R.K. Joshi - The Religious World of Letterforms - MM 8#4 - Page 5
Title Page  |  Up to Table of Contents  | MM Magazine I  UpUp to MM Home


designed and developed by prof. R. K. J O S H I



The Sound Waves

A calligraphic interpretation of Nada vibrations emerging from aum, through permutations and combinations of the letters a, u and m in Devanagari script.

1. The phonetic structure of the monosyllabic mantra aum consists of three sounds, a, u and m, with variable duration of utterance. The permutation and combin-ation of these sounds have been interpreted calligraphically to represent the multi-directional vibrations produced by this root mantra.


The Spine

The worshipper instills life (jiva, atma and tejas) in the clay figure of Lord Ganesha, with the help of this mantra of Pranapratistha.

2. It is observed that the mere utterance of a mantra by a devoted worshipper imbues life in the clay model of a deity (Lord Ganesha). This unique concept, though symbolic, of putting life into an object and enabling an ordinary person to perform the role of creator, is inherent in the mantra and gave rise to its calligraphic (life giving) rendering in a vertical spine-like, organic composition.


The Utterance

The reverberations created by the utterance of the mono-syllablic mantra gan, visually experienced.

3. The reverberations created by the utterance of the monosyllabic mantra gan, has been represented by radiating varied grey levels from the essence - the core strokes of the letter gan - to establish the positive relationship (made visible) between the characteristics of the chanting of the mantra and its written form.


The Fire

The seed-syllable ram represented at micro level through the calligraphic rendering of a stroke symbolising the cosmic element `fire', one of the five essential elements of the universe.

4. The seed-syllables representing five essential elements of the universe (earth, water, sun, wind, sky), at seed (micro) level are represented minimally with the help of their calligraphic structure. Instead of fire being depicted as `red glowing flames' at the macro level, the stroke of ra (ram standing for fire principle) itself has turned into a symbolic flame structure, which has been further repeated in an inverted triangle which itself indicates the fiery energy in Indian Tantrism.


The Existence

The philosophy of existence - non-dualism - has been rendered through a calligraphic logo of advaita (Sanskrit word meaning non-dualism).

5. The philosophical concept of existence - non-dualism - as propagated by Adi'Sankaracarya, has been rendered through a calligraphic logo of advaita (Sanskrit word meaning non-dualism), in which a single calligraphic stroke splits into two before merging into one, represents everything beginning from the `one', which seemingly gets distinguished as two (maya). Duality, ultimately, merges into the `one' (advaita) non-duality.


The five essential elements (Earth-lam, Water-vam, Sun-ram, Wind-yam, Sky-ham) represented in seed-syllables, governing human activities and manifestations.

In addition to their contribution to the revival of cultural contexts, these and similar exercises in integraphics, can create a formal awareness and structural understanding of the written word in context to the nuances of the spoken word. Their mutually beneficient relationship would be suited to exploration in modern multimedia and other interactive modes, making the assimilation of information a more exciting, memorable and worthy experience.

1. R. SHYAMSASTRI, The Origin of the Devanagari Alphabets, Bharati Prakashan, Varanasi, 1973.

2. R.H. VAN GULIK, Siddham, Mrs. Sharada Rani, New Delhi, 1980

3. Jayakhya Samhita, Baroda, 1931

4. MADHU KHANNA, Yantra, Thames & Hudson, London, 1979

5. YASMIN HAMID SAFADI, Islamic Calligraphy, Thames & Hudson, London, 1987

6. JOHN STEVENS, Sacred Calligraphy of the East, Shambala, Boulder & London, 1981

7. MOOKERJEE AJIT & MADHU KHANNA, The Tantric Way: Art, Science, Ritual, Graphic Society, New York, Boston, 1977.

8. R.K. JOSHI, Siddham Letterforms, Seminar proceedings, Indian Symbology, Bombay, 1987.

9. R.K. JOSHI, Calligraphy Study of Manuscripts, Seminar proceedings, Caltis, Pune, 1983.

10. R.K. JOSHI, Aksharasaaj, Seminar proceedings, Bamboo Craft design workshop, Bombay, 1993.

11. P.P. APTE & S.G. SUPEKAR, PALACO, Calligraphical Significance of The tantric code of alphabets, Seminar proceedings, Caltis, Pune, 1983.

Illustration credits, courtesy

Source ref.

4: L, M, N, O

2: A

5: K

6: B, C, D, E, F, G, H, J, P

Integraphics: Scroll exhibitions Shreelekh (91), Shree (87), Sparsh (93) by PROF. R.K. JOSHI

R.K. Joshi - The Religious World of Letterforms - MM 8#4 - Page 5
Title Page  |  Up to Table of Contents  | MM Magazine I  UpUp to MM Home
Last Modified by Z Z on 6 june 1996