Sunday, 15 February 2015

The Vedic Disciples | "Wet Plate" | Exposure

I've just published The Vedic Disciples on the Exposure platform, using a digital wet plate preset to give the monochromatic photographs an ancient appearance which befits the location.

The photographs (originally in color) were made at the Vadakke Madham Brahmaswam Vedic Institute in Thrissur, and is of the activities at an ancient Vedic 'gurukul' (or training/boarding school; very similar to the Buddhist monasteries for novitiates), where the young students follow this way of teaching sacred Vedic scriptures.

There are four Vedas: Rig Veda, Atharva Veda, Sama Veda and Yajur Veda. The Vedas include more than 100,000 verses and additional prose.

It is an ancient Indian educational system; currently being rejuvenated with the assistance of the Indian government. The young boys who populate the Vedic school belong to a caste of Keralan Brahmins, and are responsible to carry on the age-old tradition of chanting Vedas during religious rituals or functions. The chanting is learned by practice, and nothing is written down. 

The rhythm of the Vedic chants is followed by the young boys' moving their bodies in cadence to the verses, which reminded me how the Buddhist novices recite their mantras, or how the Islamic students recite the Qur'an at their madrasas...and how Jewish worshipers sway during their prayers. 

The tradition of Vedic chanting is often considered the oldest unbroken oral tradition in existence, while the Vedic texts date to roughly the time of Homer. It is said that the Vedas -as they are called- are a vast collection of hymns that were heard by ancient Indian sages when they were in a deep meditative state.