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Glimpses of Ancient India

Glimpses of Ancient India
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Item Code: NAZ418
Author: Prabhat Mohan Bandyopadhyay
Publisher: Visva-Bharati, Kolkata
Language: English
Edition: 2018
ISBN: 9788175226791
Pages: 82 (Throughot Color Illustrations)
Other Details: 12.00 X 8.50 inch
weight of the book: 0.92 kg
"Kala-Bhavana, a very important part of Tagore's Visva-Bharati at Santiniketan, was a fledgling department when Prabhatmohan Bandyopadhyay (1904-1987) joined as a student. Prabhatmohan's maternal grandfather was Bhudeb Mukhopadhyay, and it is in Bhudeb-Bhavana at Chin sura in the district of Hooghly that Prabhatmohan was born to Lalitmohan Bandyopadhyay and Surupa Devi in 1904. Surupa Devi was a writer who wrote under the pen-name of Indira Devi.

On completion of his school education from Hindu School Prabhatmohan was admitted to Presidency College. But after a few days, he came down to Santiniketan in 1923 attracted as he was by this novel institution. Kala-Bhavana, with the great master Nandalal Bose as its Principal, was then an attractive citadel of artistic education. By then there was already a cluster of talented students. All of them, including likes of Dhirendrakrishna Devbarman of the royal family of Tripura, Binodbihari Mukhopadhyay, Manindrabhushan Gupta, Hirachand Dugar, Ardhendhu Bandyopadhyay, Ramendranath Chakraborty, Satyendranath Bandyopadhyay, Beerbhadra Rao Chitra, Ramkinkar Baij, Sudhir Khastogir, would later become celebrated artists and art teachers themselves in Bengal and beyond.

In the beginning, only painting was taught in Kala-Bhavana. Sculpting was discussed, but students were taken to various places in northern and southern India for training. At that time there was no separate course in sculpting at Kala-Bhavana. After the arrival of students such as Ramkinkar, Sudhir Khastogir, and Prabhatmohan, who were keen to learn sculpting, Acharya Nandalal as well as Rabindranath, the central figure in the ashrama, took the initiative to introduce sculpting as a separate course. From the West came Lisa von Pot and later Marguerite Milward, who had learnt sculpting from a student of Rodin.

Prabhatmohan took lessons from them. Moreover, he was fortunate to have as his teachers many gifted professors of Santiniketan outside of Kala-Bhavana. Among such teachers were Bidhusekhar Shastri, Kshitimohan Sen, Nityanandabinod Goswami, Dr. Collins, Monsieur Benoit, and Mitroi Tucci. Prabhatmohan also learnt Sanskrit, Italian and French. And all along there was the affectionate proximity of none other than Rabindranath. For the students of Kala-Bhavana, there was a system in place for regular cross-country tours of India to give its students direct exposure to the works of art of ancient India.

As practice of sculpting began at Kala Bhavana its impact showed up in the precincts of the ashrama. The walls of Kala Bari (Saptaparni) were decorated with resplendent sculptures. These were. recreations from myriad sculptures of India and abroad. Prabhatmohan joined hands with his peers in this initiative of wall decoration of Kala Bari. He also participated in the mural painting on the walls of many ashrama buildings. Later, 'relief' I work was also done on the walls of Shyamali inside the Uttarayan complex.

Prabhatmohan also went outside Santiniketan to places like Lucknow and Fairport to decorate pavilions for conferences of the Indian National Congress. He was given the sole responsibility to do this job for the Jalpaiguri Conference in 1930. Prabhatmohan was the first Executive Head of Karusangha, the wing of the Santiniketan ashrama that strived to promote self-help among artists. Prabhatmohan responded to the call of Gandhi to join the national movement for freedom and during the twelve-year period from 1930 to 1942 became actively involved in India's struggle for independence. He was sent to jail five times.

Even during his jail terms there was no break in his artistic and literary activities. He used to draw with very ordinary tools that he managed to gather in the prisons. He also participated in the Salt movement and Satyagraha. It is during this period that he established Pallibharati, a school at Keshtopore near Kolkata. At the same time he invested his time and energy in community work. Included in this was publicity for Khadi.

Prabhatmohan returned to Santiniketan in 1943 and started working as the Sampadaka of Lokshiksha Sangsad, established by Rabindranath. Lokshiksha Sangsad was an Open School designed by Rabindranath. It conducted examinations and conferred certificates of merit on adult learners and youths without financial means, who could now study from home. Many people benefitted from this opportunity to learn outside the formal school and college education system, and could find some gainful employment. Prabhatmohan took up this grass-root level work with immense enthusiasm. He was also instrumental behind the spread of non-formal education outside Bengal in a few areas in the northern and southern India.

Prabhatmohan was also an established litterateur. His writings - poems, novels, and short stories- appeared in almost all major literary magazines of his time. Although he devoted considerable time and attention to literary work, he was primarily a painter and sculptor. He was continuously engaged in painting throughout his working life, and returned to sculpting whenever he found time and opportunity. Though fewer in number compared to his paintings, the sculptures he created were not exactly ordinary. The figurines he carved exhibit originality and creative power.

Prabhatmohan's literary creations earned him a niche readership. At Santiniketan none other than Rabindranath was all praise for his works, ยท especially his natural talent in language and its rhythm. Most of the poems of this poet have an amazing visual richness. In a way, poetry was an expression of Prabhatmohan the painter. Probably the same can be said about his prose.

It may not be out of place to mention here another characteristic trait of Prabhatmohan's personality. His work was infused with his patriotism. To serve the people of his country he worked hard and spent his wealth recklessly on social works.

Patriotism that stirred him to the difficult path of activism was also the inspiration behind his contemplation of ancient India. His historical paintings were born out of this quest. 'Glimpses of Ancient India' series of paintings is not only perfect aesthetically; it also displays his keenness for a detailed study of a stage in the history of ancient India.

Book's Contents and Sample Pages

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