Ghulam Rasool Santosh

(1929 - 10 March 1997 / Chinkral Mohalla, Srinagar, Kashmir / India)

Biography of Ghulam Rasool Santosh

Ghulam Rasool Santosh poet

Ghulam Rasool Santosh (Kashmiri: ग़ुलाम रसूल संतोष (Devanagari), غلام رسول سنتوش (Nastaleeq)) was a prominent Kashmiri Indian painter and poet. He was best known for his themes inspired by Kashmir Shaivism.

Early Life

He was born Ghulam Rasool in a Kashmiri Muslim family of modest means in the Chinkral Mohalla neighborhood of old Srinagar. He dropped out of school after his father's death and took up odd jobs like writing, painting signboards, weaving silk and whitewashing walls. In 1954 he won a scholarship to study fine arts under a celebrated Indian painter, N. S. Bendre in the city of Baroda, in the state of Gujarat, in western India.

Around the same time he did what was considered unusual and unacceptable in conservative Kashmiri society - he married his childhood sweetheart, Santosh, who was a Kashmiri Pandit, and also assumed her name.


In the early 1960s, Santosh studied Tantric (mystical) art and Kashmir Shaivism. In 1964 he adopted this style to create some of the best examples of modern Tantric paintings. His paintings are known for the vibrancy of colors, neat lines, spiritual energy and sensuousness.

Santosh also wrote plays, poetry and essays in Kashmiri. He was also an authority on Kashmiri Shaivism, and was one of the very few people who could read and write the ancient, and almost-extinct, Kashmiri script called Sharda.

"K a s h m i r S h a i v i s m has penetrated to that depth of living thought where diverse currents of human wisdom unite in a luminous synthesis." - Rabindranath Tagore (9 May 1861 - 7 August 1941) Nobel Prize in Literature (1913).


He died on March 10, 1997 in New Delhi, India. He was survived by his wife, a son and a daughter.


He is a recipient of the Lalit Kala Akademi award and the honour of Padma Shree. He received the Sahitya Akademi award (1979) for his collections of poems, Besoakh Ruh. In 1985, he received the Kalhana award.

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It is said
When there was nothing
That, indeed, was everything.
Around there was that eye as well
Where dreams of beginning
And the end, lay asleep
Lost within manifold dreams.
That world of half sleep
Terrain of doubt between yes and no.

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