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Traces an artist's (Puskara) dedication to showing the radiant spiritual world by creating the windows- paintings depicting the sublime images of Transcendence- we are led on an adventure illumined by the brilliant realm of ultimate truth and beauty seen through the windows of transcendental art.
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Puskar was born Matthew Goldman, on January 1, 1947, in Brooklyn, New York. Of his earliest childhood experiences he recalls painting with his father, Louis: "When I was one and half, while watching my father paint murals, he taught me how to tap the brush against the can and then gave me my own wall space, paint can, and brush." By age seven he was attending special art classes at the Brooklyn Museum and Pratt Institute. Puskar was later accepted into the High School of Music and Art in upper Manhattan. For the next two or three years Puskar was absorbed in intense artistic study and discipline taking ten to twelve hours of classes each day, meeting many talented people already making their mark on life. While at the League, he studied with the renowned anatomical master, Robert Beverly Hale. Of Hale's teaching Puskar recalls, "He was more interested in the expression than in the precision with which a figure was drawn. Several times he said to me ,'Nice feeling.'"
After a few years of study, offering to pay his tuition, Puskar's parents convinced him to go to the San Francisco Art Institute. There he also tried his hand at etching and photography. To Puskar it seemed dismal- particularly the painting department, because by this time his mind had become too much "expanded" to deal with such a structured environment. The Art Institute began to feel more and more like a prison. The students wore the clothes of nonconforming spirits but were conforming to this oppressively mundane and materialistic regimen. A regimen devised by the proverbial men in gray flannel suits.
Puskar began traveling in the Sierra mountains with some friends. "They had a good selection of books on yoga and mysticism. I read some impersonal, monistic stuff and briefly glanced at Bhaktivedanta Swami's Bhagavad-gita As It Is, which was only recently published. This study began to influence my view of art, and a vague desire to elevate the subject matter of my work began to germinate. I started to see the artist as a meditator. But what was the ultimate goal of meditation? That was unclear to me. Ensnarement by the senses seemed to be especially meant for artists.
Many of the books on mysticism, yoga, and spirituality, which Puskar had been reading, spoke of finding a teacher, a guru-someone who was living in an expanded state of consciousness, whose life exemplified and embodied spiritual ideals. Puskar began to see the need to find a guru, someone who could give direction in achieving transcendence having already attained that state. But where to look? He thought of India, the land of spirituality, but the expense of the trip discouraged him. On the other hand, Hawaii, with its tropical, Eden-like allurement, was only a seventy-five dollar plane ride away:
"So I flew to Hawaii with exotic visions of a new fulfillment. I was traveling with only a sleeping bag and a knapsack. My only art supplies were a mechanical pen and a bristol board, and I was doing convoluted, doodly drawings with no beginning or end. But Polynesian paralysis set in, and after five or six months of picking fruit and living on the beach or in abandoned houses, paradise began to get on my nerves. I would do headstands for an hour at a time, and I read any book on Eastern mysticism that came my way. I knew I needed a guru to teach me about something higher that what was going on in the mundane world, where things centered on eating, sleeping, drugs, and sex. One quote I read in this regard impressed me. It said that one should approach a guru for higher knowledge, not for sex education."
Puskar met a young American spiritual teacher named "Sai" who had developed quite a following on the islands and began living with them in an ashram. "In those surroundings my life became regulated and peaceful. Each of us would get up very early and bathe, and then together chant and read. In front of the house was an organic garden. In the back were avocados, papayas, and the like. We'd go down the road and fetch wild mangoes for breakfast."
" While at the ashram in Maui, I saw paintings from the First Volume of Krsna, A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Srila Prabhupada's summary study of Krsna's pastimes as found in the Tenth Canto of the Bhagavat Purana, also known as Srimad Bhagavatam. These early paintings struck me with their unique liveliness. Around this time a local branch of ISKCON, the International Society for Krishna Consciousness opened on the islands.
Sai's teachings were really those of Srila Prabhupada's, and Sai was not explaining this to his followers nor was he initiated himself, which is necessary to act as a spiritual master. Being sincere, Sai requested his followers to take "diksa" or spiritual initiation from Bhaktivedanta Swami and in groups of ten persons, sent them around the world to various branches of ISKCON. Puskar was sent to Los Angeles and Sai also become initiated.
"Some months later I was living at the ISKCON temple in L.A., painting pictures of the acharyas, our great predecessor spiritual masters. I felt deeply benefited as I depicted the forms of these self-realized souls, fully Krsna conscious souls- and especially benefited as I depicted the form of Srila Prabhupada, our eternal spiritual guide. By absorbing ourselves in the pure devotee's form, somehow we can gradually attain some of his spiritual qualities. For instance all at once Srila Prabhupada was self-assured and erudite, yet self-effacing and childlike." In this way, since 1971, Puskar has been painting Windows to the Spiritual World, shown around the world and profusely utilized in books published by the Bhaktivedanta Book Trust, publishing arm of ISKCON.Review:
Art of a Higher Order. -- Gainesville Sun, 10/22/97
Fantastical...rich with layer upon layer of symbolism and metaphorical content. -- Florida Times Union, Jacksonville, FL 12/97
May you feel the spiritual energy pulsating from these colorful pages, and absorb this energy into your mind and heart. -- Harikesa Swami-Bhaktivedanta Book Trust
Mesmerizes the viewer, much like staring at a rainbow close up. -- Moon Magazine, 3/98
Remarkably detailed symbolic paintings of Hindu themes. Puskara is prolific and talented. -- NAPRA Review 2/98
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Book Description Bhaktivedanta Book Trust, 1997. Hardcover. Condition: New. Never used!. Seller Inventory # P110965578402
Book Description Bhaktivedanta Book Trust, 1997. Condition: New. Puskara Dasa (illustrator). book. Seller Inventory # M0965578402