Ennapadam Bhagavati

Bhagavathi at Ennapadam Temple at Kerala

Thursday, May 27, 2010



From the beginning of her history India has adored and idealized, not soldiers and statesmen, not men of science and leaders of industry, not even poets and philosophers who influenced the world by their deeds or by their words, but those rarer and more chastened spirits whose greatness lies in what they are and in what they do; men who have stamped infinity on the thought and life of the country, men who have added to the invisible forces of timeless goodness and spirituality in the world. To a world given over to the pursuit of power and pleasure, wealth and glory, they declare the fundamental reality of the unseen world and the clarion call of the spiritual life. Their self-possession and self-command, their strange deep wisdom, their exquisite courtesy, their humanity and gentleness of soul, their abounding humanity, proclaim that the destiny of man is to know himself and thereby further the universal life of which he is an integral element.

PANDIT SHRIRAM SHARMA ACHARYA (1911-1990) affectionately called YUGA RISHI by thousands of his devotees throughout the world truly belonged to this eternal tradition of ancient India. He is in the line of great saints and sages of Vedic India like Agastya. Vyasa, Vasishta, Vishwamithra, Bharadwaja and others
              (1911-1990)                                        (1926-1994)                          

Pandit Shriram Sharma Acharya was the founder of the ALL WORLD GAYATRI PARIWAR. The Gayatri Pariwar fraternity: Shantikunj Ashram—an academy for moral and spiritual awakening established by him in Haridwar; Brahmavarchas - Research Institute—which strives to synthesize science with spirituality and over 3000 social reform centres (Shakthi- Peeths) are his everlasting contributions to the modern world.

A sage, a visionary and a great social reformer, Pandit Sriram Sharma Acharya initiated 100 points YUG NIRMAN YOJANA, led a disciplined life of devout austerity, visited the Himalayas several times and attained immortal spiritual eminence. He translated the entire Vedic Vangmaya and accomplished the unconquerable feat of writing more than 3000 books on all aspects of life. His many splendoured life was wholly devoted to the welfare of all the people and elevation and refinement of the moral and cultural environment. He pioneered the revival of spirituality, creative integration of the modern and ancient sciences and religion relevant in the challenging circumstances of the present times. His personality was a harmonious blend of a saint and spiritual scientist.

As we noted earlier, a chain of over 3000 social reform centres is functioning in the country and abroad, known as Shakti Peeths. Truly the concept of 'Vasudhaiva Kutumbakam' (the entire world is a family) is being realized through the various projects started by Shriram Sharma Acharya. Inspired by his percept and example, over 2.5 million volunteers are working with great zeal and determination to 'BRING OUT THE DIVINITY IN MAN AND HEAVEN ON EARTH'. This great worshipper of Gayatri after leading an ideal life for 80 years, willingly gave up his physical existence on 2-6-1990.

Pandit Shriram Sharma was born on 20 September 1911 as the son of Pandit Roopkishore Sharma and Mata Dankunvari Devi in Anvalkheda in Agra District of United Provinces of Agra and Oudh of British India. Right from his childhood, Acharyaji showed the yearning and deep commitment for the welfare of common masses. Even when he was very young, he took the brave step of nursing an old 'untouchable' woman suffering from leprosy against the strong disapproval and displeasure of his family. She used to work in their household and was called Chapko, Acharyaji was curious about her prolonged absence, when she did not show up for a few days. So he set out in her search towards the outskirts of the village. He found her in a terrible condition, screaming out in pain and agony. On account of starvation, she was completely devoid of all energy. The reason for her degradation was due to the combined apathy of the residents of the village and her relatives. But the only one who cared for her was Pandit Sriram Sharma Acharyaji. He conferred with physicians and vaidyas (traditional Hindu physicians), procured the medicines and the dressings for her. He used to go to her house every day in order to give a bath to her, to apply medicine and dressing to her wounds and also to feed her. This was particularly remarkable at that time when the 'Chut-Achut' (untouchability) crisis was at its peak. This event in his life is particularly important as it highlights his belief in Karma (action, doing, hands-on-approach) in life.

The great freedom fighter and founder of BANARAS HINDU UNIVERSITY Madan Mohan Malaviya (1861-1946) solemnised Pandit Sriram Sharma's sacred thread ceremony (Yagyopaveet) in 1919, when he was just 8 years old and thus initiated him in the Gayatri Mantra.

At the age of fifteen, his Spiritual Guru, a Himalayan Yogi, Sarveshwaranandji had appeared in his vision during the worship in the astral form. As per Sarveshwarandji's instruction, Gurudev performed twenty-four lakh times (2.4 million) recitation of Gayatri Mantra each for twenty-four years (24 mahapurashcarahas). He visited Himalayas four times for higher spiritual attainments and at the same time took an active part in India's freedom movement.

Starting from 1930, Pandit Shriram Sharma Acharyaji visited Shri Aurobindo Ashram at Pondicherry. Maharshi Ramana's Ashram at Tiruvannamalai, Santiniketan of Shri Rabindranath Tagore and worked with Mahatma Gandhi at Sabarmati Ashram in Ahmedabad. He was sent to jail thrice for his participation in freedom movement, where he came in close contact with eminent leaders of Indian freedom movement. Fellow freedom fighters nicknamed him as 'Matt' (the Intoxicated, read as: obsessed, completely devoted to the idea of a Free India) on account of his dedication and devotion. In 1935, he embarked upon the task of social upliftment through spiritual means with the blessings of Mahatma Gandhi.

In 1946, he married VANDNIYA MATA BHAGWATI DEVI SHARMA and ever since, the saintly couple pursued the goal of spiritual upliftment of humankind with great dedication for the next 45 years.

Acharya Shriram Sharma (revered as 'Gurudev' by his disciples) was a great devotee of GODDESS GAYATRI. He successfully practiced and mastered the highest kinds of sadhanas described in Hinduism. He had deciphered the hidden science of Tantras. He had attained the supreme knowledge of the philosophy and science of the Gayatri Mantra and yoga: He pioneered experiments on simple sadhanas, which could be easily pursued by the common masses.

Acharyaji recognised the crisis of faith today arising from people's ignorance of the powers of the inner self on the one hand and total lack of righteous attitude and conduct on the other.

Realising the potential of inspirational literature and its importance in sparking an intellectual evolution, he had chosen writing as the principal mode of communication for uprooting the evil tendencies from people's minds and for arousing the indwelling wisdom, strength and spiritual bliss. Shriram Sharma initiated the movement of Vichara Kranti (thought revolution) with the very first issue of 'Akhand Jyoti' in 1940(Jan). By 1960, he had compiled, edited and translated the 4 Vedas. 108 Upanishads. 6 Darshanas. 18 Puranas. 20 Smritis, 24 Gitas, Yogavashishtha, Nirukta, Vyakaran, hundreds of Aranyakas and Brahmanas with lucid commentaries to enable the masses to understand the knowledge contained in them. The translation was also aimed at eliminating misconceptions, superstitions and blind customs, which were propagated in the medieval era by misinterpretations of the Vedas and other scriptures. This contribution to the world of knowledge and human culture was highly acclaimed and the distinguished title of 'Vedmurti' was conferred upon him in recognition of this magnificent achievement.

Pandit Shriram Sharma completely understood the modern day psychology of the people. Keeping this in view, he wrote 'Pragya Purana' in the narrative and conversational style of the ancient Puranas to preach the eternal principles of happy, progressive and ideal life with practical tips for guidance relevant to the modern age.

As a brilliant and prolific writer, Acharyaji wrote many books on almost all aspects of human life—the elucidation of the esoteric aspects of the subtle science of spirituality, research directions on brain and consciousness, discussions on child psychology and family institutions, guidelines on mental, emotional and physical health, and the importance of cheerful attitude in daily life etc. In his approach and analysis there is no place for delusion, confusion or misconception. Through his voluminous literature he was able to strike a chord of empathy in the reader. The message conveyed by him through his writings touch the hearts of ali his readers, influencing them in a positive way and producing a sea of change in their attitudes and ideologies.

His discourses were marked by great perfection of eloquence. The simplicity of language in his orations and his ability to establish a rapport with the audience is said to have had a hypnotizing effect on the minds of all his listeners. The spiritual radiance and integrity of his character, faultless synchronicity of his deeds with the principles he preached and the purity of his sentiments added to the motivating power of his pen and voice. Like Veer Hanuman, Pandit Shriram Acharyaji was a Vakyavlsharada (master-of sentences). Both his spoken and written words were embellished by the beauty of his language, meticulous pronunciation, use of the right words in the right sequence with the right intonation and inflexion in a well-modulated voice which was neither loud nor inaudible, clarity, cogency and pithiness of expression without being long-winded, confused or confusing, all adding up to an irresistibly captivating spiritual personality.

In February 2009 I had the good fortune of vis¬iting a beautiful stall put up by GAYATHRI PARIWAR at a Hindu Exhibition in Anna Nagar. Many of the books written by Pandit Sriram Sharma were on display. Besides the other publications of Gayatri Pariwar were also put on public view. ! purchased the spiritual autobiography of Pandit Sriram Sharma Acharyaji titled 'My Life—Its Legacy and Message (Hamari Vasiyat aur Virasat)'. This book was originally written by Acharyaji in Hindi. Now it has been translated into English by Satya Narayan Pandya and revised by Shambhudass.

Pranav Pandya has rightly written in his foreword: “The life-play of truly epoch-changing personages (the sages, saints, seers and incarnations) does not appear, on a mere surface look, any different from ordinary persons. Even persons living closest to them, who are not granted the inner vision, mistake them as common human beings. Only the few endowed with intuitive knowledge are revealed the true divine identity and mission of the 'appearance' of such spiritually awakened soul. Such have been the wonderful performances of even the greatest of the incarnations like Bhagawan Ram and incarnations' like Bhagawan Ram and Bhagawan Krishna. Although they had 'appeared' with all the divine attributes and powers for the fulfillment of the specific aims of their 'Avtar' (descent) in human form, very few of their contemporaries could comprehend this significance of their incarnation...such also has been the life-play of Gurudev Pandit Sriram Sharma Acharyaji, the Seer, Sage and Prophet of an imminent emergence of the golden era of peace, goodwill, harmony understanding with a sense of inter-connectedness of all humanity.”
                                  SYMBOLIC IDOL OF GAYATRI

Today Gurudev is globally acknowledged as a Brahmarishi (the modern Viswamithra). Through his glorious life, selfless service and unmatched example, he has revealed anew the life transforming, life transmuting and life transcending significance of GAYATHRI MAHAMANTRA and has made it available to all humanity, cutting across the boundaries of race, caste, creed, and sex.

It was only in the June 1984 issue of his journal Akhand Jyoti that Gurudev gave for the first time some autobiographical glimpses of his spiritual unfoldment. This inspired several thousands of his disciples all over the world. Gurudev was literally flooded with innumerable appeals from all quarters to throw more light on his Sadhana, which had culminated in his evolution as a Yug Rishi. Again in April 1985 issue of Akhand Jyoti, Gurudev wrote about his own spiritual evolution under the guidance of his GURUDEV (Divine Master) who lived in his astral form.

With great humility and reverence Gurudev has stated: 'When the energy of Sadhana matured in the form of Siddhi, it was decided to channelise it in fulfilling timely needs. The work was started. It appeared as if everything was pre-planned. Several persons in the beginning termed it as sheer madness and misadventure but when all these efforts started bearing fruit they conceded that it was the 'Siddhi of Sadhana'.

Gurudev himself has summed up as follows his great and unsurpassed achievements as a Yug Rishi, calling them as 'Acts of madness (!)’:

A. Taking a pledge at the age of 15 to perform 24 Gayathri-Mahapurascaranas along with several self-imposed restraints for 24 years and fulfilling it with out faltering.

B. By way of Puranahutl, a Sahastra-kundi yagna was performed at Mathura in 1958 in which 400,000 Gayathri Sadhaks were invited and all of them attended. A huge Yagyashala stage and Pandal were erected and seven temporary townships, with a radius of seven miles were set up. Lakhs of rupees were spent without begging a single paisa and the whole function was celebrated smoothly without any interruption or disorder.

C. Ancestral property was sold and a grand building of GAYATHRI TAPOBHUMI was built at Mathura. Later it developed into a huge centre of ethical, moral and spiritual education of the masses through the help voluntarily given by the people, for which no appeal was made.

D. Akand Jyoti magazine is being published regularly since 1937 without accepting any advertisements. At present nearly 200,000 copies are being published and read by not less than a million people.

E. Ancient spiritual and religious lit¬erature has been translated into Hindi and absolutely low-priced books incorporating spiritual principles applicable in practical life have been published in large numbers. Some of them have also been translated into other languages. These books have enlightened millions of people who have read them.

F. GAYATHRI PARIWAR has been established which is spearheading (a) Pragya Abhiyan (movement for refining public mind) and (b) YugNirman Yojna for the growth of righteous tendencies and attitudes in society.

G. Regular training is being imparted according to prescribed curriculum in Yuga SilpiPragya-putras in regular camps in self-development and development of the society. Sadhana Camps of 10 days each are being held Gayathri Sadhaks, free of cost.
Brahmavarchas Research Institute in Haridwar (Shanthikunj Ashram)

H. BRAHMA VARCHAS RESEARCH INSTITUTE has been established in Haridwar to conduct Research for Integration of Science and Spirituality. High-level research on Yagyopathy and the great power of GAYATHRI MANTRA are conducted here. The work of con¬ducting new Research on the ancient science of medicinal herbs initiated by Charak Rishi has also been taken up. The broken links of the ancient as¬tronomical science are also being discovered anew.

I. 2400 Pragyapithas and 12000 Pragya Santhanas have been established for moral, intellectual and social rejuvenation and revitalization. Efforts are being made to spread yiganantariya cetna among migrants of Indian origin in 75 foreign countries.

J. A New Centre has been established for the in-depth study of various languages and cultures of the world so that the message of the advent of the NEW GOLDEN ERA lead by the glory and the grandeur of GAYATHRI MANTRA could be brought home to the people of the world at large.

K. The message of pragya abhiyan is being spread through folders in many languages for creating an awareness of the emerging new higher consciousness of humanity.

L Four volumes of Pragya Purana have been published in Hindi. Efforts are being made to publish them in other languages. They are meant to provide guidance to the common masses for meeting the day-to-day challenges and problems of present day life righteously, boldly and wisely.

M. Thousands of people come to Gayathri Theertha in Mathura, Shantikunj in Haridwar and perform Anushtan Sadhana. This has helped them in their inner growth and to mould their lives in accordance with the perennial truths of Sanatana Dharma

Like the great Maharishi Vyasa of ancient India, Gurudev has given this electric message to us, which mocks at time and will remain forever, unaltered and imperishable; “When you leave from here make sure you pass on this message to everyone, say it to your kin a hundred times repeat it to yourself a hundred times and in case you come in contact with any awakened soul tell him that Mahakaal has sent an invitation - an invitation to donate one's time. When you come in contact with people, whoever does Bhajan, performs Puja, tell them that if they wish to enjoy the bliss of divine boons from god and intend to assist god then do inform them that guruji, Mahakaal, and time is pleading them to donate their time. If you have time please give that time to us - for the development of the new era (Navyug Nirmaan), for relief rescues, to face the pain and suffering, to be a part of promoting the good activities and to fight against the evil tendencies. The god is pleading with his two hands together to come to rescue in these trouble times, tf you are capable of it please come forward. Donation of time is possible only for those who have a control on their materialistic needs. The rest can never find time. I have said what is to be said.”

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Glory of Gayatri Mantra and Upakarma in colour lithographs of British India


Shravan Poornima is celebrated as AVANI AVITTAM in Southern India, especially in Kerala, Tamilnadu, Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh and in certain parts of Orissa. This day is also called as 'Upakarma' and is considered a very important day for the Brahmin society. On this day, Brahmins change the sacred thread, called the yagnopavitam while chanting mantras. This change signifies atonement for sins done in the past. Putting on a new thread signifies a promise made to self today for a better conduct in the future. The main ritual of the day is 'Upakarma', which is also referred to as Shravani. It is believed that Lord Hayagriva, an incarnation of Lord Vishnu, brought back the Vedas, which were stolen by demons, to Lord Brahma. This day is celebrated as RAKHI PURNIMA in Northern and Western India.

Avani is the Tamil month and Avittam (Dhanishta) is one of the 27 Nakshatras or stars. Chingam is the equivalent Malayalam month. On the Avani Avittam day, Brahmins after a holy dip, change the sacred thread and wear a new holy thread. This ritual is known as Upakarma, which means beginning. The sacred thread is referred as 'Poonool,' 'Yagnopavita' or 'Janeyu.' The ritual also symbolizes the permission to study the Vedas.

On the day of 'Upakarma', every devotee puts on a new Yagnopavitam after following a prescribed sacred procedure. Yagnopavitam has three threads, each consisting of three strands. These threads represent:
* Goddess Gayatri (Goddess of mind),

* Goddess Saraswati (Goddess of word) and

* Goddess Savitri (Goddess of deed).

The most important religious feature connected with 'Avani Avittam Day' is the chanting of 'GAYATRI MANTRA'. 'Gayatri' contains in itself the spirit and energy of all the Vedic Mantras. Indeed it imparts power to other mantras. Without Gayatri-Japa, the chanting of all other Mantras would be futile. We find hypnotism useful in many ways and we talk of 'Hypnotic Power'. 'Gayatri' is the hypnotic means of liberating ourselves from worldly existence as well as of controlling our desire and realising the goal of our birth. We must keep blowing on the spark that is the 'Gayatri' and must take up 'Gayatri-Japa' as a vrta. As Paramacharya of Kanchi Kamakoti Peetam rightly concluded: "The spark will not be extinguished if we do not take to unsastric ways of life and if we do not make our body unchaste."

The 'Gayatri Mantra' in full, repeated mystically, runs as follows:





The meaning of Gayatri Mantra can be summarised as follows: We meditate (Dhimahi) on the Spiritual Effulgence (Bhargas) of that Adorable Supreme Divine Reality (Varenyam Devasya), the Source or Projector (Savitr) of the three phenomenal world planes the gross or physical (Bhuh), the subtle or psychical (Bhuvah), and the potential or causal (Suvah) both macrocosmically (externally) and microcosmically (internally). May that Supreme Divine Being (Tat) stimulate (Prachodayat) our (Nah) intelligence (Dhiyah), so that we may realise the Supreme Truth.

The traditional saying in Sanskrit is Gayantam traayate yasmaat Gayatri'tyadhiyate. This means Whoever sings 'Gayatri' is protected. Sings is not used here in the sense of singing a song. It means intoning or chanting the 'Gayatri Mantra' with concentration and devotion. While speaking about 'Gayatri Mantra', the Vedas use these words: Gaayatrim Chandasaam Maata. 'Chandas' means the Vedas. So, 'Gayatri' is the Mother of all Vedic Mantras and the Vedas themselves proclaim this truth with authority. It has 24 aksharas (letters or syllables) and three feet, each foot of eight syllables. This is why the 'Gayatri Mantra' is also called 'Tripada Gayatri'. Each foot is the essence of a Veda. Thus, 'Gayatri' is the essence of the Rgveda, Yajurveda and Samaveda. The Atharvaveda has its own 'Gayatri'. 'Gayatri-Japa' is essential to all rites performed according to the Sastras.

N Rajagopalan, a great musicologist and Sanskrit scholar rightly observes: "'Gayatri Maata' is the source of all Vedas and Mantras and is appropriately hailed as Mother. SHE is worshipped by chanting in mornings and at noon as 'Savitri Devata', and in evenings as 'Saraswati Devata'." It is said that the Mantra originated from the effulgent face of the Lord Narayana when He thought of creating the world. This gives the cue to the most primordial origin of the 'Gayatri Mantra', its prime timing and its high relevance. This is made clear by Lord Krishna in Bhagwad Gita (Chapter X verse 36), wherein He candidly asserts that In metres I am 'Gayatri'. 'Gayatri' is thus the pith and essence of the first three Vedas.

'Gayatri Mantra', when chanted with faith, devotion, dedication and sincerity, confers energy, health, valour, intellectual eminence and glamour to the individual. Sins are wiped off bringing in light into a life of darkness. It is well known that Sage Viswamitra secured unexcelled valour and eminence only by worshipping 'Gayatri Devata'. Sage Valmiki used one of the letters of the 'Gayatri Mantra' at the commencement of each of the successive thousand slokhas. Dr S Radhakrishnan extolled the significance of 'Gayatri Mantra' when he said: "Meditate on the adorable glory of the radiant Sun. May He inspire our intelligence!"

India is a land of underlying cultural unity amidst apparent diversity. The following table brings out the fact that different nomenclatures are used in different parts of India to refer to the Upanayanam (Initiation) ceremony and the 'Yagnopavitam' (the sacred thread):

Avani Avittam or Upakarma in South India is  celebrated as Raksha Bandhan (the bond of protection in Hindi) or Rakhi (in Devanagari) in different parts of India. It is a Hindu festival and also a Sikh festival, which celebrates the noble and abiding relationship between brothers and sisters. The festival is marked by the tying of a Rakhi, or holy thread by the sister on the wrist of her brother. The brother in return offers a gift to his sister and vows to look after her. The Rakhi may also be tied on other special occasions to show solidarity and kinship (not necessarily only among brothers and sisters), as was done during the days of India's independence movement.

When I contacted, Prof Hetukar Jha, a great Scholar of Sanskrit and former Head of the Department of Sociology of Patna University, an author of renown told me 'In north India most of the Brahmins are Yajur Vedis and only a miniscule are followers of Rig Veda and Sama Veda and a majority of the latter belong to Sandilya Gotra. Practically all followers of Yajur Veda are of the Madyamika Shakha who observe rituals of Vachaspayee Samhita. None of these Brahmins observe the annual ritual of changing the sacred thread. However, in Northern India, the practice of changing the sacred thread by those performing the rites, at the commencement of all important religious rituals or funeral rites when it is worn on the reverse, are observed chanting the same Mantras as in the South.'

Disinterested intellectual curiosity is the bedrock of a real civilization. Social history constitutes one of its best forms. At bottom, the fascination of history is imaginative. Our imagination longs to see in life and blood our ancestors as they really were going about their daily business and daily pleasure. Carlyle (1795-1881) declared with aplomb that the smallest real fact about the past of man which any antiquarian or historical researcher could unearth was more poetical than P B Shelley (1792-1822) or more romantic than Sir Walter Scott (1771-1832). I am often enthralled by the mystery of Time, by the mutability of all things, by the succession of the Ages and generations. As Carlyle puts it: "The mysterious River of Existence rushes on, a new Billow thereof has arrived, and lashes wildly as ever round the old embankments, but the former Billow with its loud, and eddyings, WHERE IS IT? WHERE? "

As a lover of antiquarian books, journals and newspapers, I recently came across a book printed in England in 1851 titled 'THE SUNDHYA OR THE DAILY PRAYERS OF THE BRAHMINS', ILLUSTRATED IN A SERIES OF ORIGINAL DRAWINGS FROM NATURE, DEMONSTRATING THEIR ATTITUDES AND DIFFERENT SIGNS AND FIGURES PERFORMED BY THEM DURING THE CEREMONIES OF THEIR MORNING DEVOTIONS AND LIKEWISE THEIR POOJAS TOGETHER WITH A DESCRIPTIVE TEXT ANNEXED TO EACH PLATE AND THE PRAYERS FROM THE SANSKRIT TRANSLATED INTO ENGLISH'. In this great and inspiring book, there are 24 Plates of Colour Drawings done by a lady artist called Mrs S C Belnos. These drawings (lithographs) were done during the period from 1845 to 1850.The frontispiece on cover page of this very rare book above relates to a religious scene on a boat berthed on Triveni at Allahabad. Our nation celebrated the 150th anniversary of what that incomparable patriot and freedom fighter Vir Savarkar (1883-1966) described as the First War of Indian Independence of 1857 in 2007. It is interesting to note that this book on 'Sundhya Vandana' was printed in 1851, 6 years before the First War of Indian Independence in 1857. When this book was printed in England, Lord Dalhousie (1812-1860) was the Governor General of India. I am presenting below 13  colour drawings-Lithographs from this book.

I derive my Himalayan inspiration to write about the glory of 'Gayatri Mantra' from the following everlasting words of Sri Aurobindo (1872-1950): 'I write not for the orthodox, nor for those who have discovered a new orthodoxy, Samaj or Panth, nor for the unbeliever. I write for those who acknowledge reason but do not identify reason with Western Materialism; who are sceptics but not unbelievers; who, admitting the claims of modern thought, still believe in India, her mission, her gospel, her immortal life and her eternal rebirth.'













Printmaking as an art form emerged in India in the last decade of the 19th century. However, printing, in which lie the origins of contemporary printmaking, came to India in 1556, about a hundred years after Gutenberg's Bible. Calcutta, the capital of British India, was the hub of printing and publishing in colonial times. The printed picture, in the form of the book illustration, developed in early 19th century British India. European printmakers in 18th century India remained entirely disconnected from mainstream, indigenous printing activity since they had little or nothing in common with Indian culture and tradition. Their prints depicted exotic Indian landscapes that tended to appeal mainly to the colonial European sensibility. After 1820, the English East India Company invited several British painters and artists to visit India and do colour drawings of different aspects of British India---its religion, its literature, its culture and above all its people in all parts of India. It is thrilling, fascinating and highly instructive to see the cultural panorama of the Indian sub-continent unfolding under the scrutiny of intelligent foreign observers and painters in British India in the 19th century, bequething to us all the wealth of information on every aspect of Indian life, the memorable East-West encounter and above all the extraordinary nature of the adventures and confrontations of this historic association.