Lions And Zoos

Creator of original national emblem visited zoo for months to watch lions, family says

Family members of Dinanath Bhargava, a co-artist on the team that designed India’s original national emblem, said on Wednesday that to complete the task, he continued to visit a zoo in Kolkata for three months to observe the lions up close.

Family members called it back amid a row over the national emblem atop the new parliament building, which opposition parties have raised objections to, accusing the Center of replacing the “graceful” Ashokan lions and royally confident” by those with a threatening and aggressive posture.

Bhargava was part of the group, which designed the national emblem that adorned the manuscript of the Indian Constitution. It was designed based on an ancient sculpture “Lion Capital of Ashoka” at Sarnath in Uttar Pradesh which dates back to 250 BC.

“India’s first Prime Minister, Jawaharlal Nehru, had entrusted the task of designing the original manuscript of the Constitution to the director of Kala Bhavan of Ravindranath Tagore in Shantiniketan and the famous painter Nandalal Bose,” said Bhargava’s wife, Prabha ( 85), at PTI.

A bronze national emblem has been placed atop the parliament building under construction in New Delhi. the metal sculpture was constructed in Aurangabad, Jaipur and Delhi by artists Sunil Deore and Lakshman Vyas. (Express photo by Prem Nath Pandey)

But Bose had given the task of creating the image of Ashok Stambh to her husband, who was young at the time and studying arts at Shantiniketan, she said.

“After his guru’s guidance, my husband visited Kolkata Zoo for three months to closely observe the lions’ expressions and see how they sit and stand,” she said.

Family members have claimed that a replica of the original work of Ashok Stambh designed by Bhargava is still in their possession as he completed it several years later around 1985.

The artwork designed by Bhargava using gold leaf shows the mouths of the three lions opening a bit and their teeth are also visible there. At the bottom, “Satyamev Jayate” is also written in golden color.

Meanwhile, Bhargava’s daughter-in-law declined to comment on the dispute over the difference in design of the emblem atop the new parliament building and the original one designed by her father-in-law.

“I don’t want to get into this argument, but it’s only natural that there’s bound to be a little difference between an image and its statue,” she said.

She demanded that any art gallery, venue or museum in Madhya Pradesh bear Bhargava’s name to preserve the memory of the work of art he designed for the Constitution.

“Despite the assurances of several leaders to the family on the matter, this request has remained unmet to this day,” she said.

Bhargava hails from Betul town in the state and died on December 24, 2016 at the age of 89 in Indore, family members added.