Yoga: The Art of Transformation
Three Aspects of the Absolute
Creation begins with the limitless and eternal Absolute, according to the Naths, a sectarian order associated with hatha yoga. A mesmerizing painting represents the origins of existence as a shimmering field of gold (left). Its successive emanations (center and right) into consciousness and form are perfected Nath yogis, covered in ash and clad in saffron. Through yogic practice, Naths transform their physical bodies into subtle matter and merge with the luminous Absolute. Many yoga traditions define enlightenment as the recognition that the Self and the Absolute are one and the same.
The Nath Charit was written and illustrated at the court of Maharaja Man Singh of Jodhpur (reigned 1803–43), a devotee of the Naths. The manuscript is monumental in size.
Although the concept of the Absolute is central to many Hindu traditions, it is rarely represented. The radically abstract gold field seen here was an innovation of the Jodhpur atelier.