The development of art is an index of a society`s progress, its identifying characteristics and uniqueness in its culture. The distinctness of every culture finds expression in folk tales, mythology and philosophy; which in turn inspire art. In many ancient cultures everything was done religiously; being born, living and finally even dying. All great religious movements Hinduism, Buddhism, Christianity and Islam gave rise to art; and art in turn helped spread these religions. Art as the expression of culture in a religion has the essence of spirituality in it; as religion is a step towards spirituality. The theme of an art is spiritual when it evokes sublime response, depth of recognition of oneness and is capable of transcendence of mind to a higher plane of consciousness.
The art finds expression in the form of painting, sculpture, music, song, dance, drama, speech or literature. The art in painting produces an experience of beauty, goodness, value and excellence; it invokes emotional intensity and raises the mind from the mundane life. Sculptures of different religious faiths invoke spirituality of the viewers. Music is a collection of sweet and soothing sounds vibrating and creating an aesthetic feeling that brings peace and solace to all humans. Indian music is a synthesis of countless forms bonded through spiritual flavour and essence. It encompasses spirit and matter, the human and divine realms. Music is a spiritual sadhana that uplifts the consciousness of man to the highest. It is not just a subtle fabric of tones and tunes, of fancy and dream; but is a dynamic spiritual expression. Song may be vocal or associated with music. The devotional songs relating to different manifestations of god and goddess invoke spirituality; stimulating consciousness of the Supreme. From a mere gesture expressing feelings to a sublime experience, from a source of amusement and pleasure to a means of spiritual uplift; dance is that divine thread which connects the individual with the universal. Even though all Indian art forms have a spiritual aspect, perhaps dance is the only form of art where the artist has the unique privilege of abhinaya expressing devotion and portraying deity as well. Drama portraying mythological scenes and characters activate the emotional and spiritual feelings of the audience. The religious and spiritual gurus express their knowledge and wisdom in their speech and discourse. The speech or discourse relating to religion and spirituality is very often documented in form of scripture. Literature relating to religion or spirituality is expressed by authors and poets through both prose and poetry forms. The poetic forms are often used as lyrics of devotional songs and prayers.
Whoever understands the spiritual value of the art; is able to experience the feelings, moods, flavour and essence of spirituality in art.
Dr.Mahesh Chandra Panda