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Rta Ritu: An Exhibition on Cosmic Order and Cycle of Seasons

Madhu Khanna (Author)
Synopsis The Exhibition on Rta-Ritu: cosmic Order & cycle of Seasons is the fifth presentation by IGNCA on viewing fundamental concepts on universal themes that cut across diverse cultures. The four previous exhibitions were on Space, Kham, Form, Akara, Time, Kala and The five Elements, Prakriti. The concept of Rta, originates in the Rigveda (10.85;4.23, 9-12;10.190). in the Vedic Vision the universe is not conceived as a haphazard mass of elements and events, but is an ordered whole, in which each part inheres the whole and the whole is balanced by its parts. The ordering principle of nature, the inflexible law of harmony, the universal cosmic flow which gives to everything from the vast galaxies, down to the nucleus of an atom, their nature and course, is Rta. Rta then, is observable everywhere. Rta governs the movement of the heavenly bodies, Rta commands the shift and play of the seasons, round of birth, growth and decay of all life-forms. Rta lives in each human being as the innumerable rhythms that balance life. The principle of Rta is not unique to India. Parallel concepts are found in all the ancient civilizations of the world. Chinese culture describes it as the principle of Tao, Islamic thought as the principle of Haqq, Greco-Roman culture as Logos and the Buddhists as unanimously accepted as a blue-print of Cosmic Harmony. Furthermore, this all-inclusive principle of cosmic harmony and human order pervades all the aspects of life: the natural world, the human world, the social world of every day community life, the moral world, as also, the realm of arts, creativity and architecture. Rta is also embodied in the ecological principle of inter-dependence, balance and interrelationship of all life. The seasonal cycles or Ritu Chakra through spring-time and harvest, are grounded in the principle of harmony and universal order; it is Rta which sustains the eco-balance of nature. Humans do not stand apart from nature but are a part of the larger cosmic flow. This integral bond between humans and nature became a basis for the seasonal celebrations, stimulated with prayers, incantations and sacred performances. The construction of sacred ritual practices and the participation in secular celebrations, are ways to mirror a larger cosmic order as it is conceived by that people. While Rta denotes order, its opposite manifestation is Anrta, disorder. These two mutually dependent principles form two sides of a single cosmic process. Cutting across interdisciplinary divides, the exhibition presents a multifaceted vision of Rta. As in the previous years, the exhibition was complemented by an interdisciplinary seminar on Rta: Order and Chaos. The seminar brought together physicists, scientists, philosophers, indologist, scholars of the humanities, artists and poets. The encounter brought to light that various viewpoints are not contradictory but are complementary to one another.
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About the author

Madhu Khanna

Dr. Madhu Khanna, project scholar of the Crossing Project, earned her Ph.D. in Religious Studies from Wolfson College, Oxford University in 1986 with a specialization in Hindu Shakta Tantra. She has to her credit two popular publications: Yantra: the Tantric Symbol of Cosmic Unity and the Tantric Way (co-author), both published by Thames and Hudson, London with American, French, German and Danish editions. Her seminal work, The Sricakra of the Cult of Goddess Tripursundari, based on Sanskrit Manuscript sources is forthcoming. She has researched the major interdisciplinary-cross-cultural exhibitions organized by the IGNCA and edited the exhibition Catalogue of fundamental categories of civilization (on the theme of Prakriti, Rita-ritu, and Man and Mask). She was awarded the Homi Bhabha Fellowship in 1991 to work on her project, :Indian Goddess and Feminist Consciousness”. She is the President and founder member of the Tantra Foundation, New Delhi. Art present, she is an Associate Professor with the Indira Gandhi National Centre for the Arts, New Delhi.

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Bibliographic information

Title Rta Ritu: An Exhibition on Cosmic Order and Cycle of Seasons
Author Madhu Khanna
Format Hardcover
Date published: 28.04.1996
Edition 1st ed.
Language: English
length 95p., Figures, Plates, 26cm.