I have started a major program of editing and uploading my photos of my last four pilgrimages to a new Flickr account. Currently I have reached critical mass on my recent pilgrimage, and those photos can be viewed here:
What I’d like to feature out of that collection is the biggest suprise I’ve ever had in India, i.e., the best Christian devotional art I have ever seen, on the west bank of the Godavari River. Find that collection here:
Above: Mary as the Queen of Heaven, with the Christ Child, with the sacred Godavari River in the background, Neo-Concept Church (under construction) Kovvur, Feb 13
When I started asking questions about this, one gentleman from Chennai, Tamil Nadu, who seemed not to be in particular good graces with the Meher Baba orthodoxy at Kovvur, told me that St. Thomas, of Christ’s twelve apostles, came to Chennai and was murdered there.
I don’t know any of the history underlying how Christianity got to Kovvur, but Chennai is some 150 miles south of Kovvur/Rajahmundry, and still on the east coast of India, not far away, particulary by sea, and I don’t know, but this art just feels to me like the Tamils, very, very sweet. The Tamils are the most abused and under-rated ethnicity in India, and they can really connect with Christ’s suffering.
This is not only about the mother of Christ, it’s about every Tamil mother who has opened the door in the morning to find her previously tortured and then murdered child lying in the mud. How can you deal with this? I think there’s only two things you can do, either go in rage, or give your poor child to God and go get pregnant with another child this instant, and the latter are the heroic women of Tamil Nadu, I feel. And where they get the strength to do it is from Jesus Christ. These are the Christians who will inherit the earth, no doubt.
This is the best Indian art, and the best Christian art that I have ever seen, because it has the greatest emotional connection to God. If for some wierd reason I wanted to convert back to the religion of my birth, I would go to Kovvur to do it, and I would learn Telegu so that I could communicate with my congregation.
In general, Christianity is better for Asians than any of the Asian religions, including Buddhism, because there’s no political, cultural, or financial advantage for them in it, it’s all about their relationship to God.
And by the same token, Asian religions, and especially Buddhism are better for Americans than Christianity, because there’s no political power, no psychological dominance, and no ideological bullshit in it, Buddhism is purely and simply about Enlightenment for us.
Jai Jai Meher.