Putting life into words

Septugenarian Kul Bhushan’s voice shakes as he speaks but his hands don’t as he beautifully paints words on paper. Practicing the art of calligraphy for more than 60 years, Kul Bhushan feels that nothing can beat the joy that hand-written words give.

Kul Bhushan and his work (inset).

A journalist, an author and a publisher, Kul Bhushan has penned 24 books, worked for reputed media houses and traveled around 55 countries but it is the art of writing beautifully that enhances and enriches his life. He wrote a book in calligraphy in 2003, ‘Treasures of the Hindu Way of Life’ containing quotations on spirituality down the ages.

“I am not practicing calligraphy for a living. I am doing it because it has enriched my life and continues to do so,” he says. “Nowadays everything is computerised and you get machine made cards for all occasions but when somebody gives you a beautifully hand-written note it means so much more. It means somebody has spent a few minutes to write for you. I have witnessed that joy in the eyes of people,” he says, his own eyes lighting up.

Kul Bhushan learnt calligraphy from his father before joining college when his family moved to Nairobi in 1954. In turn, his father had learnt the art from his grandfather Vasu Deva, who was the first Indian to study at Royal College of Art, London in 1924.
“My father said you have to have a good handwriting, so why don’t you learn calligraphy. I did so and later made certificates, notices and project covers for my college in Nairobi,” he adds.

Presently living in GK-II with his family, Kul Bhushan practices calligraphy solely for the purpose of joy. He makes cards for his family, friends and well-wishers on occasions. “The book I wrote in calligraphy was a tribute to one of my friends. I make cards and quotations on my own, scan and then email them,” he adds.

Kul Bhushan, for whom spiritual guru Osho is the best calligrapher he has come across in his life, denies that the art is a dying or that technology is killing it. “Calligraphy is not a dying art. There are calligraphers who charge around Rs 20 for writing invitees names on wedding and other invitation cards. It would be wrong to say that technology is affecting it. In fact it is enhancing the art,” says Kul Bhushan.

However, he agrees that SMS and emails are ruining the emotional connect between people. “Today’s couples express love to each other by SMSes. I am not against technology but it should not be used for romance at least. We are losing out on our history,” says the calligrapher who treats the art as geometry of the soul. Roots of calligraphy lie in ancient civilisation in the form of carving on rocks while in Sanskrit it is called kalamkari.

He shares his skills with others through workshops and recently held one on ‘Meditative Calligraphy’ imparting the basics of calligraphy. It is called meditative as the exercise starts with meditation for centering one’s mind and body. “The way one sits and hold pen are basics of calligraphy. The beauty and flow in the stroke, as seen in the works, is the result of continuous exploration,” he adds.

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