In the classic tradition of India, it is stated that the aesthetic experience is most valuable to human beings. It is believed that the ecstasy created by beauty is, in fact, a fleeting view of Brahamanand or the ecstasy of the enlightenment. The Early man certainly had a deep aesthetic sense. He took great pleasure in the beauty of nature around him. Indian paintings display the joys he took in the creation of art. It goes without saying that art fulfills humanity’s innate urge to comprehend itself and the universe. This function makes art especially significant.
Mirzapur is the first area where pre-historic rock art was found in India. The painted shelters in and around Mirzapur are situated on picturesque spots on top of low hills overlooking a valley. Mirzapur is second only to Bhimbetka in its importance to the world of archeology and art history. It is interesting that men and animals have been shown in considerable details. There is no effort to describe the landscape and vegetation.
One of the very recent discoveries of rock art is in the Hazari Bagh area of Jharkhand, where one can see many similarities between these ancient Indian paintings and those of the tribal of the region until today. Some of these paintings depict the form of mother goddess with a lotus in the place of a head, while other depict temple with two or three openings. Another, very popular manifestation is the design of sun. Rituals are used to give meaning and a shape to the life around. Incomprehensible confusions are molded into meaning full patterns by rituals. Rituals seem to impart a sense of peace to man. They take him above momentary concerns to a place where life is seen in other patterns and rhythms. Even some of the gods worshiped today draw their roots from the beliefs of a man at the dawn of the human kind. His relationship with the world around him, with nature and with animals was a constant and fascinating concern for early man. The vitality and beauty of rock art come from the clear sight and uncluttered mind of the pre-historic man. The complexities and self-consciousness which have come about with the progress of civilization were not there to curb his spontaneous expression. He created some simple paintings on a rock. Those paintings were full of exuberant life and joyous creative expression. Only that which is the most essential is depicted in both men and animals. These simple lines drawn with instinctive understanding bring aliveevery time he creates these paintings. That is what the best art hopes to achieve. With a minimum use of lines, the pre-historic man conveyed so much – even feelings and sense of movement.
One form of art which is not self-conscious and presents us with an uncomplicated view of life close to nature is that of Indian tribes. We see prolific wall paintings till today in the homes of many tribes in Madhya Pradesh, Gujrat, Jharkhand and other places. There is a deep affinity in these to the rock art of early men and they present a continuation of a striking and lively tradition of painting. Seeing the panorama of original Indian paintings from thousands of years ago, we realized how fundamental and important art has always been to man. For years, art has been providing the magic to human existence – the magic that helps man transcend mundane realities and to rise to something higher and better, to see himself as a part of the grand design of the world. It is fascinating to see that these images created by pre-historic man, so many millennia ago, are real and evocative to us even today. These paintings tell us about the universal nature of human experience and expression spread over this vast span of time.