- Manju Sadarangani
Ahankar V: Ego 5
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 and 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 at variance with its spiritual essence. They are understood as "thieves" because they steal a person's inherent common sense. It was used as a term of chastisement, in particular when associated with a woman. The standard trope of men as confident, women as arrogant while practicing the same behavior applies.
This particular series was about so many things for me – the dearth of female spiritual authority figures; identifying with characteristics and qualities as inherently me, or not me; 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 played with the idea of nature and cosmos, control and entropy, using color to illustrate illusion. The colors, and therefore the loci of this piece change according to the angle of the viewer, the light, the perspective.