Friday, November 25, 2016




(Photo Autar Mota )


 Kashmiri Poet  Rasool Mir  is extremely  skillful   when he touches Love and romance in his poetry  . He adds Kashmiri hue to it. By Hue I mean the  colour  of native springs ,  Gushing  streams , Flower filed  Gardens  , Meadows , Birds  and  friendly  animals  seen around hills and meadows of Kashmir  .  His Lovers do not live in isolation . They are   a part of   overwhelming nature  around them. I quote Rasool Mir  …

“Vaerinaag  i Nearaai Ba  Aa-ga’yey
Achhawal ke Posh Shaeri Laa-ga’yey
Vuchh Manzliss Munz Rachhuth Duchha Moori’yey
Valaai Kastoori’yey
Poe’r Maai Traav Neeri-yey    ..”

( Rasool Mir )

My simple english rendering would  be as under ......

At Verinaag Spring     ,
I will  go  to usher you in ,
Your  Forehead ,
 I  will  decorate with flowers from Achhabal Garden ,
In the cradle of My Bosom,
I will  hold you,
 My tender  Vine,  My Love !
Come over !
Come this way  You Kastoori ( Musk Deer ) ,
Put not your carefree feet in these meadows ..

( Avtar Mota )

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Wednesday, November 23, 2016




JAGDISH SWAMINATHAN ( 1928-1994) AND OCTAVIO PAZ  ( 1914-1998) ..

“Man does not speak because he thinks; he thinks because he speaks. Or rather, speaking is no different than thinking: to speak is to think.”…….Octavio Paz

I  feel privileged to have seen Jagdish Swaminathan and heard him speak .    He looked like  a Sadhu or Baba .No one could imagine him to be a painter  . He had a Bohemian appearance ;long  unkempt hair, beard ,  wearing Kurta-Pyjama, a Jhola slung across his shoulders, chain smoker , carefree  lifestyle yet a   fine conversationalist. He had enormous knowledge of  world literature and art.  Later, I came to know that he was   among India's foremost modern artists  . I was told that he was also associated with communism for some time but soon felt disillusioned and moved away.

Born in Shimla, he studied painting at the Delhi Polytechnic in  1956 and subsequently at the  Academy of Fine Arts , Warsaw (Poland) .Apart from painting ,Swaminathan wrote poetry and   established  himself as a writer. Jagdish Swaminathan played a major role in contemporary Indian art both as a painter as well as an ideologue. Influenced by rich tradition of tribal art ,Swaminathan  incorporated  a lot of symbols such as the snake, the Lingam, lotus, trident(Trishula,), sun and the Swastika in his paintings. Quite often , he  applied the pigment on to the canvas directly  with  his fingers to achieve the desired effect.   He  also used beeswax, sand, linseed oil and natural pigments as  the mediums to express his creativity.  His paintings reflected his own mystical bent of mind and showed his closeness to the European painter Paul Klee.I vividly remember a news  item that appeared in some  leading national newspapers in 2006.This news   created  sensation in the world of art.  At that time, Jagdish  Swaminathan's work 'Bird and Mountain Series' went for a whopping Rs.25 million at an  art  auction by Triveda.

J Swaminathan as he was known world over, was a close friend of Mexican  poet , author and diplomat  Octavio Paz ( 1914-1998 ) . Paz was also  an anthropologist ,  art critic and  philosopher apart from being an Influential poet. Most of us do not know that Paz was posted as Mexican ambassador to India sometime in 1962 ( 1962-1968 ). Here in India ,he developed a deep and serious interest in Indian Art , literature , Buddhism and  ancient scriptures . All this influenced his poetry later. Read it and you shall come to know what I say. And Among various friends  that  Paz cultivated in India , J Swaminathan remained closest . Paz even wrote a poem dedicated to Swaminathan.Under the influence and encouragement  of Octavio-Paz , Swaminathan started a journal on art called Contra 66. Another person who became closest friend of Paz was  journalist Sham Lal from the  Times of India.The veteran journalist who wrote a weekly literary column in the Mumbai edition of TOI called Life and Letters, was an institution by himself. There is a  loud echo of Indian culture and spirituality in the poetry  of Paz. In 1990,  Octavio Paz was awarded the  Nobel Prize in Literature .Though Paz travelled to India first in 1952, he spent most years when he returned as the Mexican ambassador in 1962. He left in October 1968, resigning from his post in protest against the Mexican government's massacre of student demonstrators at the Plaza de las Tres Culturas, the main square of Mexico City.

On art and artist,   J Swaminathan  has said this :-

“ Cultural experiences and activity in India is a multi-level phenomenon - and these levels are often mutually independent and non-interacting - it is the urban and the so-called modern sense of contemporarily that appears to dominate the scene and thus to distort the real perspective.
It would be a misguided belief to expect that an artist could change the whole society within his lifetime. In that case he should give up his work and devote himself solely to bringing about social transformation. Other than the marketplace where else does the artist have a dialogue with society? The easel and the painting will remain an artist's personal property and not the people's and that's the truth. I had very strong romantic inclinations within me. I kept Jigar Moradabadi Saheb in high esteem. I even set out to write his biography.”

This is what Shruti Ramlingaih writes about Jagdish Swaminathan's art:-

" Swaminathan’s versions of recurring nature in a tree, bird, insects are a less frequent result of observational dimensions but results to transform to the realms of mystic. His interest to explore the concept of illusory nature of the manifest world and these concerns informed his paintings frequently in Bird, Mountain and Tree series. He devised pictorial tools to display asymmetrical and detailed versions of mountains in aerial views as a metaphor to reflect on infinity.”

Swaminathan was heavily influenced by folk and tribal art, Pahari miniatures and Indian mythology. In the Bird, Tree and Mountain series he melds together those three aspects, translating both volume and distance onto a flat, uni-dimensional surface, in his attempt to reveal undiscovered forces of nature. Swaminathan’s use of geometric shapes in his work is inspired by Yantras, geometric tantric diagrams that aid in meditation/prayer. Yantras resonated with Swaminathan and other neo-Tantric artists in India in the late twentieth-century, including G R Santosh and Biren De. While neo-Tantric abstractions often employ bold colors and strong lines, Swaminathan’s earthy colors and fluid forms indicate another key influence: tribal and folk art. Swaminathan wrote extensively about indigenous art in India, advocating for rural and tribal artists to be treated as contemporary artists and collaborators, rather than marginalized practitioners of tradition. He discovered Jangarh Singh Shyam, a Gond tribal artist of Madhya Pradesh.

He was awarded the Jawaharlal Nehru Fellowship during 1968-70 . He was also the Founder-Director of Roopankar Museum, Bharat Bhavan, Bhopal during the period 1981-90.  He was a member of the International Jury of the Sao Paulo Biennale and served on the board of the Indian Council for Cultural Relations.

( Avtar Mota )


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A  flowering sprout is life and verve of  a Tree. Connected to the core and the root,  It is  a part of the Tree’s   inner being and  the    living matter  .  It  grows purely on account of its  strong link and connect with the Tree  .  How can it be separate   ? No, Never.  And then this sprout grows to become a flower  sucking vital nutrients from the TREE . It also enjoys bounties of nature ;   Refreshing  raindrops , energizing  Fresh air and rejuvenating  sunshine. Life  enters playfully in the flower.  It adds  Fragrance and Graceful  colours to it. Gradually ,The flower opens up and grows to become  a Fruit .  And Once a fruit, it starts  drawing  more nutrients and food from the tree . Stronger  turns  the  connect  with the  Tree’s core and living matter. At times ,  the  onlooker  fails to create a distinction between the fruit and the tree. For every outsider ,  The tree is the Fruit and the fruit is the tree.

But as the fruit starts ripening , it starts to draw lesser and lesser Nutrients from the core . A strange disconnect begins . The same tree , the same fruit , the same Nutrients but the fruit begins to feel that its stay on the tree is  TRANSITORY. It  gets convinced about its journey .  Now   it knows  that it has  to move away  from the branches and the tree. It  knows  about the arrival of the FALL  or the AUTUMN  season when the tree itself shall become a  Naked Faqeer  disowning the branches , leaves and everything around .

A tale of desire, acquire, live together and  then separate.

Meeting and Parting..The underlying truth of every  relationship.  Desire, Acquire, live and move away is Sprouting, flowering, fruits and ripening. Now apply it to Love .Apply it to spiritual attachment or  to worldly  love. Same mill.same grill.

Does Jigar Moradabaadi convey these feelings ?Can his poetry posted below be interpreted in this way as well? Does the  consciousness of impending separation   in love make the poet to  speak out his heart ? Has he possibly felt the transitory nature of his beloved's  company ? I add my favourite lines …

Vahii hai  shahid o-saaqi magar dil bujhtaa jaataa hai
Vahii   hai shamma-e-dil Roshani kam hoti jaati hai…

Vahii  Maikhaana-o-Sehbaa  vahii sheesha Vahii  saagar
magar Aawaaz-e-nausha - nosh Madh’am hoti  jaati hai

Vahii hai  zindagi lekin 'Jigar ' ye haal hai  Apnaa
ke Jaisay  zindagi se zindagi kam hoti jaati hai…

My  Simple English rendering of the above  lines  of Jigar would be ......

My beloved remains same,.
same is my cupbearer too ,
Why then O Heart you appear  sinking ?
The   candle of light within    ,
 continues to burn ,
Yet it looks as if ,
dimmer and dimmer goes its glow
with every passing moment.

The Tavern remains same ,
And same are my companions  inside ,
 Same are the wine glasses and the cups ,
Why   then is  the  noise of
wine   consumption  within
Turning Quiet day after day ? ..

“O Jigar “  Same is    your Existence ,
Unchanged  yet on a   different stage ,
As if , Life moves away from  Life ,
more and more   gradually

( Autar Mota )


On this post,  that first appeared on my Facebook Page , Dr Shashi Sheshkhar Toshkhani wrote in his comments  as under;

"After reading your post these lines of a poem by Garcia Lorca came to my mind: "Woodcutter, cut my shadow / Deliver me from the torture of beholding myself fruitless."


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Sunday, November 20, 2016





Those who have momentarily glimpsed the Eerie world of grace are struck. Struck with Amazement and Unbelief. So much is the height of this disbelief or incredulity that by the time the onlooker gains understanding ,composure and original stability , the ephemeral exposure is all over.

Only a rare breed, who are well prepared for this appointment , get time to see the inner mind. The mind that is at rest inside this Abode of Grace or Spendour ( Hareem e Naaz) . All Others busy themselves by looking at Patterns , Carvings , Curtains , Doors and windows of that Abode of Grace. Alas ! All these things form only a part of the peripheral Grace of that Abode of Splendour (Hareem e Naaz..)

The few high-minded , who have momentarily glimpsed this altogether different world ( Jahaan e Digar) , have also observed that the Grace and beauty of the mind that is known to reside within, changes at every passing moment of that time . Newer and Newer as also brighter and brighter appear the dimensions . These dimensions are beyond  the Grasp and also beyond the means of a general onlooker to take hold of .

The onlooker is simply struck with what he is looking at . He keeps looking at it in all directions . At that moment , What else is there to look at ?

And urdu poet Jigar Moradabaadi says all this in his couplets….i quote him...
Unki Hareem-e-Naaz kahaan Aur hum kahaan,
Naqsh-o-Nigaar-e-Pardaa-e-Dar Dekhtay Rahay…
Har lehza Shaan-e-Husn Badalti Rahi Jigar
Har Aan hum Jahaan-e-Digar Dekhtay Rahay…
Kyaa Dekhtay Hum Unn Ko ?
Magar Dekhtay Rahay…..

( Autar Mota )

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AT BARODA 1963......

Noted Artist Vijay saraf Meenaghe from Jammu Adds:

“ Rare picture  of great artists. I had participated in National Artist Camps with Sh GR Santosh at Jammu, Srinagar (Chashma Shahi 1988) Ladakh (1994).At Ladakh I got an opportunity to discuss many sensitive aspects on art and his personal struggle which remained an important inspiration source for me till now. Master in colours and forms,  Humble and saintly figure,  I remember when I had one man show of paintings at Shridharni Art Gallery , he came one  hour earlier  to inspire me and appreciated my paintings. At that time I was surprised  when he told me after one and half hour that he was having 101 degrees   temperature. A rare creative genius and a dedicated painter of our J&k State”

( Autar Mota )

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( Photo Autar Mota )

Poet Jigar Moradabaadi also feels so …

Ab to yeh bhi Nahin Rahaa Ahsaas
Dard hotaa hai ya Nahin Hotaa ..
Dil Ko Kyaa Kyaa Sukoon Hotaa Hai
Jab Koyi Aasraa Nahin Hotaa..
Woh Hamaare Kareeb Hotay Hain
Jab Hamaara Pataa Nahin Hotaa…

( Autar Mota )

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( Photo Autar Mota )

To This photo i add lines from a poem of Faiz Ahmed Faiz ..

" Is waqt to yuun lagtaa hai, ke ab kuchh bhi nahin hai.
Mehtaab na suraj na andhera na sawera.
Aankhon ke dareechon mein kisi husn ke chilman.
Aur dil ki panaahon mein kissi dard ke dera.
Shaakhon mein khayalon ke ghane peid ki shayad.
Ab Aa ke karegaa na koyi khwaab Basera.
Mumqin hai koyi Veham Thaa Mumqin Hai sunaa Ho
Galiyon Mein Kissi Chaap Ka Ik Aakhri Pheraa ....
Ek Bair Na Ek Mehar Na Ek Rabt na Rishta
.........................................Tera Koyi Apnaa Na Paraaya Koyi Mera ...........
( Autar Mota )

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Friday, November 18, 2016




It is believed that onion originated from ancient Egypt. And by now,  it has been in cultivation for about 7,000 years.

Potatoes were grown for domestic consumption in some Latin American country. From Latin America, Spanish settlers brought the potato to Europe sometime in the 16th   century.
From Europe, Portuguese introduced the potato to the  Indians in the 17th century. They called it 'Batata' and it is still known by the same name in Maharashtra. Later British traders introduced potato cultivation in  Bengal where it came to be known as Alu. By the end of the 18th century, it was cultivated in entire north India. In Kashmir, potato cultivation was introduced during the Dogra rule.

Nilamata Purana is silent about potatoes and onions. In Rajtarangini, Kalhana does not confirm the use of onion in Kashmiri kitchen or cuisine. There is a mention of ‘ Palandu ‘ in 8th  Taranga verse 143 but read in context, it is like a herb or medicinal item presented to Guru along with incense and some other herbs. Maybe some outsiders were carrying onion as medicine or special herb for Kashmirian   Kings or royal families but the population as such was unaware of its usage in cuisine or kitchen till 14th  century.

To Kashmiris, both potato and onion appeared alien, not like their own native green leafy ‘Haak’. Possibly onions and potatoes arrived in Kashmir very late. I don’t know why Kashmiris were unkindly fascinated by this combination of two words Ganda (onion ) and Olluv (potato).

For many centuries, Kashmiris treated both potatoes and onions as something thrust on them. Although onions gradually found acceptance in Muslim households, potatoes had to face some callous treatment from a common Kashmiri. The common refrain from the use of potatoes was expressed by Kashmiris
like this:-

“ ‘Treath yimun oluvun .Beyi   osuai na kenh aeti ’ meaning ‘ To hell with these potatoes. Couldn’t you find anything else in the market? "

Kashmiri Pandits use potatoes extensively during religious fasts.  Although Kashmiri Pandits relish Dumallu  (  A dish prepared from boiled and deep-fried potatoes ) as a special dish in every feast yet they remain inimical to its general use.  The common sentence heard in Pandit  households is like this  :

“Kyah   chhukh   olluv  khyvaan . Sienn  paava anizihey ”

“ Why are you eating these potatoes? You should have bought a Paav ( 250 gms ) of mutton.”

The disdainful attitude towards potatoes came to surface when Sheikh Mohammad Abdullah was nicknamed as Olluv Bub ( potato father ) by Kashmiris. Sheikh had advised Kashmiris to eat potatoes when rice crops failed and drought-like situation prevailed in the valley. This fact has also been recorded by V S Naipaul in his travelogue ‘ An Area of Darkness.'

While people in plains make bulk purchases of potatoes and onions and store them, a Kashmiri generally buys need-based quantity. Kashmiri Muslims prefer to use the shallot variety of onions known locally as Praan. They use Praan extensively in their cuisine, especially in Wazwaan. Gradually, Kashmiri  Pandits have also brought onion to their kitchen. Though they do not use it for preparation of their core or traditional vegetarian and non-vegetarian dishes like Yakhni, Rogan Josh, Mutsz (  mutton balls ), Haak, Dumallu, Pullav, Rajmash ( kidney beans ), Tchaaman Kali ( yellow cheese ), Vozij Tchaaman ( red cheese ), etc.  Onion is liberally used in salads, pickles and Indian style vegetables cooked in Kashmiri Pandit households.

When I was young, I would be surprised to see that carpenters at work would usually carry a dish of onions and potatoes in their lunch tiffin. For some time, this dish got associated with carpenters. Many times, when some Kashmiri saw this dish in a fellow Kashmiri’s tiffin, he would instantly comment:-

“ ‘Kyah  sa tche kyaa az chhaana seinis pyath votmut . ’ meaning ‘
What happened?  Why have you come down to a carpenter’s dish today? ’”

And the disdain for potatoes and bulb onions would also get reflected in streets. If a crowd of idlers could not find a suitable nickname for a simpleton walking on the road, they would just call him ‘ Ganda-Ollu or onion and potato ’.

Sometimes one would get surprised and start pondering as to why a particular person is being hooted on his back by a strange nickname ‘Ganda- Tsoor or onion thief ‘. The person had the remotest link with either onions or thieving.

And quite often I have heard Kashmiris saying:-

 “ ‘Aeit   ho, ba   chhuss  vaenni  heissuv. Mey  chuvv na vaenni  Ganda- Rus’ meaning ‘  You beware, I am still in my senses. I have not drunk onion juice as yet."

Here onion juice or Ganda- Rus meant liquor or some intoxicating drink.
I found that boiled/fried potatoes mixed with chop fried onions are a popular recipe in many European countries. Germans love this recipe of mashed potatoes ( after boiling or deep frying ) mixed with chop fried onions laced with herbs or spices.

It has now been established that both onions and shallots contain Allicin, which helps lower blood sugar levels in diabetics. Shallots have a milder taste and odour than onions, so shallots are more commonly eaten raw.

Presently onions are extensively grown and used in Kashmir. And the production of bulb onions far exceeds the production of shallots ( Praan ). To meet demand, onions are also imported into Kashmir. While demand for potatoes and onions has surged, I am not sure about the past disdain that Kashmiris used to give to these two items.

( Avtar Mota )

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