The Parliament of India serves as the institution where lawmakers gather and serves the constitution of India and its people.
In the library of this institution lies a document that is sealed in a helium filled case. This is the original document that was created by the Visva Bharathi University that is situated in Shantiniketan and Kala Bhavan. It is a wondrous document created under the stewardship of Acharya Nandalal Bose and his team in Shantiniketan depicting Indian murals and paintings. The calligraphic text was provided by Prem Behari Narain Raizada.
This was a labour of love by selfless men who barely took any remuneration for this.
It was fully done by hand and not printed.
Shantiniketan’s Visva Bharathi University had been created by the Nobel Laureate Rabindranath Tagore to marry the West and the East in education centring around art. The vision he promoted was that art is the flagpole to all culture, from creation to philosophy. Acharya Bose took this to a different level. The handcrafted constitution is a triumph in original art depicting mythology and all that is India proper.
From Rama, Lakshman and Sita during their sojourn in the jungles to motifs made of Lotus, the Indian national flower to stylized peacocks on a page that announces India as a sovereign republic, they did it all.
You would wonder where the ideas came from? Who thought through all the various pages and created the basis for further artistic work.
Kala Bhavan, was the centre of Fine Arts in Shantiniketan’s University that was set up by Acharya Bose. He was a staunch nationalist and had been close to the Mahatma. So he created a home-spun curriculum that took in Tagore’s vision of creativity and experimentation and married it with the nationalist vision that he had. The results were stunning.
He drew his inspiration from Ajanta caves in Maharashtra and the ancient Bagh caves of Madhya Pradesh. In fact, he was himself stunned St the vividity of those murals that were deteriorated over time and he and a few other artists were sent over on a project in the early 1900s. He worked on those projects and took home a lot of learning that he later used when doing the art on the pages of the constitution.
The calligraphic text by Shri Prem Raizada was another work of art. Brilliant slants and using a single nib (303) he did the work that need to be seen to be believed.
There are pages heralded by avatars of Vishnu or a flight of the Monkey God, Hanuman and there are court scenes from Ramayan. It’s high art followed by superb calligraphic work.
Helpfully, the creators have also provided a list of art illustrations depicted on various pages that would enable a curious art addict to go to the right pages and see the art for himself.
In all, the Constitution of India not only serves the nation as the cornerstone of our democracy but is also home to excellent art that will be revered down the ages.
Images: Wikimedia / National Interest
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