Nikhil Sarkar popularly known, as ‘Sree Panth’ never visited KUMARS

Nikhil Sarkar popularly known as ‘Sree Panth’ never came to KUMARS. Yet he knew the person and the library like the back of his hand. He was doing a book on Wajid Ali Shah. He needed extensive materials for research. He knew exactly where to get and what to get. R.P.Gupta, who was near to Kumar, was also a very close to Nikhil Sarkar. They talked endlessly over phone on books. RP kept Sarkar informed of the books in Kumar’s library. However it is strange that though Kumars was only a few furlongs from his office, he never visited it.

Nikhil Sarkar was the Associate Editor of the famous Bengali daily Anadabazar Patrika, edited by Aveek Sarkar. He was in charge of the Editorial Page and ran a column on Calcutta every Monday, Calcutta Notebook (Kalkatar Karcha). Much of the discussion that Sarkar had with RP over the week appeared in this notebook. Stories of rare books and prints, visit of writers and artists, news and views of the book world. It is therefore not surprising that he knew the library well and commanded a rare insight.

Is it a coincidence that the drawings by Ganesh Pyne, accompanying his book on Wajid Ali goes back to the sketches from Rajput Drawings, which was so lovingly reproduced in a book titled, Rajput Paintings by none other than Ananda Kumaraswamy, of which only 100 copies were printed by the Oriental Society in London, and was a part of the collection of Kumars?

Nikhil Sarkar loved Calcutta. And it is this love that drew him near to KUMARS. He kept a tab of the man and his library and through his friend RP, whom he lovingly called Satul, borrowed books on Calcutta from Kumars to read. I remember of one incidence where he heard that Kumars had picked up a rare book of William Hodges on Calcutta. The book had rare hand coloured aquatint of Calcutta scenes. He rang RP to request him to make some arrangements for the book to reach him at his office. He lovingly went through the book and had his Art Director Bipul Guha to photograph the plates. That the book ultimately found its way to the collection of his editor Aveek Sarkar, is another story.

Images : Nikhil Sarkar . Aquatinted print of Wajid Ali Shah . Cover of Rajput Paintings . Hodge's Calcutta.