Tuesday, December 27, 2022




The philosophy of  love and beauty in the poetry of Sherko Bekas , the exiled Kurdish poet has such a wide horizon that the language barriers start to crumble as soon as he tries to find an outlet for the stream of his thoughts and allows it to flow. Poem ‘Survival; from the  poet goes as under :-

(Survival )

I went to the ocean
and it told me:
"If it were up to the fishing-rod and the net,
not only the fish of my blue soul
but even I
would have perished a long time ago."
I went into the forest
and it told me:
"If it were up to the axe's fantasy,
not even a single twig
would blossom
here in my body."
oh, my friends,
ocean and forest,
as long as the fish swim in your blue soul
and the green branches continue to grow,
the fish of the eyes
and the forest of my people will also survive.

( Avtar Mota  )

Creative Commons License
CHINAR SHADE by Autarmota is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 2.5 India License.
Based on a work at http:\\autarmota.blogspot.com\.

Wednesday, December 7, 2022




                 ( Triloke Kaul with the book )
         ( Artist Gokul Dembi with the book ) 

LANDSCAPE AND LAMENT ( Art ,Exile and the Rebel Artist ) by Avtar Mota 
Published by
Vitasta Publishing Pvt Ltd
2/15, Ansari Road, Daryaganj
New Delhi - 110 002
ISBN 978-93-90961-77-1
( Available on Amazon and Flipkart and other platforms )

“ Very well written, well printed and beautifully presented book that I read recently. Every chapter , every paragraph and every line of this book moves through your heart . Great work accomplished.”…….. (Padamashri Kashinath Pandita )

       ( Published Review No1 by Ashok Ogra  )
 (Published Review No 2 by Parvez Dewan IAS )


      ( Above.  6 paintings of Bansi Parimu)

It am told authors shouldn't review their work . If that be the rule, let me create an exception.
Writing biographies and then commenting on works of art is not a simple task. I know how difficult it is to dig , look for and present truth about men ,matters and places. One can't risk writing anything that has not been thoroughly researched or verified from source . Truth even in its unpalatable form , creates foundation for lasting mutual trust and goodwill. Nothing is more damaging for both the listener and the speaker should both of them be in possession of the truth yet push falsehood . Those who do so serve none . They fix a wedge at the split that cracks the entire homogeneous log into two pieces with persistent hammering through falsehood . Speaking the truth is a step forward towards lasting peace and goodwill , the dire need of the time we live . The book, Landscape And Lament ' is a step in that direction . A truthful story of a sincere man ( if one understands his passion, love and compassion for the inhabitants of the strife torn valley ) who hurried towards his death post exile from his beloved motherland, Kashmir. A man who felt choked in the heat and dust of the alien environment. A man who saw fear changing faces and attitudes in the Kashmir he loved passionately. A man who saw death and destruction . A man who saw the dagger being thrust into the backbone of the age old mutual trust and composite living by armed merchants of death and destruction . The fear created by them silenced all . The terrorism changed the paradise on the earth into a hell unfit for living with dignity ,honour and safety .
While the book narrates the life story of Bansi Parimu , it also discusses his art. Parimu, the unsung creative mind rises to a high pedestal comparable to the best minds in his field. The book also narrates history of art in the valley right from ancient period to 21st century. Based on interviews of some prominent persons, family and friends of Parimu, the book brings forth truth about the man, his life ,his art and arrives at the crux of the causes that hastened his death . It also pays due tributes to a few who dared not to be swept by the hate and falsehood.
I quote excerpts from 7 chapters of the book.
From the chapter “At The Coffee House Days “
“Bansi Parimu was a regular visitor to India Coffee House in Srinagar. It was not for gossip but for another passion. He had a serious concern for the environment and civil rights. His table had the largest gathering, and he was the centre of attraction. He was into so many societies and bodies for that reason. I mean, bodies like Save Chinar, Save Hangul, Parihaaspora Task Force, Urban Arts Council, INTACH and others.” ………. (Shantiveer Kaul..)
“I am naive about art, but I knew the artist Bansi Parimu closely. He was a warm, affectionate and knowledgeable person. He had vast social interactions. He was loved by one and all. I sat with him daily in the vibrant hall of the India Coffee House in Srinagar. I learned much from him. We talked about various social, political and literary issues. He had his own unique style. We lived like a family. I remember those golden and sweet interactions. I met him daily. He was anti-fascist, progressive and secular to the core. I also remember Shamim Ahmad Shamim, Ali Mohammad Lone, Pran Nath Jalali, Wahid Raina, Amin Kamil, G R Santosh and many others who are no more. God bless their souls.” …….(Dr.Abdul Wahid Senior physician SKIMS, Soura, Srinagar)
From the sub chapter “ A compassionate Human being And a dependable friend "..
“ I got to know Bansi Parimu during my university days and the association lasted till he left Srinagar in the early ’90s. Being neighbours, we often met at his house. Such a gentleman and such an end! The more I think of him, the more I realise his varied interests. He was a multidimensional personality in the true sense of the word and above all, an extremely good human being. I saw him one day before he migrated. I searched for him in that abandoned house until it was purchased by someone else. It is really painful to recollect the trauma we all have gone through. “…….(Abdul Majeed Baba , businessman, and a friend of Bansi Parimu )
“For me, he was like a Guru. Long back, I met him in the Middle East, perhaps in Dubai. He was intense in everything that he did. Intense for any cause and intense with colours. Always brilliant with colours and in conversation. Had he lived, he would have done wonders (zinda rehtay to kamaal kartay). Unfortunately, he came to Delhi in very bad shape when he had been uprooted from his homeland. Had it been in the sixties or seventies, he would have been among the top names in the world of art. He was politically aware and very much concerned about Kashmir that was close to his heart. “……(Kashmiri Khosa ,noted artist)
From the chapter “The Last Days "..
On Parimu’s death, Sabina Sehgal wrote in the Times of India of 4 August 1991:
“Parimu will be long remembered for his unstinting support not merely to the cause of art and the artist, but also for his deep association with all the contemporary movements in the State. He was among the very few painters who voluntarily chose to stay in Kashmir despite being isolated from the mainstream, as it were. He never regretted his decision even though he was, in a sense, elbowed out and did not get the national recognition that he truly deserved.”
In early 1941, when the Nazi forces entered Bulgaria and took control of the country as a prelude to the attack on the USSR, Vaptsarov fled to Sofia with his wife and child. Unfortunately, he was arrested by the Nazi forces and punished for his beliefs and convictions. He died on 23 July in 1942, at a young age of 33 years. His poem, History, reinforces the idea of close similarity that Parimu had with this rebel poet. I quote some lines from the poem:
History, will you mention us
in your faded scroll?
For the hardship and affliction
we do not seek rewards,
nor do we want our pictures
in the calendar of years.
Just tell our story simply
to those we shall not see,
tell those who will replace us –
We fought courageously.
( C )
In Delhi, Bansi Parimu had many causes, many worries, many involvements that left him with little time to attend to his ailments. Arthritis had already afflicted his hands and fingers. He was diabetic. The hot, humid and hostile climate of the plains too had its adverse impact on him. Although he remained busy in Delhi, yet his life was full of pain and restlessness. His life in Delhi can be best described by the poem, Boat, written by the exiled Kurdish poet, Sherko Bekas. The poem reads:
'To me,
my heart is like a boat
with some holes in the bottom.
Again, and again
water presses its way in,
and I bail it out.
Before I have bailed out
a bucketful of old sorrow,
it is already replaced by new sorrow.
But neither does this restless boat sink
nor does it anchor
in the whirlwind of this night.'
From the chapter “ Terrorism and Exile “
“Noted Persian scholar and historian, Kashi Nath Pandita recounts, ‘In September 1989, when Tika Lal Taplu was killed, there was fear and fright on all faces. Through a widely circulated English newspaper, I addressed a letter to Azadi movement leaders to clear their stand towards Kashmir Pandits and other minorities. The reply received by me closed all options. We were told to join the Azadi movement or leave Kashmir. No other option was put forth. The situation at that time was a clear signal to the Hindus and other minorities living in the Valley. Allama Iqbal has summed up this situation in his poetry as:- 
“Chhupa kar aasteen mein bijliyaan rakhi hain garduun ne
Aanaadil bagh ke gaafil na baithen aashiyaanon mein
Wattan ki fikr kar nadaan museebat aanewaali hai
Teri barbaadiyon ke mashware hain aasmaanon mein”
(The arched sphere has concealed lightning in its sleeve,
Let not the nightingales of the garden sit carefree in their nests,
Oh, the ignorant! Think of your homeland, the tragedy waits in wings,
Consultations for your destruction are being held in the skies.) 
Capt. S K Tikoo recalled this :-
“This environment and the slogans had thrust a dagger into the backbone of the centuries-old composite culture and shared living in the Kashmir valley. And then the gun-wielding and Pakistan-trained militants spared no one who was deemed to be Indian in any manner or who they felt was acting against the objectives of the Azadi movement. They killed Mushir ul Haq (VC, The University of Kashmir), B K Ganju (engineer employed with BSNL), Sarvanand Koul Premi (poet), Lassa Koul (the then director Doordarshan, Srinagar), Molvi Mohammad Farooq (religious leader), H L Khera (Geaneral Manager, HMT, Srinagar), Prem Nath Bhat (advocate), Maulana Masoodi (religious scholar and aged politician), Mustafa Mir (politician) and many government officials and pro-India leaders. These compulsive killers killed people coming out from the mosques after offering prayers. They killed innocent and helpless women and children. They killed innocent people eating food with their family members. Calling them Indian agents, hapless Pandits were used as ducks to test their newly-acquired guns.”
( c )
The Kashmiri poem ‘Assi von na kinhi’ or ‘Not a word did we utter’ composed by poet Radhey Nath Masarat (1939-2021) remains one of the most powerful poems representing fear, silence and plight of people who were driven out from their homes and hearths in 1990. In this poem, Masarat is forthright and direct in conveying the helplessness, pain and suffering of the people who were subjected to all sorts torment and agony by armed militants and their cohorts . 
“Baarav dhyet dazavein naaran von
‘Hey Saaf Kariekh’
Akhbaarav von ‘Naahaq maariekh’
Assi von na kinhi…..
Gaeli zeiv assi gayi
aess kyaah vanahav
pyatha-kani aess Dhuryodhan Shakuni
Zaareiv gyundh zaar ta aess haariekh
Assi von na kinhi… “
(The fire that burnt us,
kept complaining and crying:
‘Alas! they have been finished and wiped away’
The newspapers carried our story:
‘Innocents have been killed’
Yet, not a word did we utter.
We turned dumb,
What could we say otherwise
when Shakuni and Duryodhan became
masters of our destiny?
The dice players played their game
and lost us as their stake.
Yet, not a word did we utter. )
(There are yet inspiring stories, though few, of some unknown men, who never lost their objectivity or who were never swayed by the prevailing frenzy, hate and negativity of the 1990s in the Kashmir valley. One person amongst such few men is Mohammad Amin, the proprietor of the National Masala/Kanwal Spices, Anantnag, Kashmir. Mohammad Amin paid salary to Prem Nath Kaul, his employee from village Nanil, regularly till death (for more than 11 years) after May 1990. In May 1990, Prem Nath was pulled out from a Matador (public transport vehicle) by armed boys near Krungsoo village when he was returning from his work. He was threatened with dire consequences if he was again seen in Anantnag. Branding him an informant, he was asked to leave Kashmir. Prem Nath never worked at Mohammad Amin’s factory after the May 1990 incident: initially out of fear and later due to poor health. Prem Nath Kaul and his wife stayed in Kashmir after 1990, solely on Mohammad Amin’s support. Prem Nath refused to leave Kashmir when his son left the Valley in 1990 due to threats and fear. A religious man, Prem Nath wrote and sang Leelas in Kashmiri. He played on harmonium and banjo. To this aged couple, Mohammad Amin did what a son is supposed to do for his aged and dependent parents. I am sure there must be many more unknown men like Mohammad Amin.)
From the chapter “ Lilting Music And Jaijaiwanti"..
“After the marriage, Jaijaiwanti got busy with her job as a music teacher in a local college and Bansi focused on his work. The couple struck a good understanding. Bansi, a liberal non-interfering man, needed space for his artistic pursuits. Jaijaiwanti understood these requisites and demands and provided him with ample space for his creative outpourings. ‘So the wild horse has been finally tamed’, is what D P Dhar is reported to have told Jaijaiwanti when he saw the couple after their marriage.”
There were night long music Mehfils in Pandit Ved Lal’s house at Zaindar Mohalla. Many renowned musicians performed in these mehfils. In the book, Master Musicians of India, under the chapter, ‘Sabri Khan’, Ustad Sabri Khan (the sarangi player) says that one day he performed at Pandit Ved Lal’s Srinagar house till 5 am, playing Darbari for two hours. About these music mehfils, Moti Lal Kemu writes:-
“I used to reside at Tankipora locality in Srinagar city close to the house of Pandit Ved Lal Dhar. Pandit Dhar was a connoisseur of Hindustani classical music. Many times I saw Begum Akhtar coming to Pandit Ved Lal’s house during evening time. There were singing sessions till the late hours of the night. Jaijaiwanti and Rageshwari, the two daughters of Pandit Ved Lal, would also join Begum Akhtar in these singing sessions. During Begum Akhtar’s stage performance, Rageshwari would be seen accompanying her by playing on a tanpura. Rageshwari considered herself a disciple of Begum Akhtar. “
From the chapter ”The Journey of Art In Kashmir "..
“Apart from artists, Kashmiri scholars and savants have played a leading role in spreading knowledge and Buddhism far and wide across the Himalayan frontiers of India in Central Asia, Tibet, and China. Some Buddhist monasteries in Central Asia had Parmukhs or Pramukhs who were from Kashmir. The Pramukhs were highly respected scholars and polyglots who were proficient in art, religion and philosophy. There were many Buddhist Pramukhs or Parmukhs from Kashmir in Nav-Vihara (a well known ancient Buddhist monastery) of Balkh in Central Asia. During the Arab invasions, some Parmukhs or Pramukhs of Nav-Vihara fled to Khotan and Kashmir, travelling through the Silk Route while many converted to Islam. The Parmukhs of Nav-Vihara were polyglots, who, upon their capture were brought to Iraq by invading Arabs. The services of these Parmukhs were utilised by Abbasid Caliphs for translation of many ancient Sanskrit texts into Arabic. The Parmukhs were paid from the royal treasury of the Abbasid Caliphate for this translation work. The Arabs called them Barmakhs or Barmikahs. They were also known as Barmakids or Barmecides. They were highly influential throughout Arabia, Persia, and Central Asia. Khalid Barmiki became the governor of upper Mesopotamia. Yahaya Barmiki became the governor of Armenia. Al Fadl Barmiki and Jaffar Barmiki occupied key positions during the rule of Harun al-Rashid.”

From the chapter “The Artist And His Art”..
“In India, Abstract genre was also extensively used by S H Raza, Ram Kumar, Tyeb Mehta, M F Husain, Prabhakar Kolte, V S Gaitonde, S K Bakre, Shobha Broota, Biren De, Satish Gujral, P Khemraj, Devyani Krishna, Akbar Padamsee, Bimal Dasgupta, Sachida Nagdev, Nasreen Mohamedi, J Swaminathan and many others during the twentieth century.After experimenting with various forms, Parimu was finally drawn towards abstraction. His abstracts are a combination of organic designs, patterns, swirling shapes, colours, and steadfast consistencies. This consistency is reflected in every painting and also in his entire portfolio of work under this genre. In abstract art, Parimu demonstrates a flair for green, blue, red, and yellow colours that are warm and conspicuous. And Parimu has never tried to infuse dullness in his colours. In Parimu’s abstracts, you may not find recognisable objects and given the habit of assigning meaning to what we see, we may end up saying, ‘there is nothing to grasp or hold on to’ once we see his work. But that is a generalisation and not the truth. The truth is, every abstract that Parimu has done has its basis, form, colour, line, pattern, composition, and process. His work in this genre is an exploration of these formal qualities meant to create a visual experience even for the lay viewer. And then reality is subjective, and it is up to a viewer to define it.”
“According to Capt S K Tikoo, a close friend from his school days, ‘Bansi Parimu did not do much work in this area. I believe he disliked it, but whatever few portraits he painted are outstanding. Look at Parimu’s portraits of Zayed Bin Sultan Al Nahayan, the president of the UAE and Shaikh Mohammad Bin Rashid, the ruler of Dubai. I believe he did these portraits in 1977 or 1978, when he was in the Middle East. You will understand his versatility through these portraits. He had also drawn an impressive portrait of Dr Ho Chi Minh when the Vietnamese leader visited India. In fact, he wanted to present the portrait personally to Dr Ho Chi Minh’.”
( c)
“Grieving women, a pitcher of water, a fire pot (Kangri), a Pheran (dress), a clothesline for hanging clothes (Villinj in Kashmiri), Taranga (women’s headgear) and a dry hay mat (Voguv in Kashmiri) are visible in the painting, The Grief Within. This painting is very close to Kashmir’s recent past. After 1990, he again painted pheran-clad Kashmiri women bound by tradition, simplicity, and sincerity.These women form the pivot of a dwindling tribe from the snow-capped hills. Accustomed to breezes and brooks, thrown into hot, humid and dusty plains, these women are victims of the disintegrating and crumbling joint family structure. They live with a deep sense of loss on all fronts and carry a profound feeling of homelessness compounded by the loss of identity. For them, life has nothing more to offer except memories. These women keep suffering on all fronts yet never hesitate in comforting others. “
( d)
“Bansi Parimu had very cordial relations with Husain. Every time Husain came to Kashmir, Parimu was his companion. Even his son, artist Shamshad, had cordial and family ties with the Parimus. Like Tyeb Mehta, Husain would always advise Parimu to shift to some metropolitan city to be visible. ‘In Srinagar, Parimu was M F Husain’s companion. We had cordial relations with the entire Husain family. Husain dominated the national art scene for many years, yet he was an extremely simple man. He ate very little and loved green leafy Kohlrabi (Monji in Kashmiri) cooked in Kashmiri style. He always carried this vegetable to Mumbai from Kashmir. We saw him last in 1989 when he visited our house at Barzulla. Husain loved to play with children. He spoke to the children in their language. He would always say that childhood is the only malice-free period in a man’s life. He painted a dancing Ganesha and horses for our children. They remain our family’s prized possessions. Even Shamshad’s father-in-law had family ties with us. We spent a very good time together. The Baroda-trained sculptor Vidya Ratan Khajuria was a close friend of Parimu. He had a sumptuous Kashmiri dinner at our house in 1989. That day he had a long discussion with Parimu on the art scenario in our State. I feel sad to relate all these past stories. It is really painful for exiles like me’, says Jaya Parimu.”
I wish every lover of art and kashmir reads the book . I conclude with a couplet of Majaz . Bansi Parimu remained an ardent admirer of poetry of Majaz ..
"Sab ka madaawa kar daala, apna hi madaawa kar na sakay.
Sab ke to girebaan see daale ,apna hi girebaan bhool gayay."
(Majaz Lakhnavi)
(To everyone's problem,
I found a solution,
However, for my troubles,
I had none.
I stitched everyone's tattered apparel
but forgot my own torn dress .) 
( Avtar Mota )

 Creative Commons LicenseCHINAR SHADE by Autarmota is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 2.5 India License.

Based on a work at http:\\autarmota.blogspot.com\.