A medical doctor with specialisation in ophthalmology; an artist who makes murals and sketches; music-enthusiast; writer; and spiritual seeker!
Photos: Ch Prabhu Das
It is indeed a fascinating combination that Dr Rahul Reddy presents. Dr Rahul did his schooling from Bharatiya Vidya Bhavan's Public School, Hyderabad. He went on to acquire an MBBS degree from Kamineni Institute of Medical Sciences, followed by an MS in Ophthalmology from Shri Siddhartha Institute of Medical Sciences, Tumkur. He is now a practising ophthalmologist.
And art has been his magnificent obsession since then – and endured as a lifelong passion. "Art was and is the only activity that keeps my soul absorbed, nurtured and in a natural state of joy." As an artist, Dr Rahul makes murals and sketches. He does relief work in clay, and paintings with acrylic and water-colours as media. Incidentally, none of his sketches are coloured – they are more like line drawings. They are all created at his Hyderabad home-studio named Chitkala – Mind Drawn Meditative Melodies.
Did he learn his art at a school? Or perhaps he apprenticed with a senior artist? No, he says. "I am self-taught, my inquisitiveness, imagination and skills at creativity and observation help me – they are my teachers. Even as a child I never liked the idea of trying to replicate or copy something that was already drawn or existed. Every surface around was my canvas and the practice knew no bounds. Art was instinctive and impulsive. The only competitor in my quest for art is myself, my efforts are only to do better art than what I did yesterday. This over the years helped me develop my own style of sketching, which I use today to depict my themes, characters and ideas."
However, he does have role models or artistes he looks up to. Like the legendary Bapu – the much-awarded and widely appreciated Telugu filmmaker who was also an outstanding artist. He also admires Vaddadi Papayya and Keshav Venkataraghavan.
Conversations with Dr Rahul reveal a deeply spiritual person. His talk is heavily imbued with references to mystic topics. When and how did his spiritual journey begin? He reveals: "I belong to a belief system where the simple act of breathing is also meditative. My spiritual journey has begun at birth. So as an infant I was drawn to deities and loved to read books pertaining to spirituality and about devotees. My spiritual journey took an entirely new direction, dimension and meaning after I got introduced to the philosophy of Shri Ramakrishna Paramahamsa and Sharada Devi, who I regard as my spiritual parents. I even took up the name Sri Pada Nupuram (meaning an anklet-bell adorning the feet of the mother-goddess) in 2009. This spirituality got amplified after receiving formal initiation into the worship of Devi – the primordial mother goddess, Shakti, in 2012."
This spirituality influences his art—in fact, his art seems to spring from it. Among his recent works are a series of sketches on Gopalavimshathi as also Dikshitar's Abhayamba Vibhakthi Krithis. Dr Rahul adds: "Spirituality is the only influence that propels my mind body and soul to bring out art that is bubbling joy and love. Art for me is a medium to communicate—with God and vice versa; with the self, and to help me traverse through the labyrinths of life and time."
So, it is not surprising to learn that his art has found positioning in homes, puja-spaces and meditation corners. "People write to me telling me how the deities depicted in my work seem to breathe life and speak to them. They narrate incidents of how meditating on that art object has brought them peace and happiness or even helped them in a crisis. It is very touching. It keeps me going," he reveals. South Indian classical music, which is strongly spiritual, not surprisingly, is a part of Dr Rahul's work and life. He explains the connection.
"I learnt Carnatic music in school. I was in the school prayer team throughout and participated in the annual Thyagaraja Aradhana Festival. Indian saint-composers like Thyagaraja, Annamacharya, Shyama Shastri, Dikshitar, etc, have created an ocean of divine music and this inspires me in every activity. I meditate on verses or shlokas or a composition...for hours or days and it finally finds expression in my sketches or literary output."
Dr Rahul has even composed extempore. "In 2009, we compiled the songs in praise of Goddess Sharada and brought out an album titled Aksharaarchana. I sang these in front of the Jagadguru of Shrungeri, Shri Bharati Theertha Swami."
Medical science and art are an unusual combination. How does he reconcile the two? He replies: "I think it is a myth that Medical Science and Art are an unusual combination. Both the fields have immense spirituality rooted in them, they complement each other in helping one delve deeper into the subject revealing the wonders of the universe around."
He adds: "Being a doctor is what I chose because my parents had this dream, but then it is the other way round with Art, Music and Spirituality — they chose me, rather God chose it for me."
However, these are the kind of choices that not every family would be comfortable with. Did his family approve of his choices? He reveals: "At first, my parents were sceptical and even worried about my intense interest in spirituality and art. However, gradually they understood that I had very strong convictions and have become very supportive. My mother nurtures me as if I were still a foetus in her womb which is the biggest reason I blossomed into what I am today."
Now, Dr Rahul, though he has not done any shows so far, is slowly reaching the stage of realising his dream of becoming a full-time artiste. "I am already in this transition phase. I have played both roles—of doctor and artist—satisfactorily till date. I have already begun to take up commissioned artwork. I am now more an artist than a doctor." We wish him the best.