Mahatma Gandhi and Kristian Krekovic
connecting India and Croatia
Darko Zubrinic, Zagreb, Croatia, 2020
Summary. Kristian Kreković
distinguished Croatian painter, is a unique phenomenon in the history
of Croatian Art.
His work connects in various ways Bosnia
, 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.
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.
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).
in the middle of the above portrait:
apôtre de nonviolence
An essay by Vanja Gabrić,
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,
Sitting behind them is Mr. Robert Bulat, secretary of the Croatian -
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
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
- Hinduism, Sikhism
- Islam, etc.
Kreković’s wish was that all the people of the world get used
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:
- Jesus Christ,
- 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 
/ 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.
Kreković’s project of Pangeion
to be placed in Europe in Geneva in
Inscriptions in Latin and English
(on the right):
non facias quod tibi fieri non vis
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
he had the status of displaced person, being left without the
possibility of visiting his parents and his homeland again.
Mahatma Gandhi on the
right of the photo, drawn in red chalk
(Museu Kreković in Palma de Mallorca). Source http://amigoskrekovic.blogspot.com/
Exodus of the
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)
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:
sentiment of Kristian Kreković towards the world is unique. It
impregnates all his art, and it impregnates it with extraordinary
creativity and constructive character.
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) 
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
Source: Hrvatska revija
), March 1971, p. 19 (translated from Croatian by D.Ž.)
Kreković’s idea of the World Federation included the following three
- the Pangeion,
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
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
rêveur, in French), while on the other hand, Gandhi called himself a
„practical idealist“ (idéaliste
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
be the major inscription on the Pantempion, i.e., on The Temple of the
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.,
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 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
- 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
(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
- 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;
Gabrić, of the Society of Jesus (1915–1988), Croatian missionary in
Bengal, is called „the Saint of Sundarban in India“;
(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.
2. Karlo Mirth,
Painter Kristian Kreković – Indefatiguable Septuagenarian, Croatian
Press, Volume 24, No. 3 (267), 1971, p. 5
Möller Rizo, Kristian Kreković, Mémoire de Maitrîse, Cours
Universitaire Cluny, Septembre 1974 (approx. 100 pp, in French)
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
Romaguera i Rubí, Kristian Krekovic, La Collecció del Museu Krekovic,
Consell de Mallorca, Departament de Cultura, 2006 (contains 148 photos,
284 pp, in Catalan)
Sabater, Kristian Krekovic, el
artista y su obra, Consell de Mallorca,
Departement de Cultura, Museu Krekovic, 2009 (79 pp, in Castilian)
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
8. Darko Žubrinić, Kristian Kreković, in Croatian, with numerous
 apôtre de nonviolence – apostle of
 In (Gaspar Sabater, p. 54), Gandhi’s
words read as follows:
sentimiento de Kristian Krekovic hacia el mundo es único. Impregna todo
su arte e impregna con extraordinario creatividad y constructivo
Gandhi’ words must have been written in English, and we tried
to reconstruct the original according to their Castillian translation.
 At that time, Croatian Review was published
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.
 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
Zagreb je 1926. posjetio i Rabindranath
Tagore, “najprevođeniji književnik” u Hrvatskoj, rekao je
Ram Nath Kovind, predsjednik Indije, prigodom službene posjete Zagrebu
Otkrio je da su djela hrvatske književnice Ivane Brlić Mažuranić
nekoliko indijskih jezika, među njima i na bengalski i hindski.
Stjepan Radić (1871-1928) je veoma
cijenio Mahatmu Gandhija.
Ivana Brlić Mažuranić
Prijevod s 31.
izdanja. Knjiga je u Francuskoj objavljena te iste 1924. g.!
Hrvatski prijevod ima 138 str., popraćen brojnim bilješkama
Prevoditelj Josip Vandekar bio je zastupnik HSS-a.
Knjiga je tiskana u 3000 primjeraka.
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”.
Stjepan Radić s unucima
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:
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
- 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
Croatia - India
Croatia - Overview of History, Culture,