A Painting Full of Bhava

A Painting Full of Bhava
by Govinda Dasi

Govinda Dasi: It was at that time, when Swamiji was recovering from stroke in Vrindaban, feeling great separation from Swamiji, that I designed a drawing of Krishna returning home from the forest with thousands of cows. It was indeed a special drawing, for though I had never seen Vrindaban, or even photographs of it, just from Swamiji’s many descriptions of Vrindaban, I was able to create a picture that did indeed look very much like Krishna’s Vrindaban.

While doing this drawing, I was seeing cows and cowlads in my minds’ eye for weeks! I selected one particular cowlad to be Swamiji, and sent him a copy of the picture, denoting that the cowlad on the far right of Krishna was my depiction of him.

Years later, this early drawing of Krishna’s Vrindaban was artfully colored in by some of the later BBT artists, and is still used today in many of the books and temples. It is a painting that is full of bhava. That is because it is Swamiji’s drawing – not mine. It is full of his devotion. Remember, I had never even seen Vrindaban. But he was able to convey it to me so perfectly that the mood of Vrindaban is indeed present in that picture!

And he was also able to guide me from within my mind and heart just how he wanted it done. This is the deeper, more spiritual, understanding of transcendental art. It doesn’t come from us; as artists, we have to open ourselves so that Srila Prabhupada’s devotion comes through us. This mood requires surrender of the arrogant and rebellious attitude that, “I am the doer.” Or, “I am the artist.“

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