Portrait of Mahapandit Rahul Sankrityayan

Rahul Sankrityayan (1889-1963) was one of the most widely travelled scholars of India, spending forty five years of his life away from home. He became a Buddhist monk and eventually took up Marxist Socialism. Sankrityayan was also an Indian nationalist, having been arrested and jailed for three years for creating anti-colonial writings and speeches. Rahul Sankrityayan was given the title of ‘Mahapandit’ (great scholar) and he was both polymath as well as a polyglot. He was a linguist and well-versed in several languages including Sanskrit, Pali, Hindi, Persian, Urdu, Bhojpuri, Arabic, Tamil, Kannada, Tibetan, Sinhalese, French and Russian. He was also an Indiologist, a Marxist theoretician, historian and creative writer. He started writing in his twenties and had written around 150 books and dissertations covering a variety of subjects, including sociology, history, philosophy, Buddhism, Tibetology, lexicology, grammar, textual editing, folklore, science, drama and politics, many of which remained unpublished. He had translated Majjhima Nikaya from Prakrit to Hindi.One of his most famous books in Hindi is named Volga Se Ganga (From Volga to Ganga) is an attempt to present a fictional account of migrations of Aryans from the regions around the Volga river to the steppes of the Eurasia; then their movements across the Hindukush and the sub-Himalayan regions; subsequently their spread to the Indo-Gengetic planes of the subcontinent of India. The book is not only remarkable for its historical elements interwoven with fiction, but also in proving the author to be the most outspoken while conveying the harsh and pinching realities of the Indian history and culture.(Source: Wikipedia)

“Volga Se Ganga” played a major role in inspiring me to paint the portrait of this great master, who deserves to be valued much more than he is, by his countrymen and the world. While portraying him in this canvas, I have tried to show him as an authority on Indian culture and history. His portrait is no less a portrait of India itself !

– Kanwal Dhaliwal