Ranjana DG Chandra
JaggeryLit Arts Editor Srividya Ramamurthy had a virtual sit down with Ranjana DG Chandra – An artist based out of New Delhi, India. We hope you enjoy knowing about the artist and her artistic creations and spiritual journey.
Good Evening Ranjana! I am so excited to talk with you and know more about you and your work. First off, thank you so much for accepting to talk with us.
Thank you so much Srividya! The pleasure is mine (Smiles)
Ranjana, have you always been artistically inclined?
Yes, since childhood I have always had a creative instinct. I really wasn’t too much into academic studies so to speak, but I have always been able to express better through art. So, for my higher studies, I chose to apply to the National Institute of Design, (NID) Ahmedabad, India.
Ah! Tell us more about the National Institute of Design in Ahmedabad.
Sure. As I mentioned earlier, I was not very academically inclined but had a creative bent of mind. NID, hence was a natural, coveted choice. In those times, there was only one such design institute in India, and I was delighted to be selected as one of the 25 students admitted in my batch. Today, there are several options and other good institutes in the country too, but NID still holds a significant name in the world of Design. NID constituted to be the ideal place to explore and develop one’s creativity. The curriculum was very hands-on, and we did not have any textbooks and exams and I was happy never to see another report card! (laughs). Everything was project based and we were evaluated based on our creative renditions. I did my master’s in communication design with my specialization being in Graphic Design.
Wow! That is pretty interesting to know. Did they also use a lot of outdoors for teaching and such? I am sure that institute was brimming with creativity.
(Smiles) Your question brings a whiff of nostalgia and fond memories. We had huge workshops and studios and a lot had to do with our environment and outdoor learning too. The NID campus and hostel’s architecture was integrated with nature and used exposed concrete and red bricks by design. We often sat on our lawns or in the open-air amphitheater studying and drawing perspectives and nature around us or would roam around in the local bazaars sketching for a design perception of our environment. We learnt the art of typography, the psychology of color, geometric compositions and complex tessellations, played with different materials and textures and studied the applications of the design process. The curriculum was free flowing, and we were encouraged to think out-of-the-box. There was no grading one student against the other and so, one had to learn to do better against just yourself. This was before computers invaded our lives, which I think personally, helped me develop a very keen eye and attention to details. By the time I was in my 3rd year at NID, we had the first Macintosh studio and today, design has become altogether a different ball game.
So, you were just competing just against yourself? Isn’t that how learning should be?
Absolutely! Yes, the whole education system was about bringing the best in you. Everything was conceptually based, and one had to keep improving one’s ideas or designs. Design is about finding a creative solution to a problem, applying the correct design process, and the development of the form and function that follows it. You start by brainstorming with multiple ideas, and intuitively fine tune what you think will work best, enabling one to render their most creative and versatile design solutions.
Did you have a career as a graphic designer?
I started my career in advertising and worked in different Ad agencies in Delhi on the creative side. Post that I founded my own Brand Communications firm with a partner. Looking for something more meaningful, I joined an international firm as a Creative Consultant where we worked on campaigns as catalysts for environmental and social progress for non-profits across the globe. Then opting for a more flexible option, I took on an active role as Design Director in my husband’s firm (also an alumnus of NID). And finally, I have found home by doing what I love and amalgamated my various avatars into my website: padmasiddhi.com
That’s a wonderful journey. Can you tell us how the art journey started?
Many years ago, as I was rummaging through some books in a quaint little store in Rishikesh, I came across a book on YANTRAS which caught my fancy and intrigued me to get into a deeper study of the subject. Whilst in a full-time job, I was almost possessed by an inner urge to bring these sacred forms out as an expression of art so I would sit up late in the nights and create these yantras from scratch and couldn’t stop till I had the last one of the series out. I, myself, was mesmerized by the results as I almost felt a divine energy at play.
The MANDALA series is more recent and is derived from my fascination with the geometric formations in nature. For example, the Fibonacci sequence and the expanding nature of the universe which is an amazing aspect to me. Usually, while creating my art, I play and listen to Buddhist chants, so as to infuse the energy into the creations with the intention that the positive vibes will resonate in the place it finally reaches.
How did the drawing of Yantra’s start? How would you explain Yantra to our readers?
See, I’ve always been drawn to mysticism and appreciated art from ancient civilizations. I was fascinated by how Yantras have a deep spiritual significance relating to our own life force and symbolically aid in opening the gates to consciousness. And so, I began to explore the subject. Yantras are ancient diagrams representing divinity. The sacred geometric formations used in Yantras predominantly consists of triangles, squares, circles, lotus petals etc. with the Bindu at the center representing the point of creation and return back to the origin.
I am now experimenting on 3D yantras now.
3D Yantras sound very interesting, can you please explain.
(Smiles) I got this idea in a temple in Vrindavan, when I came across an ancient 3D Yantra set in stone. I am experimenting with this now but on another medium (mdf) and I am equally excited with this body of work. Earlier, I would create layers of my art in Photoshop and output it with high-end digital prints on canvas. What I am doing now is I am painting on different surface layers with acrylics and gold foil and trying to create more textures. This is a work in progress, and I am pretty thrilled to see how this idea is taking shape.
Lovely!! Also, Yantra has a deep spiritual meaning and also geometry doesn’t it, can this be used as a tool or aid to help one with meditation?
Time immemorial, Yantras have been used in pujas, yagnas, healing and meditation in the Indian subcontinent. Yantras help to harness the influential energy fields of their specific deities. So, I believe, it is a good omen to have Yantras as they represent divinity and help in one’s spiritual enfoldment symbolically.
Absolutely – How do you choose the color combinations?
I try to retain the original colors of the Yantra in some, like in the yantras of certain Goddesses (Bhuvaneswari, Purneshwari etc.) where I have stayed authentic to what the ancient scripts have depicted. But in my Shiv Shakti yantra, I have composed it with relevant elements like adding mantras and making it very visually attractive from a color perspective. However, the diagrams are accurate with mathematical precision as these are sacred and cannot be tampered with, as it is considered to be the subtle body of the deity. Hence the power and blessings of the deity is preserved which leads to the purity of the yantra. You can view my Yantra series on my website: https://padmasiddhi.com/sacredart-yantras/
I have also created some art pieces using geodes and resin.
Tell us more about that. Girl! You are truly talented!!!!
(Smiles modestly) Inspired by natural geode formations, I have created free-form, stunningly eclectic geodes with acrylic and resin as the medium. I hand craft them using glass, deco stones, glitter and crystal beads. Each piece is unique, and I love the fluidity of the colors swirling into each other. It would truly spark up any space that it is placed. I have categorized them under “Celestial” and “Meteoroid” collections depending on the color palette. Do check them out at: https://padmasiddhi.com/resinworks-geoderesin/
I also heard that you are into Kundalini Yoga, can you tell us how that journey began?
“Autobiography of a Yogi ” by Paramahansa Yogananda was the book that altered my life. After reading the book, the message was very clear and direct to me. “Kriya Yoga – is the lightning path to Salvation”. That was my awakening call, and I began to seek. As the saying goes: “When the student is ready, the Master appears” and that is exactly what happened with me.
(As a person engaged in this conversation with Ranjana Chandra – I get goosebumps at this point)
I was very fortunate and blessed to have found my Satguru, an enlightened Himalayan Master Yogiraj Satgurnath Siddanath and was initiated and empowered into Kundalini Kriya Yoga by him. I am now a certified Hamsacharya in South Delhi and endeavor to spread my master’s message for the enlightenment of humanity. I teach Mahavaratar Shiva Gorasksha Babaji’s Kundalini Kriya Yoga of the Siddhanath Yoga Parampara. I have details on my website for anyone that is interested. https://padmasiddhi.com/meditation/
Wow! How wonderful! I am amazed with the progression that you have had. Back to arts (Laughs) Do you commission art based on what one might be interested in?
Yes. I would love to. I can personalize the Yantras or Mandalas or create new resin pieces and customize according to one’s preferences.
And they can take a look at your website to see what you have or what your latest artwork creation is?
Yes!! Anyone can reach me through my website https://padmasiddhi.com/ or can email me at: firstname.lastname@example.org
Ranjana – It has been such a pleasure talking with you, knowing about you and your art and spiritual journey. On behalf of JaggeryLit, we wish you all the very best. Thank you!!