Renu Pande has been taking Dynaneshwari paintings across Maharashtra to spread the teachings amongst students.
We all have eyes,we can all see,but do we have vision?’ This is the line with which painter and art director Renu Pande chooses to introduce her works. Art director Pande,has been making paintings based on the teachings of the Dynaneshwari,and taking the exhibition to schools and colleges across the state for the last five years. Her main motto is to spread the teachings of Sant Dynaneshwar amongst school and college goers. While her real name is Renu Pande,she is known as Atmaja,a name given by her guru.
I graduated with a degree in arts in and began working in the Marathi film industry as an art director twelve years back. The work was good but I was itching to do more. You know that feeling of wanting to give back to the society through your art form? It was eating me as I wasn’t able to find a way to vent it out, she says. In 2004,she happened to meet Sanjay Godbole,a senior cameraman,who has been in the industry for over 25 years on the sets of Sakha Pandurang. He was also associated with Shree Sant Sevak Sangh,which works towards popularising the teachings of the saints amongst school children. Godbole,she says,gave her the way to channelise her art towards the cause.
Recalling her meeting with Godbole,she says,I noticed that in between shots and during the set designing,he would sit reading a book – Dynaneshwari. He would sit for hours reading and at times explaining the concept of the passages to me. I always felt that it was a religious ,meant only to be removed during the puja but the truth was it was a way of life. Why read it towards the fag end of life; it can be read at any age as it teaches us how to live life.
While Shree Sant Sevak Sangh worked towards popularising the teachings,she felt the need for improving the manner in which the organisation reached out to people. On Godbole’s suggestion,she began exploring paintings as a medium. I had not painted landscapes and portraits for almost a year and a half. I began reading the book and painted out passages from it. Thats when I decided to hold exhibitions of these paintings, she adds.
The first exhibition was held at the Fergusson College in 2008. The popularity of the day-long exhibition saw her stretch the day-long exhibition to four days. Since then there has been no turning back. She has been showcasing the paintings across colleges and schools in Nashik,Nagar,Pune,Mumbai and the interiors of Maharashtra. When the children come to see the paintings,we tell them about the significance of the paintings and the teachings of Sant Dynaneshwar. Although the students are not interested in coming for discourses and kirtans,the paintings not only interest them but also encourage them to seek out more, she says with a smile.