S: the vision of resh shaprudhi dorchen
BC: If only I could become vapor and disappear, I wouldn't have minded the passage of time. But soon my body would begin nagging me to do things for it. It would force me to help it survive, to ease its pains and hungers and petty discomforts and fears. I would be back, scrambling like a rat, in the hell of life. Resh Shaprudhi, The Yehudi Deep | Even without preparation for the pyre, they merge into flame. There is a Person who is other than human. He leads them on to Brahman. Those who go that way need never be reborn. Chandogya Upanishad | Ganesh's unconventional form and actions are necessary to dislodge the soul from the dead person. Robert L. Brown in Ganesh, Studies of an Asian God | The fire of the Lord descends and consumes the burnt offerings. I Kings, 18:38 | Truly, Death is a Fire. Rig Veda
FC: the vision of resh shaprudhi | edited by jeffrey dorchen
1: Resh Shaprudhi was a Jewish artist born in India. In 1935 he traveled to Paris to assist in curating a retrospective of the paintings of Abanindranath Tagore. After the exhibition, Shaprudhi found work and stayed on in France. In 1941 he was arrested by the Vichy police and confined in the Royal Saltworks detention camp. Early in 1944 authorities learned he was a Jew and deported him to Auschwitz. Three months later he escaped during a work detail which turned into a massacre. The other workers on the detail were all killed. Shaprudhi barely escaped execution, then also avoided being inadvertently incinerated with the corpses.
2: That night, in a mystical vision, he was transported by an angel to the afterlife realms of both Judaism and Hinduism. What he learned there about the Heavens and their limited ability to intervene in Earthly events defined the artistic and spiritual directions of the rest of his life. In art and writing, Shaprudhi unified Judaism and Hinduism in a private religion he called "Ganapathiyehudism." Key to bridging the divide between the overtly image-abundant Hinduism and the anti-idolatrous Judaism were the characters of elephant-headed Lord Ganesh and his mouse devotee, Mushak. Fire also played a central role: fire as the god Agni, fire in the furnaces of the Auschwitz crematoria, fire as a transformational principle of destruction and rebirth, as the medium of sacrifice, and as an aspect of sacred rituals in both of Shaprudhi's source religions. After the war he moved to London, where he met Reva Kolozanci, a Hungarian refugee. They moved to the United States together in 1948. Shaprudhi continued to make his art in his basement studio in suburban Detroit. It has never been exhibited. Resh Shaprudhi's work, visual and literary, was entrusted to me after his death by self-immolation in 1974.
4: "They fasted for three days and nights, and the Spirit of Idolatry came out of the Holy of Holies as a lion of fire." -- Babylonian Talmud