About Our Tradition - Lila

I: What does the term lila refer to.

J: I use the word 'lila' rather than story, because generally when people hear the word story they think of something fictitious. Often in books about India, when trying to translate the word lila, they use the word “mythology”. But that too has the connotation of something imagined. Srila Prabhupada conveyed to us, using authorized and highly philosophical explanations found in the sacred writings of our Vaisnava tradition, that the lila, or activities of the Lord, when He appears in this world, are not imagination.

Many people have heard of the Mahabharata and Ramayana. The Srimad Bhagavatam is less world famous, but like those literatures, it describes how Lord Krishna appears in the world. He comes to attract everyone by displaying His captivating activities just as they are in the spiritual world. Of course this is an enormous and intricate subject matter, that I cannot explain in the space of this interview.

I: You spoke earlier about “attaining the spiritual dimension”, how does this relate to your art work?

Click here for mor einformation on the Srimad Bhagavatam.

J: After our first visit to India , my husband and I had the good fortune to return and spend many years in Vrindavana. I spent a lot of time travelling around the area, visiting different places related to Krishna’s lilas. When we came to live in Australia, I missed Vrindavana very much, and wanted to remember all that was special about the place. I filled our house with as many pictures of Vrindavana as possible. Then this small deity of Gopinatha unexpectedly came, and His presence created opportunities for me to use my artistic inclination in depicting the stories, or lilas as well. My desire was, to still keep part of my attention focused on the holy places and lilas, whilst living here in Perth.

But to answer your question, the process for attaining that transcendental, spiritual dimension is centered around sravanam, kirtanam and smaranam. Sravanam means to hear, kirtanam means to express what you have heard, and then to remember or meditate on what you have heard and expressed, is called smaranam.

This is the way to develop the desire within one’s heart to attain that dimension. I can give you an ordinary example. If someone starts telling me how nice it is in Hawaii, and I listen to them enough, I will start to think about Hawaii. If that thought comes to the point of expression, I will talk about it too. And, after hearing and talking about Hawaii, naturally I’ll think about visiting. As that attraction grows and grows, the next step is that I’ll book a ticket and go and see it for myself!
So the art for me has two levels. One level is that it’s a very satisfying way for me, at this time in my life, to use artistic inspiration and expression. But there’s more than that, because there’s also a personal wish to develop some realizable experience of the spiritual places beyond this world. I think for me the second level is stronger.