Jag hittade artikeln on-line, tyvärr utan bilder, men jag hittade några andra på nätet istället, en del av de här hängivna var faktiskt med i artikeln:
Inking with the Supreme
By Madhava Smullen
Tattoos have been inked permanently into modern culture. Walk down any busy city street and you’ll spot a vast number of tattooees, ranging all the way from the young female professional with a butterfly on her shoulder blade to the wild punk rocker with hardly any space left for his white skin to shine. For some reason, having an unremovable image of a two-headed dragon eating its own face sprawled across their chest until their dying breath is an idea that appeals to a lot of people. National Geographic News reported in April 2000 that fifteen per cent of Americans were tattooed. That’s around forty million people.
Now, surely a Hare Krishna devotee would be the last person you’d expect to see among those forty million, right?
Wrong. The fact is that many devotees sport tattoos, and their number is increasing. Is this a purely whimsical fad, or do our ancient traditions and scriptures hold any foundations for devotional tattooing?
Take a magnifying glass to Indian tribal traditions, and you uncover the first clues. For instance, certain tribes believe that Lord Rama’s greatest devotee, Hanuman, can be tattooed on a recurring dislocating shoulder to relieve the pain. The women of the nomadic Ribari tribe of Kutch in northwest India, one of the places the Pandavas visited during their exile, have many extremely elaborate tattoos. And the Ramnami community, scattered across the Indian states of Bihar and Madhya Pradesh, began a painful custom in the nineteenth century: they had the name of Rama in Sanskrit tattooed on practically every inch of skin, even on their tongues and inside their lips. This practice was meant to protect them from bigoted caste-conscious
brahmanas they had angered by adopting brahminical customs, and is still carried on today.
Of course, Caturatma concedes, the modern incarnation of tattooing wasn’t around during or before the birth of Gaudiya Vaishnavism, but there are close parallels. In the Prameya Ratnavali, the eighteenth-century Vaishnava commentator Baladeva Vidyabhushana cites five purificatory processes (panca-samskara) that, along with spiritual initiation, bring one direct perception of Lord Krishna: austerity, wearing tilaka, performing sacrifices, accepting a new name at initiation, and chanting mantras glorifying the Lord.
Baladeva’s elaboration is surprising: “In this verse, the word austerity means to accept the branded marks of Lord Vishnu: the disc, lotus, conch, and mace”—the very images Caturatma has tattooed on his arms.
Like tattooing, branding is permanent, and yes, very painful.
A tradition that goes back to at least A.D. 1017, it’s still practiced today by followers of both Madhvacharya and Ramanujacharya, mainly in the South Indian states of Karnataka, Tamil Nadu, Kerala, and Andhra Pradesh. What’s more, for Sri Vaishnavas, Ramanuja’s followers, it’s an essential part of the initiation process.
Kalpavriksha Dasa works at Ron’s Tattoos in Elizabeth, New Jersey. He got his first tattoo at fifteen, inspired by the Cro Mags, a Hare Krishna straightedge band and tattoo afficionados. A professional tattoo artist for over fifteen years, he’s tattooed close to one hundred devotees.
His first piece of advice is to-the-point straight talk.
“Whatever tattoo you’re getting, just make sure it’s something you’ll be happy living with. Because it’s gonna stay with your body longer than you will.”
When it comes to artwork, he is partial to that of Gujarati artist B.G. Sharma.
“His style practically already looks like tattoos. Everything has an outline, and his shading is similar to the way I’d shade or color a tattoo. It’s really easy to replicate.”
Besides Sharma’s devotional depictions of Krishna, Kalpavriksha has tattoed devotees with a variety of images, the most popular being the maha-mantra and Lord Nrisimhadeva.
Kalpavriksha thinks that the best kind of tattoo a devotee can get is one with a built-in conversation starter.
.“I have the maha-mantra tattooed in Bengali all over both of my arms, which is unique and completely unfamiliar to the average person. When people see it, they never fail to ask what it is.”
This happens so often that Kalpa keeps a stack of Srila Prabhupada’s small books handy at all times.
“I’ll tell clients what my tattoo is and what it means. Then if they seem interested, I’ll explain the maha-mantra and a little about Krishna consciousness. And eventually, if their interest deepens, I’ll hand them a book. I try to build a rapport with people. You can’t just hit them with everything all at once.”
“Modern Western tattooing has always had a heavy Asian influence, mainly from the two-hundred-year-old Japanese tradition. But in the past ten to twelve years, there’s been a huge rush of interest in Indian imagery. Yoga is really big these days, and students are often influenced to get tattoos of mantras and various symbols like the om sign. One girl walked into my tattoo shop sporting tattoos of different yogic asanas.”
There are more signs of this Vedic tattoo invasion everywhere. Pick up any modern tattoo magazine released within the past five to ten years, and you’ll find either an image directly related to Krishna, or something from the Vedic paradigm. The goddesses Kali, Durga, and Lakshmi flood tattoo parlours, as does Lord Siva. Lord Nrisimhadeva rears His fearsome head from the pages of tattoo magazines, and the friendly, easily identifiable face of Lord Jagannatha becomes more and more popular. Tattoo stores across the United States keep their own copy of the Krishna Art book. Krishna, in the form of art, is gradually infiltrating the tattoo-wearing public.
But for now, He still remains most popular with those who hold Him deep within their hearts.