Today I visited Nek Chand, the celebrated artistic creator of a 25-acre rock garden in Chandigargh, India. His creation features thousands of figures skillfully made from concrete and discarded pieces of ceramic and glass bangle.
He’s been listed as one of the ’80 Best Gardens’ in the world, and these days over 4,000 tourists come every day to see his little Indian people, rock features, water features, and now sculptures made from scraps of brightly coloured cloth. He started back in 1958 and hasn’t finished yet.
Nek Chand was the guest of John and Maggy Maizells, our next door neighbours. John runs the magazine Raw Vision, focusing on the talent of untrained artists and their ‘outsider art.’ John and Maggy are big fans and supporters of Nek Chand and have many pieces of his work in their garden. A small display is also visible in their garden from the grounds of Bhaktivedanta Manor. I looked through a published book of photographs of the Chandigargh garden as the artist explained to me how it was all done.
From there to our own garden, or rather ‘A Garden for George’ which is taking shape in one of the dells at the Manor. Today they were putting in place several flights of steps made of railway sleepers. Olivia Harrison came to inspect the progress two weeks ago and has taken away a sheet of suggested lyrics to be featured in the garden. The idea is for the philosophy of the East to be inscribed in the garden using the words of one of the most famous musicians of the West.
George Harrison’s lyrics are quite amazing when you read them as poetry. They came from his soul and its entirely befitting that they will be remembered here, as will he, in a garden where, on separate visits, he three times remarked: “This would look really nice if you developed it.” It has taken some time, but its finally happening.
From there to home and watering my more modest garden (alright, my days recently have been over-filled with meetings and other responsibilities, but I am trying to create a theme here).
Our runner beans have been climbing up the bamboo canes placed in a tripod for them, then twining along the strings connecting them. Without sticks and string to support them they would be all over the place and wouldn’t reach any height at all. Pillai Lokacarya, the mediaeval Vaishnava teacher, says that just as beans need sticks, so a Vaishnava needs a senior Vaishnava who is stronger in faith to support him as he grows.
So there, three gardens and an analogy.