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THE HINDUSTAN TIMES

SUNDAY NOVEMBER 21 1998

Brown man in search of God

KHUSHWANT SINGH

People seek God in different ways in different places. Madhur Dhingra, a young entrepreneur of Delhi, went looking for Him in Buddhist monasteries, Sufi dargahs and Hindu places of pilgrimage along the Holy Ganga. He did not carry a rosary in his hand nor a sacred mantra on his lips, but only a camera. He hoped to capture God in His many colourful manifestations.

          The results were spectacular: in Ladakh he found God as a deity of solitude and silence; in Hazrat Nizamuddin Auliya’s dargah, he found God in pensive and prayerful moods. It was in Hardwar and Varanasi that God manifested Himself in a riot of colours: thousands of ash-smeared Naga Sadhus, naked as the day they were born, armed with trishuls, smoking ganja and fiddling with each other’s genitals; priests at prayers in Siva temples and crowds at Kumbh Mela half-immersed in the Ganga. Much the most macabre are a set of pictures of the burning ghats showing charred corpses with limbs separated from their torsos, Tantrics having a last dialogue with the dead before flames consumed them.

          So, what came of Dhingra’s search for God? He writes: “I have always equated light with God. The rich blacks you see in my pictures relate to the darkness of the human soul, which suddenly comes alive with the play of light on it.”

Dhingra, the only child of his parents, rebelled against his heavy-handed father and after college joined the Indian Navy. He returned home after his father’s death, set up his own business to design ads and took up photography as a hobby.

          I don’t know how far Madhur Dhingra succeeded in his quest for God but he certainly bagged some of the beautiful colour photographs I have seen. They will be exhibited this week at the India International Centre.

 

With Malice

Towards One And All...