Page 1


Paper Collage by Dr. V.Balu © Adi Shankara

PEACEFUL IMAGES © Vivek Balu The copyright of all artworks in this book rests with the estate of Dr. V. Balu vivek@bsexports.com peacebalu@hotmail.com www.balu.info First Edition: December 2008 Printed in India Published by: SB Publications #1, South Cross Road Bangalore 560 004, India

(mano buddhyahamkara chittani naham na cha shrotr jihve na cha ghrana netre na cha vyoma bhumih na tejo na vayuhu chidananda rupah shivoham shivoham) Neither mind nor intellect, Neither ego nor any mental state Neither ears nor tongue, neither nose nor eyes Neither space nor earth, neither fire nor wind The embodiment of blissful consciousness, I am that, I am that – From Adi Shankaracharya’s Atma Shatakam*

Compiled and Edited by Sanjay Balu Research by Vivek Balu Logistics by Ashok Balu Design by Canvas Printed by PM Offset Printers

*One of Dr. V. Balu’s favourite shlokas (hymns). He taught it to his grandkids and would often sing it with them.

Dedicated This book is

V.Balu in front of the mural created with old aeroplane parts that he collected from the junkyard called THE VALUE OF THE RUPEE - What it was and what it is now!

to the memory of Dr.V. Balu by Ashok Balu, Vivek Balu & Sanjay Balu


4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 16 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 28 31 32 33 34 35 36 37 38 40 40 41 42 43 44 45 46 47 47 47 48 50 54 54 56 58 59 60 61 62 62 63 63

Thatha, My Inspiration By Grandson Aditya A. Balu “I Wore A Coat To Protect Myself from Caning” - V.Balu Messengers of Peace Council of Scientific and Industrial Research An Unflinching Odyssey By R.Seshadri Public Relations Society of India Life in Pictures Antar Shanti Kala Global Peace Mission Highlights Reactions Balu’s Humour and Cartoons A Sampling of Global Media Reports Life with The Coffee Board Artworks on Sri Sathya Sai Baba and Pictures Awaken The Power of The Soul By V.Balu A Crusader for World Peace By R.Seshadri Balu – The Walking Peace Factory By S.G.Ajay An Extraordinary Supreme Soul By Hanna Myer My Spiritual Connection By Gladys Menezes Wonders of Nature By V.Balu Martin Luther King, Jr. and Mahatma Gandhi Sojourn in South Africa By V.Balu Peace and Children By V.Balu Balu’s Books Wonders of Nature (Part II) By V.Balu Stories for Children from Friendly World, New York First Day Cover Designs Reader’s Digest Cover Art Vegetabull Mastery Over The Medium - Ram Nivas Mirdha Master of The Collage Art Medium - S.Ramakrishnan Reflections By V.Balu V.Balu is A Heart Changer - U.R.Ananthamurthy One Man Brigade of Peace - C.Subramaniam

64 64 65 66 67 67 68 70 71 74 76 78 82 84 84 86 86 86 87 87 88 89 90 91 92 93 93 94 96 96 97 98 100 100

Contents

V.Balu Quotes Introduction Collages of Jesus Christ Pa + Pa = Pe By Christian Nicolai Peace Lollipops for Tiny Tots Release By Chief Minister S.M.Krishna Great Loss to The Art World and World Peace - Dr. V.S.Rama Devi Odyssey of Seeking Peace Through Art - Governor T.N.Chaturvedi President Zail Singh’s Message for The Exhibition at The Raj Bhavan In Appreciation of V.Balu’s Collages By Dr. Mulk Raj Anand Dr. Balu’s Anthar Shanthi Kala By (Justice) M.N.Venkatachaliah Date with The Dalai Lama By Dr. V.Balu A Fullness in Bits and Pieces By Prakash Belawadi Books on Peace Rhymes Impress President Kalam May Your Journey Bring Peace oo Others - Archbishop Desmond Tutu United Nations Secretariat News Sample Letters written By Dr. V.Balu Awards and Recognitions Bangalore University’s Honorary Dlit. Degree for Balu Balu’s Shopping Bag Designs for Irma Stores in Denmark Collages on Kuvempu’s ‘Aniketana’ (Dr. V.K.Gokak’s Translation) Balu’s Meetings with Eminent Personalities Oil Paintings and Collages on Lord Ganesha Balu’s Speed Series of Oil Paintings Balu Thatha Drawing By Grandson Siddarth S.Balu A Peaceful Man - Poem By Grand Daughter Spoorthi Balu Balu, The Messenger of Peace - Supporter Newspaper Article Balu Uncle By Nandini Alva His Implicit Faith and Staunch Trust in God - Jaishree Venkataraman Indelible Impressions of My Eldest Brother Balu - Paru Sriram The Feel Good Factor! By Vivek Balu My Grandfather By Varsha V. Balu My Thatha By Grandson Varun V. Balu Balu’s Letter to His Grandchildren An Inspiration By Ashok Balu No More Thapaal By Sanjay Balu Appa, The Essential Spirit I Knew - Padmini Ashok My Fil-Osopher and Friend By Reshma S. Balu Appa By Rama Vivek Meteoric Rise By V.Ananth My Brother-In-Law By Padmini Balaraman Elder Sister’s Viewpoint – How I See Balu - Mrs. Savithri Ramadurai Balu and Sir C.V.Raman September 13th 2007 - Newspaper Reports A Master Photographer’s Tribute to V.Balu - Dhiraj Chawda The Real Breaking News! By V.Balu Shakuntala Balu Svetoslav Roerich Art Unites All By V.Balu The Balus and The Roerichs My Jaunty Jalopy and Cartoons By V.Balu A Living Legend of Peace - Bhavana M. Vichhivora Indian Art Blog : Art Critic’s Tribute - Nalini Malaviya In Loving Memory of Balu Uncle By Meenakshi Srinivasan A Gushing Wind That No One Could Hold Back By A.S.Jayachandra Possessed By Possessions By V.Balu

ent t n o C y e K x to Quick Inde Dedicated Pages for Collages & Paintings 6,24,25,28,31,88,93,94,96. Family Tributes 32,33,36-38,40,42-47,64 Tributes / Messages from Dignitaries & Friends 8,12,13,16,35,54,61,62,63,67,86,87,96,97,100 Happenings 8,11,14,18,19,20,24,26,48, Articles and Humour 4,18,21,41,54,60,63,64,65,76,84,87,89,92,93,98. Awards and Publications 22,23,91,93,94 General 5,20,50,56,58,59,66,67,68,82,84


You cannot have peace in the world, if you as an individual cannot be peaceful – V.Balu My art helps not only in communication but also in communion – V.Balu Creation of the collages has been my way of meditation, even as I have cut out and pasted pieces of paper of different colours, sometimes adding touches with the computer too, to form the final compositions. The work though highly fulfilling has been intricate involving the use of several hundreds of paper pieces. On the whole, it has been a job of creative work and worship – a wonderful spiritual odyssey, inspired by the thought that peace is the only lamp of hope, we of this generation can light for posterity. -Excerpt from V.Balu’s Introduction to his book “Shanti Darshan: Messengers of Peace”

4


Introduction As we went about planning this book, we considered multiple approaches to help present the dynamic and colourful life of Dr. V.Balu (a.k.a Venkatraman Balu). Taking some inspiration from his collages, we decided to present his life, work, and his impact on people as a collage-like visual feast – a compilation of articles, artifacts, tributes, and reactions, that provide a bird’s-eye view of the multi-dimensional personality that was the essential Balu. As we sit back and reminisce about his life, one thing is abundantly clear. He was a deeply spiritual artist who believed in the power of the individual to make a difference allowing him to truly have an impact both at home and abroad. As we rummaged through his books and diaries, we found a handwritten note with one of his favourite poems by John Donne (1572-1631). Selected lines from the poem include:

DEATH be not proud, though some have called thee Mighty and dreadfull, for, thou art not so, For, those, whom thou think’st, thou dost overthrow, Die not, poore death, nor yet canst thou kill me ...... ....... And death shall be no more; death, thou shalt die. This provides a sample of the type of thinking that guided his life. We hope you are able to experience the quintessential Balu as you peruse this book and we hope you are inspired to focus on unleashing your power as an individual to effect change. – Editor

5


“Blessed are the peacemakers : for they shall be called the Children of God” - From Jesus Christ’s Sermon on the Mount

n of Christ

The Compassio

Paper Collage by

Dr. V.Balu ©

The Crucifixion of Chris

t

6

Paper Collage by Dr. V.B alu ©


pa + pa = pe

by Christian Nicolai

Christian Nicolai is a successful high-technology entrepreneur and a long-time friend of Dr. Balu based in Berlin, Germany

T

My relationship with Balu started with bliss. That was the state of consciousness I found myself in after our first discussion about life looking at his paintings. The Jesus Christ was my favorite collage. This portrait of Jesus Christ is pure bliss itself. I love it – it touched my heart. Then a few years later, when I met Balu in Paris during his exhibition at the UNESCO, he told me, that he sold this Jesus Christ to a man who came every day to the exhibition. He was praying there in front of the Jesus every day in the morning and in the evening and on the last day of the exhibition Balu gave him the collage for a very little price. That was his spirit. He was not attached to matter at all. He enjoyed sharing his gifts He was praying there in front of the Jesus every day in with the world. I know. Let the morning and in the evening and on the last day of the me continue the story: I was exhibition Balu gave him the collage for a very little price. sad that the Jesus Christ was That was his spirit. He was not attached to matter at all. gone. I realized that I might He enjoyed sharing his gifts with the world. never see this masterpiece again. Later, when we were traveling to Berlin with all the grandiose collages in the back of my car, he said: I will And you are able to discover these simple truths. I did and Balu motivated make you a new portrait of Jesus Christ. And he did. The beauty of this episode is: Now I am looking at the new and supported me on my walk. The outcome, the present, the answer to the Jesus Christ portrait for many years already and I always see two collages. The one I am looking at and the one we question: What’s in it for me? It’s just left in Paris. And I am happy. happiness! he universe is unknown to us, our world presents us one surprise after the other and reality in general is complex and cloudy. What a mystery. And we are right in the middle of it. Do we have the challenge to understand all these secrets? The answer is not really relevant since you have the gift to understand. Yes, I am talking to you, reading these words in this very moment. You are blessed with your life being a devotion to the overall oneness.

Jesus Christ

Paper Collage by Dr. V.Balu ©

lais nd the Nico

Christian a

Happiness exists in love like we exist in our body. But how does it happen? How can we be happy all the time? Are you interested? I was. Happiness came into my life in a very natural way. Think of the situation when life starts – when your life started. This is the bee story: two things meet and are creating a new oneness by giving up their identities. That’s love. And at the very same time, in the moment when this new material oneness arises, in a very fragile state we connected ourselves with our one cell body. That is bliss, the ultimate appearance of happiness.

We humans use different languages to express ourselves. One of these languages is mathematics. The formula I discovered for Balu’s lifework is: pa + pa = pe. The first pa is paper, the perfect medium for him to express his dreams and visions, his state of consciousness and his homage to life. Many of the collages are masterpieces which leads us to the second pa, passion. His passion for art, love and spirituality attracted many people. I saw them in the exhibitions in Paris and Berlin. Just walking along and watching the collages made them feel their happiness. That leads me to the pe, meaning peace: Balu’s mission to the world. He taught me so many aspects of peace and he dedicated many years of his life to bring peace to as many people he can reach. What a precious gift to all of us who met him. Thank you, Balu - I love you.

7


Chief Minister S.M. Krishna* releases ‘Peace Lollipops for Tiny Tots’

exhibition of S.M. Krishna at the Dr. Balu’s works.

8

*S.M. Krishna is currently a member of Parliment & Former Chief Minister of Karnataka & Governer of Maharashtra.


Message from Dr. V.S. Rama Devi - His demise is a great loss to the art world and to world peace Former Governor of Himachal Pradesh and Karnataka

“I had known Sri V. Balu as a ‘Peace Activist’ and as the ‘Master of Collage Art’. I had even gone to his age old majestic house to see his paintings and collage art pieces on Inner Peace and World Peace. He was a family man with affectionate children and often family members themselves attained peace at home and enjoyed inner peace.

I was shocked to hear form Sri Balu’s daughter-in-law Smt. Padmini Ashok, the sad news of the accident which had taken his precious life. His demise is a great loss not only to the art world but also to world peace. My heartfelt condolences to his family members”.

Dr. Rama Devi’s visit to Dr. V.Balu’s Studio-cum-Gallery

9


Governor T.N. Chaturvedi: Dr. Balu’s Odyssey of seeking Peace through Art T.N. Chaturvedi, Governor of Karnataka releasing Dr. V. Balu’s books: ‘Shanti Sopana’ (left) and ‘Shanti Darshan’ (bottom)

10


President Zail Singh’s message for the exhibition of collages on Peace at the Raj Bhavan, Bangalore

Dr. V. Balu with Shri. Zail Singh, Former President of India

Dr. V.Balu starte d working on the Global Peace Mission through Art in 1982

11


In Appreciation of V. Balu’s Collages Dr. Mulk Raj Anand From his Afterword for the Book ‘Shristi’ : The Fine Art of V. Balu Dr. Mulk Raj Anand (1905-2004) was a well-known writer and winner of several awards including the Padma Bhushan

I

f you see children making castles of sand on the sea beach, you might notice that they put pebbles, little stones, pieces of wood, coconut shells, peelings and any flotsam and jetsam brought by the incoming tide, to make the base strong, and they put a stick to indicate a flagstaff on the top of the mound. Instinctively, the naive artists make a montage to fuse different things into form. Doodlers tend to connect rough strokes in patterns without pattern, in patterns. Some of the most celebrated painters have reverted back from deliberate composition to clusters of things in free array, to suggest formlessness, so long as there is an intuitive flow of colours, yellows and reds to heighten greens and blacks with a streak of white to charge the picture with a stroke of lightning. The Pan-Biri shop is invariably heightened by crude colourful oleographs of photo-like lithes of Ravi Varma or favourite film stars. Our traditional Babu is often a montage man, with his gold-braided ready-made turban, loose necktie on byronite collar, baggy trousers, black Alapaca jacket and shapeless flat chappals. In our mixed population of men of various faiths, racial stocks, castes and classes, there is no uniform pattern of dress, as there was in Maoist China of man, woman and child in Red army uniform. On the mandala of Hindu worship, the central image of Vishnu or Shiva or Kali is clad in gay coloured silks, while in the forefront a plastic swan floats in brimful water.

12

Collage pictures, in the hands of an accomplished artist like Balu, attempt to give form to percepts, so that they may convey a concept. From the shared unconscious of the Indian intelligentsia come his images: By deliberate juxtaposition of irregular parts into wholes, he indicates dynamic energies where the even surface of a colour wash may have evoked statis.

Ganesha, rotundities, broken into rounded limbs, make the traditional image vibrant. Collage of Jesus induces his compassion by pasting of impressionist array of soft colours of the cloak. Gandhi’s plain face becomes eloquent by the expressionist emphasis of muscles and bones, in contrasting colours. In bigger collages, Balu absorbs the cubist techniques of Picasso and Braque to build up intricate complexes of colourful form, fusing sharp lines with curves, cycles, triangles. Philosophically, the reconciliation of scientific truth, and intuitional awareness of phenomena, has presented difficulties to the conventional painters and sculptors. Balu has brought the hunches of scientists, old and new, almost to prove Nagarjuna s theory of cognition, in separate percepts, without relations, by putting together images, which radiate energy through contrast rather than by connection. His collages thus resolve the problem of reconciling revolutionary scientific discovery of atoms and molecules into rainbows of energy, by pasting percepts together. In “The Unhoused consciousness”, bits of molten lava flows in streams from nowhere to nowhere, extending consciousness into space as though ocean waves dance before the eyes. No catacomb of categories here! Mirages of feelings! Broken stars shooting on firmament from creative urges, assembling images of racial memories into moonbeams of racial diamond brilliance, floating in ether of blues, yellows, reds, with arrows flying off at random. Balu’s expressionism is often childlike. It is his less elaborate constructs that charm. Sometimes in his attempt to communicate with lay seers, he concedes, as in the Sai Baba portrait, to sentiment. But in most collages, he makes jigsaw puzzles into coherent pictures. In the radiance of various pictures, his imagination takes wings and releases warbled rhythms, reaching to visions unseen. This book reflects the transition from experiment to achievement.


Dr. Balu’s Anthar Shanthi Kala (Justice) M.N. Venkatachaliah From his Foreword to the book Shanti Chintana - Nov 11, 2006 Justice Venkatachaliah was the Former Chief Justice of India and is the winner of India’s Padma Vibhushan Award

The Chariot of the Sun God

Paper Collage by Dr. V.Balu ©

I am deeply sensible of the honour of this invitation from Dr. V.Balu to contribute a Foreword to his “Thoughts on Peace : Shanti Chinthana.” It is a journey through the processes of inner peace, ‘Anthar Shanti’ and unfolds a saga of Dr. Balu’s mission in life which has been aptly described ‘One man global peace mission through Art’.

him said “ The Bangalore University is proud to join the ranks of Nobel laureate Archbishop Desmond Tutu in congratulating Sri. Balu for his quarter century of work for peace. Thus it is our privilege to confer the honorary degree of Doctor of Letters of the Bangalore University on Shri V.Balu for whom the peace mission has been a life-time project.”

To Dr. Balu peace is not a mere absence or antithesis of violence. Pacifism in not mere non-violence. It is a positive and a psycho- spiritual process that pickles and permeates through the mind-body complex. It is not comparative or relative but absolute. The yoking of inner peace with the activities of body and mind truly elevates it to Anthar Shanti Kala which is the state of unconditional inner peace as the sole solution for all human foibles. It confers the highest boon of fearlessness on mankind and dissolves and destroys fear in any form or of any kind.

I have known Dr. Balu for nearly two decades. In personal life he is simple and artless. His charming personality is the true outcome of the great inner peace. I have seen the manifestation of the inner peace in him during a stage in his life in which others would be greatly disturbed and agitated. But I saw that he is truly a man of great inner peace and a master of the ‘Anthar Shanti Kala’ in life.

This book takes us through Dr. Balu’s meetings with eminent personalities such as the Sri Sathya Sai Baba, President Dr. Abdul Kalam, The Dalai Lama, Rev. Dr. Desmond Tutu, Boutros Boutros Ghali, Perez de Cuellar and many others. This personal account is presented not in any autobiographical projection but as a reluctant inevitable incident of the evolution of the idea of the achievement of inner peace as a necessary individual experience and the concept of world peace being a collective manifestation of this individually essential attainment.

At tumultuous times of turmoil and change as we see today, the only anchor for mankind is Dr. Balu’s Anthar Shanthi Kala. Dr. Balu’s beautiful message of Peace shall be enduring.

Dr. Balu has received recognition and encomia for his enduring work of projection of the theme of peace through his beautiful art from many institutions and organizations the world over. His work has attained mystic and universal significance and of civilisational value. His interactions with the younger generation have a deep impact on it. Indeed the Bangalore University while conferring its Honorary Degree of D.Litt on

13


Date with The Dalai Lama is describes h lu a B . V r. D ureate h Nobel La it w g n ti e re m itual Leade ir p S n ta e Lama and Tib The Dalai

by Dr. V. Balu My visit to Dharamsala in the north Indian state of Himachal Pradesh touched me deeply. The scenery, greenery, dominating mountains, the kangra valley crisscrossed by low hills all presented a picture of serene splendour. The tall, erect, majestic pines and other trees seemed to vie with one another in pointing heavenwards. The play of the clouds was fascinating; In their movement, they embraced at first the mountain and tree tops, but gradually covered and clasped the entire area, making the hills and trees silhouettes within. Often the passing clouds touched the ground spraying the earth ever so lovingly; the cloud on the clod left moisture marks for all to see (and slip!). Mc Leod Ganj, where I stayed in one of the beautifully maintained Glenmoor cottages, forms the upper part of Dharamsala. The high altitude, cool bracing weather, loveliness and repose here recreate the environs of Tibet, giving the place the title of a little Lhasa in India – the home of His holiness the Dalai Lama (Tenzin Gyatso, the fourteenth Dalai Lama). His Holiness welcomed me at the very entrance of his large, vibrantly decorated and distinctive room at his residence. I used the Tibetan form of greeting or Tashi delek! (Tashi means good luck and delek stands for good health) and he responded with a smilingly sweet Tashi delek !

14

More than anything else, his purity and compassion give him a distinctive and special appeal. A wonderful listener, His holiness the Dalai Lama evinced keen interest in my work as an artist in the collage medium, as well as my Global Peace Mission through art, with its emphasis on inner peace and the role of individuals in global peace. He appreciated my peace symbol of a bomb becoming a bloom of peace as well as the collage I had done of him, which he graciously accepted “as a humble token of my regard for him.” He lovingly gave a copy of his book, “The power of compassion”, after signing it with a short note in the Tibetan language. Translated the note read: “To Professor Balu, I have praise for your work for peace through individual persuasion and my prayers for success in your work.” We discussed inter alia the many dimensions of Tibetan culture, which he summed up saying that the essence of Tibetan culture is non-violence, compassion and peace and “Tibet will survive because of its unique cultural heritage.” Thinking about peace he said “To achieve peace, you need a strong sense of the self coupled with compassion. Even from an individual’s selfish angle, compassion is a must for only an attitude of compassion and love can make individuals happy.” Towards the end of our discussions, he asked his Secretary to bring a long scarf and lovingly put it over me and asked the photographer to click! As I wondered about the significance of this, His Holiness explained: “There is lot of significance (smiles). The smoothness of the material represents gentleness… the white stands for purity (smiles again). The designs and characters on the shawl are Tibetan… The tradition of offering shawls and scarves is typically Indian but followed by Tibetans… But do you know from where the material comes from? (smiles)... It is from China!! (laughs)… So you see the scarf represents the harmony of Tibet, India and China!!” The explanation showed the man…

Sixty two years sit lightly on his shoulders, his vivacity and vigour, not just undimmed, but in full force. Extremely humble and full of bonhomie, his erudite talk is interspersed with bouts of hearty laughter. His strong belief that genuine, affectionate smiles are Tu che chey (Thanks very much) Your Holiness ! important in daily living is proved by his smiling, cherubic visage. In the forty minutes of the audience he granted me, he must have smiled several miles of smiles!


... I was touched when towards the end of a discussion for over forty minutes, he honoured me with a long, white scarf. I asked His Holiness about the significance of the scarf. “There is a lot of significance,” he replied with his usual smile. “The smoothness of the material represents gentleness, the white stands for purity (smiles again). The designs and characters on the cloth are Tibetan… The tradition of offering shawls and scarves is typically Indian but followed by Tibetans.” (smiles) He then asked “Do you know where the material comes from?” and stunned me saying “It is from China ! (laughs)… So you see ! the scarf represents the harmony of Tibet, India and China !” It was a truly purifying and memorable experience, for only the extra-ordinary can be so without rancour. Tu Che Chey (Thanks very much) Your Holiness ! ... – Extract from Mr. Balu’s book ‘Shanti Chintana’ Page - 90

“To professor Balu I have praise for your work for peace through individual persuasion and my prayers for success in your work” The Dalai Lama 17/08/1997 English Translation of the handwritten message of the Dalai Lama

15


A Fullness In Bits and Pieces Prakash Belawadi Portions of this article were published in ‘The Deccan Chronicle’ dated September 21, 2007. Prakash Belawadi is a well-known writer and the Chief of News Service, The Asian Age, New Delhi

Joy of Peace

16

Paper Collage by Dr. V.Balu ©

Collage Artist V. Balu, internationally-known peace been seen at the Johannestift organization in Berlin; activist, died in fate’s most ironically contrived UNESCO headquarters in Paris; Belgian organization circumstances — violently, by a hit-and-run incident, in Belgium; Bharatiya Vidya Bhavan in London; Dag close to his beautiful ancestral home in old Hammerskjold Auditorium at the United Nations; Bangalore, coming home from Permanent his evening walk in the Krishna Mission of India “He laughed easily. He saw human folly for Rao Park, a bit rushed and to the UN in what it was, without judgement or resentment. eager to get home because of Manhattan, He loved his home, his beloved artist wife the darkening cloud cover. New York; New Shakuntala, who died in 1988. York University; But Balu would have Bereaved, but always with her, he groomed India Club appreciated the casuallyhis lovely old home in Basavanagudi to an at Cornell obtained care and loving from incongruous haven of peace, unmoved by the new strangers, now so rare in a rush and madness that had overtaken his beloved University; the Art Institute Bangalore.” city maddened by commerce of Boston; and greed, that the accident the Students’ invited. The unknown rider of the motorcycle, Association at MIT and the N.Y. Bonaventure bewildered and careless, as so many of the young of this global city are, sped away in the University. twilight hour after hitting the sprightly, long- Balu was self-taught. His career began with cartoons haired Balu. But a few passers-by stopped and illustrations for his own stories and articles, initially during the rush hour to move the badlymostly in oils in the impressionistic style. But Balu injured artist, first, to a private nursing home found his true medium with paper collages, with which close-by, and later, on medical advice, to the he achieved his recognized mastery over four decades. National Institute of Mental Health and He found Indian roots for his beloved medium and Neuro Sciences. a resonance that got his collages on first-day cover designs of the Indian As it turned Post and Telegraphs, “Balu lived to show what it meant to love out, it was life and fellow human beings, not always for what they did, The Readers’ Digest too late. but what he believed they were capable of doing. (International But Balu His collages and his ready wit, his ready smile and the elegant editions), in 30 had already foreign-language grace of his simple lifestyle will live on.” done a editions of UNESCO bit and Courier, poetry video, more in his life, full and joyous: A former UN Art Guild fund-raising programmes, shopping official of the Government of India, Balu bags in Denmark, Canadian Freedom from Hunger was a collage artist and writer, recognized more for Campaign Committee and the Round Table of India. his passionate interest in global peace and stubborn There were other unlikely and varied admirers: Greeting optimism in the intrinsic good of the simple human cards in Trinidad and UNICEF cards in New York; being. corporate calendars issued all over the world and covers Desmond Tutu said Balu’s art was “a quarter century of publications. His works are in public and private of work for peace.” His peace global presentations have collections in Germany, Kenya, Switzerland, Japan,


Iran, the UK, France and USA. India, all over, loves him. A tireless traveler, Balu went around with his good humour and a serious passion for peace – within and out. The Mayor of Ojai in California presented him with a key of the city; the Mayor of Dilbeek in Belgium, a medallion of the city; the President of the Executive Council of UNESCO, a bronze memento and the Johannestift Organisation of Berlin, a silver medal. He innovated a new collage form — COLLAGE PLUS — and with his unique work with bits of paper cut out from colourful magazines, he gave digital finishes to the images with a computer. He called this BBB Art – Balu’s Bits and Bytes’ Art. He laughed easily. He saw human folly for what it was, without judgement or resentment. He loved his home, his beloved artist wife Shakuntala, who died in 1988. Bereaved, but always with her, he groomed his lovely old home in Basavanagudi to an incongruous haven of peace, unmoved by the new rush and madness that had overtaken his beloved Bangalore. Balu leaves behind his three sons — Ashok, Vivek and Sanjay — their families and a larger family of friends, admirers and fellow-thinkers who represent what is enduring about India and Indians. Balu lived to show what it meant to love life and fellow human beings, not always for what they did, but what he believed they were capable of doing. His collages and his ready wit, his ready smile and the elegant grace of his simple lifestyle will live on. We will grieve in his passing, but will forever smile in remembering the man that was.

The Balus of Bangalore, Dr. V.Balu, seen with his wife Shakuntala Balu to his right, Ashok Balu behind her, Vivek Balu seated and Sanjay Balu.

17


Books on peace rhymes impress President Kalam Times of India, Bangalore, January 18, 2004

bdul Kalam ent Dr. A.P.J. A d si re P h it w u Dr. V. Bal

18

Activist and collage artist V. Balu shows a book of peace rhymes, Peace Lollipops for Tiny Tots, to President Abdul Kalam during the latter’s visit in Bangalore. The book, for the 2-5 age group, is planned for release next month. Balu explained his work on global peace through collage art, with stress on inner peace and role of individuals in the same. Kalam also showed interest in another book for kids, Peace + Children = Peaceful Children, and said the equation is good. The book Shanti Darshan also drew appreciation from the President for having a mirror on the cover to enable every reader to see his/her image as a potential messenger for peace.

The President liked the use of art for promoting peace and remarked that collages of the peace bird were beautiful. He went through the two books and appreciated the equation ‘Peace + Children = Peaceful Children’ besides the peace rhymes. As I took leave, he said “Now it is a matter of marketing” and smiled, echoing the dire need for building extensively the defences of peace in the minds of children everywhere. – Extract from Mr. Balu’s book ‘Shanti Chintana’ Page - 107


“May your journey bring Peace to Others” Archbishop Desmond Tutu

As Published in The Times of India, Bangalore. Thursday, December 15, 2005

Nobel laureate Archbishop Desmond Tutu congratulates global peace activist and collage artist V Balu in Bangalore on Monday for nearing ‘a quarter century of work for peace’. Tutu signed on a photograph taken when Balu met him in Cape Town in South Africa in 1997. Then Desmond Tutu had told Balu: “As you proceed on your global mission, may your journey bring peace to others.”

Melody of Peace

Paper Collage by Dr. V.Balu ©

19


Mr. Balu with ellar, Mr. Perez de Cu al, Secretary-Gener United Nations (1982) and with al Secretary-Gener tros of the U.N. Bou Boutros-Ghali (1993)

20


tters e l ’s u l a B . V e f Dr. Examples os philosophical attitud showing hi

21


Karnataka State Rajyotsava Award (Highest Award of Karnataka State Government) English Translation of the Kannada Citation : Renowned collage artist V.Balu has spread the wings of his talent across all of India and the world over. A self taught artist, V.Balu crystallized his art and entered the arena of professional art by contributing cartoons to the ‘Shankar’s Weekly’ magazine. Then onwards, he chose the medium of collage art and has today become one among the top-most in this field. Shri V.Balu’s talent has received great admiration in India and abroad. The calender made in 1980 by Mysore Paper Mills featuring six of Shri V.Balu’s collages won the first prize by the Indian Advertising Association. The Indian Post and Telegraph Department has used his work of art based on Karnataka State. His collage of Mahatma Gandhi decorates a wall in the office of the Secretary-General of the United Nations. His creations have been used on the cover pages of magazines such as Reader’s Digest and Span. Shri V.Balu can also write Pictorial stories. He has written scripts for three documentaries made by Doordarshan, namely, ‘Beauty of Belur’, ‘Hymn to Halebeedu’ and ‘Song of Somanathapura’, based on the sculptural art of the Hoysala temples. The script for Doordarshan’s film ‘Theerthankara Mahavira’ and the collage series based on Rashtrakavi Kuvempu’s poem ‘Vishwamanava’are contributions of Shri V.Balu. He has also given assistance to the making of the documentary featuring Sir C.V. Raman. Marketing, Creative Communications, Public Relations-these are some of the various professions on which Shri V.Balu has written more than 2000 articles. Shri V.Balu is an artist of great creative imagination who can use the capacity of creative communication with artistic novelty.

22

Other Awards and Recognitions • KEY OF THE CITY from Mayor of Ojai, California, USA. 1982. • BRONZE MEMENTO from President, Executive Council of UNESCO, Paris (for “outstanding contribution to the promotion of peace through art”) 1992. • SILVER MEDAL of the Evangelisches Johannestift organization, Berlin (for “Pieces of Peace Collage Art Exhibition) 1992. • SILVER PLAQUE All India Fine Arts & Crafts Society, New Delhi Feb 1993. • MEDALLION OF THE CITY from Mayor of Dilbeek Belgium “in appreciation of work as an individual to promote global oneness and world peace”. Nov 1993. • NATIONAL UGADI PURASKAR Award of the Madras Telugu Academy (for creative communications) 1995. • SENIOR FELLOWSHIP of the Government of India Department of Culture (as an outstanding artist of the country in the field of Visual Arts) 1998. • Award of Public Relations Society of India 2001. • D.Litt Honorary Degree from the Bangalore University (the largest University in Asia with 507 affiliated colleges) January 2006.


Dr. V. Balu receiving the honorary degree at Bangalore University’s convocation from the Chancellor. Kannada film star Dr. Vishunvardhan is seen reviewing his art (top right)

23


IRMA Department Stores in Denmark uses Balu’s designs on their Shopping bags

IRMA - the largest Supermarket Store in Denmark

24


The Unhoused Consciousness Translation by : Dr. V.K. Gokak* Be unhoused, O my soul ! Only the infinite is your goal

Leave those myriad forms behind

Leave the million names that bind

A flash will pierce your heart and mind And unhouse you, O my soul!

Winnow the chaff of a hundred creeds, Beyond these systems, hollow as reeds Kuvempu

Paper Collage by Dr. V.Balu ©

Turn unhorizoned where truth leads To be unhoused, O my soul !

Stop not on the unending way Never build a house of clay

The infinite’s Yoga knows no end Endless the quest you apprehend

Special collages based on Kuvempu’s poetry Dr. K.V. Puttappa (affectionately known by his pen name Kuvempu) was a noted Kannada writer and poet who had won several awards and recognition such as Rashtrakavi (Nation’s Poet), the Jnapith award, India’s Padma Bhushan award, etc. *Dr. V.K. Gokak (1909-1992) was a well known writer in Kannada and English. He is a Jnanpith Award winner and was a close friend of Dr. V.Balu

Be unhoused, O my soul ! Only the infinite is your goal.

25


With Chief Minister of Karnataka, Kengal Hanumanthaiah

With Prime Minister Indira Gandhi

With Former Union Minister & Chief Minister of Tamilnadu, Kamaraj

With Chief Minister of Karnataka, Devaraj Urs

Receiving an award from Governor of Karnataka Dharma Vira

With Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru With Sanjay Gandhi

26

With President S. Radhakrishnan

With President V.V. Giri

With M.K. Karunanidhi

With the Shah of Iran Mohammed Reza Pahlavi

With Union Cabinet Minister Vasant Sathe


With Former Union Minister & Current Chief Minister of Delhi, Smt. Sheila Dixit (third from the left) at V.Balu’s exhibition in Delhi. Also seen at extreme left is the Former Governor of Karnataka, Govind Narain

With cricketers B.S. Chandrasekhar & G.R. Vishwanath

With industrialist Vittal Mallya (center) With celebrated Jazz muscian Maynard Ferguson and his wife Flora

With the Fergusons & wife Shakuntala Balu

With New Zealand High Commissioner Sir Edmund Hillary

With Governor of Karnataka, A.N. Banerjee & artist Svetoslav Roerich during V.Balu’s exhibiton at the Raj Bhavan. The Governor’s wife Subrata Banerjee is on V.Balu’s left.

With Governor of Karnataka, A.N. Banerjee at V.Balu’s studio cum gallery With film actress Dr. Vyjayanti Mala Bali

With Flora Ferguson

With Union Minister Dr. Karan Singh. Son Ashok is to his left & wife Shakuntala is to his right

With Governor of Karnataka, Khurshed Alam Khan

With Lakshman Kadirgamar, Foreign Minister of Sri Lanka. Mrs. Kadirgamr is also seen in the picture

With the Metro Mayor of Durban, South Africa Councillor Obed Mlaba

With Shri. Sushil Kumar Shinde, Governor of Andhra Pradesh and Dr. J. Geeta Reddy (Minister for Tourism and Sugar) at V. Balu’s exhibition in Hyderabad. “Excellent is the only word after a visit to the gallery of Sri Baluji”, wrote the Governor in the Visitor’s Book and said, “the art works remind me of Picasso”

27


Dr. V. Balu’s Oil Paintings Depicting Lord Ganesha Ganesha, the remover of obstacles was a favourite subject of V. Balu’s paintings and collages. He followed an unique tradition of painting a Ganesha on New Year’s Eve (when the rest of the world was partying) and completing it to herald in the New Year!

28


29


Ganesha Oils and Collages

30


Balu’s Speed Series Animal - This Running Turning Horse is one of Balu’s best known works. If the onlooker walks around the picture, the horse and the rider follow and turn in their direction.

Man - shown in flight, the second painting in the series

machine - the third painting in the series

31


Balu Thatha, Pomegranates, Rock Sugar and Vitamin C By Siddharth S. Balu (4 yrs) This drawing by four year old Siddharth Balu shows his grandfather Balu Thatha with four things that Siddharth remembered about him – Peace Rhymes, Pomegranates, Rock Sugar, and Vitamin C. Pomegranates were a favourite food for both grandfather and grandson and he took great delight in peeling the pomegranates and saving them in a cup for the kids to eat. On the left you see Rock Sugar (shown in yellow) and Vitamin C (dried gooseberry) which he carried on his person and often fed in small quantities to Siddharth. The pomegranates are on the table to the right.

32


A Peaceful Man By Spoorthi Balu (9 yrs) I loved my Grandfather V.Balu, A peaceful man he was true and true, With his long black hair and glasses, He taught me Shloka classes. An amazing artist was he, He made collage art, And used every paper part. While I watched him use his colors, I tried my own but his were better, From magazines he cut out each and every letter, To spell V-B-A-L-U letter by letter. The beautiful designs he made for Books, Were meaningful and had very good looks. Teaching kids to have a calm mind, His countenance could never find, Any sadness within him.

ng esha oil painti n a G e re T ’s lu of V.Ba ding in front Spoorthi stan

The letters he sent me were gracious and nice, He had jokes, riddles, and drawings, He even had elephants drawn more than twice. His dedication to fight for Peace, Was something nobody could ever seize. Overall V.Balu was a great man, And I was a fan of his beautiful artwork, And books for kids like Peace+Children. One great artwork of his was the Vegetabull, Saying if you eat vegetables you can be strong. His songs like Peace is a Lolipop were very catchy, I used to love to sing them and was very happy.

party ’s brother’s birthday V.Balu at Spoorthi

33


Balu, the messenger of peace

Reproduction of the article published in Supporter, 23rd September 2007

I

t was a strange experience to walk into the house of a person whom you had never met, yet he was all pervasive. We had heard about him, seen him on television giving interviews, seen his photographs in the newspapers, still many of us did not have the chance to meet him or interact with him. Now that day will never come. Hence it was with great trepidation that we walked into his house on Monday last, only to be greeted by family members exuding great warmth even on so tragic a occasion. Yes, we are talking about Dr V Balu, who died in a tragic road accident just last week. An artist, writer and global peace thru Art activist, Balu had a unique personality which touched many a life. Just talking about him a bit, Balu who lived in the heart of south Bangalore, was a former senior executive of the government of India. He was 79. Self taught, Dr Balu has been recognized as a master of the paper collage art medium, in which he had been working for the past 49 years. Dr Balu’s collages have been used on the covers of key publications such as the UNESCO courier in all their 30 foreign language editions, the Reader’s Digest, on shopping bags in Denmark, for greeting cards in Trinidad and for UNICEF cards in New York; as a first day cover design by the Indian Post and Telegraphs department to name a few. What is it that without knowing much about Balu, in spite of him achieving so much that still drew us to him home after his death? We sensed that here was a man who did not believe in too much of publicity but went about doing things quietly and with passion. This we

34

could see after we spoke to his three sons and saw the amazing works he has done whether it is collage art or painting or books writing. Fortunately for all of us, he will continue to linger in our memory for a long time to come because his sons have decided to do something about his vast collection of works and open a museum in his and his wife’s memory. Despite the fact of his low profile, his own sister Jaishree once wrote to him that he deserved a ‘Bharat Ratna’. His reply was that it “amused me”. This really shows what sort of a person Balu was. A man without any pretentions when he says, “you really think an award is a kind of recognition. However, my feeling is that an award is something that just happens to some both the deserved and sometimes those considered to be undeserved (for it is all subjective!). For that matter, even in salvation there are two kinds of categories viz salvation through merit and salvation by grace!” Moving on to matters philosophical, Balu again was composed, articulate even under the most trying circumstances and two examples illustrate this. One is the time he wrote to his sister-in-law after her husband passed away. “We will miss the body called Raja (Narayan Swami) but this should give no cause for grief, since there are only two classes of people in the world the dead and the not yet dead! The body is aptly described as the birthday suit since it is the individual soul that arrives ‘dressed’ in the body. Death is only the death of this body and happens because of birth. This is inevitable since birth and death

are two sides of the same coin. It is wrong to think of death as morbid, bad or sad. When a birth is celebrated and birthday greetings are sent, why not a death be celebrated too with deathday greeting?” These were the reflections of the great soul Balu who must have gladly embraced death even under the most trying circumstances when a unidentified motorcyclist knocked him down. His thoughts and writings were shown to us when we passed a question to his sons Ashok, Vivek and Sanjay about what they felt about this sudden passing away and what is it that he had taught them that left a lasting impression on them. All the three it could be seen were facing the loss with great equanimity. Not only them, even the daughtersin-law of the house were also very understanding and one could see the profound loss they had suffered in their faces. Balu was always fond of children and his book, “Peace+Children=Peaceful Children”, has been translated into Kannada and Telugu and is in the school libraries of the Karnataka and Andhra Pradesh states. One of his recent work is for tiny tots (3-5 age group) titled “Peace Lollipops for Tiny Tots.” This is a book of original peace rhymes, made available with CD/Cassette of the rhymes set to music. Walking out of the house of Balu after seeing the profusion of colour blue in all his works was a numb feeling. The collage work on Sri Satya Sai Baba and Shirdi Sai Baba both standing out for the peace that they project even as his photo is placed in the center for people to pay homage with the benign face of his wife Shakuntala looking serenely from the top gives everyone courage to face the inevitable.


Balu Uncle

By Nandini Alva

Nandini is the Chairperson of Artists Foundation For Art (A.F.F.A.) The first thing that comes to my mind when I think of Dr. Balu is Telepathy....that was my unique quotient with uncle. It was unfailing phenomenon. I usually called him on a day that I was extremely perturbed. We would talk for an hour or so. He would never ask nor would I tell anything......but to my amazement he would have answered every one of my queries. He would then like a true father, reassure me that all would be fine. He was always there first row, first seat to applaud my work during the making of Bangalore Habba. I give Uncle Balu many a credit for the successes in this life of mine. A man with no dearth of analytical answers, an encyclopedia of references in regard to the true meanings or rather indepth meanings of all life dimensions. Rarely would one have met a man who evolved with the generations. His great talent and genius was apparent in his works of art, his collages. I was privileged to see his genius in weaving life’s philosophies together to create the most beautiful Collage ever-himself. I will always remember Uncle and Shakuntala aunty together as the perfect self created ‘ARDHANARISHWAR’ COUPLE’ (The concept of the Lord Shiva depicted as half man, half woman). They are ever alive and ever remembered in my realm.

alu © Paper Collage by Dr. V.B

35


Balu’s Implicit Faith And Staunch Trust In God By Mrs. Jaishree Venkataraman, Hyderabad but to which people do not relate and hence all their problems!”

A Rich Fond Tribute To My brother V. Balu

Vivacious Biggest Adriot Lively Understanding

virtuous brother articulate linguist unruffled

veracious bubbliest august lauded unique

and and and and and

victorious brilliant adored loved unparalled

in many ways in many ways by many always by many hearts in his writings and arts

I

A young Balu with his brother Ramnarayan

n 1995, in his letter to me, Balu wrote,”By the grace of God all of us here are in good health and cheer. The degree of peace and poise experienced and enjoyed by individuals depends on the degree to which they rely on the divine or the soul’s energy within. This energy is the life force within the source of life and that is the reason man is said to be made in the image of God. There is the power of the physical body that is external. There is the power of the mind and the intellect that can govern physical power and there is the power of the soul within or the divine power which is supreme

To my mother, he wrote thus in 1999. “I trust you received the vibuthi packets and special energy pills in good condition. I am sure these will make for good improvement and make you full throated! I am sure you will be all right since your attitude is one of utter dependence on God. As Daya Mata once said, Surrender to God does not spare a person from ills and pains in the body. But how strange! On one side the divine Mother causes suffering and on the other side she looks after the body through others and medicines.” In another letter to me in 2005, he wrote,” Fame, name, money, praise and the best of works are all not lasting. When we do things always remembering that everything is a play of the SUPREME, then we become mere actors playing a role. Every human being is born as “Atma Ratna” or jewel of the soul. It is how an individual lives and transcends his material life through constant remembrance of the God in all creation that he can achieve total consciousness to cognize and become worthy of the crown jewel of an award that lasts forever. We have to discover and enjoy the Sat-ChitAnanda (Translated as Being-Awareness-Bliss) of this great award. May the lord help us in this great quest.” When my sister-in-law died, my brother was able to retain his calm despite his strong attachment to her. He made me understand that God was with him when he said,” When I have a golden pot and mud pot in my hands, why should I break down just because my mud pot is broken?” Once, when I was in Bangalore in Balu”s home, he told me that I should learn to fix my mind on God no matter what I did. Just as a newly married girl would constantly be thinking of her loved one even if she were cleaning her dining table, I ought to think of God at all times.

36

nd three sisters hree, a s er th ro b r u h his fo ri, Jais Dr. V. Balu wit Paru, Krishnaswamy, Savith , th L to R : Anan d Narayanaswami n Ramnarayan a

To this day I am trying hard to practice what my dear brother taught me. He has the rare ability to instill deep faith he had in God in others. Surely his soul must be in heaven.


Indelible Impressions of My Eldest Brother Balu By Paru Sriram, Chennai

A

BRIGHT smiling face, very brisk walk, bubbling energy, entertaining humorous talks intertwined with philosophy, a very well dressed appearance with a special hairstyle –yes, without any hesitation one can say the description befits Dr Balu.

Dr. V. Balu’s gran dfather Sri Kuppuswamy Ayy ar was a Commissioner of In come Taxes who was decorated wit h the Rao Sahib and Rao Bahadur titles.

Balu’s painting work, collage, office work, travel from Capecomorin to Kashmir, attending spiritual lectures of Swami Sivananda, Satya Sai Baba, Chinmayananda, etc engaged him fully giving no room for any other thoughts. He was totally positive. He was very affectionate to parents, brothers and sisters - always I knew about my eldest brother’s Doctorate Award, only advising them with a philosophical bent of mind. When through newspapers. When asked the reason for not I narrated my personal problems – his answer was informing us, his answer was that it was not very great. “Everything is predetermined and there is no choice”. He never looked for honors. Last year Balu learnt that I had gone to my eldest sister When we were all in Getaway Nungambakkam Savithri’s place, since she was sick. He contacted us, Chennai, growing together and receiving education, after my return from there and enquired about my our house was full of fun energy and laughter in our sister’s trouble. He had a homeopathy doctor by his brother’s midst. He used to entertain everyone, stooping side, at that time, in Bangalore. Whatever I spoke to to their level. He was a great story-teller. Every evening, Balu, he simultaneously conveyed what I said to the doctor. Later he sent medicines prescribed by that nephews, nieces, neighbourhood kids and we sisters doctor to my sister. She was happy beyond expression. and brothers, used to gather to enjoy his stories. We She became perfectly alright and she passed on this used to call him Pied Piper as kids got glued to him. news to everyone in the family. My youngest sister Jaishree was his favourite. He used Balu used to write in bold legible letters, neatly to to delight her by giving 3 toffees every evening saying that one was for her right hand, one for the other hand my mother. He used to send Sri Sai Baba’s vibuthi to my mother and ask her to take it with faith. He also and one for her mouth. Then he would laugh loudly suggested that she should chant “Triambakam Yaja and in turn made all of us laugh loudly. He gave her mahe” one crore times within a week’s time to help her the name Jaishree. When told that she had to be given swallow food easily. My mother was very happy and her grandmother’s name, Rukmini, he immediately showed that letter to everyone and was in a blissful state. said that her other name would be Sangeetha, Sahithya, The above two incidents show his deep affection. His Sarasallabha, Ullasa, Rukmini. We were amazed as he was so spontaneous and quick to reel out that big name. advice to me about faith in God is evergreen in my memory. When my husband was about to undergo He also taught something new to all of us now and surgery, Balu asked me not to worry as he would be then like the names of rare herbs, plants precious stones sending Baba’s vibuthi very soon. The vibuthi did not and so on. Like a spiritual leader he would radiate reach us before we left home for hospital. However, since happiness... He had the rare attribute of spreading the surgeon demanded full payment before surgery, my joy around. Our father was deeply attached to Balu son had to go home to get the money. Just at that time the postman delivered a letter containing vibhuthi from in a special manner probably because he was the Balu. This made us happy. My husband went through sparkling son born after 2 daughters. When he left our surgery and he became alright. Balu had the ability to home for Mysore, when he got a job there, our home instill the faith he reposed in God on others. became dull, quiet and colorless. We used to await his arrival home. On every visit he would create a happy I had the great opportunity to translate his book Peace atmosphere in the house. While studying and working + Children = Peaceful Children into Tamil, as per his he used to write stories for children in a famous desire. So I had the rare privilege of associating myself newspaper and became famous. He never appeared with my brother Balu’s writings. tired or bored at any time.

37


The Feel Good Factor! By Vivek Balu

I

f I have to sum up my experiences with my father in one phrase it has to be the “The Feel Good Factor. “Just to be in touch with him via the phone, e-mail or in person brought about this feeling in me. Much has been said and written about the reasons people experience this Factor, for me it was my Father, popularly known as Dr Balu, Peace Balu, Collage Artist, Creative Communicator, Oil Painter , Coffee Board Balu, Global Peace Activist , Spiritual Teacher, A.S.K. Exponent , and many more ... Guess what! He was a great dad as well!

To pen thoughts about a person who is so central in one’s life brings out myriad emotions and numerous experiences of highs and lows. To any son, a father in his growing days is everything he looks up to - as an idol, a hero, and a man who would also discipline you if you go astray. I have had the benefit of seeing all these aspects of my dad! The unique feature I noticed about my dad was that he also grew as we grew (I mean apart from age he really evolved himself to unbelievable heights and would certainly have scaled further peaks if his “use by date” had not run out). To briefly explain my theory, as far as I can recall, he was like any other dad attending office and taking care of his family though his skills, talent, gift for oil paintings and writings was very much evident and soon the first of his numerous exhibitions happened. From a senior Government executive with a penchant for art and writings his growth before my eyes to say the least was remarkable. As I went through my travails of school and college, he transformed from his job to a full-time collage artist with Peace being his central theme and his writing took new leaps as his spiritual quests led to new discoveries. Books on art, spiritual gurus, humor, children’s books, and a chain of Peace books illustrated by his extraordinary collages so full of colour and quality which can be seen in other sections of this book. However, he was always in synch to the needs of his boys and family. I can never forget the nurturing of me

38

as a raw journalist and the interest he took and the extent to which he went to give me a launch into my journalistic forays. I still remember the gleam in his eyes as he corrected some of my spelling and grammatical mistakes and teased me no end about it. (Incidentally he always did this till the end. Any freshly typed page with no apparent mistake, he would still find an error or insert a word or ensure he would ink a freshly typed page. Since I would get most of his typing done, that left me a trifle agitated but then that was my dad! ) . The Idol/Hero, soon turned into a gentle mentor, as I grew in the corporate world. He would indulgently watch but give the right inputs to always ensure my feet were firmly planted on the ground, I tried to heed his advice as much as possible but it would be far from the truth if I said I did fully follow his words! The one issue dad strongly believed in and tried to impress upon me was the importance of worldly pleasures versus the need for spiritual development. We did have long discussions on these subjects and some of these moments must qualify as special moments of my life with him.


The way he used to push the discussions to tilt towards his point of view using his pleasing demeanour, persuasive skills, deep knowledge of the discussed subjects delivered with his strong conviction and passion are forever etched in my memory. No prizes for guessing who was left holding the wooden spoon in these discussions/friendly arguments most of the time! He left me in no doubt that there was more to life than what most of us end up doing and gave me enough inputs and tools to pursue the same. Have to go for it, help me dad! As I left the corporate worl d to start life as a businessman, my father slowly made a role reversal and was more like Guru dad. This phase was different,

he was deeply committed to his peace mission and despite having a bypass his enthusiasm never waned and even the way he recovered so swiftly was amazing. I was lucky he chose my house to recover (I had moved out after living with him for 32 years) and in no time at all he was back to normal flying off to Boston to spend some time with Sanjay. In this phase we spent a lot of time together discussing life with business and I must confess he had so much to offer that it did change a lot of my perspective in terms of how I viewed myself and my business. I changed my style of functioning and it has helped me a lot. His inputs were priceless and he didn’t send me a bill! An example of the calm and serene way he handled anything was when we once had a discussion on the impact of Chinese price wars, he listened quietly and later left. After a while I saw a handwritten note on my table with the following quote : “There is hardly anything in the world that some man cannot make a little worse and sell cheaper and the people who consider price only are this man’s lawful prey” – John Ruskin It gave me all the input I needed. On the spiritual side, he always ensured I was exposed to some great souls and their influence and blessings have been an integral part of my life - prominent among them being Sri Sheshadri Swamigal and Bhagawan Sathya Sai Baba. One of the things that really pleased dad was my yearly sojourn to Sabarimala , though I am not clear what pleased him more - my devotion or the fact that for 45 days I had to lead a fully Saathvik (Disciplined and pure) life ! On that fateful day I was in mala (a spiritual period of discipline and fasting similar to the Christian period of Lent) and was scheduled to leave for Sabarimala in a few days. I spoke to him just 15 minutes before he crossed that road and he asked me if I was dropping by the house. I replied that I would see him the next day as I had to visit the temple.

On vacation w ith Vivek in B angkok

After a while, the phones started ringing …the heavens opened up in one of the biggest deluges in the city. It seemed I was not the only one grieving.

39


My Grandfather

My Thatha

By Varsha V. Balu

By Varun V. Balu

My grandfather, Dr. V. Balu, has always been extra supportive of me. Ever since I was a child he would sit me down as he was working and would make me write short stories and poems and draw pictures. He would stick those pictures I drew on the walls of his studio. This would encourage me do draw more. He has even framed many pictures that I drew when I was just about three years old or less. He would always encourage me to experiment with my paint brush, paint and paper and scissors. He would let me sit and watch as he worked on his collages.

My thatha, Dr.V.Balu, was a nice man. He was very proud of me playing cricket and used to tell me to go and play my best. He used to teach me Mantras (Hymns) which he asked me to chant whenever I was scared or nervous before a match and every time I repeated them, I would become calm and concentrate on my game. He would always tell me to chant OM all through the day so I could concentrate on my studies and whatever I did. He would often come to see me playing and on the day I hit my first 50 runs, he cheered me the most. And every time I troubled my mother to eat my food, he would tell me stories of how little children all over the world were dying without any food to eat and that I should be grateful to God and my parents for giving me enough food to make me strong and healthy so I could play well.

I remember this one thing I loved to do every time he would work on his collages- flattening out the bits of paper in the collage with a roller. He would enjoy the act that such a small thing gave me such pleasure and would let me do it. Balu Thatha would always support me with every one of my debates and elocutions. He also supported my love for playing basket ball. Thatha would always want to know how I was doing in school or about any of the trips I took. He encouraged my love for animals and insects as well. He would get me newspaper articles and pictures that he thought would interest me. He would also make it a point to bring me the bouquet of flowers that he received at the functions he went for, knowing how much I loved flowers.

I would very often get hurt during my play and needed to go to the doctor which would make me very scared and he would very calmly hold me, give me Swami’s vibhuti to eat and chant Triambakam yejamahe, Sugandhim pushtivardhanam, Oorvaru kamiva bandhanath, mrutyor muksheeya maamruthaath (a healing He taught me one more very important thing – prayer), and make me controlling my anger. He would say that getting angry and lashing out on people will only harm my body. He repeat after him until the pain went away. Even would tell me to divert my mind, maybe by listening to today when I get hurt music or just by counting from one to ten. This I follow I immediately think of even today and I must say that it has definitely had a my grandfather and very calming effect on me. Now when I do get angry I chant this mantra. think about what my grandfather said to me and calm Thank you, thatha, down quite quickly. for making me a strong boy!

40


Varun and Varsha with Dr. Balu. At left they are seen with Chief Minister of Karnataka, S.M. Krishna

Letter from Balu to his grandkids. At left he is seen holding the book Peace Lollipops for Tiny Tots. The cover of the book features a drawing by Varun

41


Ashok seen with itting Morarji Desai (s dad on the left) with (extreme right)

An Inspiration By Ashok Balu My father instilled in me the confidence and the courage to do many things in my life - be it journalism, essay writing or as different a hobby like Philately! He truly inspired me to do the things I wanted to do boldly and with conviction…Whether it was going and eating cutlets and other goodies with my friends at the Coffee Board canteen or having dinner with the Governor of Karnataka at the Raj Bhavan, I would do so with elan and confidence. I remember that once at an official dinner for a visiting Russian delegation, he introduced me to the Vice-President of the USSR, who give me a set of stamps for my collection. I was equally thrilled when he introduced me to Prime Mnisters Smt. Indira Gandhi and Morarji Desai at the Lal Bagh gardens. Mr. Desai refused to sign my autograph book unless I wore Khadder (Khadi, a hand-spun fabric) and Mrs. Gandhi asked me to study hard! Needless to say I have done neither in my life! When I mentioned this to dad several years later, he said, “I am glad Morarji did not insist that you have his favourite drink!!”

Balu with sons A

42

shok, Sanja y and Viv ek - Sep tember ,

2007

dad With mom,

thers

and my bro


No more Thapaal By Sanjay Balu A year has gone by…. The familiar voice I would hear on the other end of my phone has been silenced… I know I miss him… What about him do I miss? I start thinking…. • His humor, his zest for life and his soothing/sage advice • His example of what an individual can achieve via persistence and faith in himself • His pursuit of Anthar Shanti Kala (ASK) as a way to combine art and spirituality • His child-like enthusiasm and his ability to work hard to achieve results • His beautiful art and his effortless use of art for creative communication His interactions and close association with brilliant minds like Nobel Laureate C.V. Raman shaped his thinking and his pursuit of goals larger-than-life. He would always tell me to “do my best”, “reach for the top” and not to worry about the results. “Yatna Prayatnamulu Maanava Dharmamu… Jaya, Apajayamu Daivadeenamu – It is man’s duty to put in his effort, success or failure is divinely ordained” was one of the favourite Telugu dictums he lived by. He was always physically active – if you had seen him, you would never have felt you were talking to a 75+ year old. He was an avid reader, a great speaker who used humor effectively and above all a fantastic dad. He had a booming laugh and a fantastic outlook on life. Given the fact that I lived far away from Bangalore, our regular phone calls were an important channel of communication. I would call him before I was about to embark on anything new or remotely important, or to seek his advice about things on my mind, or just call him for reassurance. He was always an optimist and a strong believer in the “Power of Positive Thinking”. One of the things I have looked forward to over the years was to collect my mail at the mailbox and to be greeted by a familiar brown or pale green envelope with scotch tape reinforcement all over the sides (undoubtedly to make it easy for the travel across the continents!).

Sanjay with dad

The distinctive and impeccable handwriting, the familiar addressing of the envelope (with my name in triple bold letters and sometimes Massachusetts fully written out), the small stickers/pieces of paper/doodles that would invariably be a part of the envelope – all these announced it truly as a Thapaal (Tamil word for snail mail) from Dr. V.Balu. The letter would be addressed to the whole family with a mix of riddles or jokes for the kids, a quick philosophical message for myself and my wife, and other more mundane updates. His calendar cards were a particular favorite as was his opening line, “I am doing well... Hope you are doing in the same well...” It would sometimes have interesting clippings from newspapers, any articles he had recently authored, and updates on his peace mission and sometimes reactions/media coverage, etc. Interestingly there were many times he would carefully select the postage stamps to let me see the new stamps that are in production in India. All these made us feel “in the know” about happenings in India as well as the progress of his Peace Mission. Sometimes when I called him up he would enquire if the Thapaal had reached me even if he had just mailed it a few days ago! As you can imagine, my daily trips to the mailbox have never quite been the same!

Fun Facts about Balu Sending an email and having it printed out – sometimes even editing it after it has been sent out! His inability to resist adding his final touches to any final typed manuscript – sometimes resulting in the need to retype! Never hesitating to ask for discounts for Senior Citizens since he liked being referred to as one!

43


Appa, The Essential Spirit I Knew By Padmini Ashok

“T

he coffee you made for dad this evening was his last”, said Ashok, when I returned his missed call. He told me, “Some careless rider hit him near the main gate of M.N. Krishna Rao Park and scooted away. We are at NIMHANS. He succumbed to a serious head injury.” This was probably the most unbelievable, bizarre happening in my life. How could V. Balu, my father-in-law, simply cease to exist just a hundred meters away from our house?

smoking ? The one that is th ou m ng ro w e Which is th V.Balu© - Paper collage by

44

Appa was a man who was least conscious about pampering his body. Yet he protected it, for it was God’s gift for him, the soul, the spirit, the thoughts of peace and harmony, all of which he tried to portray and present through what he painted, pasted and penned. He only ate simple vegetarian food. He never lit a cigarette, but made collages to educate. I never saw him consume alcohol. He was a globetrotter, yet he never crossed a busy street. Often, the driver drove him even to the bank in the neighborhood. If he ever had a fever, his share of food would be left over that day, but plenty of warm water and hot tea flushed the fever while he slept his weight off to gravity. If he ever had a cold, the house would be filled with the aroma of either Tiger Balm or Vicks or eucalyptus oil or gargling with salt water to keep the cough away. Oranges or sweet limes, or skinned apples supplemented both Homoeopathic and Allopathic medicines. I would have accepted a quiet and peaceful night, which might have silenced Appa forever. Not a rash scooterist! Not such violence !

I had seen him rub off his sense of humour on many. He had a sense of humour even about death, be it even about his beloved wife. He had told me. “She used to keep a kiln in our backyard for her ceramic work, but one day she herself had to go into the kiln! Hahaha!” He would also say, “If you become too tense, you will also become past tense.” It still makes me laugh. He much ridiculed the folly of human desire and spite. His favourite example was from the‘Charuvaka Philosophy’, ‘Rnam krtvaa, ghrtam pibeth’, translated as, ‘eat ghee even if you have to be indebted’! He loved eating ghee with his food. He always joked about a llage by V.Balu© co r pe Pa gy er En particular community who were supposed to be known Flow of Peace for consuming so much ghee during their lifetime,

that their mortal remains, only needed a lit matchstick. There would be no need for firewood! But deep within, he was a spirit who knew he would only move on. Many who interacted with him took home this value of life in death. The only time I felt a whiff of this idea was when my music guru visited our home with his wife. It was the one and only time when I had insisted that Appa remained home to meet with them. It was only then, I learnt that Appa was very closely associated with my Guru’s grandfather, Gottuvaadya Narayana Iyengar, in Mysore. Appa spoke to us about the last live concert of Narayana Iyengar on AIR, which he had heard only hours before the musician had passed away. In fact, my guru also spoke about the same concert, which he had read about in a book written by Kuvempu’s granddaughter only a couple of days ago. Incidentally, I only wanted Appa to show my Guru, the set of collages, which he had made, based on Kuvempu’s poem ‘Anikethana’. Appa was so surprised, that he jokingly told my guru “Oh I am meeting you in your next birth” and we all had a good laugh. Tracing back to Sept. 13, 2007, we had a few visitors the following day, who were witness to the fatal event. One man’s report touched me. I don’t even know who he was. He said that while two young men helped Appa to sit by the pavement, after he was hit by the scooterist, Appa simply closed his eyes very quietly, silent as if with the will to heal the wound. There, I would like to say I believe, was the human spirit in prayer, knowing it was moving on! Om Shantih Shantih Shantihi ! Few people live life to be contented with what they do. Fewer still go home without regrets. Even as I would recall from memory, the soulful tune of a poem written by C. Rajagopalachari, and rendered by Appa’s good friend and favourite vocalist M.S.Subbulakshmi,

Kurai Ondrum Illai, Malai Moorthi KaNNa, Kurai Ondrum Illai KaNNa, Kurai Ondrum Illai Govinda (Roughly translated this means “I have No Regrets, Lord Govinda. Lord of the Hills, I have no regrets at all”…)

I can almost imagine Appa singing it, from where ever he is right now !


My FIL-osopher and Friend! By Reshma S. Balu

W

e had just returned from a month-long vacation in Bangalore and Sanjay was in New York when I got a call from a tearful Vivek and Rama saying that Sanjay will need to come to Bangalore again. We were all in shock and Spoorthi was so sad that Siddharth had lost his Grandfather when he was only three years old. Sanjay left for Bangalore from New York but for me it has never really sunk in that Balu Appa has truly left his perceivable form.

Global Peace Begin s with You Paper collage by V. Balu©

her With my FIL-osop

and Friend

V. Balu will always be my philosopher and friend whether he is in his body or out! I had the privilege of knowing him before becoming an official part of his family. He had a way with words that always made me think and a sense of humor to complement his sense of spirit. Every year he would wish our bodies a Happy Birthday, reminding us that we as the souls are truly ageless. We have had many spiritual discussions, God and his many opulences being one of them (I never knew God had so many!). We sometimes engaged in long and intense debates about several topics – an interesting one was centered around whether worldly events were destined to happen or was human kind responsible. If I would score a point on a debate, he would say to me, “If I say you are right, I will not be wrong!” I will miss those talks where he was patient, understanding, and conveyed the most profound ancient wisdom in the simplest of terms. On a more personal side, I recall when he taught me to speak Tamil, patiently correcting me and teaching me the correct pronunciation making me repeat the sentences 10 times. I cannot imagine there are too many instances of a father-in-law (FIL) teaching a daughter-in law a new language! On a funny note, when I was expecting Siddharth our second child, we requested some baby name books. He sent some books along with a letter that said, “Choose the name carefully for I know of a child that went on pushing her father simply because he named her Pushpa!!!”

When he visited us in New York, he lived like one of us students in the cramped basement apartment, travelling around in the Subway. I never heard him complain even once. His collage exhibition at India’s Permanent Mission to the United Nations was one of the highlights of his trip where we got to meet several dignitaries. Each of his subsequent visits to New York and Boston are filled with memories for us and the children. He taught the children the “Thriambakam Yajamahe” mantra (hymn) and even today the kids remember and recite it, especially when anyone gets hurt. The visit to Raj Bhavan to celebrate Independence Day with the Governor of the State, three weeks before he left us will forever be etched in my mind. I would never have seen the beautiful gardens and the lush open space but for Appa. We met several distinguished attendees and I remember one in particular, a father who came up to Appa and made sure to let him know that his daughter was a budding collage artist and she was very much inspired by him. Also, as always Balu Appa’s etiquette was on display. When Sanjay asked him if he wanted to have some coffee, Appa replied that he would have to let the Governor have his cup first! Given that he was a fantastic artist, it was no surprise that his attention to detail was striking. He personally helped me in my selection of a Pooja Mantap (Prayer pedestal) for our altar in the USA. Out of several choices, he picked the one with the best workmanship and he worked with the store management to have the Mantap polished and made completely presentable before being packaged for transportation. He was very happy to hear me describe how beautiful it looked when I performed Varalakshmi Pooja (worship) with the deity in the new Mantap. His wonderful children’s book, Peace Lollipops for Tiny Tots is enjoyed by many children including my own. His focus on themes and creations with meaning always inspired me. A particular favourite was his collage of one finger pointing with three fingers closed to show that if you point a finger at anyone, remember three of your own fingers are pointing at you! I still have a lot to learn in life from Appa...

45


Appa By Rama Vivek Myriad thoughts and emotions cross my mind when I think of my father-in-law Dr.V.Balu. Innumerable instances where he was a friend, situations where he was a father and circumstances where he was a guide to me. Today when I sit back and reflect upon our relationship, I realize that it was unique. Thanks to him, his support and encouragement, I am what I am today. The animated conversations that we used to have would span from the most basic and mundane day-to-day stuff to the most profound topics like life and death, wherein he used to speak about his tryst with life and the wide gamut of experiences that he had had in his life that made me realize early on that he was no ordinary man, but someone with remarkable abilities to adapt and move on with admirable ease. From the time I entered their house as a new bride, very diffident and lacking confidence in myself and my abilities, to the person I am today, I owe my growth as a person to him‌ It was he who reposed faith in me and egged me to realize my capabilities and dormant potential and study further seeing my interest in wanting to grasp and gain knowledge about everything. He would constantly tell me how it was not important for all to be to be creative in art forms or cultural events but learning and enjoying others creativity was also an art. He encouraged me to go ahead and study further and kept at me to register for a Phd program seeing how easily and effortlessly I focused my mind and successfully passed my MCom exams. His constant words of encouragement, his appreciation of my immense patience and bonding with my kids and his praise for me as a wife and mother still reverberate in my ears. A very observant and perceptive person, he would see, how my being a very sensitive person, unpleasant situations and circumstances would hurt me a lot. He once told me that it was foolishness on my part to let a thorn that has pricked me remain there and cry with pain all the time rather than removing it once and for all and getting rid of the pain. One of life’s lessons well learnt was his pragmatic approach to life and death which made me a mentally strong person and thanks to him I now have a very positive and broad approach to both topics.

46

Balu and his sons with their families

And last but not the least how can I forget the days when he would call me like a little child to share a silly PJ (slang for a silly joke) knowing that I would go into fits of laughter which made him in turn laugh out loud‌


Meteoric Rise

Elder Sister’s Viewpoint - How I See Balu

By V. Ananth

By Mrs. Savithri Ramadurai, Tiruchi

BALU my eldest brother stood for hard work and integrity. He used to tell me, in his own words “there is no toy called easy joy but man must strain and apply mind and body” these words motivated me to do my work in all walks of life so far.

I am still numb with grief at the sudden and unfortunate demise of my younger brother, Balu. However, even after he has departed, he has left behind footprints on the sands of time.

He not only advised us but followed in principle the basics of good life. His meteoric rise from a scientist in C.F.T.R.I. Mysore to Director of Coffee Board, to an international collage artist, showed his penchant for hard work and sincerity of purpose. This apart, he was a great humanitarian spreading cheer and peace all around - a champion for inner and world peace through his works of art. According to us he was a model gentleman, and he definitely “Left his foot prints on the sands of time”. The adage “Great men are not born they are made”, aptly suits Balu, a gem in our family.

My brother-in-law Mrs. Padmini Balaraman

Mrs. Padmini Balaraman is Shakuntala Balu’s sister and a retired Senior Banking Executive I was watching Swami Sukhabodananda on Gemini TV. He narrated a story of a devotee importing Italian glass for use in a temple but was greatly distressed to find that the glass had broken in transit! He went to Swami Sukhabodananda for advice. Swami Sukhabodananda consoled him by saying, “If Balu can use small strips of paper and create beautiful collages why can’t you do likewise with the glass pieces?” I knew my brother-in-law was famous but I had not realized the extent of the impact he was having until I heard this.

His peace collages and “One Man Global Peace Mission”, remind the world that peace can some day become a reality. Since Balu himself was a personification of peace, he must have forgiven the man who absconded after hitting him and causing him to quit this world. Balu and I grew up in Bangalore with our grandparents. Since he was born after two grand daughters, he was doted upon by my grandparents. They would give him each and everything he wanted. Taking great advantage of the pampering, he was always up to mischief. Often I had to face the brunt of his pranks. He took great pleasure in teasing me. Even while I was in school he would suddenly come to my class and pull me out after embarrassing me, by shouting out my name. He would demand attention to meet his personal needs. He would deliberately make me wait before leaving home for school or vice versa! I could not say anything to chide him as my grandparents would immediately take his side. On reaching home from school, he would eat even my share of goodies. I had to satisfy myself picking guavas from the garden and satiating my

V. Balu (carrying Ashok) seen with Padmini Balraman and his parents-in-law

Dr. Balu with his parents

hunger. No matter what he did, I was never angry with him or tired of his pranks. Probably that was my initial training in acquiring patience and endurance!! In his class, he was totally different from other students. When asked to write an answer in geography, instead of presenting the subject matter, he would compose a poem which would be distantly related to the question asked. The teacher, who was amazed at his originality, spared him from punishment. He revealed sparks of genius, even as a boy. After his retirement, he mastered the Ramayana, Mahabharata, Bhagavad Gita, Bible, Vedas, Upanishads, etc. This equipped him with the ability to quote appropriately in all his writings and bring out scholarly presentations. Thus his hard work, imaginative mind and creativity won him world laurels. He authored books, and created oil paintings and collages leaving behind a legacy. May his soul rest in peace. Om Shanthi, Shanthi Shanthi

Dr. V. Balu with his parents Venkatraman and Rajalakshmi Ammal (seated in the centre) and his brothers, sisters and sister Savithri’s family

47


ntary for the Films Division

s the filming of the docume ccan Herald (2008) describe

rview V. Balu’s inte

ed in man publish a R . .V C ir with S

the Deccan

Herald

An article published in De

48


Balu and Sir C.V. Raman Dr. V. Balu was a very close friend and admirer of Nobel Laureate and distinguished scientist Sir C.V. Raman. He wrote articles about Raman and helped create a film on Raman for the Films Division of India.

49


50


51


52


53


Tribute to V. Balu The Real Breaking News!

By Dhiraj Chawda Dhiraj Chawda is a renowned fashion, glamour and portrait photographer

By V. Balu “A brilliant artist and a spiritually enlightened soul who worked assiduously for world peace left us suddenly for his heavenly abode. I, like everyone else will always remember his dedicated efforts at promoting peace, especially through his literary work embellished by his artistic genius. The rich heritage he has left behind will continue to inspire future generations to emulate his principles and values.”

Chawda otograph by Dhiraj Ph k or w st la s hi V. Balu in front of

54

Breaking News! And it came to pass that the body called V.Balu had to have a bypass – the surgery technically called CABG( Cardiac Artery Bypass Graft.) The bypass, lasting 5 ½ hours, happened on May 22, at the Malar Hospitals in Chennai with Dr. Sunil Basavaraj, Chief Cardiac Surgeon, doing the cutting honours. How come? Earlier history? When in doubt find out! Earlier feelings of discomfort, heaviness of head and kindred symptoms in the said body has been dismissed as due to indigestion and gas formation. However, all of a sudden on May 7, there was a recurring thought: “When in doubt why not find out?” This lead to a series of tests like the Tread Mill Test, the Echo Cardiogram Test and the angiogram and the final cryptic judgment “Needs CABG” left no scope for appeal! (Body back to the Cardiac Surgeon Please!) Making Sure! Though the operation was a success, the State Bank of India seemed to have doubts! Or, was it just a coincidence that their letter arrived just a day after the operation! The message was terse: “Please call on us immediately for arranging your life certificate. Failing to do so, your pension payment may be withheld from this month!” Adjustments: I totally detached my mind from my body leaving it to the specialist to do whatever he wished to, by way of adjusting my body parts rather in the mode of a mechanic repairing an automobile! I can never forget an instance of a cardiac surgeon taking his car to a reputed mechanic for repairs. After completing the job, the mechanic asked, “Doctor! you know that I am good at my job like you. However, even when I do an excellent job, I don’t get to be paid as much as you do. What’s the reason?” The cardiac surgeon answered, “You repair in the workshop vehicles that are stationary! Why don’t you try repairing them with their engines running?” In a flash, the mechanic understood the difference!


V.Balu’s spiritual (and humorous) take on his Cardiac Bypass surgery. His philosophical bent of mind constantly powered his everyday life and ever-present positive attitude.

To sum up: I had no reaction when the CABG was proposed. Why react, when in my true identity as the self, the surgery would never touch me and would only bypass me! The concern of the doctors was not so much me, but rather my body. Therefore it amused me when a thought flashed across my mind of the busy cardiac surgeon doing a grand “live” collage with the heart and body parts of one recognized as a master of the collage art medium”! How it got round: Only my sons, close relatives and friends were in the know of the bypass surgery. However, an article in a prominent newspaper on peace activist Balu, titled “Real Colours of peace” appeared on the day of the operation and some persons who had rung up on reading it, got wind of the happening.

and intense meditation. Thanks to the grace of God, soothing, spiritual vibrations soon gave such a boost of cosmic energy to the body that it made it very easy to be continuously active. The real breaking news was this experience of the awesome power of God’s grace and inner peace—something that can indeed keep us all ever cool, peaceful and blissful. What are the similarities and differences between a car mechanic and a heart surgeon? Read the article for the answer.

Thereafter there were many enquires, besides get well messages like a striking one sent by my granddaughter Spoorthi in the USA. She had done the sketch of an elephant and written, “Hope you feel better and get strong like an elephant!” What they said: Some spoke of superior surgeries, like a person who underwent three bypass surgeries! A few wondered how a person, so disciplined, a perfect vegetarian, non-smoker, teetotaler and spiritually inclined, could become a candidate eligible for CABG! It was pointed out that these factors could have been the sole reason why it happened to the body of the person at the age of 77 and not at 45 or 50! Treatment: Treatment for the body consisted of inputs of a plethora of pills, capsules and antibiotics. Periodical visits to the cardiologist helped in a heart to heart gettogether and special advice on what not to eat! Regular exercises and walks were prescribed. Ultimately what helped most were factors like the attention lavished on me by my sons, my visits to temples, the Whitefield Sri Sathya Sai Baba Ashram, the Aurobindo Meditation Hall, participation in bhajans, prayers from the heart

arts” my body p h it w e g a e coll e did a liv H “ d le it t lu en ge by V.Ba a ll o C r e p Pa

55


Shakuntala Balu

Batik Artist • Journalist • Novelist • Interior Designer

an was the name of e” im T e tl it L oo o….T eekly”, the “Too Much to D rote for “Eve’s W w u al B la ta t. n u the corresponden article Mrs. Shak as w e sh h ic h w e for . women’s magazin fact of life for her a ch u m ry ve as This statement w

“In those days, I was worse than an alcoholic, being a workaholic with a capital W. Also I had been entrusted with a top assignment of leading a team of nutritionists and other experts, to win acceptance for a new food product and establish an industrial unit in the Kerala State. … She joined me in tour and the work, thereby becoming a full fledged member of the team. … At the end of it we were not being recognized as two individuals, but more as a husband and wife team.” As I was a journalist too, there were occasions when the same newspaper or magazine carried both our articles, sometimes on the same page too! We had a common interest in art and again got to be known as an art couple…In general we were only referred to as The Balus. Our togetherness was really tuned in to hard work, to achievement in different worldly spheres, without fuss or fanfare, and the pursuit of spirituality. There was beauty and peace in our relationship due to our being able to understand the simple truth that the main goal of human life is the soul. My betterhalf, who was my sole partner, continues even today as my silent, soul partner…” – V.Balu’s article in the book IMAGES

Balu and Shakuntala at their wedding

56


The husband and wife team

Balu and Shakuntala with Dr. Veerendra Patil, Chief Minister of Karnataka at V. Balu’s exhibition. At right Dr. Patil is seen listening to Dr. Svetoslav Roerich at the Tribute function for Shakuntala

With Saint Teresa

g Card UNICEF greetin with her batik

novel Her english

With her young family

An article showca sing her batiks

Cover from images, the book of Tributes on her. Also shown is the Preface by well-known writer Dr. V.K. Gokak

k on Her Tamil novels and her boo batik

The team broadcasting at All India Radio Showing a leather batik to Chief Minister of Karnataka Mr. Dharma Veera

57


58


The Balus and The Roerichs Dr. Balu and Shakuntala had a long and enduring friendship with Dr. Svetoslav Roerich (the celebrated Russian Artist and winner of India’s Padma Bhushan Award) and Mrs. Devika Rani Roerich (Veteran Film Star and “The First Lady of the Indian Screen”).

Mr. Roerich makes a point watched by Mrs. Roerich and Dr. Balu

Mr Roerich and Mrs. Devika Rani Roerich with the Balus at thier art Exhibition

Dr. Svetoslav Roerich described some of Mr. Balu’s works as having a ‘Classic Quality’

Mrs. and Mr. Roerich with function and book releas Dr.V Balu at the Tribute e for Mrs. Shakuntala Balu

59


V. Balu’s Humour -

My Jaunty Jalopy By V. Balu My Jaunty Jalopy Runs like a lullaby Sweet as a Jilebi My Jaunty Jalopy Paaam!

In my Jaunty Jalopy, will you come for a ride? I once asked a pretty lady and she never replied This made my Jaunty Jalopy sad It cried and cried till all the water in the radiator dried My Jaunty Jalopy… Paam! Born in ’68 Still going Strong Sometimes it never Starts Sometimes it never Stops My Jaunty Jalopy… Paam!

My Jaunty Jalopy Is a very dependable car In IT you can go very very far But you have to be a mechanic Sir! My Jaunty Jalopy… Paam... PI!

60


A Living Legend of Peace! By Bhavana Manoj Vichhivora

Bhavana is a writer and homemaker who worked closely with Dr. V. Balu. She has also started working recently with charcoal drawings

On one occasion, Mr. Balu called me to find out if I knew anyone who could translate the book in Gujarati and Marathi. Since I was comfortable with both the languages I asked him if I could give it a try. He instantly agreed, and that’s how I got a chance to work with him, to know him better and gradually a bond developed between us. He was a wonderful person - a “warm-hearted, soft, gentle, caring, simple and very down-to-earth”. The meaning of peace in my mind took a new shape and dimension after I met him. We were fortunate that all our efforts of translating and publishing the books materialised just

a few days before his journey to his heavenly abode. Whenever I used to call him and ask, “Sir, how are you?” he would reply, “I really don’t know because I have so much to do, that I have no time to think about myself.” He had a passion for work. Work was worship for him. He used to say, “My work is my meditation.” He had realised his inner self, so he used to call himself a soul, not a body. He has revealed this inner intelligence through his collages. He saw each human being as a soul, so he had a feeling of equanimity for one and all. He had love and compassion for everyone. He was very fond of children and he beautifully mingled with them, imbibing the message of peace into their tender minds. He was a living legend of peace! He had a very good sense of humour. I remember an instance when he had come home for lunch. He enjoyed the food, especially the basundi. He kept saying that he had overeaten. After two months I called him up from Munnar on my Marriage Anniversary, to take his blessings. I asked him what he was doing; “I’m still digesting the basundi!” was his spontaneous reply with a hearty laugh.

away leaving a treasure of peace for the coming generations. Last but not the least, I pay my tribute to him by carrying on his peace mission, and teaching his peace rhymes to children, whenever and wherever possible to the best of my capacity. May many more great men like Dr. V Balu be born on this earth for universal peace.

Tribute from

I didn’t know who Dr. V Balu was until I read about the release of his book, “Peace Lollipops for Tiny Tots” in the newspaper. Having read that it was a collection of peace rhymes, I got inquisitive to know more about him and his work. My son was then 6 years old and I felt that this would be something interesting to teach him. From the contact number given in The Hindu, I called him up and expressed my desire to see the book. He welcomed us home. One fine Sunday, my husband, son and I made it to his home. He was a very friendly person. He showed us his books and collages. I bought some books and a cassette. My son enjoyed listening to the rhymes and learnt them all in no time. But what inspired me deeply was his book, “Peace + Children = Peaceful Children”. It was a very simple book conveying a deep message. I liked the whole concept, grew fond of this book, and almost fell in love with the book. I wrote to him and was in touch with him over the phone.

nists o o t r a C

I don’t remember having returned without a small gift from him whenever we’ve met. Inspite of being such a great person, he never donned a superior attitude. He was so down-to-earth that once when he had come home, he went to the kitchen and prepared his own tea. Everyone including my mother-in-law was awed by this gesture of simplicity. My mother-in-law called him a saint. He was a homely person, and he made everyone feel at home in his company. He left a mark on everyone’s heart and mind. I have learnt a lot from him and do miss him a lot! He was so delighted to know that I taught his peace rhymes to the mentally challenged children at Shristi Special Academy, Bangalore. He was to meet them and spend some time with them, but God had his own plans. This dove of peace just flew

61


Sket ch b y

V. B alu

s aviya write Nalini Mal s on art in the mn weekly colu es (Bangalore im Financial T the Bangalore d an i) h el &D Mirror.

At these times of arrogant pace and selfish attempts to breast the tape the fastest, he was a voice of reason and meaning - always full of hope and laughter

62

Srinivasan Meenakshi shed pli is an accom m dancer and ya lore, Bharatanat ed in Banga as b t ec it Arch India


V. Balu - A gushing wind that none could hold back By A.S. Jayachandra

Shri Jayachandra is an Additional District and Sessions Judge, Delhi “Come hither, come hither ye merry bird, And tell me a story do, Why are you always happy and glad, And never a thought of sorrow have? The bird cooed softly and whispered low, The reason is very plain you know, I love the sunshine, the gay green trees, The whole of nature, the cool cool breeze” - Swami Rama Tirtha The everlasting thoughts of a splendidly happy person, the late Dr. V. BALU make me visualize this angelic bird. To all those who knew him, he always flows back into memory like a river flows into an ocean. A disciplined, perfect human being endowed with heavenly manna, he spread and stood for high ideals. He had reached the pinnacle in his pursuit of writing and art - all for the good of humanity. I recall those wonderful days while we reviewed, discussed, and collated the speeches of Sri Satya Sai Baba. While he wrote the columns for the English Dailies, his thoughts were put into clear words convincing, free and unhindered. In one go, he used to capture the quintessence of the messages while maintaining the required economy of words. An accomplished polyglot, he had an inquisitive mind that wanted to explore the different shades of meaning of any sound in any tongue. While dealing with his works for translations, I was made to work with the same zeal he evinced with the original. He demanded the use of the most apt word and sound amongst many synonyms and similar sounds. He inquired about each and every nuance of such a word before choosing the word for translation. I had the honour of translating his English work ‘Peace + Children = Peaceful Children’ into the Telugu language. With wide-ranging acquaintances from top politicians to the commoner, erudite scholars to the uneducated, famed journalists to amateurs, renowned artists to onlookers, he always searched for the best in the worst.

As a “one man commissionmission for global peace” he aimed at achieving and restoring, peace to the divided world through his works of art, writings, lectures and deeds. He was ever youthful, pleasant and chirpy despite the hectic schedules he maintained. The latent Vedantin (follower of tradition based on Selfrealization) he has steered clear of heaven or hell and I consider him “A JIWANMUKTA” (liberated soul or one who has achieved salvation). Yet the fragrance of Brotherhood he shared, the support he extended, the prophecies he made, makes us yearn to see him back in flesh and blood. I pray that BABA “re-lease” him by saying BA-BA (which means “Come, Come” in the Kannada language.)

Possessed by Possessions ! By Dr. V. Balu Possessions are the things one owns or possesses. Half the lifetime of a person is spent in acquiring various things and the other half in looking after the things accumulated. As a result, there is no time for anything else! Jesus Christ said that possession is a sin, since people often get possessed by their possessions! Absence of possessions confer freedom and peace to individuals. While it is good to have only a few possessions, merely abandoning them is not enough; even the longing for possessions must be given up. This becomes easy with the realization that everyone must depart from the world one day, leaving behind house, wealth, family, relations and everything else. How valuable are material possessions? I came across an interesting encounter of a Maharaja with a saint which provides the answer. The saint was floating on the Ganges river when he saw the Maharaja in his boat. He went near and got into the boat. He was welcomed by the Maharaja whose sword the saint appreciated. Thereupon, the Maharaja removed the sword from its sheath and gave it. The saint looked at it intently for a while, laughed and suddenly flung it into the river. The Maharaja felt greatly incensed. It was a special gift of inestimable value to him. He therefore shouted that there was no other alternative except the severest punishment for the saint! The saint remained unruffled. He smilingly put his right hand into the Ganges and when he took it out, there were two identical swords in his hand! Everyone was astonished! The saint asked the Maharaja to identify his sword. The Maharaja looked at the swords intently for a long time and gave up! Thereupon the saint said, “You cannot even identify that which is yours. Even so, how long will it be yours? When your life comes to an end, will you be able to take that sword along with you? Why did you have to exhibit so much anger over its loss?” Handing over one of the swords to the Maharaja, the saint threw the other one into the river. That moment the Maharaja realized the truth of the saint’s words and decided to give up attachment to material things. As the Bible says, “Take heed and beware of all covetousness; for a man’s life does not consist in the abundance of his possessions”. Indeed peace eludes the man who is possessed by his possessions. Human life is a short sojourn and everyone has to part with all possessions anyway. Even the sole primary possession of the body cannot be taken along during the final departure. Is it not the height of foolishness to hold on to possessions?

63


Thatha – My Inspiration By Aditya A Balu There has, in any great person’s life been a mentor, a tutor, or an inspiration. Alexander the Great had Aristotle – Chandragupta Maurya had Chanakya – Mozart and Beethoven had their fathers and I had my beloved Thatha (Grandfather). Though I had not spent enough time with him as a grandson should have with his grandfather, I have still acquired an immense amount of knowledge in life, peace, spirituality and mostly will-power. These are the things I learnt a lot about from him. As a child, when I sneezed in his presence, he would look at me, smile and say, “Tell the sneeze not to come,” thereby conveying the message that will-power can change a lot of things. Words have limits and I am tongue-tied by deep emotion, I cannot express the bond between us in any words or language. It was just deep. I believe that after the start of his onward journey, his spirit still lingers on. I hope he will continue to guide me to greater heights on the right path.

64


India has been the home of spiritual luminaries, whose very darshan (holy sight) has calmed many restless minds. Such personalities have a great presence and their lives and message are relevant for all times. …. Collages of Peace Messengers have been a part of my work for global peace through art. …… One may not be a follower of the holy personages presented here. Even so, one may be able to sense their subtle presence and savour the essence of their messages for the purification and illumination of the mind. - V. Balu in his Introduction to the book “Shanti Darshan”

65


Council of Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) After teaching at the Madras University for a few years, Balu moved to Mysore as the Senior Scientific Officer for the Council of Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) working at its constituent institute and third national laboratory, the CFTRI (Central Food Technological Research Institute).

At work at the CFTRI

66 A book written and illustrated by V. Balu for CFTRI

He was associated with the then Union Agricultural Minister, Dr. P. R. Deshmukh in the implementation of the “Meals for Millions� project which was meant to help malnutritioned children. Balu continued to leverage his writing and artistic skills to create effective communications for the CFTRI.


An unflinching odyssey By R. Seshadri

Mr. Seshadri is an eminent advertising professional, a long-time friend of Mr. Balu, and was Secretary of the Public Relations Society of India (Bangalore Chapter) during Mr. Balu‘s tenure

Public Relations Society of India (PRSI) V. Balu had lectured extensively on Public Relations, mass communications, marketing, salesmanship and creative communications to several important groups. He was the Chairman of the PRSI, Bangalore Chapter and invited several distinguished personalities to address the PRSI during his tenure.

I met a very strange man in his office. It was in the early ‘70s. An amazingly strange man, because, even in the hustle-bustle of his office, he looked like he was in a serious puzzle – that of unraveling the meaning of life… life’s goals… ‘where am I headed…what’s all this’…and so on. Incredibly, Balu’s must have been an astonishingly adventurously life – searching perennially for life’s meaning and purpose – sometimes in between endless cups of Coffee he offered to visitors, but more intensely among the riotous colours of his fascinating Collages for ‘Perpetual Peace’ (Sada Shanti)…and perhaps soulfully in the soothing truths of Sri Satya Sai Baba.

Sathish Dha ISRO (seate wan, Chairman, left) R. Sheshd second from adri in the le ft

I considered myself lucky to have known him, and to have moved with him closely for over two decades.

itor, Blitz RK Karanjia, Edom left) and fr nd co se (seated e left R. Sheshadri in th

Ms. Vimala Patil, Editor, Femina (seated second fro right) R. Sheshadrm i in the left

67


Dr. V. Balu was born in Guntur, Andhra Pradesh State on December 6, 1928 and died in a road accident on September 13, 2007 Education – Bachelor of Science (Honours), Master of Arts, Diploma in European Languages As an academic, V.Balu has been an assistant professor teaching Botany at two colleges in Tamil Nadu (St. Joseph’s College, Trichy and Presidency College, Madras) 1950-1952

68

V.Balu’s peace collages have been used for fund raising by the UN Art Guild, the U.N. Women’s Organization, the Canadian Freedom From Hunger Committee, the UNICEF, the Rotary Club and the Round Table organizations.

He was Senior Scientific Officer with the Council of Scientific and Industrial Research in New Delhi, Public Information Officer for the US “Meals for Millions” Foundation (until 1963) and Chairman of the Public Relations Society of India.


He had lectured extensively on mass communications, marketing, salesmanship and creative communications to several important groups. He helped organize a Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) seminar in Mysore.

“I participated in a cookery content making jams, jellies and marmalades. I was thrilled to win the first prize, topping 700 contestants.� – V.Balu

He had written over 2000 articles on various themes as well as books on spiritual aspects of life, and his illustrated stories for children have been published in the US.

69


The Power of Inner Peace and Antar Shanti Kala By Dr. V. Balu

Lakshmi - Goddess of Wealth

Self Portrait

ge Paper Colla

by Dr. V.Ba

lu ©

Paper Collage by Dr. V.Balu ©

70

Peace exists deep within as Anthar Shanti (Inner Peace) and my work as an inner peace activist has been through the medium of my Kala or art. The first letter of the word Antar Shanti Kala makes the term ASK and this ASK programme (which has caught the imagination of the young people) not only means the communication of Inner Peace through art, but also the art of awareness of Inner peace and its practice. Why do we need ASK (Anthara Shanti Kala)? Actually the ASK programme starts with this question and proceeds to also ask, What is Antar Shanti? Anthar Shanti is the Inner peace that is man’s natural state or sahaja sthithi. It is his birthright and the perfect peace that confers quietness to the body and mind, when in tune with it. As an unending luminous peace, Anthar Shanti helps one not to get trapped by the trauma and stresses of modern life. Individuals in tune with inner peace experience a gentle and soothing calm as well as a sense of wellbeing from deep within. This enables them to remain unfazed and positive in the face of difficulties and problems. Anthar Shanti, which flows from Atma shakti or soul power, is the greatest strength within man. But he has forgotten this, like the elephant which forgetting its real strength meekly submits to a mahout! Practising the presence of Anthar Shanti helps individuals to take things in their stride and enables experience of absolutely positive emotions despite stress. The next question to ask is, ‘How does one get the experience of inner peace and practise it?’ Practice of the presence of inner peace starts with observing silence of speech and thoughts at least for a few minutes every day. Such silence in solitude enables individuals to be suffused with the cool energy of inner peace. Also of great help is the constant affirmation to oneself that Absolute peace is my natural state and I will live peace and be peace always. Next, training the mind to be rooted in the moment or the present helps in a great way since problems of restlessness and lack of peace are: due to individuals filling their minds with regrets of the past and needless anxieties of

the future. The most important step in practicing the presence of inner peace however is through the practice of Breathing Awareness. When you learn to breathe properly you can easily calm yourself. You can relax any area of the body that is tense by concentrating on the prana or breath. You can sit or stand erect. The erect posture is of great value as it keeps the cerebrospinal axis, diaphragm and lungs in proper position and action. Do not be stiff; relax the neck, face, hands and the body. Place the palm of the right hand on the lower part of the abdomen, a few inches below the navel. With the back straight, quietly observe your breathing for a few minutes. Find out as you inhale what expands more – the chest or the belly? If it is the chest you are doing it all wrong like many people who are chest breathers. If you watch a baby breathe, you will notice the tiny belly go up and down, deep and slow. This is healthy abdominal breathing but with age people shift to shallow chest breathing! This is mainly because they do not know that the abdomen should expand when you breathe in to provide optimal oxygen for nourishing all the cells of the body. The lower abdomen, a few inches below the navel, is the vitality center where energy is developed and stored and is referred to as the original chi or energy by the Chinese. Relax the muscles in your abdomen and gradually breathe deeper and deeper with your stomach area for a few minutes. You will feel the energy rushing in with each breath. Since slow deep breathing takes away all stress, you will feel the joy that comes with each breath. Concentration on the breath leads to all other thoughts being pushed out of the mind in an effortless and natural manner. This is because the mind gets totally involved in the breath. And you become aware of a mind that is no longer thinking but breathing! Aware of the breathing mind, you go beyond the mind, since that which is aware of the mind has to be certainly beyond it! This awareness is the sheer serenity of the inner peace and to catch up with it is the goal of meditation. Breathing awareness helps to make the normal act of breathing in and breathing out enjoyable and confers the reward of Anthar Shanti. Be aware, Breathe! And be in peace. Om! Shanti! Shanti! Shanti.


Global Peace Mission Highlights

At India’s Permanent Mission to the United Nations (Right) and Unesco, Paris (Bottom)

V. Balu with the May or of Ojai in Californ ia, USA after receiving th e Key of the City

Peace Workshops

“My impression of the most affordable and sustainable journey to the 2005 Solar World Congress venue in Florida, USA.” This collage amused the audience at the Spirit and Sustainability Forum of the Congress - V. Balu quoted from his book Thoughts on Peace

71


More Global Peace Mission Highlights

Teaching kids about Peace

72


The focus of the Peace Mission was to stress the role of individuals in achieving Peace

The ‘Peace Walk’ with young adults of different countries, in ethnic dresses, in Bangalore

rs with d Bangladesh Ambassado bi. The Indian, Japanese an s exhibition in Abu Dha ge lla co e ac Pe s hi at lu Dr. Ba

The ABC of Peace is Always Be Calm

73


ink of to speak, act and th “There is great need when the present juncture at ly ar ul ic rt pa e, peac ars and tapulted into star w the world is being ca g with exhibition vibratin he T t. us ca lo ho ar nucle tifully. e theme of peace beau colours brings out th inking Balu and his deep th r. M to ns io at ul at Congr in this field.” er Chairman, Space Prof. U.R. Rao, Form e, Govt. of etary, Dept. of Spac Commission & Secr

India

“The theme of peace is very appropriate and has been ingeniously depicted through the various pap er collages.” J.N. Sapru, Chairman, ITC, Calcutta tions.” “Most delighted with these beautiful crea Crafts Activist Kamaladevi Chattopadhyaya, Arts &

ge work experiment in colla “A most interesting is e. When the world us ca e bl no a to d te dedica lity ent with the possibi threatened very mom for al cannot be taken iv rv su d an n io ct of extin ri Balu.” e contribution of Sh fin a is is th d, te an gr omic rmer Chairman, At M.R. Srinivasan, Fo n, Bombay Energy Commissio

“A most profound an d enriching human experience.” D. Callikan, Direct or General, Maurit ius Broadcasting Corpo ration, Mauritius . Never e work are fantastic th d an e em th e th e h “Bot art. Balu’s techniqu rb pe su ch su en be I before have t.” oud of this great artis is unique. We are pr , Ramakrishna Hegde er of Karnataka Former Chief Minist

“A very inspiring th eme, uniquely brou ght out….. aesthetically gratifying.” Sheila Dixit, Chief Minister of Delhi an d Former Union Min ister n of true d a fine representatio “Superb colours an peace.” missioner y, Former High Com Sir Edmund Hillar for New Zealand “If the White House and the Kremlin qu est for peace as Balu has, w e will have a differe nt world. An amazing effert. Deserves more post cards to be made of the collages. Congratulations!” R.M. Lala, Director , Sir Dorabji Tata Tr ust, Bombay

74

V.Balu’s original RunningTurning Horse oil painting. Some people thought the effect of the horse following the onlooker was a fluke - Balu proved them wrong by painting two more !

“Your message of pe ace jumps out at th e viewers. The World needs more Balus, le ss star wars.” Robert J (Bob) Pang burn, California, U.S.A.


Even as a top Executive of the staid Coffee Board, Mr. V. Balu was an unusual officer, full of creativity and exuding friendliness.

“ I am shocked and pained that my dear Balu, my affectionate and loving friend of 57 years passed away in a road accident. May his soul rest in peace. I am proud that I was a close friend of this great personality who worked for world peace through his immortal paintings and writings. I also remember your kind mother Shakuntala Balu who has earned good recognition for Batik creations. In every god’s creation, destiny is sometimes a jewel and sometimes cruel and it has no escape. So we have to wear the jewel and bear the cruel.” Y.M.N Murthy Founder President- Humour Club International A very dear friend and a kindred soul. Balu was unique in every respect. He carved a niche for himself in the world of art by his persistent interest in promoting peace through his paintings. I will miss him badly and so does the world of Art. V.N. Subba Rao Chairman, Karnataka Media Academy

When Smt. Rukmini Devi Arundale, the famed reviewer of the ancient art of Bharatnatyam and fervent crusader of reverence for all life, organized in Bangalore in 1968, the “Second National Vegetarian Congress”, I requested Mr. Balu to help us. Some of the worthiest persons in the country, devoted to this cause, were in attendance, including Satguru Shri Jagit Singhji, the Supreme Pontiff of the Namdhari Group of Sikhs (whose creed mandates vegetarianism and simplicity). Balu’s idea was that such a movement would not go far, if the youth was not associated with it. He conceived of the idea of a “Vegetarian Beauty Queen”. The contestants were to be only those who strictly adhered to vegetarianism and believed in “Ahimsa”. This feature added to the success of the Conference and the message could be conveyed to the youth, who were present in large numbers as a result of Balu’s creative planning.

“It is a great loss to the art world....”

After retirement, Balu transformed himself into an incredible, vibrant person, delving into many areas of high endeavour. As a Collage Artist, his work was unmatched in its beauty and virtuosity. Probably, this pain-staking medium of Art, requiring enormous patience, care and feeling, was a reflection of his inner adequacy and refinement. That the UNICEF, accepted his work for supporting the raising of Children’s Fund World-Wide, is a global tribute to this universal man. Later in life, Balu’s concern for universal peace in a World threatened by the Armageddon of nuclear weapons, became a passion. He wanted to reach out to the children, the inheritors of the future – such as it was going to be and inculcating in the young minds thoughts for peaceful co-existence. His work in this area, sparkling with simplicity and attractive to the impressionable minds, will endure for a long time to come. Balu practiced what he preached – quietly and without fuss. His spirituality was that of a man of refined sensitivity with an encompassing compassion for all creatures – great and small. When his wife Shakuntala, a Journalist of high ability in own right , died, it was a deeply moving spiritual experience for those who met him in the immediacy of the tragedy, to find him calm, serene and controlled. “Her time had come, she had to go” – this in a situation where those who called on him were unable to hold back their grief. Balu and Shakuntala were a couple bound together by mutual love and devotion of a kind and intensity, not often encountered in these times. Balu has enhanced the lives of all.

A. N. Jayaram Senior Advocate Former Additional Solicitor-General of India and Former Advocate General of Karnataka

75


V. Balu’s Humour Asked why he worked with paper pieces, Balu’s response used to be that as a former Government Servant, he naturally loves paperwork!

76


V. Balu’s Stories for Children

77


78


79


80


81


Paper Collage by Dr. V.Balu ©

At Work in the Coffee Board

Making Peace Through Art: The Genius of Balu

82

“We met over coffee, so to speak. I’d offered to write an article on Indian Coffee for an American Coffee magazine. Unknown to me, the magazine was also considering the publication of a series of collages on Indian coffee by “the undisputed master of the collage medium,” Venkatraman Balu. Our paths crossed. We talked by phone, he critiqued my article, and I quickly developed a deep fascination for the man and his work”. John E Burbidge Writer, Seattle, USA


Dr. V.Balu has a long stint with the Coffee Board. At various times he was the Board’s Chief Coffee Marketing Officer, Director of Promotion, a member of the Indian delegation to the ICO and had worked with other commodity organizations. He edited two technical journals – Food Science and Indian Coffee – and was for several years the Indian Correspondent for Coffee International. Was also the Indian Correspondent for F.O Licht and Co, Hamburg, Germany (a leading information specialist on agriculture and food policy, markets and trade) V.Balu ©

u’s Art rs featuring V. Bal ve co e in az ag M e Coffe

Bababudan - Oil Pa inting by

V. Balu©

e by Dr. Aroma of Coffee - Paper Collag

83


With Baba. Also seen is Dr. R.S. Padmanabhan, a close friend and eminent Rotarian Paper Collage by Dr. V. Balu Š

Oil Painting by Dr. V. Balu Š

With Sri Sathya Sai Baba. Also seen is Mr. V.K. Narasimhan eminent journalist and writer who was a close friend of Mr. V. Balu

84


Shirdi Sai Baba - Paper Collage by V. Balu Š

85


A Crusader for World Peace By R Seshadri

Mr. Seshadri is currently President of the Sai Spiritual Center. He was the former Principal of the Bharatiya Vidya Bhavan’s College of Comm. and News Editor for Deccan Herald V.Balu is indeed a name to reckon with. A reputed collage artist, writer, speaker, teacher and more than all, a fine and lovable human being. Dr. Balu distinguished himself in the senior positions he had held at the CFTRI of Mysore and Indian Coffee board of Bangalore for several years. He was contributing eminently readable articles for leading newspapers and Magazines. Mr. Seshadri seen with a picture of Bhagawan Seshadri Swamigal (Top) and with Sri Radhakrishna Swamiji (Bottom)

Dr. Balu took to Collage art seriously to spread the message of peace in different parts of the world, where he held exhibitions, which had very good response from the media and the people. It is noteworthy that he held one such exhibition in the United Nations also. He had authored some books meant for children to motivate them with right values. Dr. Balu was fortunate in finding an equally talented life partner in Smt. Shakuntala. She was a reputed Batik artist and had written a few books. She was also a correspondent of the “Eves Weekly” Magazine. It was rather unfortunate that she passed away several years ago. I had the good fortune to be a close friend of the couple for the past forty years.

were rishna Swamiji. These ak dh Ra i Sr by e ur at Balu Sketches of N by Swamiji to Dr. V. presented as a keepsake

Though not ritualistic minded, Balu always found time for spiritual pursuits. He had exquisitely beautiful images of great saints. I accompanied him and his son Vivek Balu to the great pilgrimage center of Thiruvanamalai, Tamil Nadu where he presented to the Ramana Ashram a beautiful collage of Sr. Ramana Maharishi. He had also donated one of Sri. Radhakrishna Swamiji to Sri. Sai Spiritual Center. He had been in close contact with Swamiji and was an ardent Sai devotee. Dr.Balu used to address students of the public relations group in Bharathi Vidya Bhavan’s college of Communications and Management at least once a year during my tenure as the Principal of the reputed institution.

Balu : The walking peace factory By S G Ajay

Ajay is Managing Partner, P M Offset Printers, Bangalore Talk peace and memory takes you back to that briskwalking slim figure with long wavy hair, striding towards you with purpose. Hands clasped behind his back, his serene countenance masked a sharp mind racing to find new ways to present his passion – global peace. As the printer of his works, I felt a part of his passion in those meetings to finalise on the design and production of his books. V. Balu, to me, was more than an artist and author. He was a walking, talking peace factory that churned out liberal dollops of the stuff that is so hard to come by in the world these days. Peace was part of his persona. And it came to him naturally. Balu had strong views on what was right and wrong. He stood by his value system firmly. He drew inspiration from the teachings of Bhagawan Sri Sathya Sai Baba, as an ardent devotee. Balu’s collages and books reflect his thoughts. ‘Peace lollipops for the tiny tots’, a collection of rhymes aimed at inculcating the value of peace at an early age, indicates the earnestness with which he went about his mission of ushering peace into this beleaguered world. Such efforts are the only hope and people like Balu are the healing touch for the traumatised billions across the globe. May his peace mission be fulfilled. May the walking peace factory continue to manufacture this scarce commodity and scatter it over humanity from his heavenly abode.

An extraordinary supreme soul V.Balu By Hanna Myer, Editor in Chief, India Reference Encyclopedia

86

It was my proud privilege to have been closely associated with an extraordinary supreme soul - V Balu - adorning simplicity to the core - accessible at all times, with traits of subtle humour, a benign smile, and friendly with all beings. Mr.Balu was articulate; he had a unique simple approach, unfettered by problems of any magnitude. His ready wit was available even in crucial times. His qualities of friendliness and open-heartedness endeared him to all. His efforts carry the message of peace to all parts of the world and will ensure him a unique place in the annals of history.


My Spiritual Connection By Gladys Menezes

Gladys Menezes is a counsellor based in Bangalore and long-time friend of Mr. Balu In our lives, we connect physically or emotionally or spiritually with others. The relationship that Balu uncle and I shared was that of a spiritual kind.. He was the first person who saw the spiritual side of me even before I realized it myself based on the way I admired one of his collages a long time ago in the 80’s. It was only in the last decade that I got closer to him. Every book written by him was presented to me with sincere and beautiful thoughts. I read his books in close detail and have assimilated them. It has taught me that to live in a peaceful world, it is up to me to make sure that I am peaceful, no matter how others behave. I declare peace in chaos or madness. I surround all difficult situations with peace and love. I send thoughts of peace to all troubled parts of the world, especially in these times of terror attacks. If I want to change the world, I have to change the way I look at it. So in short he truly taught me that I can chose a peaceful way of life as peace begins with me! It gave me a different perspective to life and greatly helped me in both my personal and professional life as a counsellor.

For me it was a great loss as I had never had any parting words with him. At the same time I remembered what had occurred when I was going through a personal adversity of my mother in grave illness. I remember vividly the day I almost broke down completely as the doctors lost hopes about her. I was inconsolable and precisely at that moment, uncle spoke to me spiritually through a letter that fell on my lap, which was all about death as a new beginning. This is a typical example of how we were connected spiritually! Many may not agree about people being connected spiritually, but for me I always shared a special bond with uncle that only we knew. I greatly miss his bodily presence but I know for sure that anytime I want him to speak to me, he will do so spiritually - that is the beauty of peacefully connecting spiritually with each other.

nd e wrote a H s. e i r ture” se s ers of Na Indian Expres d n o W “ e ’s h t lu r a B fo Mr. V. d these illustrate

I took it up as an act of gratitude to him to have as many of his workshops as possible in clinics and schools known to me. The workshop that was to be conducted by him on the Sunday at a clinic which I had arranged never happened, since Balu uncle breathed his last on the Thursday before that Sunday.

87


Martin Luther King, Jr. and Mahatma Gandhi This paper collage of Mahatma Gandhi and Martin Luther King, Jr., is one of 60 works of V. Balu in a series, many of which have been exhibited in India and abroad. Balu says he was inspired by Martin Luther King’s “peace formula” as spelled out in the following statement : “We will love our enemies. Christ showed us the way and Mahatma Gandhi showed us it could work.” Says Balu : “Both Gandhi and King asserted their faith in love as the sole potent weapon of social transformation.” The third Monday in January is celebrated as Martin Luther King Day in America. January 30, the day the Mahatma was assassinated, is observed as Martyrs Day, throughout India. – Extract from SPAN Magazine

88

“If you love peace then hate injustice, tyranny and greed but hate these things inside yourself not in another” “Even the end of peace justifies only honourable and peaceful means” – Mahatma Gandhi’s quotes from V.Balu’s Book, Shanti Darshan

Sri Rajmohan Gandhi (Grandson of Mahatma Gandhi) during a visit to the artists studio in Bangalore


Paper collage of Mahatma Gandhi by V. Balu. The Collage shows Gandhi’s favourite symbols of three monkeys teaching us to Speak No Evil, Hear No Evil and See No Evil.

Sojourn in South Africa

Excerpt from V.Balu’s book ‘Thoughts on Peace’

I felt ecstatic about my visit to S. Africa during March–April’97, since the father of the nation, Mahatma Gandhi had lived and worked there, for over two decades, perfecting his greatest gift to humanity–the pursuit and practice of ahimsa (non violence) through adherence to truth or satyagraha. Exhibitions of the peace collages and audiovisual presentations at the Cultural Centres of the Indian Consulates in Durban and Johannesburg, the Samaj Centre in Cape Town, the Natal Museum Auditorium in Pietermaritzburg, as well as at the University of Durban–Westville had overwhelming response. A frequently asked question was whether I had the chance to see Mahatma Gandhi in person. Of course, as a student, I had the privilege of attending the Mahatma’s

prayer meeting and also seeing him once at close quarters. I could have talked to him then, but such was his overpowering presence that I stood tongue-tied ! Even today, Gandhiji’s prayer meetings are fresh in my memory – the sheer spectacle of a gathering of lakhs of people all sitting in pin-drop silence, hanging on to every word the Mahatma spoke. Also the manner in which they followed the holy song ‘Raghupathi Raghava Raajaa Ram’ displayed unstinted adoration. It was a sight to watch Gandhiji lift up his hands to clap, now and then, and the entire audience respond with reverberating rhythm ! Raghupathi Raghava Rajaram was the favourite song of every Raghupathi, every Raghava, every Raja, every Ram and every Sita in the audience !

Fun Fokaedctthrough his prized possessionsrawphe nBotooicked As we lo Old Autog d Shakuntala’s ve sa d ha he at th dhi’s Signature! containing Gan

The Artist with a Paper Collage of Mahatma Gandhi

89


Peace and children Peace is a lollipop... very, very sweet.... “As an artist and creative communicator working for peace through my paper collage artworks, I found many children’s rhymes promoting concepts that are either negative or violent. Rhymes like Jack and Jill went up the hill end only with Jack falling down and breaking his crown with Jill tumbling after. Or consider the case of the three blind mice who ran up to the farmer’s wife only to have their tails cut with a carving knife! This made me work on creating positive peace rhymes illustrated by my colorful paper collages which were published as a book called “Peace Lollipops for Tiny Tots” for kids in the 3 to 5 age group, along with a cassette/CD of the rhymes. The theme rhyme runs as follows: Peace is a lollipop very, very sweet Let’s not waste it, Let’s all taste it To have a real treat... I have found that even tiny tots instinctively understand all about peace. When asked “What is peace?” a threeyear-old said “ It is sssssh (silence). A girl of six defined peace as “doing what you want and allowing others to do what they want to do.” Today tiny tots in some schools in India and other parts of the world that have my books are starting to sing these peace rhymes and a special favorite is my collage on the ABC of Peace which means Always Be Calm! I did not stop with the peace rhymes. Continuously interacting with children, I did a special book with my collages for kids in the 6 to15 age group titled “Peace + Children = Peaceful Children “to strengthen the foundations for building a culture of peace in society.”

90

Paper collages of Elephants


PEACE + CHILDREN = PEACEFUL CHILDREN

The ideals and dimensions of peace can be easily explained to children even from their early days in school. Gradually they can be made to think peace, act with peace and ultimately work for peace. This is important, since we have all heard of several cases of immense harm caused by some books, films, television shows and other forms of entertainment that have made (and continue to make) violence exciting and acceptable! This book is intended to encourage children to think about peace and live in peace by making it a habit. It is recommended that the book be read one chapter at a time and not all at once.

SHANTI SOPANA (Steps To Peace) Since human beings are the embodiment of absolute peace, a book on “Steps to Peace” may appear rather incongruous. The reality however is that humankind, divorced from its true identity, pursues worldly life and living with just the external personality of the bodymind-complex. The spirit or the soul power behind all creation and worldly activity is totally forgotten; as a consequence, the human being has no peace of mind, but only pieces! “Steps to Peace” is mainly about the elimination of negativities and hurdles that preclude the awareness of one’s true identity by individuals. for the inner scussion of the need di a to ted vo de is s The book presented with a e author’s writing is oper assessment Th e. ac pe ter ou d an e pr that we can make th significance so subtle, – The Hindu

“… Interesting and illuminating insights on attaining eternal shanty. The real bonus however of purchasing or giting Sadaa Shanti to someone is that you will meet an artist whose collages have the power to communicate the most esoteric ideas effortlessly. The creations wrought with bits of paper and a pair of scissors exude the stillness that draws you into an understanding of his message. An understanding that defies verbose intellectual interpretations” - The Asian Age the weightly away from taking up world, Balu Rather than shrink latile ching peace in this vo e with what can responsibility of prea us ca ough support for the effort. has drummed up en tic lis ua divid be called a selfless, in shan’, Messengers of Peace ar ‘Shanti D Balu is now out with l luminaries on peace complemented ua rit spi m you have with quotes fro en themselves… After has added m at gre e th of s ge by colla men, Balu ages of peace by great imbibed all the mess g surface. The idea of he author is to in ch one of a page with a reflect peace begins with ea rld wo at th e ar aw e make everyon an Express us. – The New Indi

V.Balu’s Books Srishti - Collages: The Fine Art of V Balu Published by ITC and Rupa & Co (with 80 colour plates) • Afterword: Dr Mulk Raj Anand. 1991 Shanti - Peace Collages of V. Balu: (with 57 collages) • With message from former President of India, Giani Zail Singh. 1992 Shanti - Shantikaar: V. Balu ki Shanti Collages (Hindi) (with 57 collages) • Foreword: Ram Nivas Mirdha, Chairman, Central Lalit Kala Academy, Delhi 1996 Sadaa Shanti (Perpetual Peace) By V.Balu (18 collages) • Published by the Bharatiya Vidya Bhavan Book University • Foreword: By Bharat Ratna C Subramaniam. 1999 Shanti Darshan - (Messengers of Peace) By V.Balu (34 collages) • Published by the Bharatiya Vidya Bhavan Book University • Foreword: By Shri S.Ramakrishnan. 2002 Shanti Sopana (Steps to Peace) By V.Balu (21 collages) • Published by the Bharatiya Vidya Bhavan Book University • Foreword by U.R.Ananthamurthy, Jnanpith awardee. 2003 Peace Lollipops for Tiny Tots By V.Balu • A book of original peace rhymes for the 2 – 5 age group, made available with Cassettes / CD, containing songs of the peace rhymes. 2003

Peace + Children = Peaceful Children.” By V.Balu • A text book on peace for the 6 to 15 age group. 1998. This book has been translated into Kannada, titled Shanti + Makkalu = Shanta Makkalu 3,000 copies of the book have been distributed to libraries of schools in the Karnataka State. 2002. Translated into Telugu, titled Shanti + Pillaloo = Shantiyutha Pillaloo, • 2000 copies of the book have been distributed to libraries of schools in Andhra Pradesh. 2005. An agreement has been entered into with the Foreign Minister of Sri Lanka to publish Peace + Children = Peaceful Children in Sinhalese and Tamil, for use in schools in Sri Lanka. Editions in Gujarati, Marathi and Hindi have also been completed Atma Shanti (Soulful peace) Collages and Collages Plus of V.Balu • on national poet Kuvempu’s “Aniketana” (Unhousing of the Soul) 2004 Shanti Chintana (Thoughts on Peace) By V.Balu Foreword by (Justice) M.N. Venkatachaliah, Former Chief Justice of India 2006 Other Books by Dr. V.Balu The Glory of Puttaparthi Divine Glory Day Dreams New Tails For Old

e of messengers of peac a pictorial portrayal is er, an eth sh tog ar t D pu ti ly an ul Sh autif down the ages… Be from across the globe a soothing effect on your mind. the book leaves a – The Times of Indi

Books about Dr.V.Balu Srishti: Collages – The Fine Art of V.Balu

If peace is simplicity then it has found ex pression in ‘Shanti Darshan’ Messengers Irrespective of religion of peace, the fourth book by V.Balu… , the artist has descr ibed the views of sai with regard to peace nts opposite their physica can be described as a l melody of colours. Ev likeness in what en formless ideals of religions like the holy number Bahai faith find expr 786 of Islam and the symbols of ession in the artist’s collages. – The Asian Age

“Sada Shanti is the culmination of V.Balu’s work as global peace activist and his interaction with individuals and groups. The book emphasizes inner peace and role of individuals in global peace. Sixteen pages of Balu’s colourful collages complement the meaningful text’. - The Times of India

91


More samples from V.Balu’s Wonders of Nature Series from the Indian Express which he wrote and illustrated.

92


k ed in the Friendly World of New Yor A sampling of V. Balu’s stories publish

y h Da grap t s r le Fi d Te n o an sed ost ent u P ges e rtm lo la or th epa C rs f D ve Co

93


alu st V. B i t r A ian by Ind e g a l l co paper A ” e “Peac

“King and Queen” - A paper collage by Indian Artist V. Balu

The “Three Stages of Peace” a paper collage by V. Balu was featured in the December 2007 edition of the Reader’s Digest after his demise

94


Dr. V. Balu’s Collages and Paintings were featured on the covers of numerous leading publications, a few of them from the “Reader’s Digest” are reproduced here

2 lu, 199 a B . V t Artis Indian y b e g olla paper c A ” n “Ocea

“Lotus” - A paper

collage by In dian

Artist V. Balu , 1995

95


Mastery over the Medium By Ram Nivas Mirdha

Ram Nivas Mirdha was the Chairman of the Lalit Kala Academy, Former Cabinet Minister and currently Chairman of the Sangeet Natak Academy

If you eat lots of vegetables, you will be strong like a bull. Guess what would be a good nickname for you then? Find the answer in the collage.

Paper collage by V.Balu©

96

I have been familiar with Sri V Balu as an artist for a very long time. In his book titled ’Srishti’ there is a collection of 80 colourful pictures of his collages, which stand proof to his adeptness in his art of collage. Having worked for the last 35 years with the medium of collage, Sri V Balu has gained great mastery over the medium. In my opinion, in our country, he may be placed first among artists who work with this medium. Sri Balu’s collage of Mahatma Gandhi (whose 125th birth anniversary is being celebrated ) adorns a wall in the office of the Secretary General of the United Nations Organization, which is awsome.Another collage creation of his, ‘Aspirations of Peace’ was printed on the cover page of ‘The UNESCO Courier’ magazine. Another collage which was printed in the January, 1995 issue of ’SPAN’, a publication of The American Center in New Delhi, featured Mahatma Gandhi and Martin Luther King Jr. They were both luminous epitomes of peace and tolerence. Looking at the colourful creations, dedicated to the concept of peace, in the book ‘Shanti’, the mind is effortlessly transported towards the idea of peace.The 63 compositions that are published in the book brings to awareness the secrets of peace, its importance, the messages of the messengers of peace and the great quality of peace present in the every mind. Sri Balu receives not just mine but the goodwill of everyone since he has made it his mission to spread the word of peace, which is the need of the hour. I have experienced great peace in writing the preface to this text and collectable Hindi version of the book ’Shanti’ which was originally brought out in English. That it has been translated to Hindi by the renowned literatuer Dr Rana which has given added value to the contents of this book. Om Shanti! ! !


Master of the Collage Art Medium By S. Ramakrishnan

S. Ramakrishnan was the Director General of the Bharatiya Vidya Bhavan A former senior executive of the Government of India, Shri V. Balu is well known artist, writer and global peace activist. Recognized as a master of the collage art medium, he is the recipient of several awards. His art has been used by the UNICEF and other Agencies for greeting cards and calendars, for covers of the “UNESCO Courier” and the “Reader’s Digest”, besides for raising funds for social causes by the U.N.Art Guild, the U.N. Women’s Organizations and others. Since 1982, Shri V. Balu has been projecting the many dimensions of peace through his art which to quote him “helps not only in communication, but also in communion”. Dedicating his life to the cause of peace education, Shri Balu has been round the world for the past two decades, giving his presentations on Inner Peace and the role of individuals. The international media has aptly described him as a “One man Global Peace Mission through Art”. One of the most popular sections at his peace exhibitions in India and abroad has been the Messengers of peace, with their messages - the subject of this publication. Peace is within all individuals and those who find it are the people of self realization. Saints and Divine Masters are great spiritual personalities of such self realization. Their darshan through the collages and their messages are bound to provide sat sangh and shanti to the readers, which loving service the authour has to be thanked. The Bhavan has published in 1999, Shri Balu’s earlier work Sadaa Shanti under Bhavan’s Book University Series. The book was well received by the public. This Shanti Darshan too is a worthy addition to our Book University Series, solely devoted to fostering ethical and spiritual values.

S.Ramakrishnan Director General Bharatiya Vidya Bhavan

97


Dr. V. Balu wrote a regular column for the “INDIA MONITOR” published in the United States and Canada. This was a spiritual series of articles titled “Reflections”. A few of these articles are reproduced here.

98

Peace in Nature-I

Balu©

Paper collage by V.


99


One-man Brigade for Peace

V.Balu is a heart-changer By U.R.Ananthamurthy From his Foreword for the book, ‘Shanti Sopana’. U.R.Ananthamurthy is an eminent Kannada writer and novelist. He is a winner of India’s Padma Bhushan, Jnanpith Award and Karnataka State’s Rajyotsava Award

People with a passion for change are roughly of two kinds: they are either heart-changers or System-changers. While Mahatma Gandhi is pre-eminently a heartchanger, Karl Marx is a system-changer. Both aim at the change of whole society, but their paths are different. For Marx the human consciousness is not autonomous; it is conditioned by the socio-economic forces, and these forces have to be changed first for man to bloom to his ideal potential. For Mahatma Gandhi, on the other hand, no change is real or even possible unless the individual undergoes a change of heart. The socio-historical impediments to such a change have to be overcome from within first. Only thereafter, or in the process of inner change, the society too changes. In the present impasse brought about by so much unresolved hatred and violence, one feels Mahatma Gandhi is most relevant. What we hate and dread is not just out there for us to blame others. It may be lurking inside us too.

Shri V.Balu is a heart-changer. But he is no dreamy idealist. He is an idealist for peace. We are struck by the immediacy and practicality of the twenty two steps he advocates(and also meditates on) in this Shanti Sopana. The book is appropriately titled, they are ‘Steps to Peace’. These steps take you to the serene waters of the lake of peace. Each step is thought out precisely, and most compassionately. As you read through the book no steps seems unattainable to the spiritual giant. They are steps that every house-holder can take in everyday life. Here and Now. Balu does not dwell on the past which results in useless shame and guilt; nor on the future which results in grandiose escapist fantasies. He asks us to deal with what is in front of us, and what is within all of us. What is attractive about this book are the simple and unforgettable anecdotes and stories that one finds on almost every page. This is how Ramakrishna Paramahamsa taught through parables. And this is the typical style of heartchangers. They do not dwell too much on abstract ideas as system-changers do. Even the writer here is under the scrutiny of the listener, for the writer is himself trying to look into the core of his own experience. There is no preaching here, but only sharing and listening. The book is in two parts: first, the steps to peace and then questions and answers. What makes the book an experience is its artwork. Sri V. Balu is a master of collages. In his foreword to an earlier book of Sr. Balu, Sri. C Subramanian has remarked on the appropriateness of collage art to Balu’s ideas. The art demonstrates how to create harmony out of chaos. Balu’s ideas become alive here, as if they are lived by the artist himself. You not only read what the author has to say but you see the ideals embodied. This book is another important addition to the Bhavan’s Book University.

100

Peace in Nature-II

Balu©

Paper collage by V.

By C.Subramaniam From his Foreword for the book, ‘Sadaa Shanti’. C.Subramaniam was the recipient of the Bharat Ratna, the highest civilian Award of India. He was also former Union Finance Minister and President of Bharatiya Vidya Bhavan

V.Balu is a multifaceted personality. From being a Senior Government Executive, a Science Writer, editor of technical magazines and author of quite a few books particularly dealing with spiritual personalities, during the last seventeen years of his life, he has become a one-man brigade for peace, in its comprehensive sense. Collage Art is the means Balu has adopted to propagate his ideas on peace. Collage Art itself demonstrates how to create harmony out of chaos - useless pieces of paper, rags etc., cut and properly arranged become a wonderful piece of art. Balu projects his ideas on peace through this unique Art. Om Shanti ! Shanti ! Shanti ! - it is with these words all the Vedic Prayers end. Shanti is a more comprehensive word than the English word Peace. Shanti has a spiritual content. It expresses the state of an ideal mind, not just happiness but more than that, a state of Bliss. Where do you seek this bliss? It is not something you obtain through material benefits. It is within you. It is natural for the musk deer to emit the sweet smell but the deer goes about wandering to find the source of the smell. Balu is bringing out a book under the title “Sadaa Shanti” - Perpetual Peace. I have gone through the script with great interest. It begins with a “Peace Prayer” and ends with a “Peace Confession”, finally discovering that “I am Peace.” “Aham Brahmasmi”. This is the message to humanity. “Sadaa Shanti” is a worthy addition to the Bhavan’s celebrated Book University Series solely devoted to fostering ethical and spiritual values.


Peaceful Images  

Biography of V Balu, Collage Artist, Peace Activist

Read more
Read more
Similar to
Popular now
Just for you