Alma Mater: My interpretation of the crest

‘Men make history,

not under circumstances chosen by them,

but in the ones they are put through’.

October 1920. The entire population of the pre independence Hindustan was grappling with the wave of the nationalistic sentiment. During this time, Lala Raghubir Singh envisioned Modern School. An avant garde institution. An institution, which was nationalstic in its roots, it’s propensity and it’s thought process. It was time to raise a generation of thinkers who would be able to dream, to believe, to adapt and to fly.

At a celebratory junction of thought of Lala Raghubir and think tanks like Gandhi, Tagore, CF Andrews and S K Rudra, who were his closest confidantes, the school brought together the finest modernist traditions into the ethos of the school.

From being a massive bungalow converted into a school house in Daryaganj, with 6 pass outs in their very first batch, to now being a global identity, Modern school since the very beginning, has made a mark.

Whether it was Mahatma Gandhi leading the march to the school premises in the pre independence era, or the likes of Rabindranath Tagore, Jawaharlal Nehru or Dr. Maria Montesseri visiting the school, to contemporary stalwarts like Mr Ratan Tata or Mrs Pratibha Patil gracing the eminent occasions in the school. Modern school has seen it all.

The iconic crest of this institution was conceptualised and composed by an eminent exponent of Modern Contemporary art, Sarda Ukil in 1920. He was not just an artist, but also a theatre artist. He was a modernist at the core and his works were reflective of the connect with the stalwarts of the modernist school of thought such as RabindraNath Tagore. He was associated with the school in its first few years in the capacity of an art teacher.

The dissection of its elements highlights the unified commonality of philosophy, flowing through it. The circular silhouette of the circle of eternity is transversed by the trichotomy of elements of the triangle. The dynamism of the triangle is accentuated by the way it weaves over and under the circumferencing element of eternity. The elements signifying the unison of body, mind and spirit, or the emotional, physical and mental aspects of growth in the development of an individual. It has also been looked upon as the approach of reading-writing and arithmetic as a core in education.

Rays emerge at the conjoince of the two defining elements, which are like the rays of the sun, the source of all energy through the living realm. The rays signify hopes and dreams and a lease of new energy. It has a symbolism with the sooraj ka saatva ghoda’. A mythical connotation which signifies the strength of the seventh horse when the preceding six are tired. It bears a reference to the school’s motto, ‘nayamtma balheenen labhya’, which means that self realisation cannot be achieved by the weak willed. The rays emerging from the elements within are significant of that strength.

The banyan or the central element draws upon the context of the holy portals of this great institution, the ancient Banyan which was and still is present in the campus, when Modern School was founded. From an artisorian point of view, the banyan symbolises longevity, stability and strength of character. The banyan’s lateral growth of the aerial roots wherever they strike upon and grandeur of the canopy signifies the legacy of the education imparted at Modern school. The students flourish wherever they go with a lateral and all inclusive approach. The solidarity and the ‘tree of detachment’ metaphorically brings out our duty towards our karma, that is our responsibilities, without the motivation of the fruits thereof.

It is surrounded by water, the life support, the omnipresent, the eternal yet dynamic harbinger of life and civilisations. The two elements, swan and lotus are floating in this.

The swan, a transmigratory soul is seen as a symbol of liberation. Connected in mind and spirit, of this world and another, it represents all encompassing knowledge and wisdom. The lotus has been a recurrent motif in the context of modern indian art. The ‘Padmavani’, Visnu, the bearer of the pristine and pure lotus sprouted during divine incarnation. The lotus, beside these connotations permeating through theology, has an occidental appeal too. The fact that it grows and blooms into a beautiful flower in muddy waters has a strong message too. Together these two symbols represent refinement through arts and culture in the development of an individual.

The crest comes upon with its piercing wisdom, the jugalbandi of roots and wings, the modern indian references and occidental connotations, this iconic symbol has an eternal appeal.

- Tarini Kapur 10B

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