Mahatma Gandhi and Kristian Krekovic
connecting India and Croatia

Darko Zubrinic, Zagreb, Croatia, 2020

Summary. Kristian Kreković (1901–1985), distinguished Croatian painter, is a unique phenomenon in the history of Croatian Art. His work connects in various ways Bosnia and Herzegovina, Austria, France, India, Peru, USA, Spain (and in particular Catalonia), Serbia, Sweden, Italy, Switzerland, and the United Kingdom. His wife Sina (of the Jewish origin, fluent in eight languages, including Croatian and Quechua), sacrificed her pianistic career for her beloved husband. In this article we pay a special attention to Kreković’s projects of World Peace, including that of the New Renaissance and of the World Government. Mahatma Gandhi highly praised Kreković’s art. Their personal contacts can be traced at least since 1931, and in particular due to the portrait completed in 1936, during Gandhi’s meditation in Kreković’s atelier in Paris. It is now kept in the Museu Kreković in Palma de Mallorca, Spain. Kreković’s Gallery in Palma has been solemnly opened in 1981 by the Spanish Queen Sofia.

Keywords. Mahatma Gandhi, Kristian Kreković, Sina Kreković, India, Croatia, Spain, Catalonia, Pantempion, Bombay (i.e., Mumbay), Palma de Mallorca, Museu Krekovic, World Government. 


Mahatma Gandhi (1869-1948) in 1931 in Paris


Kristian Kreković (1901-1985), selfportrait, source www.kristiankrekovic.com

Kreković's selfportrait in Cuzco, Peru, 1950.
Source www.kristiankrekovic.com



Sina and Kristian Kreković in front of their atelier in Paris in 1934, where Mahatma Gandhi was portrayed.
Address (many thanks to Mr. Zvonimir Frka Petešić for this information):

Atelier Kristian Krekovic
Rue Leon Jost 14,
13. arrondissement, Paris



Mahatma Gandhi portrayed by Kristian Kreković in 1936 in his atelier in Paris (1.25 x 1.85 m). The portrait is kept in Museu Kreković in Palma de Mallorca, Spain. Source (Romaguera i Rubí). Dedication in the middle of the above portrait:

A Mahatma Gandhi
apôtre de nonviolence
Kristian Kreković
Paris 1936

An essay by Vanja Gabrić, Metković: Osvrt na portret Mahatma Gandhija


Mahatma Gandhi, 1936, source www.kristiankrekovic.com



Presenting the portrait of Mahatma Gandhi on December 2019 to Mr. Jitendra Nath Majhi (on the right)
advisor and envoy of H.E. Mr. Arindam Bagchi, the then Ambassador of the Republic of India to Croatia.
On the left Mr. Joginder Singh Nijjar, president of the Croatian - Indian Society in Zagreb, and in the middle
Darko Žubrinić, president of the Society of the Friends of the Glagolitic Script, Zagreb.
Sitting behind them is Mr. Robert Bulat, secretary of the Croatian - Indian Society.
The event took place in the building of the cultural society Napredak (Advancement, Progress) in Zagreb. 


In her MSc Thesis completed in 1974 and written in French, dealing with Croatian painter Kristian Kreković (1901–1985), Ingeborg Möller Rizo has dedicated two of its pages to the connection of the painter with Mahatma Gandhi (1869–1948). See (Möller Rizo, pp 27 and 28). The description appears as a part of Section 2 of the Thesis, on pp. 26–29, entitled  Le Pantempion.

The Pantempion was conceived as a sanctuary dedicated to the tolerance of all religions of the world. Kreković made several architectural sketches and plans for this huge architectural complex. The meaning of the notion of Pantempion is roughly All-Temple (from Greek: pan + tempion) or The Temple of the Temples. It  had to represent all the major religions of the world:

  • Hinduism, Sikhism
  • Buddhism,
  • Judaism,
  • Christianity,
  • Islam, etc.

Kreković’s wish was that all the people of the world get used in tolerating other religions.

The Pantempion was planned to consist of one huge temple, encircled with twelve smaller temples representing the largest religions of the world. He planned to include sixty chapels representing smaller religious groups as well. In the central hall, he envisaged to place the altar for meditation. The Pantempion had to be decorated with various religious symbols:

  • The Star of David,
  • The Cross,
  • The Crescent of Muhammad, etc.


In the central meditation altar, he predicted to exhibit the Globe suspended on shoulders of twelve great interpreters of the Holy Word:

  • Confucius,
  • Buddha,
  • Moses,
  • Zarathustra,
  • Jesus Christ,
  • Muhammad,
  • Sri Guru Nanak, etc.,

one by another.

The site of Pantempion was planned to be built in the city of Bombay (now Mumbay) in India, since many different religions can be seen there. In order to be better acquainted with the spirituality of the East, Kreković had collaborated with Gandhi, who showed a deep understanding for his projects.

In the monograph (Romaguera i Rubí, p. 113) one can find a very nice reproduction of Gandhi’s portrait, completed in 1936 during the visit of Gandhi to the atelier of his friend Kreković. The inventory number of Gandhi’s portrait exhibited in Krekovic’s Museum in Palma de Mallorca is 134, and its dimensions are 1.85 cm of height and 1.25 of width. The portrait is described on p. 213 of the monograph, where it is explained that Gandhi was portrayed by the painter during his meditation in Kreković’s atelier, dressed in his khadi. At the bottom of the portrait appears the following title: “GANDHI” (which is not exhibited on the photo), as well as the dedication written in French, placed in the middle: “A Mahatma Gandhi / apôtre de nonviolence [1] / Kristian Kreković / Paris 1936”. Gandhi was portrayed while sitting on a low Chinese table in Kreković’s atelier; see (Nikolić, p. 26).

 


Kreković’s 1926 project of Pantempion (The Temple of the Temples), planned to be placed in Mumbay, India





Mahatma Gandhi, Kristian Kreković and Pantempion

Kristian Kreković and his Pantempion. The seal on the bottom right reads: Stockholm 1949.

Source gramho.com



Kreković’s project of Pangeion from 1926, to be placed in Europe in Geneva in Switzerland

Inscriptions in Latin and English (on the right):
Alteri non facias quod tibi fieri non vis
Do unto others as you would have them do unto you

Also planned in Chinese and Russian.


In English (above) and Russian (below)

On the left, in Russian:

Не делай другому того чего
не желаешь чтоб другие делали тебе!



A detail of Pangeion, to be placed in Europe in Geneva in Switzerland

Drawn in Paris in 1926



Probably the best-known work of art of Kreković: The Exodus of the 20th Century (representing the tragedy of all the races). After 1945, he had the status of displaced person, being left without the possibility of visiting his parents and his homeland again.



Mahatma Gandhi on the far right of the photo, drawn in red chalk (Museu Kreković in Palma de Mallorca). Source http://amigoskrekovic.blogspot.com/

Exodus of the 20th century


a detail


Sina and Kristian Kreković in Croatian national costume:
Kristian with a Lika cap, Sina in the costume of the Šibenik area.


On the far left of Kreković's Exodus of the 20th century. Source gramho.com



Projects of Universal peace, New Renaissance and World Federation on the left.
On the right (at the bottom), opinion of Mahatma Gandhi:
Todo el éxito depende de la educación que estamos dando a nuestra juventud
(All the success depends on the education that we provide for our youth)
Source www.kristiankrekovic.com


It is not known when and how Mahatma Gandhi and Kristian Kreković got acquainted. However, it is certain that they met each other in 1931 at the latest, since Kreković mentions on several occasions his portrait of Gandhi being completed in 1931 and planned for the Pantempion sanctuary in Mumbai, India. It seems that this portrait, which had to be exhibited in Pantempion in Mumbay, was lost in 1941 during the WWII.

According to (Gaspar Sabater, pp. 38 and 54), Mahatma Gandhi highly praised Kreković’s art and wrote the following:

The sentiment of Kristian Kreković towards the world is unique. It impregnates all his art, and it impregnates it with extraordinary creativity and constructive character.[2]


Akademia Titana by Kristian Kreković. Source gramho.com
We believe that the mushroom-like shape of the Akademia was inspired by Croatian Glagolitic letter S (Slovo).
Here, Slovo means Word (Divine Word). Kristian Kreković was very fond of the Glagolitic Script.

Here is an excerpt from an interview given by Kristian Kreković to Hrvatska Revija (Croatian Review) [3] in 1971:

I have made his [Gandhi's] natural sized portrait in red chalk, during one of his meditations. I made his portrait in 1931 in Paris [4], where he was on his way to London in his struggle for liberation of India from the British Empire. Gandhi showed great understanding for my ideas and for my artistic creations. He especially liked my project of Academia Titana, a new type of high school, dedicated to the new education and prepraing of young people from all five continents for the idea of the World Renaissance, the World Federation and for the final peace; in particular, he has accepted my suggestion for this Academy to exploit solely an advanced „Esperanto“ language. For this reason all the mothers, as well as all the schools worldwide, should teach their children in two languages: the mother tongue and an internationl language, unique for the whole world. This language should be enriched with new words and should be written fonetically using 40 Latin-Greek characters, so that the letters be pronounced and written in the same way anywhere in the world. The same should hold for writing numerals.

When visiting Kreković’s atelier in Paris, Gandhi would say the following to his accompaning persons: „Similarly as there are military academies, we should also establish peace academies. Young people trained in this way could start an era of New Renaissance and mutual understanding without bloodshed.“ We have both been enthused with the common ideas, and for this reason he accepted my great projects.

Source: Hrvatska revija (Croatian Review), March 1971, p. 19 (translated from Croatian by D.Ž.)


Kreković’s idea of the World Federation included the following three major projects:

  • the Pangeion, where the World Government would be placed, aimed at fostering tolerance and mutual understanding among the nations (to be placed in Europe, in Geneva in Switzerland);
  • the Pantempion (The Temple of the Temples, mentioned above), dedicated to the tolerance among religions, to be placed in Asia, in India in Bombay (Mumbay);
  • the Academia Titana (the Academy), a new type of the academy, where young people would be educated in the spirit of mutual understanding and tolerance, for the needs of the new era of the World Federation, to be placed in North America, in Washington in the USA. See (Möller Rizo, p. 29) and (Nikolić, p. 21).


Here we should stress that Kristian Kreković has lost his three brothers in the chaos of WW2, and that he spent his youth in multiethnic and multireligious environment of Bosnia and Herzegovina.

In (Mirth, p. 5) it is described that Kreković remembered that Gandhi called him a „dreaming visionary“ (visionnaire rêveur, in French), while on the other hand, Gandhi called himself a „practical idealist“ (idéaliste pratique).

As we have already mentioned, Kreković made two portraits of Mahatma Gandhi: one for his Pantempion in Mumbay, India (completed in 1931, but lost in 1941), and another one in red chalk, representing Gandhi during his mediation in the position of lotus. This last portrait is exhibited in Kreković’s Gallery in Palma de Mallorca. The gallery bearing his name (i.e., Museu Kreković) was officially opened in 1981 by the Spanish Queen Sofia, who accepted the honor of the godmother of this institution. See the inventory of the Gallery, provided by the National Library of Spain in Madrid.

Gandhi collaborated with Kreković for the idea of the World Federation. Gandhi even offered his help in inaugurating the exhbition of Kreković’s projects on the World Federation, when the painter finishes them. However, almost all the Kreković’s works of art (more than one thousand) have been destroyed in 1941 in the circumstances of the WWII, while Gandhi has been assassinated in 1948.

According to the testimony of Catalonian writer and pacifist Llorenç Vidal from Palma de Mallorca, the slogan for the projects of Pantempion, Pangeion and Academia that Kristian Kreković accepted from Mahatma Gandhi was the following: “The whole success depends on education that we provide for our youth.” See (Vidal).

Kristian Kreković accepted the following principle taught by Confucius and Christ for a happy and harmonious life without fear and tyranny: Do unto others as you would have them do unto you  (in Latin: Alteri non facias quod tibi fieri non vis; Matthew 7:12). This was planned to be the major inscription on the Pantempion, i.e., on The Temple of the Temples.

Kristian Kreković, a naturalized citizen of Palma de Mallorca, with his calm, lonely and reticent character, like other peacemakers of his time -

  • Leo Tolstoy,
  • Rabindranath Tagore,
  • Romain Roland, etc.,

incited basic inner needs of human beings: that of respecting human rights, of love, fraternity, tolerance and nonviolence.  See (Vidal).


Portrait of Gandhi, as well as the whole collection in Museu Krekovic in Palma de Mallorca, is protected by the Spanish law, which can be seen in the source provided by the National Library of Spain, Madrid. See (Biblioteca Nacional España).



Kristian Kreković: Three Soldiers (notice their necklaces), source www.kristiankrekovic.com


Except of Kristian Kreković, we can mention at the end a few additional persons that are deeply connecting India and Croatia:

  • Filip Vezdin (or Wesdin, or Paulinus a Sancto Bartolomaeo, born as Burgenland Croat in Austria, 1748 – 1806), the author of the first printed European grammar of Sanskrit and a pioneer of European indology;
  • Nikola Tesla (1856–1943), born and educated in Croatia (where he lived until the age of 18), was since 1895 in contact with Swami Vivekananda (1863–1902) in the USA, and under the influence of his spirituality;
  • St. Mother Teresa (1910–1997, of Albanian origin) obtained honorary Croatian citizenship by receiving the Croatian passport in Kolkata in 1995 from the then Ambassador of the Republic of Croatia to India, dr. Drago Štambuk; the Croatian Jesuits had a great role in her spiritual development; she was fluent in Croatian, and even delivered sermons on several occasions in Croatian language in the Zagreb Cathedral; in 1979, immediately before receiving her Nobel Prize for Peace in Oslo, Mother Teresa was
  •  in Croatia's capital Zagreb, where her sandals are now kept that she wore for 18 years, mostly in India; they are exhibited in the Nova Ves street in Zagreb, in the church of St. Dismas;
  • Ante Gabrić, of the Society of Jesus (1915–1988), Croatian missionary in Bengal, is called „the Saint of Sundarban in India“;
  • Vladimir Paleček (1950–1990), founder of the „Hungry Child“ international fund in 1969 in Croatia’s capital Zagreb, which was sending humanitarian aid (food, medical help, automobiles) to India as well;
  • Radoslav Katičić (1930–2019) of the University of Vienna and Mislav Ježić of the University of Zagreb, distinguished Croatian indologists.


The photos appearing in this article, unless otherwise indicated, are from the personal archive of the author.



Literature

1. Biblioteca Nacional España:

2. Karlo Mirth, Painter Kristian Kreković – Indefatiguable Septuagenarian, Croatian Press, Volume 24, No. 3 (267), 1971, p. 5

3. Ingeborg Möller Rizo, Kristian Kreković, Mémoire de Maitrîse, Cours Universitaire Cluny, Septembre 1974 (approx. 100 pp, in French)[5]

4. Vinko Nikolić: Jedna beskrajna tuga nad sudbinom Hrvatske (An infinite sorrow over the destiny of Croatia), Hrvatska Revija (Croatian Review), Barcelona, No. 12, 1971, pp. 15–27

5. Climent Romaguera i Rubí, Kristian Krekovic, La Collecció del Museu Krekovic, Consell de Mallorca, Departament de Cultura, 2006 (contains 148 photos, 284 pp, in Catalan)

6. Gaspar Sabater, Kristian Krekovic, el artista y su obra, Consell de Mallorca, Departement de Cultura, Museu Krekovic, 2009 (79 pp, in Castilian)

7. Llorenç Vidal, Kristian Krekovic, su museo y su mensaje de paz (Kristian Kreković, his museum and his message of peace), Última Hora (Palma de Mallorca), 30 de octubre de 2002 (in Castilian and Croatian)

8. Darko Žubrinić, Kristian Kreković, in Croatian, with numerous photos




[1] apôtre de nonviolence – apostle of nonviolence

[2] In  (Gaspar Sabater, p. 54), Gandhi’s words read as follows:

El sentimiento de Kristian Krekovic hacia el mundo es único. Impregna todo su arte e impregna con extraordinario creatividad y constructivo carácter.

Gandhi’ words must have been written in English, and we tried to reconstruct the original according to their Castillian translation.

[3] At that time, Croatian Review was published in Barcelona.

[4] This seems to indicate that Kreković indeed made a portrait of Gandhi in 1931 (in red chalk), planned for Pantempion in Bombay (i.e., Mumbay), which was left unpreserved. The portrait of Gandhi made in 1936 (also in red chalk), as indicated in his dedication in the middle of the portrait, is kept in Museu Kreković in Palma de Mallorca.

[5] My deep gratitude goes to Mrs. Ingeborg Möller Rizo, for having sent me her Master Thesis. Also, many thanks to Mr. Nenad Bach for having brought a copy of the thesis from New York to Zagreb.


Mahatma Gandhi on education




Vanja Gabrić, Metković: Osvrt na portret Mahatma Gandhija





Indijski državnik i filozof Sarvepalli Radhakrishnan, autor djela “Indijska filozofija” i drugi po redu indijski predsjednik, bio je gost Zagrebačkog sveučilišta u listopadu 1965.

Zagreb je 1926. posjetio i Rabindranath Tagore, “najprevođeniji književnik” u Hrvatskoj, rekao je Ram Nath Kovind, predsjednik Indije, prigodom službene posjete Zagrebu 2019. g.

Otkrio je da su djela hrvatske književnice Ivane Brlić Mažuranić prevođena na nekoliko indijskih jezika, među njima i na bengalski i hindski.


Ivana Brlić Mažuranić

Stjepan Radić (1871-1928) je veoma cijenio Mahatmu Gandhija.




Prijevod s 31. (sic!) francuskog izdanja. Knjiga je u Francuskoj objavljena te iste 1924. g.!
Hrvatski prijevod ima 138 str., popraćen brojnim bilješkama prevoditelja.
Prevoditelj Josip Vandekar bio je zastupnik HSS-a.
Knjiga je tiskana u 3000 primjeraka.

Stjepan Radic with grandchildren
Stjepan Radić s unucima

Godine 1924. organizirao je kao nakladnik prijevod knjige o njemu i napisao predgovor. Knjigu je na francuskom jeziku napisao Romain Rolland. U toj knjizi (pod naslovom Naš Gandhi) je objavljena i studija Stjepana Radića “Hrvatski mirotvorni i indijski nenasilni pokret”.

Osim spomenute knjige, Stjepan Radić je o Gandhiju napisao članke:
  • Čovječanski nacionalizam Indije, Dom 17/1924.;
  • Kako se bore najveći seljački narodi, Dom 32/1924.;
  • Hrvatski mirovni i indijski nacionalni pokret: Dom 47/1924.;
  • Četiri svjetska seljačka velikana, Dom 9/1925.;
  • Pomiritelj i spasitelj Indije Mahatma Gandhi, Narodni Val 134/1927. te
  • Pobuna Azije, Božićnica za 1928. godinu.

Izvor HSS Hrvatska

Romain Rolland (English edition in India): Mahatma Gandhi [PDF], Agra 1948.



Godine 1931 u Sarajevu je objavljena knjžica od tridesetak stranica, čiji auktor je istaknuti hrvatski pjesnik
Tin Ujević: Dva glavna bogumila (Tolstoj i Gandhi), Sarajevo 1931.
Knjigu je tiskalo poduzeće Hrvatska tiskara u Sarajevu.








Projects of world peace in Croatia:





Acknowledgments

Many thanks to

  • late Mr. Vladimir Novak for his first information about Kristian Kreković, as well as to his wife Mrs. Maria Johanna Novak
  • Ingeborg Möller Rizo, for her master thesis Kristian Kreković, and to Nenad Bach, NY, for bringing me the thesis from NY to Zagreb
  • Mrs. Ljerka Galic of the Matrix Croatica (Hrvatska matica iseljenika - Croatian Heritage Foundation), for her information about the album of Kristian Kreković
  • Mr. Joginder Singh Nijjar, president of the Croatian-Indian Society, for his kind information about Stjepan Radić's writing about Mahatma Gandhi.



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