His paintings etch from the deep confines of his soul. Vivid and vibrant. Yet, everyone knows him as yoga guru Bharat Thakur. Intensely passionate, Thakur, who’s 14 years of learning with his guru in the Himalayas (when he was sent away by his family at a young age after his childless parents were blessed with a son, as a promise to the guru), has scoured into his pearly oyster of mindfulness for his paintings that will be showcased in the city from November 21 to December 22 at the Gallery Time and Space. It’s that same mindfulness that follows him as he teaches “yog”, crunches numbers for his centres, software companies, farms and still has time to practice “dhyan” four hours a day. A Pollock-like painter, something Bharat himself didn’t know till art appreciators told him how similar his abstracts were to the maestro, he has 60-odd paintings, each with a poetic verse exuding spirituality in this showing.
Yet, not many know that his artistic journey started years ago as an immersive entity which saw Thakur spend nights on end, sketching till it consumed him. Like all his pursuits, he is raring to go with just five hours shut eye. He stopped selling art as he felt he was cheating people, and not ready. A decade and a half later, Bharat Thakur, has brought his passion alive in intuitive abstracts.
“Twenty-one years ago, I would paint for fun. I started to go to galleries — from museums across the world. I observed street artists in Venice. I would take months off, pay to live with them, to their chagrin. Duniya ka koi painter nahin chodda. Mien thoda pagal painter hoon, I sketch for days endlessly, buy paints worth Rs 15 lakh, paint raw. I’ve also burnt down a room of sketches, frustrated. Even my wife gets irritated,” reveals Thakur.
Two-and-half-year old Yash Thakur, once asked papa to “do colouring,” so that led to father and son painting together. “He is good but still a kid, so we do basic water colours,” says a proud dad. About his paintings, he adds, “Ek picture mein hazaar observations hai, thanks to my dhyan (meditation), 14 years with a master, I see colour, forms. Mere ko bheth bheth ke, soch soch ke painting karma nahin aata! I am fast!” he laughs.
The key to his tireless spirit? “My success is possible as I make people understand responsibility and I have been blessed with great teams across the world.”
But doesn’t yoga as a business defeat its austerity? Bharat is candid, unrepentant, “Woh Modiji bol rahe hain about yoga, but I ask, how can a software guy code and not charge? It not chanda (charity), yoga is a beautiful art, training takes years, apprenticeship after three years, senior teachers take upto nine years. It’s a better way to enforce. I myself have 14 years in the mountains, bachelors, masters, mphil, phd, etc, Meri bhi biwi aur ghar hai. Why is it ok for people to pay for a gym but not yoga? The problem is there is only one Ramdev — there should be many, I am enabling to have lakhs of Thakurs, tab kahin kaam banega! I am a hardcore commercial yoga teacher and proud of it.”
Family too has taken a backseat. Now with little Yash in the picture, Thakur admits. “Bhoomika lives in Mumbai as he is small. We are happy, till today. She is understanding and the most supportive wife on earth! I try and skype with Yash daily.” What of instilling yoga tenets to his son, “He is still very young, guru mantra diya hai, aur kabhi surya namaskar kartein hain, where he copies me,” he adds, “Yoga still finds a sacrosanct place. Sadhana is important.”
“I still teach in Nepal, mostly teacher’s training,” says the yoga master who is rumoured to have taught Russian President Vladimir Putin though he is mum. Any advice? Thakur laughs, “It’s ghor kalyug with the Rs 500 and Rs 1,000 ban! Seriously, till you don’t do things where the internal soul is involved, you’ll end up satisfying externally. When you work by hand, your mind stills,” says the man who is also a good cook, and admits unabashedly, “Pure non-vegetarian khana too!” Isn’t that against yoga practices? He answers, “I am an Aghori, in yoga there are two paths — tantra and hatha. I have followed and mastered the former.” For now, his art, Thakur hopes, will have a dialogue with you....