28102023-LSTL-01.qxd 10/27/2023 10:25 PM Page 1 c m y b PRIYANKA REACHES MUMBAI Actress Priyanka Chopra Jonas on Friday touched down in Mumbai to attend the opening night of the Jio MAMI Film Festival 2023. The festival returns with an impressive list of some of the top films from around the world with over 250 films spread over 10 days. TRIBUNE Life A tribute Arjun Rampal on Friday shared a touching video montage dedicated to his mother, Gwen Rampal. The touching post marked her fifth death anniversary. LUDHIANA | SATURDAY | 28 OCTOBER 2023 When renowned historian BN Goswamy releases his book, The Indian Cat, in Chandigarh to a packed auditorium, the only thing one can gather is pearls of wisdom CATching the eye A purr-fect session! At the packed auditorium of the Government Museum and Art Gallery, Sector 10, cat-lovers are overwhelmingly outnumbered by cat-haters, but that is not a deterrent for the session to be thoroughly enjoyable. Not when renowned art historian Prof BN Goswamy is at the helm of things! Not a cat-lover by his own admission, Goswamy talks about the cat, which according to him is an abstraction, just an idea for most people rather than the real thing. And with a 55 minute-long session, he contexualises its existence - in stories, in paintings, poetry and proverbs. This 55-minute -long session also sums up his two years of research on this subject, which finally takes the shape of the book, The Indian Cat. His 27th! It has stories from the Jataka Tales, Panchtantra, Anwari-Suhayli and others. It also features a series of paintings (58 to be precise) from various artistic traditions, depicting the cat in various moods, and a selection of poetry by renowned poets like Mir Taqi Mir, Allama Muhammad Iqbal and Jibanananda Das among others. Feline love PHOTOS: NITIN MITTAL Parbina Rashid But first thing first. How did a cat-hater get interested in the species enough to come out with a volume? He fills in in-between showing the slides of all his cat-centric paintings, “I had visited a dear friend Ursula Dohrn in Zurich many years ago. She loved cats, and had many. They were all over the place—sitting on the sofa, on her shoulder, generally lurking around, demanding attention. When I complained to her about distractions they caused, Ursula told me ‘ You are an art historian, Brijinder, are you not?’ When I replied in affirmative, she told me, ‘Then, you should love cats: all art c m y b historians do. Annemarie Schimmel does: she has in fact even written more than one book on them. Stella Kramrisch is a catlover too. The next day a book was delivered to my apartment. Annemarie Schimmel’s work – Die Orientalische Katze.” Though Ursula’s comments stirred his feelings, it was great Sanskrit scholar, C. Sivaramamurti, who introduced him to the term marjara-nyaya. Marjara in Sanskrit means cats. Marjara-nyaya refers to the behaviour of a kitten, who submits itself to its mother as it is picked up by the scruff of the neck. In Vaishnava bhakti, when a devotee approaches God in utter surrender, he or she follows marjara-nyaya. Once the concept took roots in his mind, his involvement with cats started getting stronger in a more meaningful way. No, Goswamy still does not have any pet cat. He is happy to deal with the idea of cats rather than the cats. He put his focus on Indian cats, though his search for the history of domestication of cats took him back to the 4000 BC Egypt. History revisited According to Goswamy, in India cat found a place in Buddhist literature. But most Jataka stories are unkind to the species. Goswamy’s painting section, both in the book and the slide show, however, makes it up to them. The Mughal miniatures give cats a prominent place. Goswamy highlights a few paintings, which are essentially improvised versions of European paintings, in which cats become the signature stamp. There is no clear reason behind the Mughal painters’ insertion of cats into the European milieu, except for that cats are revered in Islam. Prophet Hazrat Muhammad loved cats and he had a pet cat named Muezza. It seems Goswamy’s book is righting the wrong done to the cats in ways more than one. He has dedicated one complete section to the cats to talk their mind about the proverbs and common sayings based on them. “If I were you, I would start reading the book from the last chapter.” He lets the cat out of the bag playfully, before ending the purr-fect session!
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