Sobha Singh’s dedication to his craft can be best seen through a very interesting anecdote: while painting his masterpiece Guru Nanak in the Aashirwad pose, Singh actually consulted renowned palmist Pundit Agnihotri of Hamirpur. The Pundit thoroughly studied the 'Janam Patri' (astrological birth chart) of Guru Nanak and instructed Singh on how to paint the lines on Guru Nanak’s hand.
The rebuke and the realization
The young Sobha Singh’s preoccupation with art was looked down upon by his conservative family members. His father, S. Deva Singh was particularly irritated by it. Being a stern cavalry officer, he had no patience for such frivolous things. He constantly rebuked Sobha for wasting time in drawing figures on the walls of their house. Fed up with the constant rebukes the sensitive Sobha decided to end his life by drowning himself in the Beas. However after taking the plunge he realized that life is too precious and decided against taking his own life.
This was the turning point in Sobha Singh’s life. A young Singh realized that life was a precious gift of God and deserved to be preserved and lived. This very sense of preservation permeates all his paintings.
Some of Sobha Singh’s most loved Paintings
Sobha Singh Paintings acquired the status of Punjab’s favorite painter. The prints of his famous paintings like Sohni-Mahiwal and Guru Nanak adorned, and still adorns of all middle class Punjabi households.
This exquisite depiction of the legendary tragic lovers is probably most popular of his all paintings. Sensuous without being provocative this painting ably portrays the passion and pain that marked their lives. Sohni’s sensuous figure is seen as an embodiment of Punjabi feminity. The lithe figure of Sohni, with a wet dupatta clinging to her torso reveals her physical charm. Prints of this painting were so popular that they were found at far flung corners of the country too.
Guru Nanak series
Singh’s portraits of Guru Nanak are deliberately in shanta rasa (peaceful disposition). His intention was to convey the great Gurus message of peace and harmony through these paintings. His paintings of the tenth Sikh Guru, Guru Gobind Singh, are in vira rassa (determined disposition). An early painting shows the Guru seated on a throne holding a hawk. A later painting shows the Guru riding a spirited horse. In the background are the Shivalik hills. The determined look of the Guru is symbolic of his defiance of tyranny of the Mughal rulers.