Curious Case of Creativity

Nonika Singh

Dr SS Bhatti, former principal of Chandigarh College of Architecture, is a scholar par excellence, whose world view is as exciting as his persona

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Dr S.S. Bhatti Photo: Pradeep Tewari

“Creativity is a lifestyle, a habit and not something that can be forced on one’s being.” So believes the scholar, academician and author Dr SS Bhatti, former principal of Chandigarh College of Architecture. Only the man doesn’t utter this as euphemism or to create an impression. Rather, he practises what he says.

The author writes on a daily basis, has dozens of books to his credit (several are in the pipeline too). He has browsed through many disciplines and post-retirement, he has the unusual distinction of two PhDs to his credit! One is on Golden Temple and the other on Japji Sahib.

Golden route

Piqued by the observations of other architects who felt that Golden Temple architecture is a borrowed one, he decided to delve deep and studied architecture of several religions to establish how Sikh architecture is an independent style. In the process, he discovered so many cardinal principles that are unique to this marvel of Sikh architecture, usually dismissed as a rehash of then prevalent styles. “Historians can tell a story but have no idea whatsoever as to what has gone into the making of what they are writing about.” Since humility defines Sikh ethos, he reminds how the structure of Golden Temple has been conceived on a low-lying site in consonance with its guiding principle - to identify with the most downtrodden.

Says this author of Golden Temple: Marvel of Architecture: “Look at temples, all go upwards, as if reaching out to the heaven. Golden Temple echoes what Guru Nanak said: Neecha Andar Neech Jaat Neechi Hu At Neech Nanak Tin Kai Sang Saath Vadian Sio Kia Rees, which roughly translates into how Guru Nanak Dev identified with the most marginalised and not the highborn. Besides, built around what was once a chappar, it is a testimony to biodiversity and conservation of environment.”

Man of many seasons

From fathoming architecture of buildings to mastering architectonics of poetry, Bhatti is a man of many mediums and many disciplines. A painter and a poet, his latest book illustrates his paintings as well is a compilation of poems. His love for poetry too was born in as curious a manner. His wife was away to her parents place and he had nothing better to do. Presto, he picked the pen and poems flowed. He, however, elucidates that his paintings are not an illustration of his poetry. “For creativity has the limits of its own medium and visuals can’t be translated into words and vice-versa.”

For someone who claims to have written on a whole range of subjects, as diverse as religion, spirituality, science and architecture, he is also relooking at Indian heritage. In Recovery of India, he turns the established concepts on the head, yet reinforces pride in many things traditionally Indian. Though new-gen spiritual gurus are his pet peeve, there is much that he upholds, “only if we read it all correctly.” So he pens Darpan hai kaaynat ka Bharat kahein jisse, Gaflat galeez rukh se bhala kya dikha sakegi (India is the mirror of cosmos, but with ignorance tainted eyes how can we see its beauty.).

Truly inspirational

Lesser mortals might seek agitators in the ambience around them to touch base with creativity, but Bhatti deems, “Inspiration is a gift, ingrained within us.” And with this God-given ability he continues to explore Rabindranath Tagore’s writing and Guru Nanak Dev’s teaching, among others. Guru Nanak, anyway, he hails as the only prophet who demonstrated by his own personal lifestyle and who understood the true meaning of meditation and how spiritual journey can only be undertaken when one is young and restless.

Never mind the age, Bhatti, however, refuses to tire or retire. Talking about turia state which he thinks Guru Arjan Dev achieved when he sat on a hot plate and uttered Tera kiya meetha laage, Bhatti himself is forever inspired. He sees, examines and decodes.

Source Link: http://www.tribuneindia.com




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