Saturday, February 22, 2020


Goswami Tulsidas has beautifully described the story of Shiva’s marriage with Parvati in Ramcharitmanasa, the famous epic describing the story of the Ramayana.
Did Shiva come in his Rudra Avtara as a bridegroom ? Was Rishi Narda knowing these facts?Queen Maina , Parvati's mother was told something like this by some terrified children who were the first to see this unique marriage party of Shiva .
"Tan Chhaar bayaal kapaal bushan nagan jatil bhayankara,
Sang bhoot preit pisaatch jogini bikat mukh rajnicharaa." 
(The groom has his body smeared in ash, and he wears serpents and skulls by way of ornaments. Except these coverings, he is otherwise naked, sports a thick lock of knotted hairs on his head, and generally looks very fearful. He is accompanied by horrifying ghosts, phantoms, ogres and female spirits who have strange faces and mouths, and who move out only during the night .)
The children did not know the importance of Parvati’s Tapa. These innocent children didn't know who Shiva actually was to whom Parvati wanted to marry . 
Hara is another name of Shiva . In Kashmir, Shivratri was known as Hara-Ratri which later came to be known as HARA-RAATH ( Shiva's night in Kashmiri ) or HERATH. There was a practice in Kashmir to worship HARI-HARA or Vishnu and Shiva together as one entity . Hari-hara idols /images from Kashmir are displayed in many Museums world over. The scriptures say:
" Sivasya hridayam vishnur-vishnoscha hridayam sivah." meaning Vishnu is the heart of Shiva and likewise Shiva is the heart of Vishnu.
Shivratri is generally celebrated as a Union of Shiva and Parvati( Uma ) or Shiva and Shakti. Some people believe that Shiva performed Tandava on Shivratri while many believe that Shiva became Neel Kantha on this day .
Shiva -Parvati worship is popular in Thailand, Bali, Cambodia ,Nepal and many more countries. I saw many temples dedicated to Shiva Rudra, Dewa Siva and Dewi Parvati in Bali.In Tantrik Buddhism , Parvati is worshipped as Tara.
Kashmiri Pandits also worship Parvati as Bhadrakali, Shailputri, Mahakali , Ambika ,Uma, Gauri ,Prakriti and Tripura Sundari. The Devi Mantra "Sarva-Mangala-Maangalye Shive Sarvaatha-Saadhike -Sharanye Trayambake Gauri Narayani Namos-tute " is also a Parvati mantra and often recited in Kashmiri Pandit families. 
To get rid of the fear of death , Kashmiri Pandits continue to recite ' Ati beeshan kattu baashan yama kinkar Patali , krititaadan paripeedan maranagama samaye, umayasaha mama chetasi yamashasana nivasan, Shiv Shankar Shiv Shankar hara me har duritam " from Shiva Chamar Astuti.
The sages say:
" Shiva is a householder yet fiercely independent ascetic . Shiva is innocence divinified .Shiva is the supreme Yogi. Shiva is the greatest dancer in this Brahmanda .As Rudra , Shiva is ferocious . Shiva is trustworthy guide . Shiva is a blissful lover. As Dakshinamurti, Shiva is a benevolent teacher who accords wisdom to seekers of salvation. Shiva is the protector . Shiva is the destroyer.Shiva is beyond the cycle of death and birth. He maintains the law and order in this universe. As Neelkantha, Shiva is the ultimate well-wisher of all living creatures . Shiva is Ardhnarishvara or beyond the classification of male and female. As Ardhnarishvara , Shiva personifies the dissolution of sectarian strains in this world. It represents two conflicting ways of life which are needed for continuity of creation in this universe. None can exist without the other ."
(Avtar Mota)

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ARJUN  DEV  MAJBOOR (1924-2010)
( Poet Arjun Dev Majboor with his wife)

He was a Kashmiri poet who translated Kalidasa' s Meghdootam into Kashmiri apart from translating Nilamata Purana into Urdu . Arjun Dev was born at Zainapora in Pulwama .He was influenced by Kalidas, Ghalib and modern Kashmiri poet Dina Nath Nadim.
 In his youth, he went to Lahore to study where he got influenced by Arya Samaj. Later , he was influenced by Marxism . 
   ( Majboor's House )
              ( Majboor's Jammu House ) 
             ( Arjun Dev Majboor)

     ( Desh Rattan Kaul Majboor  and Shyam ji..Son and daughter in law of poet Majboor)

Majboor did a pioneering job in compiling Kuliyaat of poet Lala Lakshman. Lala's poems were in circulation through oral medium. Lala had never written anything on paper. He would recite and people remembered his verses which were always full of comic satire.
‘Waves’ , a collection of Arjun Dev’s 30 poems, selected and translated into English by Prof. Arvind Gigoo, made him known all over the country as a respected poet of Kashmiri language.
I add two samples of Arjun Dev Majboor's verses:
"Dil saen boodaan vuth saen assan
Aeki baala khasaan beyi baala vasaan
Aeis lookh chha pakavaen rail patter
Pai kyaa aeissi peithi Kean kya kya pokh"
In English ,I would say:
"Our hearts may have aged ,
but our lips have not abandoned smiling.
Like rails we are spread on paths,
We don't know how many trains moved over us."
"Dishaayan aath bhaarav raechh paannai
Vasaan devta yeiti aeis aasmaanai
Yeti Gautam Buddhas saet shiv Shankar
Viharan mandran ganzraan baraabar."
In English ,I would say:
" Eight brothers guarded us in eight directions, 
And gods also descended from skies over here.
Along with Lord Shiva ,
Buddha ensured harmony between
 the temples and Viharas over here."
I add some wonderful anecdotes of Prof Arvind Gigoo about Majboor...
"Majboor recited long passages from Obra Shech, his translation of Meghdootam of Kalidas. It was brilliant. Enthralling! The room resonated. Majboor’s voice was marvellous. I was all attention. I was breathless. I am a good listener. Lyrical quality and imagery were splendid. (I am sorry for having used literary terms). Recitation of Obra Shech gave me immense joy."
" Majboor talked about his involvement in Democratic National Conference. He talked about his determination in youth to create a classless society in Kashmir. He talked about his association with politicians. I said: ‘You have wasted your time in politics.’ He readily agreed but said, ‘I have not wasted even a single minute so far as my writing goes.’ He talked about his poverty, life in his village, schooling in Srinagar, his ambitions, his restlessness, his education in Lahore, his association with writers and scholars, his hard life, years of unemployment and his passion to change society."
" I translated forty Kashmiri poems of Majboor into English. I went on polishing and polishing them. It took months. He lost patience. He wanted me to work quickly. One day I handed over twenty-six poems to him.
‘Where are the remaining poems?’
‘I rejected them. But I will not give you the rejected ones because I know that you will publish them. And I will not translate any more.’
Majboor became sad.
After a couple of months Waves was published. The second edition (containing thirty translations) is better than the first. The drawings of Vijay Zutshi are breathtaking. Waves got an award in Kolkata. Majboor came back an excited man."
"Majboor throws a party. There are about twenty persons. We have drinks. Vijay Zutshi and P K Goja sing songs. Others recite verses. I laugh and make others laugh. Humour is my weapon to fight my shyness and to conceal the real ‘i’ in me. I love my foolishness. We have more drinks. And then an excellent dinner is served. Majboor and I are talking. Moti Lal Saqi comes. He recites a poem on migration, loss and home. He goes on weeping. ‘My soul is wounded’, Saqi says sobbing.
My illiterate old mother calls Majboor ‘ Mehjoor Sahib’. She refuses to be corrected.."
" Sudhir, an actor, dramatizes Kshama Kaul’s Hindi translation of Majboor’s Thuk Thuk. The last portion of the poem creates an atmosphere of terror—terror of militancy. There is not even a whisper in the hall. Such is the effect of art. I find tears in the eyes of some. There is applause. Majboor is watching his success."
" Abhinav Theatre. Jammu. A CD of Majboor’s songs is released. The songs are sung by Shamima Dev Azad and Rashid Farash. Pandit Bhajan Sopori has composed the music. When the CD is played there is a sad silence in the hall. Nostalgia is evoked especially when Majboor’s 'Yeli Yād pyvān sonhäry vatan' is played. Majboor feels triumphant."
" Majboor was a lover of good food, spicy mutton and tasty dishes. He was a man of strong likes and dislikes. He never indulged in backbiting. I never found him discussing persons critically. One evening he got tipsy at ‘my place’. He spent the night with me. Nobody had the guts to question him.
Next day.
‘Listen to this poem. It is titled thukthuk.’ I listen. One of his best poems. Depicts the cultural history of Kashmir. The last stanza is superb. Shows the horror of militancy.
‘How did the idea of writing Thu Thuk come to you?’
‘I was watching an advertisement on TV: ‘Knock Knock’.’
‘It reminds me of ‘knock knoock’ in Shakespeare’s Macbeth.’ "

Majboor was a postgraduate  in Hindi. He has more than 21 publications to his credit which include his poetic collections .
   (Majboor with his mother and family)
 (L to R Prof Arvind Gigoo, GR Hasrat Gada, Vijay Zutshi, M Y Taing, Maharaj Santoshi and Majboor)

                ( A portrait of Majboor) 

More on Arjun Dev Majboor shortly...
( Avtar Mota)

Source Material
(1) Interview of Desh Rattan Kaul son of the poet
(2) Sheeraza J&K Academy of Art Culture and Languages ,Arjun Dev Majboor Number.
(3) Interview of Prof Arvind Gigoo 

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Tuesday, February 18, 2020




"Maine jazbaat nibhaaye hain
usulon ki jagah,
Apne armaan piro laaya huun
phoolon ki jagah,
Tere chehre ki ye saugaat
kise pesh karun...
Ye muraadon ki haseen raat
kise pesh karun...."

Year 1964.. At  the recording of the  song 'Rang Aur Noor Ki Baraat Kisse Pesh Karoon' for the Bollywood movie GAZAL. Mohd Rafi  enjoys reading the beautiful Lyrics penned by Sahir.

SAHIR is engrossed in his own world while  Madan Mohan looks with satisfaction..

(Avtar Mota)

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Peepal, a deciduous tree with a  life span that may exceed  100 years. Unlike other trees, it gives 24 hour oxygen supply intaking  carbon dioxide during day and night . This is possible  due to a special photosynthesis process.  So Peepal  is like a life sustaining machine on this planet.

The plant has enormous medicinal value and finds repeated mention in Ayurveda.
It finds mention in sacred scriptures of Hindus. Skanda Purana links it with Vishnu while Bhagwat Geeta connects  it with Sri Krishna.It is also linked with Brahma and Shiva. Buddhists call it the sacred tree of enlightenment.  Peepal is the Bodhi tree . Peepal is the  Vriksh Raja  mentioned in Rigveda.

I found so many Peepal trees in Jammu sanctified, revered and considered auspicious by people. Similar is the reverence for this tree all over India.
In a way, this  tree is also  linked to cultural ethos of the country.

 Over here, want to  add  Dogri poem ' Peepal Tree' by  eminent Dogri poet Yash Sharma ji .  I read the poem once more today. So simple  , refreshing and conveying profound human pathos. The translation into English from Dogri  has been aptly done by Squadron leader Anil Sehgal. Seema Anil Sehgal ( Yash ji's daughter) is married to Squadron leader Anil Sehgal. The poem appears in Squadron leader Anil Sehgal's  book  'Tale of a Virgin River' published by  Monk Books, Mumbai.

Yash Sharma (1929-2011 ) has been an eminent   poet, actor, broadcaster, playwright and lyricist.  He would sing his poems in Kavi Goshthis  and  Samelans .  In 1950,  Harivansh Rai Bachan suggested to Yash ji to switch over  to his mother tongue  Dogri . He met  Harivansh Rai Bachan in Dharmshala .

Yash ji's poetic collection 'Jo Tere Man Chitt Laggi Ja' won him the coveted  Sahitya Akademi Award. Those amongst us who know DOGRI surely know the beauty and richness of Yash ji's poetry.

Here is the beautiful poem....


As I approach my village
the Peepal tree
standing at the edge
of the slope
reminds me of my father.
Now that mother
and father are no more,
from whom can I expect
that warm embrace?
My heart flinches
as my sisters-in-law,
my closest relatives,
walk indifferently past me.
The apricot tree
standing firm in the middle
of the courtyard
reminds me of my mother.
As I rush towards it,
she appears, spinning the wheel.
My eyes grow wet.
Tied with maternal love
the headscarf is drenched with tears . . .
Who can defy destiny?
I embrace the pillars
and recall the abandon of childhood
those carefree games
those bird nests . . .
Oh mother,
why did you bear daughters?
And why, oh father,
did you marry them
to distant places?
They keep returning home


(Avtar Mota)

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IMPRESSION  OF JAMMU  ..1940..... (Based on  interview no. 2..done in 2000)

‌ " I was born in 1924. I vividly remember Jammu of 1940. We lived  close to Sherawala gate at Dounthali or Panjtirthi locality. Apart from Jogi gate and Gumat gate, this was one more gate for entry to the old city. Images of large lions were made from plastering material on this gate. So people called it Sherawala gate. We could see horses, camels, elephants entering and coming out from this gate. Camels were used in entire Jammu province more specifically in Kandi areas for carrying  firewood, fodder, grass ,merchandise, milk, agricultural produce ,etc.  Maharaja Hari Singh had some elephants along with elegant looking  horse driven royal Buggies. Water works station built during the rule of  Maharaj Partap  Singh  was close by . There were some huge water ponds or Talabs in the old city. One outside the Palace , one near present Sabzi Mandi ,one near  present Rajinder Bazaar , one in Mohalla Kalithian .

‌Rajinder Bazaar had dancing and music Kothas . It was known as Urdu Bazaar .During evenings,  affluent from the city would come to this area for listening to music and watching dances. Singers and dancers from Lahore would also entertain  VIPs over here.

‌ Even though tap water was supplied to city for half an hour in the  morning ,  people preferred to go down to Tawi river  for morning bath . Women were seen on this steep Dakki right from 5AM. Women  brought  fresh  water in bright  shining brass   Gaggars on their heads . There was a well near  Tawi bank and women brought  water from this well. Men too went to Tawi river for their ablution .Professional water carriers known as Jheewars were still around .

‌ Gujjar women would bring milk using Dakkis to climb and enter the city. They would come in groups chatting . By 11.30 AM these women would return to their home . They would carry home some  provisions essentially , cloth , Jaggery  ,spices ,common salt , etc. Every milk seller sold milk, curd and Desi Barfi prepared from khoya.

‌ Some Tongas were driven by Pathans who lived around Kachhi Chhawni or Ustaad Mohalla. Present Karan Nagar area was a forest cum garden maintained from royal treasury. There was a water pond in this area . The area  had flowers and trees. Maharaja's VIP staff lived close by .

‌The city was known by its Dakkis or steep paths . Pacci Dakki, Sirajaan Di Dakki (locality of shoe makers and dealers in leather ) ,Naiyaan Di Dakki (locality of Barbers) , Dalpatian Di Dakki,etc. Dalpats ,a warrior community of Rajput's were settled in Mohalla Dalpatian.

‌Maharaja had brought artisans and settled them in various localities like Julahe da mohalla ( Julla Ka mohalla) was inhabited by weavers. The goldsmiths  from Jain community were brought from Punjab who established their business in Pawaden da  Bazaar now known as Jain Bazaar. Skin tanners were settled near Talab khatikan. These tanners needed water for their profession .

‌During summers, shops would be closed at noon and reopened around 4PM. During winters,  Darbaar move brought activity in the city . Mashqis would sprinkle water in city roads and lanes during summers.

‌Tea was  not an item of breakfast. Milk, Lassi, Chapaati, Paratha ,Makki da doda( maize bread) ,yogurt, home made pickles ,etc were consumed during  breakfast . Mustard oil and Desi ghee were used by people for cooking. Ghee from Hydrogenated oils or  any other cooking  oil was unknown .

People built Chowgans or meeting places in localities. Fattu Chowgan or Chowgan Slathian were prominent Chowgan in the  old city.

‌I have gone to Wazirabad now in Pakistan. My maternal uncle took me to Wazirabad in train. He was employed as a Munshi with a timber merchant in Jammu.    One direct  train  connected Jammu with Wazirabad via Sialkot. Wazirabad was one and half hour train journey from Sialkot. It was a peaceful town on the bank of river Chenab. It was known for its   furniture manufacturing  . Deodar logs were carried to Wazirabad through Chenab waters from Jammu. Wazirabad had a  big  Shivala and a Gurudwara built in the memory of  Guru Arjun Dev ji. I remember having seen a beautiful  church in the town. The town had business links with Jammu especially on account of deodar sleeper trade."

....To be continued.

(Avtar Mota)

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Sunday, February 16, 2020


                                                              ( Bahu Fort , Jammu )
        ( Jammu  Sialkot train near Miran Sahib)                 
                         ( Amar Palace,Jammu)
          ( Polo ground ,Jammu )
                                                           (DarbaarHall ,  Jammu )

                                ( Amar Mahal, Jammu )
                            ( Darbargarh , Jammu )
       ( Sri Raghunath ji Temple , Jammu )
                                                          (Old Tawi Bridge, Jammu)


Since 1998,   I have  been recording interviews of  persons who were  young boys in 1947 and were living in Jammu city. Here are some wonderful impressions of Jammu city conveyed to me :-

" Yes ,I have many memories of Jammu of 1940s. From Jammu, i  have gone to Sialkot many times  with my father  . We would go by   train. . The train would start from present location known as   Bikram Chowk. The old  Jammu railway  station was exactly opposite to present day Police lines  gate . We would come in a Tonga from Kachhi Chawni Tonga stand. There was no habitation across Tawi bridge right up to Satwari. At Satwari , the train slowed down and one could see some lights . The 27 miles  journey was covered in about one and a  half hour with four halts . The train fare was three annas.  At Satwari, there used to be small cantonment where Maharaja's forces were stationed. My father took me to two important temples of Sialkot. One was Jagannath temple  in the city and the other was Puran Bhagat Temple . Puran Bhagat Temple  was outside the town' and was  also known as Baba Sehaj Nath Temple. The Jandial community was attached to this temple.  The Jandials from Jammu would hold annual  assembly and Bhandara at this temple.   Puran Bhagat Temple had a well.
We also saw Ramleela in Sialkot once.

 Sialkot was open town. It had good roads . It had two churches also. We had many relations in Sialkot. Many people from Sialkot  would come to Jammu for shopping . During summers, people would stay for the night enjoying the cool breeze around Canal . Near present day canal park, some Dhabas had also been opened. They offered food and cots to customers. The Dhaba owners charged some Annas  for good food and cot . Those who stayed in Jammu for the night would catch the morning train at 11AM to Sialkot . There were some  buildings from Gumat  to canal. Talab Tillo , Mohinder Nagar and all present day localities were fields where farmers grew paddy and other crops. In 1940, old Jammu city had taps that supplied drinking water lifted from Tawi. Electricity was also available to residents .  "

(Avtar Mota)

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Friday, February 14, 2020








“ Every block of stone has a statue insideit and it is the task of the sculptor to discover it.”………..Michelangelo

The sleepy border village of Sanoora falls in the Ghagwal block of the Samba district. It is about 10 km from Samba town. The residents of the village used to be either farmers or would join the army. However, with the spread of education, the literacy rate of village Sanoora has reached 87% ( males 94% and females 80 %) . This village has produced Ganesh Kumar Sharma , a leading sculptor of the UT who’s sculptures demonstrate his creativity,manual dexterity and a profound understanding of forms and materials. About himself, Ganesh Sharma has this to say:-

“ I have learnt this art out of sheer personal interest. I am the only member from my family in this field. I belong to a family that has served the nation through our army. My father was in the army and my brother retired as colonel in the army. I did my schooling from a government school in Sanoora village and later joined the degree college at Kathua. I was drawn towards art from my childhood. After finishing my college studies , I enrolled myself as student in Institute of Music And Fine Arts ,Jammu. Starting with watercolour paintings , it was Shri Vidya Ratan Khajuria , the well-known sculptor who moulded my aptitude towards sculpture. He remained my life-long Guru. Amongst other sculptors from Jammu, Shri Ravindra Jamwal is doing excellent work currently. His installation work is quite impressive . I am also impressed by the work of Shri Rajendra Tikoo .When I was about to leave the IMFA ( Jammu ) Shri Rajinder Tikoo another well known sculptor also joined as faculty. I am impressed by the work of Latika Katt of Delhi. Her sculptures bear the profound influence of Auguste Rodin. She has a variety, technique and something to say through her sculptures. Many sculptors in our UT are doing very good work. So many I mean.”

Trained by great sculptor Vidya Ratan Khajurua, Ganesh Kumar Sharma has exhibited his work in many solos held in various cities of the country. Two times Gold Medalist from the USA, Ganesh Sharma has done 24 solo shows of his work in India and abroad and attended about three hundred National-level exhibitions in the UT and various other cities of the country. Not only Lalit Kala Akademi, his work is in possession of many galleries, hotels, corporate offices and private individuals in India and abroad. He adds this:-

“ Presently, I live in Hiranagar town .I receive many invitations to join overseas exhibitions but I am constrained to decline all as I can’t travel much. Through some divine intervention only, I survived from a major road accident in 1991. It kept me confined to bed for 2 years. I was operated 19 times but in the hospital also , I didn’t give up my passion for art. I wanted to get up as early as possible and resume my creative work. Covid 19 opened the online platform for exhibitions. I have been joining many national and international online exhibitions. I don’t remember the number of online exhibitions wherein I participated . God has been kind that way .”

Some Awards conferred upon him could be listed as under:-

(1) J&K State Government Award and Gold Medal on Republic Day in 2006.

(2) National Award received from the then PM Shri Atal Bihari Vajpayee in 1998.

(3) Best Artist Award’ ( online participation ) by the Egyptian International Foundation for Fine Arts.

(4) Awarded In the prestigious Virtual International Exhibition ‘Homage to Venezuela’( online participation ) organised by ‘Escuela International Arte de America’.

(5) OSCAR, a magazine for Arab and International Literature and Arts declared Ganesh Sharma as one of the 100 most creative personalities of the world for the year 2023.

(6) International Picasso Fine Arts Award (online participation ) organised by Oxford University jointly with two other universities.

(7) Awarded by Arnay Palma International Academy of Arts And Literature, Hungary for participation ( online ).

(8) Broadway Award by J&K Academy of Art ,Culture And Languages .

(9) Award in All India Exhibition organised by Academy Of Fine Arts , Amritsar , Punjab .

From the long list , I have mentioned only 9 awards . Through online exhibitions post Covid 19 epidemic , many awards and a global recognition has come his way.


Art, in all its forms, has the incredible power to inspire, provoke thought, and evoke emotions .Sculpture, with its three-dimensional nature, takes this experience to another level. It engages our senses, inviting us to explore its contours, textures, and forms. Sculptures remind us of the importance of tangible objects and the beauty of physicality. Through their presence, sculptures enrich our surroundings, infusing them with aesthetic pleasure and cultural significance. Whether created in traditional or contemporary styles, they serve as timeless markers of human creativity and expression.

I saw Ganesh Sharma’s sculptures recently . He must have made about 650 sculptures till now using Devar stone ( from Kashmir ) , granite , marble ( black and white ), terracotta and wood ( Deodar and Sheesham ). He has also created some masterpieces on drifted wood. He uses the elements of art to create an effect and convey his intent. These sculptures are based on principles of art and design like balance, contrast, emphasis, movement, pattern, rhythm, and unity/variety. I could see some of his sculptures representing human torso ( male and female ) or faces that convey a special type of originality that captures the imagination . His sculptures reflect perfection in carving, assembling, modeling, and casting. In his female faces or forms done in abstract format , he chisels and polishes aesthetic sensuousness .These sculptures have the power to create a mood , convey a story .Ganesh Sharma knows well the art of depicting things by focusing on geometrical forms and reducing the recognizable characteristics of his subjects by experimenting with space and form .This is how he represents the broad possibilities of art. Influence of V R Khajuria is starkly visible in Ganesh Sharma’s work. In his simplicity and humbleness , Ganesh Sharma doesn’t know how profound and delightfully creative sculptures he creates that could compete with any front line sculptor on the national scene .

About Ganesh Sharma’s work , noted artist and critic , Dr Alka Chadha Haraplani writes this:-

“ Ganesh simplifies shapes in his sculptures to their elemental form and brings out the essence of things with his nuances of hammer and chisel. Be it human torso , face ,family , bird or biographic form , all are chipped , scrapped , carved, drilled ,polished , filed and forged as a combination of curvi-linear lines –enigmatic , gestural and symbolic. There is a magical play of positive and negative space in his sculptures. One can see the way in which wood is burnt at different places to bring out tonal gradations .The armature for support , tautness and compressions, chiseling and then the stone cutting machine – all contribute in becoming a modeling tool for his movement of lines and highly polished and finished surface of his sculptures .”

( Avtar Mota )

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