Abhisarika Kusum is carrying a peacock feather and a paint brush tucked into her blouse along with some nectar placed in a clay pot.

“Abhisarika Kusum goes to meet her artist friend in the night of the full moon” in mixed medii and gold leaf by Mumbiram


Classical Rasa Theory of critical appreciation of art and literature recognizes eight moods of a woman in love. Such as when she eagerly hopes to meet him, when she goes to meet him secretly or has him visit her secretly, when she invites him then decorates her house and herself and waits for him, when he cheats on her, when he doesn’t come when promised, when she quarrels with him then repents in solitude, when he is gone on a journey, when he is obedient and agreeable.

The excited Radha has Kaajal in her eyes, bunches of dark green Tamal leaves behind the ears and blue Lotuses in the hair. When Radha steps out at night under the infinite expanse of the sky darkness itself is embracing every limb of her body. The darkness is like the testing-stone on which gold is tested. Those lines of light that her body traces on the darkness as she goes to meet Krishna, inspite of so many testing obstacles, are proof of the purity of her love which is true and sublime like pure gold.

“Meanwhile the full moon rises over the horizon of Vrindavan illuminating every corner with its cool rays. But look closely, the moon is covered with unseemly spots. When lovers are going to meet their Beloved, the moon betrays their journey to the secret meeting place. It must be for this misdemeanor that the moon’s face is covered with spots.” (Gita Govinda)

Abhisarika in Mumbiram's Studio
Abhisarika in Mumbiram's Studio

Abhisarika goes to meet her lover secretly at night. She wears only jewellery that makes no sound. She dares all dangers that might be lurking in the darkness. The hardships and obstacles she overcomes on the way only prove the purity of her love.

Kusum is wearing a dark red bindi on the forehead that goes well with her dark red lips. The yellow turmeric spot between the eyebrows together with the gold nose-stud and the simple gold ear-studs enhance the exotic proportions of her beautiful face. An armlet, a single bracelet and a single ring punctuate the graceful progress of her entire arm.

 The doe-eyed lady is dressed to incite her lover´s passions. Kusum looks excited at the prospect of meeting her lover on this full-moon night. She is carrying a peacock feather and a paint brush tucked into her blouse along with some treats placed in a clay pot.
They clearly have a long night of artistic ecstasies ahead.

Dream Home in Vrindavan

“Gokula at Mumbiram’s home on the bank of the Yamuna in Vrindavan” by Mumbiram, Oil on canvas, 1988, Japan

In this painting we are at Mumbiram´s favourite spot on the bank of the Yamuna. It is a happy scene in a home at the same spot where Mumbiram´s brahmin friend had made a temple. In the distance you see the Yamuna winding its way through the white sands of Vrindavan. A pair of peacocks has landed by the lotus pond in the middle ground. A solitary palm suggests the tropical mood. In the villages of India every home has a cow and a calf as symbols of peace, love and purity. Carved wooden pillars support the ornate canopy of the veranda. Red ochre is used to paint the Tulasi plant stands by the lotus pond as well as the walls of the canopies of the veranda. The red ochre earth is commonly used as paint in India. It is also added to the plastered floors. This is how a tastefully decorated interior and exterior of a traditional Indian home could look. A blank canvas is leaning against a pillar of the veranda. Here Gokula and Mumbiram live in a traditional Indian home. Gokula and Mumbiram have a little boy named after Balaram the elder brother of Krishna. Balaram was the best wrestler of his time. Little Bala loves the stories of Krishna and Balaram, as also sumo wrestling of Japan. Their neighbour is an Indian woman named Sunanda who has a daughter named Swati.

The warm feeling of sharing and rapport is most wonderfully depicted in this painting. It is an idealized world no doubt. It is a tribute to love between people that goes beyond cultural differences and causes a renaissance through the coming together of great ideals.

The five live as one family. Gokula designs beautiful clothes and Sunanda stiches them from fabrics that Mumbiram brings for them. These fabrics are rich in textures and colours. Mumbiram uses brilliant gold leaf in the gold brocade polka-dot blouse of Gokula. The same material is used for Swati’s pants. Bala is dressed like a wrestler. His clothes are from Sunanda’s fabrics. That is love in simple sharing ways. Gokula is learning how to wear a saree. The “poster” on the wall shows Sumo Wrestling, that great traditional art of Japan. The warm feeling of sharing and rapport is most wonderfully depicted in this painting. It is an idealized world no doubt. It is a tribute to love between people that goes beyond cultural differences and causes a renaissance through the coming together of great ideals.

Retired Chief Justice of India inaugurates Portrait of Ramdas Paranjpe by Mumbiram

Newspaper Article about inauguration of Paranjpe’s Portrait by Artist Mumbiram in the Library of the District Court Pune at the hands of retired Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of India, 1992

Ramdas Paranjpe was the president of the Pune Bar Association in 1963. When he passed away in 1989 it was proposed that a portrait of Ramdas Paranjpe be hung on the premises of the District Court of Pune. Artist Mumbiram enthusiastically accepted the challenge to make a portrait of his father whom he dearly loved and respected. The retired chief justice of India, Shri Y. V. Chandrachud and his sisters were school friends of Ramdas Paranjpe and his sisters. Chandrachud had happily agreed to inaugurate Ramdas Paranjpe’s portrait in the District Court library. In this photograph Chandrachud is seen inaugurating the portrait while the mayor of Pune and the chief justice of the Bombay High Court watch on.
Also seen in the picture are a former Union Minister, the District magistrate, a high court judge and the President of the Pune Bar Association. Not seen in the picture is Artist Mumbiram who made the portrait of Ramdas Paranjpe.

Newspaper reference: Daily Sakal, June 28, 1992

Photo of Ramdas Paranjpe and Wrangler Paranjpe, at an event of felicitation at Pune Municipal Corporation, 1963

Photo of Ramdas Paranjpe and Wrangler Paranjpe, at an event of felicitation at Pune Municipal Corporation, 1963

This photo was made during a special ceremony arranged by the Pune Municipal Corporation in 1963 to honour Wrangler R.P. Paranjpe. Ramdas Paranjpe happened to be the deputy mayor of Pune. Wrangler Paranjpe, Sir Raghunath Paranjpe, was a cousin of Ramdas’ father.
Ramdas’ father was a lawyer in Wardha, in Central India. Ramdas was only eighteen month old when his father passed away. Soon after that his mother moved to Pune with her three daughters and a son. There she was able to educate all four of them to the highest level possible in Pune. Wrangler Paranjpe was then the principle of the Fergusson College. He was affectionate to Ramdas, the son of his late cousin.
There was another connection also. Ramdas’ maternal uncle Ramchandra Bhaskar Bhagvat was Raghunath’s lifelong best friend since their days together at Rajaramshastri Bhagvat’s Maratha High School in Mumbai. Rajaramshastri was cousin as well as foster father of Ramdas’ mother Vatsala (Parvati). When Sir Raghunath was made the first Indian High Commissioner of Australia in 1942, the young lawyer Ramdas had invited Sir Raghunath for dinner at his residence near Mandai vegetable market, which later became artist Mumbiram’s legendary atelier. In 1963 Ramdas Paranjpe had founded a non-political people’s organisation, called “Nagari Sanghatana” and contested the municipal corporation’s elections. The Nagari Sanghatana had won the majority and Ramdas Paranjpe had become the deputy mayor. In this photograph the older and the younger Paranjpe are seen very happy to sit for this photograph together.

Portrait of Ramdas Paranjpe by Mumbiram in the Library of the District Court Pune

Advocate Ramdas Paranjpe, Oil Painting by Mumbiram, Pune, 1990

Advocate Ramdas Paranjpe was the president of the Pune Bar Association, the organisation of Pune’s lawyers in 1963. After he passed away in 1989 it was proposed that a portrait of Ramdas Paranjpe should be hung on the premises of the District Court of Pune. Artist Mumbiram happily accepted the challenge of making this portrait of his father whom he dearly loved and respected. Even though many photographs existed Mumbiram wanted to show his father as he remembered him. In this portrait that resulted we see Paranjpe holding a volume of law book that has two inscriptions across its ribs: “Satyameva Jayate” (truth always triumphs) in Devanagari script and “Veritas Vos Liberabit” (truth will set you free) in Latin. In Mumbiram’s estimate his father was a handsome dark man. He had a broad forehead with prominent temple bones which Mumbiram himself inherited. He had a strong square chin with a dimple in the middle. He had a rather short nose that was angular and finely sculpted. He had kind eyes and a winning smile. He was well liked by his friends. In this portrait he is seen in a white shirt and a lampblack jacket such as is worn by lawyers. His necktie has red polka dots on a dark green background. Mumbiram was proud of his father’s sartorial preferences. He had delicate hands as you see here holding the book. The ring finger is adorned with a purple ruby ring, which was the only ornament he ever wore. Mumbiram has lovingly captured all these details and left the background entirely empty. The composition is interesting, the head is tilted and the top of the head appears cropped. It is deliberate. The total effect is an alive portrait rather than a frontal mug shot. Mumbiram had chosen an 80 year old wood worker named Gokhle to fashion a simple elegant frame. Gokhle had placed the framed painting on a chair in his road side garage work shop. It so happened that a family friend, the well known revolutionary freedom fighter Shirubhau Limaye, was passing by. As he casually glanced through the open door of the shop he had the shocking flash that Ramdas Paranjpe was sitting on a chair in the shop in person. Shirubhau himself narrated this experience to Mumbiram. Mumbiram knew his portrait was a success. Soon thereafter the painting was installed in the District Court Library at the hands of the retired chief justice of India, Shri Y. V. Chandrachud, in a special ceremony.

Photo of Cover of the scholarly book Aatmavidyaa by Hari Ganesh Godbole, Artist S.H.Godbole’s father

 

Photo of Cover of the scholarly book Aatmavidyaa by Hari Ganesh Godbole, Artist S.H.Godbole’s father

Shankar Hari Godbole was born around 1885 in Wai in Maharashtra. Wai was an important religious centre on the bank of the Krishna river. Godbole’s ancestors were in traditional priestly occupations, well-versed in the Vedas. Godbole’s father was Hari Ganesh Godbole. His scholarly works ‘Aatmavidyaa’ and ‘Jivitavidya’ are bought and read even hundred years after  they first appeared. Hari Ganesh Godbole educated himself in the British colonial education system and became the headmaster of government high schools in Pune, Nasik, etc.

Photo of Artist Godbole’s close friend Chitrakalacharya N.E.Puram

Photo of Artist Godbole’s close friend Chitrakalacharya N.E.Puram

Narayan Eranna Puram (N.E. Puram) and Shankar Hari Godbole (S.H.Godbole) became friends as students in Mumbai’s J.J. School of Art. Both of them dropped out to carve out their own independent artistic careers. Godbole became an art teacher in Pune’s St. Vincent’s High School in the army cantonment area. His art became a favourite with English officers and he was made a secretary of the Bombay Art Society under the patronage of the governor of the Bombay Presidency.

Puram found patronage from the Maharaja of Baroda and the Raja of Aundh. He was commissioned to make illustrations for Bhandarkar Institute’s voluminous and authoritative editions of the Mahabharata. He was invited to be the art director for one of the annual sessions of the Indian National Congress. ( Faizpur Congress ) The title “Chitrakalacharya” was bestowed upon him by one of the Shankaracharyas. Puram and Godbole had founded “Institute of Modern Art” in Pune in the 1930s. This later evolved into Puram’s “Bharatiya Kala Prasarini Sabha”, the parent body of Pune’s first art and architecture college: “Abhinav Kala Vidyalaya”. For many years Godbole’s son-in-law, advocate Ramdas Paranjpe (Artist Mumbiram’s father), was member of the executive committee of the Sabha. Along with Sayajirao Silam, Advocate Ramdas Paranjpe contributed to the fund-raising activities of the institute. Puram was married to Vijayabai Puram, who was always very active in supporting all of her husbands artistic endeavours. She survived Puram by nearly twenty years and dearly held on to Puram’s surviving paintings and memories. After his return from America, Artist Mumbiram established an affectionate rapport with Vijayabai who bestowed upon the young artist her loving blessings.

Artist S.H.Godbole photographed by his grandson Artist Mumbiram

 

Artist S.H.Godbole  photographed by his grandson Artist Mumbiram

This is perhaps one of very few surviving photos of Artist S.H.Godbole in his old age. It was made by his grandson Artist Mumbiram in 1967 when Godbole was nearly 82 years of age. Godboleji used to ride his bicycle nearly four kilometres daily from his farm house on Bombay road to his daughter Anjani‘s family residence near the Mandai vegetable market place in Pune. This photo was made in the balcony of that Mandai residence.

This photo was made just a few months before Artist Mumbiram went to America for his graduate studies in Berkeley. The artist and his grandson would never meet again thereafter. Mumbiram had just acquired his own first camera. It was the cheapest (30 Rupees) Agfa box camera that made black and white photos in the 120 format.

Godbole, having used professional quality rolleiflex cameras, had only contempt for Mumbiram’s new acquisition. Nevertheless, Godbole readily “posed” for a photo for his favourite grandson. Under his left arm he was carrying his trade mark solar hat, such as was used by civil or army officers in the colonial English era. It is not visible in this cut-out image.

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