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SCULPTURE of Sri Sarada Devi

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Bronze bust of
Holy Mother Sri Sarada Devi
by Malvina Hoffman,

 

"A few years later I was asked to do the portrait of the Holy Mother of India. It presented much the same problem as that of her husband, Sri Ramakrishna. Swami Nikhilananda was again helpful because he could frame by a kind psychic sympathy the problem I faced trying to enter imaginatively into the spirit of this holy woman I had never seen. He made the illuminating comment that she had been formed by her husband's philosophy, which she preached. Her husband had been a serene person, and some of the serenity, some of that religious inwardness of character, had been conveyed to his wife, and now she became for me not just a woman with a veil over her head and long, wavy black tresses hanging down, but a woman with a meditative spirit, with enough force to exert the undying influence she seems to have had on thousands of followers. Yet just such serenity and inward poser make the subject harder to portray. Most Americans in the mature years have lines and wrinkles, markings of the face that are easy to catch. But the Indian mystic's features tend to be smoothed off, and I had to get at something that would come through that mask of serenity. With the Swami's help, the portrait of the holy Mother reached its conclusion, and he was satisfied with the result.
It meant much to me to do these portraits. Indians treat an artist as something outside general life. They have the feeling that God has spoken to him and that he is in continuous communication with God, for otherwise he could not go on being an artist. That attitude develops in you a sense of respect and an acceptance of responsibility. I felt both appreciative and dedicated, and I did the best that I could for them." From "Yesterday is Tomorrow: A Personal History" by Malvina Hoffman, Crown Publishers, Inc., New York, 1965
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