Gadai, A Budding Artist
Gadadhar’s progress at school was not bad. Within a short time he could read and write in a simple way. But his aversion to arithmetic continued. On the other hand, he became more and more adroit in imitating others and showed his originality in various ways. Seeing the village potters making images of gods and goddesses, he began to visit them, and learning their art, started practising it at home. It became one of his hobbies. Similarly he socialised with those who painted pictures and started painting.
Once Gadai found a village artist painting a Durga image. After having a close look at it, he felt that the eyes of a goddess should not be drawn that way. He took the brush from the artist and painted the eyes of the goddess so well that the image had a divine touch.
Gadadhar with his Drama Troupe
But from now on the boy’s aversion for school increased. He organised a drama company with his young friends. The stage was set in the mango orchard. The themes were selected from the stories of the Ramayana and the Mahabharatha. Gadadhar knew by heart almost all the roles, having heard them from professional actors. His favourite theme was the Vrindavan episode of Krishna’s life, depicting those equiste love-stories of Krishna and the milk maids and the cowherd boys. Gadadhar would play parts of Radha or Krishna and would often lose himself in the character he was portraying.
At times the whole mango-grove would ring with the loud sankirtanas which the boys sang in chorus. Thus, deeply absorbed in these divine sports, Gadadhar lost all taste for school education and engaged himself more in the study of the epics, Puranas, and other sacred books, which gave him a spiritual stimulus. But this other-worldly attitude of the boy caused a great deal of anxiety to his elder brothers.
Farewell to Kamarpukur
Soon another misfortune overtook the family. Ramkumar's wife died, leaving an infant son behind to be taken care of by the aged grandmother. At this time Ramkumar’s income also unexpectedly declined, and being forced into debt, he went to Kolkata and opened a Tol (school for the study of Sanskrit) at Jhamapukur to earn some money to meet the financial needs of the family. The management of the house naturally fell on Rameshwar. But as before, Gadadhar was unmindful of his school studies. He spent a great portion of his time worshipping Raghuvir or in reading passages from the holy books, and in helping his aged mother in her domestic duties. As days rolled on, his aversion to academic education became more pronounced. And soon the idea dawned on him that he was destined to fulfil some great mission in life, though he did not know what. The realisation of God was to him the only purpose worthy of consideration. Much as he would have liked to have taken up the begging bowl and renounce everything for the Lord’s sake, the thought of the plight of his unprovided mother and brothers made him forgo his desire. In the struggle between the two ideas he was powerless to decide, and could do nothing but resign himself to the guidance of Raghuvir, fully believing that He would show him the way out of this distressing situation.
Meanwhile, Ramkumar began to experience great difficulty in managing alone all his duties in Kolkata. On one of his visits to Kamarpukur he noticed Gadadhar’s peculiar indifference towards school, and when he learned that Gadadhar had given up his friends and playmates, he decided to take him to the city, where he might supervise Gadadhar’s studies and have him help in his works. Gadadhar readily agreed to this proposal, and on an auspicious day set out for Kolkata with the blessings of Raghuvir and his mother.
Illustrations by Smt. Hema Satagopan
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