Deciphering the distinctive identity of the man who designed the iconic Indian national emblem

dinanath bhargava sketched india's national emblem

So many of the elements through which the Indian identity has found expression across the many a symbols and representations out of which it took form as an entity in itself has been specimens in stunning spectacularity of the adroit skilfulness and devotion that the crafters of them had harboured within themselves both as a part of their individualism as well as in their unbounded love for the country. For it is only in a profusion of great love and greater dedication that examples arise in impeccability as so evident a trait in perfection that manifests as defining features of what it had meant to embody. And throughout their marking of the many facets that sum up the greater Indian pride in revelation and resplendence as elements in a residing speaking of the very guiding framework out of which it is based are numerous striking renditions in curiosity that only furthers the dignity of the rich, diverse and unique Indian existence.

From the Tricolour or the Triranga to the National Anthem and the Song as well as the State Emblem of the Ashoka Chakra and the supreme document of the Constitution, every single element and every embedded ideal and consideration therein stands for the vision of a India recognised instantly in its living by the unity in diversity principle. And through each of these elements in Indian representation runs a uniqueness that is remarkable not just in its emerging as distinctive a characteristic of the way of existence of a country largely extolled for its very regarding of life and living in a manner not encountered anywhere else but also in its as intricate attention to detail of what composes up the aesthetics and the imagery of a nation steeped in immense awareness of every possible assertion in beauty.

Stemming out of such sensibilities steeped in the dual desire for meaning and mavericks alike has been also the decisive identity that India today dwells in along her emblematic encompassing of a centuries old sculpture and one therefore that comes with a whole defining legacy upholding its stature in utmost reverence. Drawn upon the ancient reference of the Lion Capital of Ashoka has been this national emblem that came to define the country soon after her independence in 1947 and continues to prevail still as the ultimate truth the nation has lived by in its very coexisting along the Satyameva Jayate motto.

Despite it coming to embodying the essence of the Indian identity as a physical symbol finding expression across every single range of official intention as something derived rather than exclusively devised, the very design and depiction of the impressive indeed representation of the nation’s symbol has been a case in expertise and artistry. And this display in deftness had been one entailed out of the genius of a man the world knows as Dinananth Bhargava, eked out indeed from his own flair in portraying but prodded on still in his pursuit by another doyen of the distinctive Indian identity.

A student of the illustrious Nandalal Bose during his stint at Shantiniketan pursuing a 3-year Diploma in Fine Arts had been Bhargava who along with three others was entrusted this task in designing the pages of the manuscript of what was envisioned as the Indian constitution. But even in this team work of tremendous effort and equal pride, Bhargava stood out still in also his exclusive entrusting with the task of designing also by himself the first 30 pages of the first copy of the constitution. That conferring upon him what would be most aptly understood as part responsibility, part power though did not accrue out of a faith rested just in the skill undeniably possessed by his fingers. Instead it had been a demand made also out of that same premise in the faith reposed on Dinanath by the legendary Bose that took into account also the then 21 year old’s as dedicated pursuit in perfection prodded on of course by his pioneering teacher of art.

For Dinanath Bhargava, the accomplishment that he would come to rest upon in the times to come hadn’t been by any means a task cut out however. For the passionate pursuer of perfection in art that Nandalal Bose was, it meant that the particular presentation and portrayal of the lions that would come to stand out as the national emblem had to be exactly the kind that seemed as real as they could possibly be. And thus for the entire duration of a couple of months, in every single day of its counting, the young lad had to make an exhausting daily commute to and from the Kolkata Zoo with a aim to study every single mannerism of living of the lions that he would ultimately depict in a manner immensely realistic so as to totally appease the artistic sensibilities of Bose himself.

Embarking thereupon that journey in finally designing the national emblem after having won over Bose with his first sketches, Bhargava eked for himself the distinction of being the one sketching the instantly recognisable emblem of the lions found upon the Ashoka Pillars at Sarnath, etching therefore his name and identity in the context of Indian heritage upon a space that truly is one he exclusively earned for himself. Hailing from the small town of Multai in Betul district of Madhya Pradesh, the merely two decades old lad then, born on the 1st of November 1927 had been just a first year student at the Kala Bhavana of which Bose was then the principal. But so impressive was his deliverance in exactness of the two dimension rendition of the actually three dimensional structure of the four lions that endowed upon him a glory special indeed in the striking range of what he managed to achieve.

Adorning the front page of the original first copy of the Indian constitution would be the depiction by Bhargava of the Sarnath Lion Capital that features four lions out of which one though remains hidden from public view. Adopted on 26th January 1950 as the national emblem of India, this symbolic representation in power and courage and confidence of the lions mounted back to back on a circular abacus features also the lion of the North, the elephant of the East, the horse of the South and the bull of the West each separated by Dharma Chakras along the frieze. With an extraction from the Mundaka upanishad reading Satyamev Jayate that is, ‘truth alone triumphs’ etched in Devanagri script beneath the emblem, the emblem in its totality did indeed live up to the expectations of Bose and of the entire Indian sentiment in general as well.

But what strikes as an anecdote rather interesting in its revealing that despite being the man solely and wholly responsible for enacting this feat of substance into reality, Dinanath Bhargava would never manage to catch as much as a glimpse of the complete manuscript till as late as 2006 itself! The reason being that every time a section of the volume was complete, Nandalal Bose would sent it a copy of it to Delhi, leading thus the very artist behind this defining sketching of what stands still as a veritable symbol of the Indian existence to wait a long wait of over more than the span of half a century to finally witness this defining revelation in identity at the Lalit Kala Akademi exactly a decade before his death.

The wait might have been a bit too long for the artist himself to finally getting to see the first sparks of what would be an epoch making element of the Indian establishment. But nowhere muted throughout this long and distinguished journey in importance and prestige has been the identity of the national emblem himself and by that regard therefore also the identity of the man who designed it in all painstaking pride of it. It however is even beyond the distinction of designing the State Emblem of the country that occupies place of prominence across each and every expanse and element of national importance and official recognition that the identity of Dinanath Bhargava as a more than worthy alumnus of the world famous Shantiniketan finds expression and exploration.

Internationally famed in his really exceptional possessing of artistic deftness has been quite a myriad range of the doings that Bhargava achieved as part of his repertoire boasting the skills in finer exploration of the nuanced intricacies of art. Most notable of what sums up his profile as a painter would be his works accomplished through an employing of the wash technique that which in itself is an unique entailing in the world of the visual arts. But no less exemplary have been the other realms of the art that Bhargava had managed to explore and in such distinction that lives up indeed to his ultimate stature of being the man endowing upon the nation an emblem so globally recognised in all perfect precision.

dinanath bhargava
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Credited with bringing upon the world of the textiles the resplendence of the Madhubani form of art, specimens of which he presented to the then Prime Minister of India Indira Gandhi in the form of specially designed sarees, is the legacy of Dinanath Bhargava that spans as varied mode in artistic expression as possible. Along the same vein and in his particular capacity as the Director of the All India Handloom Board till his retirement in 1986, Bhargava introduced also the double decker loom and a new design of Chanderi sarees even as he initiated also the carpet making industry in Gwalior earning thereby special recognition from the Madhya Pradesh government for his contribution to the world of arts and crafts.

Residing more specifically in the international scene through this jargon of the artistic still had also been Dinanath Bhargava as early as the years of the 1950s when a display of his creations at the Europe world art tour earned him the gold medal in further validation of a flair that he refused to commercialise despite more than tremendous a potential possibly availed out of his perfectionism. That for sure is a marker of the true artiste that he has been all his life, whether it be amply apparent in his meticulous visits to the Kolkata zoo to indeed justify his passion for his craft or something that reflects so heartwarmingly in his cherishing of a particular painting signed by his Guru Nandalal Bose as the most prized possession of his person, the life, legacy and luminosity of Dinanath Bhargava has been one that will continue to spur the Indian pride in all true citizens of this emblematically as well as essentially unified nation.