“Pranams to Sri Devaki Nandan Sharma”

"Guru Brahma, Guru Vishnu, Guru Devo Maheshwara.
Guru Shakshath Parabrahma Thasmi Sri Guruve Namaha“

I would like to borrow the words of Sri.Bhimsen Joshi:
" I invoke my God, my Guru-
I am nothing I say, give me strength, I am nothing
And then the strength begins to seep into your pores - and you can feel the glowing of your soul"

I stand here before you, truly blessed with the continuous blessings of Shri Devaki Nandan Sharma of Banasthali Vidyapeeth and Shri K. Sreenivasulu of Kalakshetra, guiding me through Vision and Visualisation!!

If Rajaraja Chola had his administration inscribed in stone

Sri Devaki Nandan Sharma has etched his artistry in an unusual manner for posterity in his paintings. Fairs, festivals, costumes, rural ambience – the total life style of Rajasthan and her people have been extensively covered in his paintings.

He was acclaimed as one of the 18 best bird artists in the world by British Information Service in 1960.

They stand as silent encyclopaedic witnesses for their anatomical structure and colourful plumage.

One notices the orange glow under the feathers only after seeing his paintings!! My studio was sanctified as he painted this peacock on silk in my studio!!

The lens in the eyes of the crows, and the grey tones of pigeons (Painted on Sandalwood) from some of the paintings I am lucky to possess are enclosed to share the joy:-

He is an embodiment of Rasa Theory with his every action speaking volumes of his discipline, devotion, dedication, and delivery.

The Banasthali campus is unusual, stretching on either side of the main road as though connecting a few erstwhile villages.

He would walk to the barn for fresh milk. After light porridge for breakfast, he would walk to Kala Mandir - His temple, to begin the Aradhana.

Right from opening the door to cleaning the portals, and the Garbagriha- - sanctum sanctorum - his studio, surrounded by beautiful frescoes and paintings, he would sit right in the middle of the room in front of his Murthy – the table. Small little draws will open up like ritualistic vessels with flowers and incense in the form of small shells and brushes.

Not a man to waste paints, he would take a pinch of the natural colour and a drop of gum. He would mix them only with the tip of his left thumb and wash it with a few drops of water. Then the painting - sadhana would begin. Irrespective of the canvasses be it paper, marble, sandal -wood, ivory or fresco, the same enthusiasm would lead to the final Aarthi.

A great scholar, an educationist guiding research scholars and art students alike was more like Vyasa of Mahabharatha, or Agasthya of Tamil literature, or the sculptors of by gone eras, shunning publicity. The due laurels came his way, like the Heavenly flowers coming down to adorn Devi to imbibe her fragrances (Soundarya Lahari by Sankaracharya).

The wonderful odyssey to Banasthali Vidyapeeth began in 1990, in my 4th year of study in the Visual Arts Department , RDCFA, Kalakshetra, Chennai, when I grabbed the chance to learn the technique of Frescoes in a 2month workshop under the guidance of Sri. Devaki Nandan Sharma. With the encouragement of my husband and my children, I ventured forth.

It was like an adventure story. The whole landscape from Jaipur to Banasthali was so different for a person born and brought up in a small little village tucked away in Thanjavur! All the houses had small windows higher up, and one could not see people at all in the hot sun of May!! Later I learnt that the courtyard in the middle opened to sky was the centre of activity to protect them from Aandhi…

Next came the language problem. Fortunately, the post graduate students came to my rescue and requested the management to let me stay with them in the hostel (First time in my life)

The arduous task of learning to do Frescoes began. I was able to finish in 3 hours what took me 8-10 hours. I would go sit with Sir asking him all details on various subjects. Gradually language became secondary. Watching him work was like a pilgrimage to Mt Kailash and back.

I learned to make gold, brushes, mix natural colours etc. Watching him painting the twelve baramasa peacocks with all their subtle variations during changing seasons (which could very well be a reference index for Bird studies) was the icing on the cake. Slowly we understood each other and I was the first to finish a fresco on the wall – (Panchamukha Ganapathy).

I was given a letter of introduction to Sri. Ram Gopal Vijayvargiya, Prince of Nawalgarh and museums The flood gates opened. Visit to Bundhi Chitrasala and Kota Rajguru kindled the fuel for research.

Traversing through Rajasthan with his family, meeting up with great masters was an unforgettable experience. They say the true bond between families sometimes is not only blood. I am humbled, feel truly blessed that Pithaji adopted me like a daughter - my cup of joy overflows. My heartfelt appreciation to Bhawani Bhaiya and Sashi for inviting me to be part of this wonderful Retrospective of Sri. Devaki Nandan Sharma. I extend my thanks to all the organisers and pray that his quiet underplayed brilliance echoes forever among the stars.


The authour Lakshmi Krishnamurthy is a freelance research scholar, restorer, artist and guru to many seekers of Traditional Painting, she is the past Head of the Visual Arts Department, Rukmini Devi College of Fine Arts, Kalakshetra Foundation in Chennai. Studio Paramparyam is the physical and creative space in which Lakshmi spends her days and nights creating masterful works of art, inspired by various traditional art forms.

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