Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Give it Back where it Belongs

(Take Me Where I Belong by Shibu Natesan)

One should pray for others. You should pray for all who hate you, send you patronizing mails, hate mails and threaten you. You should also pray for those people who ask you to pray for them. You should pray for those who think that you are powerful and you could help them. You should also pray for those people who just ignore you. You should pray before you take anything away from where it belongs. You should pray when you leave it where it belongs.

Generally we don’t pray. We prey.

I am not going to write in this vain for long. I am going to write about something which would actually bring the anger of the editor of a magazine who has commissioned me an interview and this piece is inspired from that interview.

So I am not going to tell you about the person, location and situation.


I am sitting in front of an artist. We are about to finish an interview. Then he looks at this painting and talks generally about the prices that one could command in the scene, both the domestic and the international scene.

A moderately sized work (read 4’ x 3’) by this artist commands a ‘moderate’ price (even during our much maligned recession days) of Rs.800,000/- (Eight Lakhs). Then he falls in silence.

He has a family. He has earned well. He has acquired properties. He travels all over the world.

Still he earns a lot from his art. “What am I going to do with this money?” He looks at me. I smile.

He brings up an example of a Scandinavian artist, Peter Dahl. He too earns a lot. Then unlike in India, they all deal in white money and they pay tax without fail.

“So what do you do with the money after you pay tax?” asks the artist to his Scandinavian friend.

“I divide the rest of the money into four portions,” he looks into my artist friend’s twinkling eyes. “One portion I keep for my family upkeep. One portion I re-invest in my studio expenditure including the parties that I throw there, the next portion is for documentation, photography, writers and critics, and the final portion is for buying art from the young artists,” Peter Dahl told my friend.

I looked at my friend’s face with a smile which has no explanation other than wonder and excitement. Then my friend told me, “My God, it was the same expression I had when I heard him saying this. Now I could see myself in your face.”

What more one needs; one portion of the profit after paying tax. Rest is used for the art itself. Give it back and take it back where it belongs.

I found the idea really exciting. I scrambled through my mind to find identical activities amongst my friends.

“I am doing that exactly today,” tells my friend.

Yes, he is not alone. I am not alone. There are a few whom I know doing the same. They do it silently, without much public utterances on that.

Interestingly and thankfully, they don’t call it charity. They call it duty, responsibility and karma.

You take it from the earth and consign your produce back to it.

A great way of living. A great way to feel completeness and satisfaction.

Buddha says no to nothing.

When you say no to nothing everything comes to you, tells my friend.

I wish more and more artists in India emulate this idea of welfare unforced and unrestricted and not controlled by stringency and consciousness of moral restraints.

Then it would be a beautiful world; a beautiful world of harmony and peace.

Om mani padme hum....

1 comment:

Santosh More said...

I spend 20% of my earnings or for the most part more than that on my social work. I work with NGO where they need artistic work in their educational purpose. The locations are almost away from cities, in a remote- jungle which is more than 1000 kilometers from my home in Mumbai. Also I conduct workshops for art students in a rural places. All are free of cost, I do not even ask for my travelling. Now the interesting thing- I am not a sellable star artist.