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SUFIS FASCINATE ME GREATLY: MAHAVEER SWAMI

Mahaveer Swami
Miniature Artist

Mahaveer Swami is known for his works depicting Sufis, saints and bearded sadhus. As a child, he saw numerous holy men visiting his  home to see his grandfather, and he felt fascinated by them. Recipient of several  awards and honours, including the much-coveted national award, Swami has visited many foreign countries such as France, Egypt , UAE and the United States. Swami is so much fascinated by Sufis that he wishes to be one like them.
 

How did your interest in painting grow?

 Mahaveer Swami: Painting happened to me naturally as I belong to a family of traditional  artists. My grandfather has been a noted artist of his times . He had a number of Usta painters in his friends circle . My father inherited painting from his father. I was handed down this art from both of them. As a child, I smelt colours and felt brush. It was an atmosphere suitable for the making of a painter . Later, while I was studying at Jaipur, my family was facing an acute financial crisis. I decided to make painting as my career. I joined Vedpal Sharma ( Bannuji) who taught me formally. Under the able guidance of Bannuji, I learnt various schools of paintings, not just Mughal , Deccani, Pahari, Bikaneri School , Rajasthani miniature , but also Chinese and Japanese.

You are well-versed in so many schools of painting, why did you focus on Sufi

paintings, for which you are famous?

Mahaveer Swami: Spirituality has special influence on me. I have always found myself fascinated by Sufis. In my childhood days, a number of sufi, sages, saints and sadhus used to visit my grandfather who used his spiritual powers to cure people. He used to chant some mantra for the well-being of the patient. Fascinated by these visiting Sufis, I used to observe the divine light of these holy men, which I believe they had. As I grew up, I began visiting holy places where Sufis gather such as the Ajmer Dargah, where I always go on the occasion of annual Urs. I frequently visit the Nizamuddin shrine at Delhi and Kumbh fair also. I sketch holy men on the spot to draw original expressions. I love these holy men. Who knows someday I too grow beard and become one among them.

Who are your special influence in painting?

 Mahaveer Swami: Great Mughal painters of the Jahangir period like Mishkin, Mansur, Farukh Chela and Parad do have special influence. I did not know it earlier. It was only when in the United States, I was by an American expert on Mughal paintings who drew my attention to similarity between my paintings and those of the great master of yore. It was because of the Mughal influence in works. I was honoured with national award. I am very much enchanted by the Bikaner school for which I received the Sanskriti Puraskar. The Mughal painters Ali Raza and Ruqnuddin etc. who came to Bikaner during the rule of Raja Rai Singhji hold special fascination for me. I am very much influenced by French painters Pensolana and Pardas


Interviewed By: Mr. Samiul Hassan Quadri
 

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