Gokal Dembi, a
master painter from Rainawari (Srinagar) has rendered yeomen service to
Kashmir's culture by painting Siva Sutras and Vakhs of Lal Ded. The rise of
militarised Islamic fundamentalism forced Dembi and his community out from
their homeland. As an anguished Kashmiri he gave vent to the agonies of losing
homeland in his artistic expressions. In his quest to build cultural anchors
to counter religious fundamentalism, now sweeping the Valley, Gokal Dembi
conceived a project 'Rishi Tradition of Kashmir' in early 2005. He took a
refreshed study of the poetry of Lal Ded and Nund Rishi in general and the
aspects of visual imagery in Kashmiri mysticism in particular. At Prof.
Zaffar's instance Dembi in his project--painting of Rishi Tradition started
with visual representation of Siva Sutras and Vakhs of Lal Ded as these happen
to be one of the basic texts of Kashmiri Rishi Tradition. Govt. of India
awarded him a Senior Fellowship to facilitate his work in this direction.