morning, the 5th of May 1996
When I came that hot, sunny Sunday morning, Elizabeth
looked rather well. Her sitting room seemed pleasantly cool
because of its high ceiling. From the T.V. the 'Mahabharata'
(a Television series) was loudly coming forth and Mr.
Lutoria was partly watching it, partly reading the
As no conversation could be taped until further
notice, I fed Elizabeth the sweet melon Mary had cut for
her. (Mary is the 'good soul' in Elizabeths' house, cooking,
bathing her, sleeping next to her, helping Elizabeth in
every way.) The two of us were happy, as always, just being
together. I watched a tiny mouse coming from under her bed
and peacefully eating the crumbs which were lying there. It
could not have been more than three cm long, not to
mentioned the fine long tail. It looked so 'well groomed'
with its shining brown coat and was very much at ease.
Animals are Elizabeth's friends. The birds are being fed
(and the food is blessed) each time she takes her meal. Also
her many dogs. Unfortunately, Elizabeth cannot take her dogs
out for their walks any longer, and the people who do so are
very kind to her dogs. As a result, they are rather muddled
and bark a lot when strangers come to the house. Actually
dogs (even stray dogs) are also my friends but one of
Elizabeths' dogs, I detour when entering the house.
with one of her pet dogs
The mice came in with the last monsoon and seem to
remain. Though all the servants are angry about it,
Elizabeth will not have anything nasty done to them. So they
stay, and I have heard and seen them on various occasions
sitting with Elizabeth. Once one had climbed up on the 'mala'
(string of flowers) which was hanging around the beautiful
painting of the Dalai Lama that Elizabeth painted in 1959. In
India Gods (and other precious things) are being garlanded
with 'malas'. In Elizabeth's house the Dalai Lama (who has
been once again visiting her in December 1995), two
paintings of her mother as well as one of Tagore are
garlanded. I find it particularly touching.
It would be very difficult to describe her living
room, in which she also sleeps. All the other rooms are full
with boxes of her own and her mother's paintings. These
paintings are Elizabeth's 'children', she has to look after
and take great care of them. Coming back to her room, I like
to say that it has occured
to me, sometimes during the many years I know her, to bring
some kind of order into the various piles of things lying
around, but I have finally decided that it would be of no
use. Firstly Mary and the other servants would make a mess
again and secondly somehow it's got to be this way. It
belongs to Elizabeth's surroundings and the way I will always
remember her! There are people who come and clean daily and
strangely there is an order in the seemingly untidiness.
T.V. was finally switched off and Elizabeth started:
"Yesterday it was the fifth of May and it was ..."
"No the fifth is today," Dagmar butted in. But
Elizabeth maintained, "but Lutoria Sahib when was
'Buddha Jayanti'?" ('Buddha Jayanti' is Buddha's
birthday, always celebrated on full moon in May). "On
Friday the third," replied Mr. Lutoria looking up at us
from his newspaper smiling. "Yes, yes 'Buddha Jayanti'
was on Friday, I am so sorry I could not go," said
Elizabeth. "Where would you go, where did you go in
olden days when you still walked, Elizabeth?" Asked
Dagmar "May be 'Buddha Jayanti Gardens on the Ridge'
which is very beautiful," Elizabeth. "Have you
seen the new Buddha statue?" Dagmar. "Yes, yes, I
went there for the consecration. But now it is difficult for
Elizabeth. "Otherwise I also had the idea to make an
exhibition on 'Buddha Jayanti Day' with all my Buddha
paintings. But I was unable because of this weakness
(patting her knee), although I felt that, for that, I will
have the strength. But I asked the IIC (India International
Centre), I asked some friends. And I did not want to do a
big exhibition, just the Buddhas. To create an atmosphere,
something of the reactions of my feelings that I have
automatically buried into these paintings. That it should
pass on a message to those who can take it.
now, they have asked me to do it later in autumn. I don't
know why," said Elizabeth.
"You just had a two-weeks exhibition of your own
and your mother's Japanese paintings, 'The Soul of Japan' at
the Hungarian Cultural Centre," said Dagmar. "The
Japanese one, yes, and it took a lot of energy out of
me," Elizabeth. "So it is perhaps wiser not to
have another exhibition so soon afterwards," put Dagmar
of Siddhartha, Ceylon 1956
"Yes," said Elizabeth. "And there is a
demand for an exhibition from Hungary that I have to do a
lot of selection for. That means I would need some help.
Because Hungary has got
the celebration of their 'Thousand and one hundred years of
their arrival on the Hungarian soil'
very cleverly they justified their way of conquest, we
learned it from our school books. They used the 'oriental
way of occupation'. I think it was the Moravians who then
were the occupants. I should know more, but ... this will be
available in books. It was so charming, as a child, I did
not quite understand it all. But today I know it was the
oriental way of approach. You know, according to the legend,
the Hungarian envoy asked for this much
- a hand full of earth. A glass full of water. And a bundle of
grass. And with that he announced that this was his land
now," narrated Elizabeth.
Dagmar asked, "who was it?" And Elizabeth
retorted, "oh darling, I am such stupid girl; 75 years
ago I learned it in school. But in any book you can read
about it." And Dagmar said, "and in all the
Hungarian school books also?" "Yes," said
Elizabeth. "We had to learn it, in our time at least it
was so. And we had to know it." "And you still do,
lovely Elizabeth," Dagmar. "Yes, now I know it so
much more because it was also an ancient custom here in
India. I just saw it in the 'Mahabharata'!
It's an ancient custom. Once the deed is done, no one can
step on the other's land."
is the story of the creation of the Hungarian nation in
short (Courtesy: The Hungarian Information and Cultural
Centre, New Delhi):
The ancient Hungarians came to be a separate people
around 500 BC on the steppes of the West Siberian Plain.
From this time on they changed over to nomadic stock
raising, and started to call themselves "Magyar".
This kind of life style based on wandering brought about
their subsequent migration for thousands of kilometres.
First, around 500 AD, they moved to the area between
the Mid-Volga Region and the Ural Mountains (this area was
called Magna Hungaria by historic sources from the Middle
Ages). Then, around 700 AD, the majority of the Magyars
moved on to the area around the Volga and Don Rivers and
Doniesk Basin. This area was called
Lebedia after their first reigning prince Lebediás. Around
850 AD they put their abodes further south-west to the area
between the Dnieper and Dniester Rivers. This area was
called Etelköz "interriver area" by the Byzantine
emperor. From 862 on, starting from this area, their raiding
troops came to scour through the Carpathian Basin several
times and finally - between 895 and 900 - it
was occupied by them under the leadership of prince Árpád.
The immediate cause which brought about the conquest of
Hungary was the attack launched by the Pechenegs (Besenyös)
on the Hungarian dwellings in Etelköz.
Rakoczi, a Hungarian national hero of the 18th century,
painted by Elizabeth
In 895 the Hungarians took possession of the areas
lying east of the Danube, where they mainly found various
people of the former Avar principalities. On the border
areas of the Carpathian Basin they found eastern Slavic
people. Transdanubia and Southern Plain areas where, at that
time, under the rule of the Bulgarians. In 900 their ally,
Arnulf, the east
Frankish ruler, died, and it was this time when the
Hungarians occupied Transdanubia, as formerly it was a
Frankish borderland. In autumn 902 they overthrew the
Moravian principality, lying north of the Danube. The
Magyars set up their dwellings mainly on the plain areas. It
was only in the 10th century when they penetrated into the
mountains along the valleys.
with her Hungarian friend Agnes Kirpalani
Their incursions launched against Western Europe and
Byzantium where organised on the basis of political
considerations. During such raids they intervened into the
struggles taking side of this or another monarch. In the
majority of cases they interfered at the invitation of
princes or landlords fighting against each other. Their raids
abroad contributed even to the unification of some divided
German territories. By these expeditions they kept off
invaders from entering their own country and gained time for
the establishment of the Hungarian state. After the raids to
Western Europe had been stopped in 955, prince Taksony came
(955 - 972) and
strengthened the central power of the princedom and
established a firm basis for the state-organising work of
prince Géza (972 - 996) and king Szent István,
"Stephen the Saint" (997 - 1038), who finally
established the Hungarian Kingdom in 1000 AD.
That is why the Hungarian Millecentenarium was
celebrated in 1996 (896 - 1996).
Elizabeth continued to tell Dagmar, "I am never
looking at things lightly, they are very deep, let us say,
in my heart. There are, for instance, many things which I
like to explain in the book ('A Mystic Link With India'
written by R.K. Raju) which are incorrect. And you see,
paintings are not signed, and not dated! And now already I
have to think, my goodness, when was it painted. I have a
lot of work to do. All the paintings have to be signed. That
after us, my mother and me, people cannot steal them and
call them theirs. There are people like that. At least my
mother's paintings should be in order," Elizabeth
carried on. But Dagmar could not constrain herself and put
"and your own, Elizabeth, your own paintings are just
"It is important," said Elizabeth,
"because it is a historical period that was given to
two young artists. She was also young then. Mother died
young, only 60! And the whole family. That means my father
is like the 'guru' behind it all. He was, his soul was
destroyed, so wounded, by the First World War. The cruelty
of the First World War. And I am a 'First World War child'.
I grew up in that mess, with all those ideas in the air.
Suffering! Seeing women with my mother. She did help, doing
social work. All the men were in the war, women were left
alone with the children."
"Yes, I understand you very well, dearest
Elizabeth, I am a 'Second World War child' and so is
Laurence," said Dagmar.
we had to have that Second World War," Elizabeth
continued, "and we were prisoners of war in India! Of
course, our stay became finally beautiful, because the
spirit of India is beautiful. But I as a stupid little girl,
or still fairly young, I used to cover myself with a blanket
at night and cry. And my mother was very angry with me. She
thought I was not brave
enough. She said, if you
- although we have no Jewish relations, but friends
we had - should
have been taken to a 'nazi camp' then you know what you are
crying for. That she said to me in the middle of the night
when she realized that I am crying under the blanket."