In the pre-Independence days of India, Sudhakar Dikshit,
a young journalist working as a news editor and then as
an assistant editor for daily newspapers in Patna and much
involved with Indian performing arts, came to settle in
Bombay (now renamed as Mumbai) carrying a treasured dream
– a dream to promote and propagate India’s rich
spiritual and cultural heritage.
Choosing from a formidably wide spectrum, Dikshit decided
to concentrate on three major areas of Indian heritage.
One was Philosophy & Religion, another was Indian Arts
& Crafts, and the third was Indian food focussed on
vegetarianism. He got a break when in 1946 the organisers
of a Culture Centre at 34 Rampart Row (now renamed as K.
Dubash Marg) which is located in the very heart of South
Bombay – a nerve centre of a busiest commercial complex
of major newspapers, premier banks, leading business houses,
five star hotels, theatres and other places frequented by
the elite of the city – decided to pull the shutters
down because the project had become a liability. Dikshit
took over the establishment and registered it in 1946 as
Chetana Ltd. The name was subsequently changed in 1972 to
Chetana Pvt. Ltd., now popularly known
Chetana started as a cultural café in an open-plan
fashion in about 2500 sq.ft. of floor area carrying a 17
ft. high ceiling. One part carried a bookstore, one corner
was reserved as a chess corner for practice and tournaments,
a small restaurant provided snacks and coffee, and a large
area was thrown open for cultural meetings, poetry reading,
and discussions on Vedas and Vedanta. Even a Bharat Natyam
School used the premises for conducting classes.
The place quickly blossomed, attracting intellectuals, artists,
book lovers, and even bureaucrats. Mulk Raj Anand, Nissim
Ezekiel, Evelyn Wood, B.G. Kher, Maharj Singh, Ashok Kumar
and many similar well-known people became regular visitors.
As an expression of his love for arts, Sudhakar Dikshit
soon opened an art gallery – first of its kind in
Bombay – at Chetana and exhibited works of Ara, Raza,
Hussain, Padamsi and Souza on chattai-clad walls of the
gallery. R.K. Laxman exhibited his cartoons for the first
time at Chetana Art Gallery. Subsequently when Jehangir
Art Gallery became operative nearby, Artists began to switch
over to the new gallery and Chetana Art Gallery had to close
Since those early days of haunting memories, Chetana Pvt.
Ltd has undergone many changes over the time and has come
a long way, but has always retained its unique character
Sudhakar Dikshit nurtured Chetana Pvt. Ltd. with the tenderest
care, evolved it into a strong institution, and passed away
in 1995 as a satisfied founder. His daughter, Mrs. Chhaya
Arya, heads the Company as its Chairperson & Managing
Shortly before his death, Sudhakar Dikshit conceptualised
Chetana Foundation, a charitable Trust, to encourage, sponsor
and assist research in Sanskrit, as well as in Ancient Indian
Thought, Philosophy, Arts, Crafts, Painting and Performing
Arts, Sculpture, Music, and to aid deserving research projects
and students. The Foundation has introduced a ‘Sudhakar
Dikshit Scholarship’ for a top-ranking student at
Mumbai University who would pursue research in Sanskrit
at the Doctorate level.
Pvt. Ltd. has throughout pursued a mission. Its mission
is to add value to the life of Indians in India and abroad,
to make them aware of India’s rich past and to inspire
them to forge ahead to a still glorious future, to open
up a treasure of knowledge – be it spiritual or traditional,
and finally to help the Indians to understand the meaning
of being an Indian.
Chetana Ltd. incorporated.
1946: Chetana Book Centre became functional.
1947: Chetana Art Gallery, first regular
art gallery in Bombay, opened.
1947: Chetana Publishing Division commenced
1976: Chetana Ltd. renamed as Chetana Pvt. Ltd.
1986: Chetana Art Gallery modernized and
reopened for business.
1989: Chetana Art Gallery converted into
Chetana Craft Centre.
2001: Chetana Book Centre, Chetana Craft
Centre and Chetana Veg. Restaurant rezoned, renovated and