Sunday, November 30, 2014



( Self portrait  on display inside  Dogra Art Gallery Jammu Avtar Mota )
          (A Painting by Sansar Chand Baru)                                 

     ( With  wife and daughter Anuradha Rishi )


" Na takht-o-taaj mein na lashkar-o-sipah mein hai
Jo baat mard-e-qalandar ki bargah mein hai"

(A monarch’s crown and mighty army can never give such glee,
As can be felt in presence of a Qalandar bold and free.)
Pandit Sansar Chand Baru ( 1902-1995 ) , the first modern   painter  from   Jammu  ,fondly known as Master ji , shall always be remembered for his unique style that remained a  grand fusion of ‘Pahari’ and ‘Modern Art ’ 

 It is believed that Baru community of Brahmins migrated from Assam and settled in Jammu and  hills of Himachal Pradesh. They were Kul-Purohits of various hilly Rajput rulers.  Pandt Dhanpat Baru , father of Sansar Chand Baru was Raj-Purohit  to  Maharaja Partap Singh and the family lived at  Fattu Chougan , Pucca Danga  in Jammu city . When Pandit Dhanpat  saw that his son was least interested in academics , he requested Jagat Ram   , a noted artist during those days ,  to impart some basic lessons in painting to young Sansar Chand . Jagat Ram  was  nicknamed  ‘Chhuniyaa’ . He was a well known painter of J&K state  during the rule of Maharaja Partap Singh . He enjoyed royal patronage and was sanctioned a monthly stipend of twenty five rupees  . Chhuniya hailed from Baddu , Kishenpur . Chhuniya used oil and water colours in his work . He was also an expert in Delhi style of ivory carving and  a disciple of well known painter Hari Chand of Jammu.

Sansar Chand was sharp in learning drawing . As time passed , this young boy matured to become  a  fine water colour artist .After he completed his training at Sir Amar Singh  Technical Institute opened by Maharaja Partap Singh , he  joined as  drawing master in Government Technical Institute, Kachhi Chhawni , Jammu . He  also served as Court Painter during the rule of Maharaja Hari  Singh .

Sir Amar Singh Technical Institute played  key role in exposing artists of J&K  to modern artistic trends and styles. The institute was affiliated to  The City And Guilds Institute, London. A diploma in fine arts was awarded by this Institute to the students. Fredrick  H. Andrews was the first principal of the  institute. Andrews had remained  vice-principal of the  Mayo  School of  Art,
Lahore,  Punjab. He was followed by J .C..Mukerjee, another able and brilliant artist of  Bengal School. It was through him that artists of J&K became familiar with the Bengal School 


     As first  curator of Dogra Art Gallery Jammu ( now known as Dogra Art Museum )  , Master Ji did some exemplary work by retrieving a large number of original Basholi miniature paintings from some influential individuals and preserving this invaluable heritage for posterity .Credit goes to him for collecting numberless   artifacts ,  Dogra costumes , coins , manuscripts , handicrafts , ornaments  , terracotta heads , sculptures  ,metal objects ,  intricately carved marble  Jharokhas ,  arms and  stone inscriptions in Takri   . The  Persian handwritten Shahnaama  was brought to Dogra Art Gallery through singular efforts of Master Ji.

 In 1944 , along with Bhagwat Prasad Sathe , Deenu Bhai Pant , D C Prashant , Narayan Mishra and  Ram Nath Shastri , Master Ji established Dogri Sanstha  . Master Ji was unanimously elected  to  head the Sanstha  as its first president .

In  1948, this    Sanstha performed  ‘Bawa Jitto Da Balidhaan’  , the first Dogri play  at Tikri . Due to his initiative ,  Dogri Sanstha organised a grand exhibition of the  paintings done by  artists  from Duggar land. It was held inside Technical Institute ,Kachhi Chhawni, Jammu . In 1952  , Dogri Sanstha organised  another exhibition of  the paintings done by artists from Jammu   . This exhibition was held  at New Delhi.

Master Ji took personal interest for compilation  of ‘ Jaago Duggar ’ ,  the  first collection of Dogri poems published by Dogri Sanstha   . ‘Jaago Duggar’ was followed by ‘Namee Chetna’ .  ‘Namee Chetna’   was  initially published from Delhi but finally Dogri Sanstha started its full time publication from Jammu. Master Ji   would be seen going from door to door or selling copies of ‘Namee Chetna’ in Pucca Danga or Raghu Nath Bazar, Jammu .

He was a disciplined person and never compromised with his principles . A thorough gentleman and honest to the core , he remained a lover of nature which is evident in his water colour landscapes . When his trusted friend, noted artist and sculptor Vidya Rattan Khajuria was posted at Institute of Music and  Fine Arts in Srinagar, Master Ji paid some visits to Kashmir and did some memorable Kashmir landscapes .

As artist, he was comfortable in many formats and styles like Pahari miniature , Bengal School , portraits , landscapes and abstract . 

 His house at Pucca Danga Jammu was a meeting hub for artists , poets , writers and intellectuals . Even well known hindi writer Ageya called on him during his visit to Jammu . Prof  Neelamber Dev Sharma , Prof Ram Nath Shastri ,  Poet Kishen Smailpuri ,  Shri Parmanand Almast ,  Shri Narsingh Dev Jamwal ,  Shri Deenu  Bhai Pant ,  Shri Bhagwat Sathe  and  Shri D C Prashant were also amongst regular visitors to is house  . Master ji had close association with Comrade Dhanwantri as well.

Bakshi Ghulam Mohd and Dr Karan Singh were great admirers of his work. Even Dr Rajendra Prasad appreciated his work when he visited Jammu in 1954 for inauguration of Dogra Art Gallery .

His published essays on Pahari art and folk literature attracted the attention of some eminent international art critics . Together with Prof Lakshmi Narayan , Master Ji wrote a scholarly book ‘An Introduction  to Folk Literature and Pahari Art’ . This work has become a reference book for art critics and writers on Pahari miniature art and the folklore associated with it.


               ( A Painting by Sansar Chand Baru )


     (Girl in forest by Sansar chand Baru water colour ..Photo Avtar Mota )

                ( Buddha by Sansar Chand Baru )

                       ( Sarswati by Sansar Chand Baru )

      ( A   painting by Sansar Chand Baru )

            ( A   painting by Sansar Chand Baru )

          ( A   painting by Sansar Chand Baru )

(Landscape of river Tawi by Sansar chand Baru)
(Kashmir Landscape by Sansar chand Baru ...Photo Avtar Mota )

His daughter, Anuradha Rishi is also an accomplished artist .  She informs this :-

“ To me , he was a friend , Guru and father .A simple man who loved his Dhoti , Kurta , Churee- daar Pyjama and Sherwani. He ate simple food . He would make me to sit while he painted . That was how I learnt my best lessons in art from him. Many people say that the feminine face in my father's work resembles mine . ”

 In 2012 , lovers of his art  organized  an on the  spot  children’s Ppainting competition  at Kala Kendra Jammu. The event was attended by his daughter , Sri Narsingh Dev Jamwal and some prominent artists from  Jammu.  In 2014,  Anuradha Rishi  in her capacity as Chairperson of ‘Sansar Chand Baru Memorial Trust’ organized two  major events  in Jammu to commemorate her father.  Both were well attended .  Sansar Chand Baru Memorial Trust as been regularly  organising many  events to commemorate the artist .

I conclude this write up  with some lines from a poem of Faiz Ahmed Faiz  :-

"Jo ruke to koh-e-garaan the hum, jo chale to jaan se guzar gaye

Rah-e-yaar humne kadam kadam tujhe yaadgaar banaa diya”

(For when we stayed, we rose like massifs,

and when we strayed, we left life far behind;

on the pathway to you beloved, every step
we ever took became a memorial to your life.)


( Avtar Mota )

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