Sutra Paintings from India

The Vijnana Bhairava Tantra is a sacred Indian text structured as a dialog between the deity Bhairava and his consort the Goddess Devi, also known as Shiva and Shakti, the divine masculine and feminine. The text comprises 112 verses or sutras in which the Goddess Who Is The Creative Power of the Universe asks the God Who Is The Consciousness That Permeates Everywhere for answers to the question, “Beloved, tell me, how do I enter more deeply into the reality of the Universe?”

The text is a manual for awakening and has been used for centuries by devotees to access the divine through every day life experience. An extraordinary aid for meditation, reading even just one sutra “creates a sensory vibration that can be felt in the body” (Shiva Rae, foreward to ‘The Radiance Sutras’). 

Inspired by a new translation of the Vijnana Bhairava Tantra, The Radiance Sutras by Lorin Roche, Ph,D., I created a symbol for each verse: a visual sign that communicates the essence of the sutra to complement and accompany the written word. 

        The soul reveals itself to itself through gesture

        The invisible loves the visible. 

                            (Radiance Sutra 54) 

A selection of the artist’s favorite sutras, painted on silk, are presented here in a prayer flag formation, a reference to their role as an aid for meditation.

What’s your favorite sutra? Feel into it. What symbol would you pair it with? Perhaps you’d create a symbol of your own? What would it be?

These Sutra Symbols were exhibited, along with Yantras of Devi, at Sanskriti Kendra in New Delhi, India in February 2012.