Indian Art and Nature Worship



Nature is an unavoidable factor of everyone's life. Nature has been the main theme in most of the art forms in India. According to traditional pantheistic belief, human nature and Nature as a whole are intrinsic to each other. Therefore, nature has always been essential to Indian imagination. The mountains and hills, river and lakes, plants and tress are still regarded as the natural abodes of deities and auspicious places for meditation. There are thousands of such spots in India whose special sanctity is enhanced by daily rituals. The serene Himalayan retreats or the sacred riverbanks shelter sages and Yogis of India. Especially consecrated are the sources and confluences of rivers.

Evidence of tree worship has been found in Mohenjodaro (c.2500 BC), and it is still popularly believed that every tree has a 'tree-deity', a spirit who is worshipped with prayers and offerings. Trees are often garlanded and adorned with oil lamps. Prayers are offered before cutting down a tree as in India it is believed that trees not only have lives but are also conscious.

The great banyan, associated with spiritual understanding, is the sacred of all. It is, therefore, the natural shelter for the seekers after truth.

It was under its branches that the Buddha received Enlightenment, hence it is known as the Bodhi tree. It was under a Sala tree that Mahavira, the founder of Jainism, renounced the world. The nineteenth century mystic saint Ramakrishna experienced Samadhi - the blessed state - beneath 'Panchavati' or the 'Five Trees'.

The sun and the moon are personified as Gods and Goddesses. The deities have their animal incarnations. Harmony with the natural world is a pervasive element in all Indian religious beliefs, rituals and artistic expressions. It is interesting to note the presence of nature and natural imagery in almost all Indian art form. Being entwined with Indian imagination, folk life and religious beliefs, nature also finds ample expressions in creative arts.

Madhubani Painting

The sun god: Madhubani Painting, Bihar

Warli Painting

Confluence of Man and Nature, "Sheer Joy", Warli Painting

Batik Painting

Ganesha - the elephant God, India

Indian Deity Picture

Hanuman - the monkey deity, India.

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