. . . . . .  
As moderator for lecture by Dr B.N. Goswamy, Lahore Literary Festival, 21 February 2106.

Fifty years ago, on either side of Radcliffe’s man-made border, two young men separately began their research into miniature painting. They had unlikely qualifications.  One was a Chartered Accountant, the other a member of the Indian Administrative Service who left the service to become Professor of Fine Arts at the Punjab University, Chandigarh.

The paintings they examined had once been in the Lahore Museum.  The Pakistani Chartered Accountant catalogued the two-thirds that remained in the museum after its division in 1947. The Indian Professor used the one-third that went to the East Punjab Government. These are now housed in Chandigarh.

Most significantly, he traced the lineage of generations of miniature artists whose identities would otherwise have been forgotten. 

Over the past fifty years, the Pakistani has written 18 books on Pahari painting, Sikh portraiture, Pakistan’s culture, history and politics.  The Indian professor has published a veritable library on every aspect of Indian art: on its paintings, textiles, and most recently a masterly tome: The Spirit of Indian Painting: Close Encounters with 101 Great Works, 1100-1900.   

Today, that Chartered Accountant has privilege and the pleasure of welcoming his Indian friend and artistic mentor, Dr Brijen Goswamy.

Brijen is an Indian by accident. He was born in Sargodha. He is the doyen of Indian art-historians. He has the good fortune of having his work recognised by his country which awarded him the Padma Bhushan.

He has the better fortune of being married to Karuna – a scholar in her own right.  Karuna was born in Lahore and is visiting it for the first time since 1947. She studied at Sacred Heart Convent, where her grandfather left her when she was three years old (too young to be enrolled) on the doorstep of the Convent. I took her back there and photographed her on that same doorstep.     

May I ask you Lahoris, therefore, to welcome your daughter Karuna and your son-in-law Dr Brijen Goswamy?





Socrates once said: I know nothing except the fact of my ignorance.

Brijen, Socrates spoke for all of us in your audience this evening. You have mesmerised us with your knowledge and made us acutely aware of our ignorance.   

I have deliberately avoided a Q & A session. Brijen will be here for the next three days and so any of you who wish to ask his any questions can do so then.

Brijen is more than an Oracle who can provide answers. He, as the Sufis would have said, IS the Answer.     



Brijen and Karuna

You have devoted your lives to the study of Indian painting. Indian panting lives because of you.


BALI AND RAZI   - Bali and Razi – you have devoted your energies and resources to the creation of LLF. It lives because of you.  One behalf of every delegate, every invitee, every member of every audience of all your sessions, a HEARTFELT THANK YOU.

As a tribute to you, here is a poem which I wish I had written.


To suffer woes which Hope thinks infinite,

To forgive wrongs darker than death or night;

 To defy Power which seems omnipotent,

To love, and bear; to hope till Hope creates

From its own wreck the thing it contemplates;


[Shelley, Prometheus Unbound, IV, I, 570.]    




28 February 2016
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