Wednesday, July 29, 2015



29 January 1958 New Delhi ..

The J&K State tableau for 26th january 1958, created by Mohan Raina   ( Standing  with specs and a tie behind Pandit  Pandit Jawahar lal Nehru  ) , a well known Artist of the state , won  first Prize as the best Tableau displayed by any State Government  that year  .  This photograph shows Mohan Raina  and his father Shiv Nath Raina also an Artist and Resident of Badyaar Bala srinagar Kashmir with Indira Ji And Pandit Ji. The artists were invited for a Lunch by Pandit ji on 29th january 1958.The child  in the photograph uploaded above  is Sudesh Raina son of Mohan Raina.  When i met  the family of the late artist in Jammu in July 2015 , Smt.Mohini Raina wife of the late Artist recognized  her son and the cardigan she  knitted for the event .She also added that child Sudesh was made to sit on the tableau with a Pheran and a kangri. The tableau was titled Winter in Kashmir

                           ( Mohan Raina's name  appearing on Directory of Lalit Kala Academy )
                   ( A sketch of Poet Dina Nath Naadim done by Mohan Raina )
                                ( Sketch of Master Zinda kaul by  Mohan Raina )

                     ( Sketch of Master  Poet Mehjoor  by  Mohan Raina )

( Sketch of Master Habba Khatoon  by  Mohan Raina )

( Sketch of  Lalded  by  Mohan Raina )

                ( A sketch if Hazratbal Ziyarat  kashmir by Mohan Raina )

Dr S S Toshkhani adds :

"Mohan Raina's  accomplishments, both as an artist and a human being went far beyond the few facts mentioned in the  Lalit Kala Academy's brochure. The world could not witness the full efflorescence of his creative genius as his life was unfortunately cut short by fate. He, however, guided and helped an entire generation of upcoming artists to develop and realize their potential in the field."

Not many among us know that the Emblem of the state was also designed by Late Mohan Raina in 1952.The emblem story has not only been conveyed to me by the family of the artist but by Shri Mohan Krishen Tikoo  ( Resident of Mohinder  Nagar jammu and closely related to me )  close friend of  Late Mohan Raina .  As per Shri  Tikoo, The need for an emblem  was felt in 1952 and the emblem committee assigned the  work to Department of Information headed by  Shri J N Zutshi. Shri Zutshi selected his departmental employee Mohan Raina . As per  Shri Tikoo sb,the emblem prepared by Mohan Raina was approved by Sheikh Mohd Abdullah the then prime Minister of J&K State .

Sh , Sudesh Raina son of the late Artist writes in his facebook page that Emblem of Sheri kashmir Institute of Medical Sciences Soura kashmir was also prepared by his Father Mohan Raina.                        

Dr Shashi Shekhar  Toshkhani  noted scholar and friend of the late artist informs ,

“ I knew Mohan Raina very well. Was very close to him and his family. Besides the J&K state emblem, he also designed the emblems of the Cultural Academy and Kashmir University, which were later changed. He was a man with a heart of gold besides being a leading artist of Kashmir. Though water colour paintings were his forte, he had mastery over oil and other mediums of plastic art as well. I have had the privilege of watching him create some exquisite landscapes stroke by stroke, evoking the magic of man's intimacy with nature. In figurative art, he had hardly any match among contemporary Kashmiri artists. I always felt deeply impressed by the manner he would guide and help young and upcoming artists of his day.

I have been  told by Mohan Krishen Tikoo ( a friend of Mohan Raina   ) resident of  canal Road  jammu as under:

" Mohan ji had the capacity of illustrating three books in a day apart from attending his official duties and remaining hooked to his tobbaco pipe. Tomorrow was not a word in his dictionary. Never have i seen him saying 'keep it here and give me time' to any person. He would oblige any person if he had time. In a way he kept himself under stress by rarely saying NO to any person..All  sketches emerged from his mind in a jiffy once he closed his eyes. Among his ardent admirers ,i can count Sheikh Mohd Abdullah, MY Taing , Maulana Masoodi , Shiv Narain Fotedar, JN Zutshi and so many. Sometimes i saw him designing front covers of books  and magazines while working. So many books he illustrated. I think not less than 150 or 200 . He has designed the master piece in yellow that was used as cover for BN Parimoo's book on Lal Ded titled 'Ascent of Self' .He was a pioneer in this field and dominated  an era with his drawing . He did portraits, Murals, posters, book illustrations, Publicity ,Magazine illustrations, cartoons( not many people know this fact ), water colour landscapes,  Still Life paintings, paintings based on some western classics in literature and figurative art. After returning from USA  where he went for advanced  Training in Modern Art, he touched new heights . He brought art  books   in two suitcases and paid extra charges to airlines  dumping some clothes and personal belongings in that country. Alas! The man never had a studio in his  house for his creative work. He worked in a living room shared by other members of his family. I saw only two big wooden Almirahs in that room that he used for keeping his books ,Art material and paintings. A wooden box full of his paintings was also kept near these Almirahs. 

As a person, He was more impressed by Lal Bahadur Shastri's personality in comparison to Nehru. 

A glass of scotch and a tobbaco pipe between his lips  acted as catalysts for  his creative activities. He  knew his limit and brand and never compromised on it.

 I feel sad to see pygmies getting recognition and awards while a pioneer being forgotten'

Some Illustrations done by ohan Raina for SLSadhu's book ' folktales from Kashmir ' are as under:


       The front cover of  B N Parimoo's book 'Ascent of Self ' designed by Mohan Raina is also uploaded.   

                       ( Mohan Raina with his Father and Brother)

                                     (Mohan Raina .Photo source... Sudesh Raina )

During my  visit to the family of the late Artist I was informed that in the turmoil that began in 1990 in Kashmir and that led to their exile, about 500 master paintings done by artist (after his visit to USA )were lost. These were in a cupboard in their ancestral house at Badyaar Bala in kashmir when they had to leave valley suddenly to save their lives. This great loss included about 15 photographs of the artist with Pandit Jawahar lal Nehru, Dr Radha krishnan,Dr Rajendera Prasad ,Sheikh Mohd Abdullah and some more National leaders .I also came to know that some friends of the artist had taken a good number of his paintings for some proposed exhibition but refused to return the same after his sudden death.

         (   Above Photo .. A   Mural For Industrial Exhibition Done by Mohan Raina )

                                 ( Below some paintings ..Oil on canvas by Mohan Raina )  

                                    (   Above ..Banihal Cart Road .. Oil On canvas ..Mohan Raina )
                                          ( Guilt Feeling Adam and Eve ....  By Mohan Raina )
                 ( Autumn Chinar Water Colour ... Mohan Raina )
                 ( SPRING IN KASHMIR .1973  OIL ON BOARD  BY MOHAN RAINA )

                                                  ( Oil On Board  .. Mohan Raina )
                                 (An earlier work of Mohan Raina  Source .. Sudesh Raina )
             ( Evening time After the snowfall.. An earlier work of Mohan Raina  Source .. Sudesh Raina )  

(When spring arrived in the village..A water colour by Mohan Raina )

The father and Grand father of Mohan Raina were also Artists  .  A sample of their Drawing/ Creative   work is as under ...
                                                                 (  1 )
( Above two  Photographs are  drawings of  Narayan Joo Raina Grand father of Mohan Raina 
. You can see the Persian Words Az  Dast e Narayan Joo meaning from the Hand of Narayan Joo )
( Above two  Photographs are  Collages  of  Shiv Nath  Raina  father of Mohan Raina 
. This is paper on paper creation )

(  Above ..Portrait of his Father Pandit Shiv Nath Raina  By Mohan Raina Source .. Sudesh Raina  )                  
        ( Above....This is a photograph of the cover of Marriage Card of Dr Usha Raina and Dr Chand Narain Dhar..Usha ji is daughter of Late Mohan Raina Artist married to Dr C N Dhar well known Pathologist.This card was designed and drafted by Artist Mohan Raina himself.You can see the moon(Chand or the name of Bridegroom) holding a beaming early morning sun (Usha or name of the bride )inside a SHATKONA or six cornered Geometrical figure.

A SHATKONA is also known as Shiva Shakti YANTRA .A union of male and female. A combination of Prakarti and Purusha or Para shiva and Para Shakti.
So many Paintings of Late GR Santosh are based on SHATKONA.Shatkona is central concept of SHRI _YANTRA as well. In a Male female union, SHATKONA represents positive emotions, Love, Devotion and well being.SHATKONA is quite popular YANTRA in Kashmir .Kashmir's Shaiv Darshana / Shaivism accords it a centric space.This six pointed star is drawn by combining two triangles.The upward pointing triangle represents Shiva while the downward pointing triangle represents Shakti
The card was shown to me by a friend who has preserved it since 1980 or the year when Dr C N Dhar Married Dr Usha daughter of Artist Mohan Raina.)

                                              ( Snow fall  a water colour by Mohan raina )
                                                   (Water colour Mohan Raina 1966 )
                                       (Water colour Mohan Raina 1966 )
                                            (Water colour Mohan Raina 1966 )
                                                        ( Oil On Canvas .. Mohan raina )
                                                        (Oil on canvas by Mohan Raina )

     ( KASHMIR LANDSCAPE by Mohan Raina)     
Mohan Raina died unsung and is unknown to the younger generation. Most of his master piece paintings are with his friends . The family hardly owns any painting .

         ( Portraits of 2 kashmiri Pandits  done by Mohan Raina. Source ..Sudesh Rana  )                                         

   ( Mohan Raina and his father with Pandit Jawahar Lal Nehru  ..Photo source... Sudesh Raina )
                                                        ( Mohan Raina with his wife )

He looked like a European from his demeanor and style. Imported  cameras, Macro Polo cigarettes , Imported pipes with complete cleaning set and   individuality in anything that he did. 

I saw these tobbaco pipes at  his Jammu residence. Saw him smoking pipes in Srinagar. Inhibition free ,he would smoke before his senior officials and everybody except his father and Artist  late Shiv Raina .

In Srinagar , many times his son would be buying Macro Polo pipe Tobacco from Mir Pan house . Then this brand was not available and Mohan Raina shifted to Capston.For some period,  He smoked Macro Polo imported cigarettes. 

And have seen him designing his own clothes and passing on the design (drawn on a paper) to a tailor master for stitching.
And the imported galluses that he would use to hold his trousers fit and perfect apart from inumerable imported Bow ties.
  ( Below..On his Daughter's Marriage)

                                                                 ( Artist Mohan Raina )
( Portrait of Grand Father of H K Sharma former GM Govt Press J&K done by Mohan Raina )

( Portrait of J N Sharma  Father of H K Sharma former GM Govt Press J&K done by Mohan Raina )    
    (Portrait of Poet Mehjoor by Mohan Raina)                           
In an emotional Tribute to his father , Sudesh Raina ( Son of the Artist ) writes on his face Book page:

It pains me to add that the widespread militancy that erupted in Valley in 1990, played havoc with his treasured Collection. Evert thing was looted , Plundered when our ancestral House was Ransacked and later  the  house was gutted in a devastating fire incident .With such a colossal loss, sometimes I am led to believe if my father ever used a Brush and canvas.A little solace comes to see some paintings that he had gifted to his friends or the paintings that are hanging in some Galleries in India and abroad .
My Father was a lover of Poetry and Music. As a matter of fact he could play on Sitar also . Faiz Ahmed Faiz remained his favourite poet. We lost so many LPs and the imported gramophone that was dear to him. A Gramaphone on which he would often listen to begum Akhtar’s Gazal:

“ Meray Hum-Nafas Meray Hum-navaa Mujhe Dost Ban Ke Dagaa na De”.
This remained his favourite till his death ..”

Mohan Raina  has also  prepared hundreds of Designs for Handicrafts including Shawls ,  Crewel cloth , Apparels and Wall Hangings . His designs were based on Kashmir’s folk lore , Flora and fauna and Scenic beauty . He also did a series of paintings on  the Poetry of Omar Khayam the way A R Chugtai  did a grand series on Ghalib’s Poetry .kashmiri Poet , writer and journalist Ghulam Nabi Khayal has some copies of the Book that he published in 1961 relating to kashmiri translation of quatrains of Persian Poet Omar Khayyam. Mr Khayal had sought assistance from late Mohan Raina for doing artistic Illustration of the Quatrains. Some illutrations from this book are as under:


I quote a Book review done by Well known Poet late Syed Rasul Pompur published in Greater Kashmir dated Date: Jul 23 2009. .

Quote ..
"The versatile Kashmiri poet, critic and journalist, Ghulam Nabi Khayal has once again published the world famous Persian Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam with long awaited, authentic Kashmiri translation, after a lull of 40 years.

Needless to mention that Mr Khayal had published the translation of 150 Persian quatrains of Khayyam (1950-1132 AD) for the first time in 1963 with illustrations drawn by a renowned Kashmiri artist, Late Mohan Raina to the wide acclaim of Kashmiri literary circles and connoisseurs of literature. 

The need for the edition of the Rubaiyat was vehemently felt. Mr Khayal has now come up with a bigger and executed printed edition with fifty more Rubaiyat of the celebrated Persian poet. 

Astrologer and mathematician Khayyam composed poetry mostly Rubaiyat interwoven with the central idea of enjoying the pleasures of life without too much reflection. Mr Ghulam Nabi Khayal completed the first Kashmiri rendering of 150 quatrains during 1958-60 when he was arrested for his alleged involvement in the so called Hazratbal (Conspiracy) case in February 1958. He thus took the best and creative advantage of this forced detention like his other two elder contemporaries, Abdul Sattar Ranjoor and Prof Mohiuddin Hajani. 

Illustrations of the celebrated Kashmiri artist, late Mohan Raina, ought to have been allowed to adorn the present charming deluxe edition too along with 16 master pieces of renowned Iranian artist, Akbar Tajvedi.” 

Unquote ..

Long back , I have also seen one Illustration on Omar Khayam’s quatrain by Mohan Raina in his house at Panjtirthi Jammu..

He also did a series of Paintings  on the popular folklore Akanandun.


                                            ( From Aknandun Series Transferred to a Curtain )

 The Above painting from Akanandun series was transferred to a Curtain design in a Handicrafts unit in Kashmir valley and the curtain hangs to this day in the drawing room of Sh O N Kaul Retd joint Director Tourism J&K Government who lives at Roop Nagar ,Jammu. This painting has been transferred on the curtain by a master craftsman from kashmir valley using special threads.


 (A painting of Mohan Raina transferred to curtain by colourful threads by an Artisan from kashmir. This curtain hangs in drawing room of Sh O N Kaul.This could be from 'our Jungle Friends ' series. Not sure)

(A painting of Mohan Raina transferred to curtain by colourful threads by an Artisan from kashmir. This curtain hangs in drawing room  of Sh O N Kaul. This could be from ' Kashmir Calling' series. Not sure)

He also did a series on" Kashmir Calling" to attract Tourists to Kashmir valley. A series on "our jungle friends" to project kashmir 's wild life.

( A poster done by Mohan Raina when Sheikh Mohd Abdullah in took over as Prime  minister of J&k..Source.. Farooq Nazki Collection)



                                                              ( UNFINISHED )

Uploaded above  is the last painting of Artist Mohan Raina .The painting was started by the Artist some days before his death. He was earnestly planning to complete it .Alas! Destiny had other plans.The brushes, Colours, the incomplete frame, the sitting chair and his favourite smoking pipe kept waiting for him. This incomplete Canvas is in possession of Shri Keertan Sharma of Bohri,Talab Tillo Jammu...

 Sudesh Raina son of Late Mohan Raina clarifies:

" Yes , this is Daddy's last and unfinished work. I am a witness to its creation. I was overjoyed to see it after about 32 years. Keertan Ji was my father's colleague and trusted friend.I am told by my mother that father had gifted many paintings to Keertan Ji.And after his death, we decided to get it finished and completed from him.It was handed over to him accordingly. For some reasons, Keertan Ji did not complete it. Artist Mohan Raina was also Guru to Keertan ji.
During the creation of this work, Dad had revealed to me that behind the self portrait,the horse and the woman represent elusive Artistic Chase.A run after something fleeting and impossible to catch or achieve.Let me see how i close his thought."

             ( Artist Mohan Raina with his relations  at kheer Bhawani  Shrine at Tulamula Kashmir  )
He retired as Exhibition officer from Information Department of J&K State and died from  a  sudden and massive heart attack in 1983.  He had many promises to keep and    friends  waiting in the Morning  for an Exhibition that was planned and modalities for which were to be decided.

Alas the entire SHEERAZA of this master lies scattered and lost. A page here, a page there and some pages nowhere .Will someone try to retrieve it? Will the painter ever get his due?

( Avtar Mota  )

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  1. May his soul always rest in peace! Love you Dada ji.. Miss u.. :(

  2. May his soul always rest in peace! Love you Dada ji.. Miss u.. :(

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