Ramayana: Through 15 Iconic Characters – 2023

Publisher: Perky Parrot, Niyogi Books 

The Ramayana, one of India’s great epics, continues to have a huge impact on Indian life. Originally written in almost 24,000 stanzas by Valmiki, social and public goals from this epic are manifested into our lives.

In this contemporary rendition meant for young adult readers, the author, art historian Dr Alka Pande, describes her take on 15 characters, who present the kaleidoscope of what it is to be human-from demonic, mean and negative, to suprahuman and divine. These 15 characters from the epic present a wide canvas of human behaviour and offer insights into ethical questions that affect us all.

To show glimpses into just a few – the characters of Rama, Bharata and Lakshmana provide a model of supportive brotherhood and friendship; Hanuman remains as an optimal remarkable Karma Yogi; Sita is viewed as the best illustration of womanly loyalty and constancy. With an introduction that sets the stage for the chosen personae, Ramayana Through 15 Iconic Characters offers fresh perspectives into this age-old, yet evergreen, Indian epic.

Rabindranath Tagore : The Renaissance Man – 2022

Discover the lives of ground-breaking Indian artists, from their childhoods, full of dreams, realised through passion, perseverance and personality.

Inspired by the life of Rabindranath Tagore, born in 1861, in the heart of Calcutta, this book tells the story of his journey as a poet, dramatist, musician, scholar, author and painter. His work is eternal and lives on in the hearts and minds of people, especially his composition of India’s national anthem, Jana Gana Mana.

The Adulterer and Kama: The Seduction of Illicit Love – 2022

Publisher: Speaking Tiger Books

‘Until recent centuries—when Indian society turned prudish and hypocritical—the sexual sensibilities of society were derived from the kamashastras, which give sexuality pride of place in human experience… And in the kamashastras, it appears that adultery is considered almost a prerequisite for good, uninhibited sex that satisfies both partners.’

This delightfully mischievous book brings us a selection of images from pre-modern India of men and women engaged in sex that is most probably adulterous: married men and women—and courtesans—having quick or leisurely secret liaisons.

The Nayika and Kama: She Takes Her Pleasure – 2022

Publisher: Speaking Tiger Books

‘The Nayika in her different moods animates ancient and medieval art, poetry and drama… Her desire for physical union with the lover is as strong as her anguish due to separation from him. Her passion is both generous and intense; she knows how to give pleasure, and she knows how to take it.’

This lovely book presents a selection of images that show the Nayika—the ideal romantic heroine of classical Indian literature—in varied states of sexual pleasure. There are images from the Khajuraho and Hampi temple complexes, from illustrated Kamasutra manuscripts with miniature paintings from the Punjab hills, Rajasthan and the Deccan, and from popular erotic pamphlets of the 19th century.

Yoga and Kama : The Acrobatics of Love – 2022

Publisher: Speaking Tiger Books

Yoga is the science of ultimate balance—between dharma (duty, or “right living”), artha (economic well-being), kama (erotic desire) and moksha (enlightenment or liberation)… Sexual satisfaction is thus essential for a full and healthy experience of life. The most visible manifestations of yoga are physical poses or asanas and these were the easiest to depict. Hence the profusion in India’s pre-modern sculpture and art of people engaged in a variety of sexual acts, the positions inspired directly by yoga asanas.’

A leading authority on India’s art and erotic traditions brings us images of lovers in yogic or yoga-inspired poses—for mindful pleasure, extended bliss, or passionate excess—and ranging from the stunningly gymnastic to the delightfully over-the-top. With a brilliant introduction explaining the connection between yoga and kama, this book of art is as exquisite as it is unusual.

Al Fresco Kama : Love Under The Open Sky – 2022

Publisher: Speaking Tiger Books

‘The Freedom And Beauty Of The Green Outdoors—soft Beds Of Grass And Ferns The Caress Of The Breeze The Scent Of Flowers Birdsong And Moonlight—inflame Desire In The Nayak (hero) And The Nayika (heroine) In Ancient And Medieval Indian Art And Literature… Whether The Nayak And Nayika Be Mortals Or Gods, Love Is Always Erotic, And Its Most Beautiful Expression Happens In The Lap Of Nature, As The Lovers Give Themselves To Each Other Without Inhibition Beneath The Open Sky.’

In This Exquisite Book, One Of India’s Most Respected Authorities On Art, Aesthetics And Pre-modern Sexuality Brings Us Images That Celebrate Erotic Love In The Outdoors. With A Brilliant Introduction Providing The Context, She Has Put Together Glorious Visual Evidence Of The Freedom That Lovers Once Enjoyed In South Asia.

Women and Deities 2022

Women and Deities’ is a unique exhibition. For the first time ever, this entire display of antiquities from the prehistoric to the medieval period has been culled from the reserve collection of the Bihar Museum. All the 166 exhibits consisting of a total of 156 works in terracotta, bronze, and stone, miniature paintings, and ten contemporary art works show an unbroken tradition of 2,000 years of the representation of women in Indian art through the ages. These 156 traditional art objects have never been displayed at the Bihar Museum, which was set up in 2015. The eight contemporary paintings and two sculptures have been carefully added to bring viewers right up to present times.
The exhibition attempts to show the many manifestations of women in different materials, through different periods in time and additional stylistic attributes, beginning with the earliest terracotta figurine going back to 2nd century CE, to the Ganga created by the contemporary artist Jayasri Burman in bronze in 2011. The creative imagination of the artists, combined with the mastery of the medium, resulted in the production of some of the finest sculptures and the most beautiful paintings.
The range of women in the plastic arts of India spans a large cross-section of the country’s society and culture. From princesses to heroines, from goddesses to devotees, the many forms and manifestations of the feminine form are celebrated in this collection. What is interesting is that the art displayed in this exhibition is special because it primarily belongs to the region and therefore maps the zeitgeist in a linear narrative, an important and valuable pointer to art’s historical development.
From the sacred to the popular, the ‘Women and Deities’ exhibition has been specially curated in the Bihar Museum to represent the beauty, grace, adornment, and power of women themselves.

Most importantly, the exhibition is dedicated to the spectacular women of Bihar who are the engine drivers of change, transformation, and development.

Dr. Alka Pande
Chief Curator
August, 2022

Pha(bu)llus: A Cultural History – 2021

Phallic symbolism is one of the oldest and most prevalent motifs in religion, culture and art: the earliest known representations go back to prehistoric times. Starting off as a symbol of fertility, the phallus has gone through numerous interpretations in the way it is perceived, and its symbolic significance varies across cultures as well. In the west, the erotic symbolism of the phallus is often emphasized, whereas in India, the most widely seen representation of the phallus is religious, in the form of the lingam, associated with Shiva. Pha(bu)llus draws on the intricate network of ideas and beliefs regarding the phallus to present a fascinating look at the most obsessed-with body part in human history.

Bihar Museum Biennale 2021:Connecting People, Connecting Cultures

Why a Museum Biennale in Bihar

A confluence of royalty, culture and learning, the vision for the Bihar Museum is to be a world-class showcase for the history and heritage of the lands now known as Bihar. Its mission is to celebrate this ancient past and to inculcate a sense of pride in the residents of one of India’s most significant states. Against such a rich and diverse landscape, it is a natural step forward to create yet another historical first-a museum biennale that valorises museum collections and what they present to the world. A book on the the path breaking initiative by Bihar Museum which will lead the dialogue on the museums of today, moving beyond their roles as repositories of knowledge and knowledge-creation, as they engage, spark inquiry, exploration and creativity. The Bihar Museum Biennale 2021 becomes even more emblematic as a result of the challenges of the life-altering pandemic.

Shakti: 51 Sacred Peethas of the Goddess – 2020

This book is devoted to the understanding of the omnipresent and all-powerful Shakti and her sacred abodes known as Peethas. The story of Devi Sati and Lord Shiva ended tragically with the death of Sati. An angry and inconsolable Shiva took Sati’s lifeless body and started the ‘Rudra Tandava’ or the dance of destruction. To save the world, Lord Vishnu used his ‘sudarshan chakra’ to cut the body of Sati into 51 pieces and each part fell at different places on Earth and each become a revered Shakti Peetha. Renowned writer and historian Dr Alka Pande narrates that while the Shakti Peethas represent a single philosophical fold, they are a testament to the diverse legends of Shakti. Different peethas which became holy at the touch of Sati’s body have survived hundreds of centuries and have kept alive their local folklore of Shakti. Together they evoke the Mother Goddess as both the nourishing and the destructive force behind the existence of the cosmos. The 51 Peethas featured in the book can never be an absolute representation of the Peethas of the Goddess, since the Devi is anywhere and everywhere.