Nishikanto Roychowdhury (24.3.1909—20.5.1973) was the greatest Bengali poet of Sri Aurobindo Ashram. Having received his early education at Santiniketan where he enjoyed the love and affection of Rabindranath Tagore he arrived at Pondicherry in 1934. He befriended Dilip Kumar Roy and wrote lyrics for many of his memorable songs. Sri Aurobindo was quite fond of his poetry and had called him a “Brahmaputra of Inspiration”. His anthologies of poetry include titles like Diganta, Alakananda, Vaijayanti, Nabadipan, Pachish Pradip, Bhorer Pakhi, Bande Mataram, Shikha-satadal and Lilayan.
Not many people outside the Ashram community are aware of the fact that Nishikanto was a great painter as well. His gurubhai Nirodbaran has recalled: ‘Nishikanto would…sit in half padmasana with his Ganesh-like paunch darkly shinning, half discarding the artificial beauty of the worn dhoti and applying the brush with brooding eyes while the glossy jet-black curls were rhythmically swaying like tender infant snakes around his neck.’
Sri Aurobindo too had remarked about Nishikanto’s paintings: ‘Nishikanto has already his own developed technique and a certain originality of vision—two things which must be there before a man can take the risk as a painter.’
A portrait of Sri Aurobindo drawn by Nishikanto has been uploaded in the online forum of Overman Foundation. The theme of this portrait was inspired by Sri Aurobindo’s poem “The Bird of Fire”.
With warm regards,