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  • Manju Sadarangani

Ahankar III

Ahankar III: Ego 3

अहंकार III

5” x 7”

Mixed Media on Canvas


This series is a meditation on the concept of the ego.

Broken down into its linguistic roots, Ahankar comes from the Sanskrit for aham – I, and kar – making. I-making or I-maker, Ahankar is the principle of individuation in Hinduism, Buddhism and Jainism etc. It is the activity of attributing existence to the ego on the basis of subjective consciousness, where the psyche is bound to the concept of one's self with an external thing. This thing can be tangible, material, or it can be a concept.

Closer to home I grew up with the concept of Ahankar as arrogance, excessive pride. In Sikhism, Ahankar is one of the Five Thieves, the five major weaknesses of the human personality. They are understood as "thieves" because they steal a person's inherent common sense.In my world, Ahankar was used as a term of chastisement, in particular when associated with women. The standard trope of men as confident, women as arrogant while practicing the same behavior applies.

In this particular series I was trying to capture many things – the disintegration of the physical body; health, ability, and its connection to self; the dearth of female spiritual authority figures; the fixed idea of the ego and what happens when that dissolves; leaning into the inability to control; the chaos at the loss of self.

I sat with imperfection, depth, self-imposed limits and texture in this piece. I reached for a shade of pink called rani pink, queen pink, shocking pink. I tried to capture the laying bare of essence, the organic understanding of duality. The cracks in the meditating person are signs of loss, growth, evolution, dissolution. The texture and pattern within the piece is sitting with the illusion of multi-dimensionality.

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