05 April 2012

Open the door, dear brother by Nirmala Savadekar and Ashutosh Bhupatkar

Play, colour, song and prayer
This is an unusual and very attractive book. It links Nirmala Savadekar’s collection of photographs of doors with Ashutosh Bhupatkar’s translations of Muktabai’s devotional verses.
Muktabai, revered as one of the saints of 13th-century Pandharpur, was the youngest of four siblings and the only girl. They led a hard life as children, gaining spiritual prowess in their wanderings, shunned and ridiculed for no fault of theirs: role models for generations of the oppressed.
As they rose to sainthood, they shared their learning through exquisite verse and song that emerged from them in effortless bliss.
In this collection, the imagery of young Dnyaneshwara as he sits in a terrible sulk having locked himself up in a hut, his little sister knocking on the door, beseeching him to open it, works at different levels. Perhaps gaining enlightenment really is as easy as just opening a door!

Nirmala’s photographs of doors are colourful and thought provoking. My favourite is a battered blue and red wooden door – with a shiny keychain hanging on an ugly curved nail in one corner.
I enjoyed the verses, though in some places idiomatically discordant, and tried to focus on their deeper meaning.
Nirmala (who connected to me on facebook) told me that she is a fine-art photographer whose work has found a place in the “world’s most creative photographs” and in the permanent collection of the Samuel Dorksy Museum, USA. She said that her interest in spirituality and psychology has led her to a study of different meditation techniques and therapies and that painting became a road to self discovery and meditation. You can see her work on www.neermalasavadekar.com and she offers her Door series on request in enlargements in archival quality paper and archival ink. You can also contact her with queries about this book through her site.

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