Author Topic: Writing in Light - 9  (Read 2016 times)


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Writing in Light - 9
« on: April 18, 2009, 12:51:54 PM »
Henri Cartier-Bresson, certainly one of the greatest photographers
of the 20th century, visited Tiruvannamalai, in 1948 and 1950.  He
had just founded Magnum, the elite and pioneering photographer's
cooperative, and stayed for one and half years in India.  Like a true
master, he had the uncanny knack of being at the right place at the right time, capturing his decisive moment with astonishing artistry
and professional regularity.  Thus we see his classic coverage of Gandhiji's last days and funeral, Nehru sharing a laugh with the
Mountbattens as well as the people and landscapes of a timeless
India awakening to a life of freedom.

A deceptively simple photograph of Sri Ramanasramam, dated 1948,
shows the white peacock in full display.  Towering haystacks, exactly like the ones today dwarf the figures watching in the middle distance. Above it all, Arunachala looms, silent and magnificent.  It could have been shot yesterday.

On April, 4, 1950, (ten days before Bhagavan's Maha Nirvana),
Carier-Bresson photographed Bhagavan, by then ailing quite rapidly, in the small room which is now called Nirvana Room.  There are
three pictures that we know of from this occasion, and it turned out that these were the lst photographs of Bhagavn taken while He was
still inhabiting the body.  Exquisite, available-light pictures, shot with great sensitivity and skill.  Despite the physical agony, (at least,
in the eyes of the onlooker)  Bhagavan Ramana is looking directly into the camera, still smiling faintly, with indescribable sweetness.  His head, as it were a great weight, is titled.  His cancerous left arm swarthed in cotton.  The Final Darshan.

"Ramana Maharshi", Cartier-Bresson said in an interview in 1990, "was a completley accomplished being.  At Tiruvannamalai, I saw a ball of fire moving slowly across the sky.  As a practical Frenchman, I timed it.  Some kid came out and said that Bhagavan Ramana died 13 minutes to 9 in the evening.  I think, He was buried vertically.  I took some pictures with flash something which I never do."

His pictures of Bhagavan's body, bedecked in flowers for the burial rites, are too strong for the sensibilities of some devotees.  Others are reminded of Bhagavan Ramana's teachings:  That we are not the body, not even the mind, but the Self.

There are two other pictures images of the prss of grieving devotees.  One depicts a scene of frenzied loss, hands reaching out for something which is forever gone.  In the other, devotees simply stand, their attention intent on something off-camera, faces, the very pictures of sadness and beautiful even in grief.

Bhagavan is reported to have remarked, near the end:  "They say that I am going, but where can I go?  I am here."  THE FINAL ASSURANCE.

[ Henri Cartier-Bresson's photographs have been published in the recent issues of Mountain Path.   He is himself caught in another photographer's shot, where Henri is moving in a hurry from place to place  inside the Asramam, to catch the devotees, long queues of them, in his lens.  Henri Cartier-Bresson, recently passed away.]

(Source: As stated in Part I)

Arunachala Siva.


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Re: Writing in Light - 9
« Reply #1 on: April 18, 2009, 03:11:54 PM »
Iam very tired today but this post touched me deep inside, I have to see this fotographs...please help me


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Re: Writing in Light - 9
« Reply #2 on: April 18, 2009, 03:29:55 PM »
Dear matthias,

If you want to see most of the photographs mentioned by Dev
Gogoi, including those of Henri Cartier Bresson, you may have
to purchase any one of these books:

1. Centenary Souvenir, 1996.  (No reprints are available.  I am not
sure whether copies are still available in the Asramam.

2. Arunachala's Ramana, Boundless Ocean of Grace, English.
The eight volume book, costs Rs 1300 in India, may be more
for foreign devotees, due to airmail parcel charges.  Please
check with Asramam through their e mail address.

The Welling Bust is the cover photo of Aruthur Osborne's Complete
Works in English.  It is available in the Asramam.  The book cost
Rs 60 plus air mail charges.

Arunachala Siva.