. In fact, the seamlessness with which the spirituality of the Bhakti movement and its outer artistic expression became one is a unique and deeply beautiful aspect of Indian culture.

      I am so happy you enjoyed the quotes selected for this post, Zephyr.


  2. I just love the way you add to the rich history we have. So much learning and bliss we can take away from your visits to the temples.

    The comment from Zephyr is very enriching….seems like a great addition to your quotes and write-up!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you, Alok! Always good to see you here on the blog. I am happy you enjoy these posts. And I agree completely with what you say about Zephyr’s comment. Reading her, whether her blog or her comments is always so enriching.

      Sorry for this late reply.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Having read this I thought it was rather informative. I appreciate you spending some time and energy to put this short article together. I once again find myself spending way too much time both reading and commenting. But so what, it was still worthwhile!


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