Friday, January 15, 2016

Dog as Spirit Guide

I hope everyone survived the holidays and is ready for the new year. I am just now resurfacing after the holiday travels and it feels great to be back in the studio again. Last year was a year full of travels and discovery.
Last year I had come across the pictures of dogs that were celebrated and honored in Nepal in their Kukur Tihar Festival. The festival that celebrates dogs and their undying devotion and love for man takes place in Nepal every year, on the second day of Tihar, the country’s autumnal religious celebrations.

Based on the Hindu celebration of Diwali, Tihar is the Nepalese version of this religious festival, where people gather to celebrate the triumph of light over darkness, of knowledge over ignorance and the worshiping of all living beings, especially dogs!
Dogs have a are marked with a tika on their heads and are dressed with a garland called malla. On this festive day where dogs are honored and worshiped, all of our furry friends are offered delicious treats by their fellow human beings and songs and dances take place in their honor.

Yudhishthira, the King of Righteousness, is shown here refusing to enter heaven without his dog.
In the Hindu epic Mahabharata, Yudhishthira was the eldest son of King Pandu and Queen Kunti and the king of Indraprastha and later of Hastinapura (Kuru). He was the leader of the successful Pandava side in the Kurukshetra War. At the end of the epic, he ascended to heaven.
At the end of the epic, Yudhishthira and brothers and wife, accompanied by a dog, made their final journey of pilgrimage to the Himalayas. While climbing the peaks, his brothers and wife fell to their deaths, dragged down by the weight of their guilt for their sins. As it happens, Yudhishthira had to answer every time Bhima asked him the reason for his wife and brothers' fall. But he did not even look back to help any of them which seemed very cruel to Bhima. This was because Yudhishthira knew that the time to leave Earthly ties had come and he needed to focus his mind. Yudhishthira was the only one to reach the mountain peak in his mortal body, because he was unblemished by sin or untruth. On reaching the top, Indra asked him to abandon the dog before entering the Heaven. But Yudhishthira refused to do so, citing the dog's unflinching loyalty as a reason. It turned out that the dog was his god-father Dharma in disguise. The incident symbolized that dharma follows you till the end.

So after seeing this pictures of the festival, reading both the above epic of Yudhishthira and  an excerpt of Jean Houston's book Mystical Dogs: Animals as Guides to our Inner Life, I was inspired to paint some dogs with mallas. I decided to pick the 10 most popular dogs in the U.S. on a list I found from the American Kennel Club. If you want to see all of my paintings they are available in my shop.

Here are a few I would like to share...



 Once again you can see all the dogs I have painted in my shop. I hope you enjoy them! And go give your dog a huge hug!