The New Year

    It’s the New Year 2016!  So we here at Masa Rasa Studios, all two of us, wish everyone a happy and prosperous New Year.   I’m in a rare mood today . . . I want to express my gratitude for the support we’ve received this past year.  That’s not to say I don’t often feel grateful, it’s simply to say that when I am focused on work, that in itself becomes the meditation, the worship, it is for me gratitude in action.  When Ganapati and I first started doing this, I was a little surprised to find out there had been very little created in the way of murtis for the Beings we’ve chosen.  I thought there would have been many statues available, many sculptures expressing the Divine energy of these Gurus.  But no, there was little to look at, much less purchase.  So we have chosen to fill that gap, dive into that void, express the nectar from that flower . . . experience the Rasa in the Masa.

   Masa Rasa has truly gone international this past year, shipping work not only across the United States but also to India, Australia, New Zealand, Italy, Germany, Mexico, and the Netherlands.  So let me offer a brief recap of what we’ve accomplished in 2015, and a glimpse into what is to come in 2016 . . . and offer gratitude for all things Masa Rasa.

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    We began 2015 having just introduced Babaraj, a 12” high seated Panchaloha bronze figure of Swami Muktananda Paramahansa, peacock wand at the ready as he welcomes guests, seekers, and devotees, with love and respect.  I chose a pose of Baba from his early years of functioning as a Guru, the days when he looked not only kind and kingly, as the Raj, but also wild and virile . . . Tishuru Mifune, Jimi Hendrix, Pope Francis, and a Bengal tiger, all rolled into one Self  :) . . . pure delight.  Incomparable.  


    And since then, we’ve gone big.  At the end of the summer I created a life size bust of Baba Muktananda in clay, which was then fired into ceramic.  Working in that size was a first for me, challenging and exciting at the same time.  We sometimes call this piece Muktanandus Maximus because of it’s size, and also because it stylistically resembles Greek or Roman sculpture.  The name also refers to the magnanimous energy and spirit of Baba Muktananda, which could never be contained in any one vessel.   The intention of this piece is to share a reflection of that presence, expressed in clay.  Masa Rasa has plans to offer bronzes editions of this piece in various sizes this coming year.  And there may be some more life size work on the horizon.  


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    Ganapati continues to deftly steer the Masa Rasa ship at the foundry, working closely with Wayne Dyer and our friends at Bronzart to make sure all stays on schedule.  Wayne is the foundry manager,  expert at patinas, and oracle about all things bronze.  

   A special note for those who order statues:  we ask that you please remember that these bronzes are works of art that are meticulously crafted.  It takes time to shepherd them through the foundry process.  Sometimes we're ahead of schedule on deliveries, sometimes we are right on time, and other times well . .  . let’s say we want every statue to look perfect before we send it to it’s new home, and if it takes a little extra time, so be it.  We ask your patience in receiving.


Bronzart provides the purest art grade bronze money can buy, and Wayne does his very best to make sure the quality in craftsmanship always comes through.


                     Ganapati prepares to add gold and silver to the molten mix.  Panchaloha!                                                          


    In order to show the work and honor these Great Beings, the artist removes his rather large and   shiny ego and leaves it behind him :)

                                         Babaraj receives his patina and final trial by fire.

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    Recently, with the help of Bronzart, we’ve miniaturized!  This has been a project ongoing over the last few months.  Through state of the art 3D scanning and some deft foundry work, we’ve had four of the statues from our collection made into 3.5” perfect replicas . . .  all created in Panchaloha bronze.  In addition to that size, we are also offering solid silver 2” versions.  We have plans to miniaturize the entire collection over time.


 Four small bronzes on a marble platter. . . . Babaraj, Bhagavan, Blessing Baba, and Young Nityananda.
                    This setup has become a point of purchase display for our distributors.

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   The first newly created full size statue we rolled out in 2015 was that of Ramana Maharshi.   Instead of describing Ramana, he prefers that we simply maintain silence . .  and smile with contentment.  


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    The second statue created and produced this year was a murti of Anandamayi Ma . .  such a beautiful and pure subject to have the pleasure to sculpt.  Here she is imaged as a very young woamn.  We had many requests for a white version, so we asked Wayne at Bronzart, to create for us a patina that resembled marble.  Here she is, white patina over Panchaloha bronze, with a slight wax sheen.  Pure.  Custom patinas are always a possibility with any of our statues.


    No matter what murti of her you’re looking at . .  . a photo, painting, or statue . . . what can you say about a young Anandamayi Ma, except “beautiful . . . stunning . . .”  They say Anandamayi Ma’s husband (the marriage was an arranged affair) received an intense electrical shock when he first tried to touch her with amorous aspirations.  I imagine it was a beautiful shock.  He didn’t try it again, or so the story goes.  
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    To ring in the New Year, we are presenting a three dimensional sculpture of Sri Yantra, a mystical geometric construction that expresses the interpenetrating energies of the Universe, the Masculine and Feminine Divine.  The proofing has just been completed at the foundry (no photo yet), and they will soon be available on our website.  What is pictured here is the wood and clay prototype created by hand with the help of artisan and master potter Peter Lippincot.   This is a commissioned piece, and we will be offering this sculpture in Panchaloha bronze and in three sizes:  2”, 3.5”, and 7” wide.      


                                                 Looking at the mold of Sri Yantra from within.


    Sri Yantra is often depicted as flat two dimensional art, and as a three dimensional object, both with nine interlocking triangles that surround and radiate out from the central point, or bindu.  Both are used in ritual worship and meditation to represent the totality of the Universe both without and within. Fair warning! - meditation on this symbol could take you beyond the confines of the mind.

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      The latest mischief we’ve been up to is the creation of  a sculpture of Sai Baba of Shirdi, arguably India’s most well known saint.  Just about every cab in Mumbai seems to have his likeness displayed.    A true world teacher, Sai Baba taught both Hindus and Muslims equally, and embraced all faiths.   He was a poor man who preferred to spend his time in the streets among the people.  Google him.  Wikipedia will offer a far more compelling description of his life than I ever could.  I prefer to simply sculpt his likeness, and I’ve chosen a perhaps less well known photo of him for inspiration.  We have a few surprises in store relating to this piece.  The clay rendering is complete, now for the fires!


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    Along the Masa Rasa path we’ve encountered so many wonderful people who have whole heartedly embraced our work, and even purchased statues for themselves or as gifts.  The overwhelming response from people has been gratitude and support.  And we are profoundly grateful for the opportunity to create these murtis for others and the grace that flows in both directions.  The kind of connection that every artist and seller of art wants with their work.  

    Some people write and ask, in the negative, "why don’t you make a murti of so-and-so?"  as if we somehow were errant in not making that particular murti.  Asking a positive question, such as “would you consider making a murti of this or that Teacher” may go a little farther in having an enjoyable conversation.  To be clear, here’s our criteria for choosing who we include in our collection, which is threefold:  1)  Subjects must be spiritual teachers we at Masa Rasa have had personal experience with or connection to, finding them to be the epitome of Consciousness  2)  they must no longer be in the body, i.e. they are deceased in the physical sense,  and 3) in their teaching they did not discriminate among the people by deciding who was ‘worthy’ of their grace and who wasn’t, and made themselves available to the public on a regular basis, without any monetary charge, offering their teaching to all who would come.  These Gurus were also known to help clothe the poor and feed the hungry.  So if you have a suggestion that meets those criteria, feel free to ask and we will consider fulfilling that request.  We also consider private sculpture commissions for pieces that might fall outside those criteria.

    To say we’re in this for the money would only be partially true, at best . .  and by ‘it’ we mean the creation of these sculptures of Great Beings.  Sure, the money is important, it helps to keep the studio doors open, doing what we enjoy, and that exchange is most welcome.  One of the greatest pleasures of doing this work is hearing the joy people express at seeing these murtis, and hearing their reactions when they purchase one and open the box.   To hear someone express their personal gratitude for the work, or that someone wept at the sight of a murti of their beloved Guru, is both humbling and gratifying . . . pure rasa.  Seva.  A complete and perfect connection.  It is not what some would call ‘selfless service’ . .  there is no such thing.  But rather service that meets our own needs, as well as the beautiful needs of others.  Not selfless, not selfish, but self-full . . . where everyone gets what they want.  Such inspiration is all we need to create new work.   And we’ve really been at it this past year with great intensity, and it looks like 2016 will be no different.  

    So, once again, on Ganapati's behalf and my own, I deeply thank you for all the support we’ve been given as we have sought to make these murtis available.  They bring joy into our world.  Perhaps into your world as well.   

    Onward into the New Year . . . 2016!

    James Nichols
    Masa Rasa Studios