Seventeen hundred people flooded into ISKCON Italy’s Villaggio Hare Krishna on the outskirts of Milan to celebrate Janmastami, Krishna’s birthday, this August 17th, and to catch their first glimpse of the stunning new painted ceiling of the community’s Radha-Ramana temple.
The one-hundred square meter (1,076 sq ft) oil painting is divided into two distinct sections, one depicting Sri Chaitanya’s pastimes, the other Lord Krishna’s.
As the visitor stands in the first section, gazing upwards and turning in a clockwise direction, he or she first sees Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu and his closest associates, known as the Pancha-Tattva, dancing and chanting in Jagannath Puri.
Next, members of the Gaudiya Vaishnava disciplic succession, including Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati, Bhaktivinode Thakura, and ISKCON founder Srila Prabhupada, can be seen standing in front of ISKCON’s brand new Temple of the Vedic Planetarium in Mayapur, West Bengal.
To their right, a sankirtan party of devotees dances and chants in front of Srila Prabhupada’s Samadhi Mandir in Mayapur. And lastly, the great Vaishnava saints the six Goswamis are shown meditating in the countryside.
The second section of the painting, meanwhile, depicts the four principal rasas, or relationships that devotees share with the Lord in the spiritual world. In a clockwise direction, there’s Krishna fanned by his servants – dasya rasa; Krishna and his brother Balarama playing with their cowherd friends – sakhya rasa; Krishna’s foster parents Nanda and Yashoda with their divine son – vatsalya rasa; and Krishna with his eternal consort Srimati Radharani – madhurya rasa.
American artist Rudradeva Das, who previously painted large murals at the ISKCON temple in Radhadesh, Belgium and two large ceiling portraits of Srila Prabhupada at Prabhupadadesh, Italy, spent the past four years creating the detailed piece.
He first painted the scenes onto fifty-six individual panels, which were then fixed to the ceiling and joined seamlessly together.
Rudradeva and Sicialian artist Bhakta Francesco then spent around three months on scaffolding touching up the artwork on the ceiling.
“Rudradeva really put his heart into it, and we are very thankful to him for his service,” says Italian GBC and Villaggio Hare Krishna president Madhusevita Das.
According to Madhusevita, the painting perfectly condenses the philosophy of Krishna consciousness.
“When guests come, a devotee can just have them look up at the ceiling, and can explain the entire philosophy!” he says. “First he can explain the importance of chanting the Holy Name and the association of devotees. Then he can talk about our disciplic succession of acharyas including Srila Prabhupada, then about the six Goswamis and the Pancha Tattva, with Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu. Then they can go to the other end and discuss the goal of life as shown by the different rasas with Krishna. It’s the whole philosophy on a ceiling!”
Guests certainly appreciated the painting when they visited Villaggio Hare Krishna this August for not only Janmastami, but also the 25th anniversary of the installation of Radha-Ramana, and the installation of new Jagannath, Baladeva and Subhadra Deities.
“They loved it,” says Madhusevita. “It really looks gorgeous, I must say. You don’t expect something like it nowadays – I mean who gets a ceiling painted anymore? It’s like something from another age.”[ italy ] [ painting ]