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Sanjay Godbole

Sanjay Godbole
Sanjay Godbole

SANJAY GODBOLE

An Art Collector Par Excellence

By Pradeep Koul Khodbulli

Sanjay GodboleThere is a connection between Maharashtra and Kashmir. Centuries ago one branch of Brahmi called North Western one coursed Gujarat went ahead and finally reached Kashmir. It became there Sharda or Sidhmatrika or Sidhdham (of Al-Biruni). In the eleventh century many Hindus lived in Afghanistan. A majority of them were Chitpawan Brahmins. These Chitpavans have Kaushik Gotra. When Hindu Shahi dynasty fell to the armies of Mahmud Ghazni these Brahmins fled and sought refuge in Maharashtra.

The art collector Sanjay Godbole is one such Chitpavan Brahmin. By physical standards they are not on the leaver side. They have big eyes, fair complexion. It tells us about their once snowy address. Here I shall not dwell upon the anthropology or anything of that sort. For such a thing is never my intention here. But reader ought to now that Godbole has a Kashmirian connection too. He is one of the very few intellectuals in the country who have interest in Kashmiri ethos and culture. Sanjay is popular among those who want to know about Kashmir.

After Exodus Pandits were scattered in different parts of the country, Maharashtra and especially its cultural capital Pune too received hundreds of Pandit families. Sanjay did for them when others faltered. He provided them with an intellectual forum. But these intentions of his have not met with the requisite response. I think it is primarily because in those times the community was concerned with sheer survival. When things such as survival is the concern then such things like culture and tradition take the backstage. But now people are rediscovering anew their roots and here the jovial, portly fellow Sanjay is always ready to help them.

Sanjay lives in the centre of the city of Pune, which is the cultural capital of Maharashtra. His home is on the main street of Budhwarpeeth opposite CPO. To me the house seems to be like a 'Time Machine' that the famous author HG Wells wrote about. But this one does not fly. All machines have not flown. Davinci's famous one failed to fly. But Godbole's Time Machine is of different nature. The house is a store house of past. It seems as if past has crystalised on this Pune street and refuses to take off. His home is big, old and gloomy. But still it has many tales to tell. The staircase, doors, windows, shelves, ailing, (wooden or otherwise) watertanks, pipe fittings, and other assortments are all antique. The glass windows are delicate and worth seeing. The whole house reminds us of the blend of traditional and later Raj styles.

He belongs to a leading publishing house of Pune. His father and grandfather were leading publishers of the city. But Sanjay did not evince any keen interest in publishing. He went on his own way to become an art collector against the wishes of his father. Despite heavy odds and no home support he pursued his passion. He lives alone with his sister. Recently, he lost his mother who was a great support to him. He is young but still bachelor.

Sanjay started collecting artifacts twenty five years ago. His home represents a veritable Time Machine. I do not know if HG Wells would have got one built how deep into past he must have travelled. But Sanjay made the travel 80 million years into the past.

He put on my both hands a big round stone like fossile. And it was the egg of an Indian dinosaur found in Gujarat. The suffix of the dinosaur is 'normadayansis' named after Narmada river where these fossils have been found. From 80 million years to the later Raj (British Rule) we can find many curious articles of antiquity. His collection is perhaps second largest private collection in Maharashtra after Kelkar museum.

Sanjay has antiques belonging to all great dynasties that ruled the country, Mauryas, Sungas, Satkarni Kings, Cholas, Guptas, Sultans, Mughals, Pathans, Marathas and British all find place in his collection. Godbole is adept in seating past with comfort and care. He has a good collection of swords and guns which are priceless. Kashmiri Samavar, Sharda and Devnagri, Urdu and Persian manuscripts, brassware, paintings etc. form a bulk of his collection. His artefacts about Indus Valley civilization are important. He has a huge collection of newspapers, photographs and even the name plate of a Viceroy. Persian scrolls, Farmans, etc. also make his collection lively. A meticulous art collector he is well versed in Kashmir history and culture.

There are few who can rival his knowledge about Indian history and culture. He is an accomplished Urdu poet and is considered an important poet in Urdu. His poetry has been published in India, Pakistan, Iran and Turkey.

Sanjay bemoans about the lack of interest among the youth in preserving traditions and culture. People like Sanjay Godbole need our all out support and appreciation. There are few men in the country who are alike him and so he is very rare indeed. His efforts nonetheless shall persist and inspire newer generations.

*The writer has authored a monograph on Kshemendra and is a keen researcher on Kashmir's History and Culture.

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