Born in Mumbai in 1924 Samant graduated from the Sir J.J. School of Arts, Mumbai in 1952. He later studied Basholi miniature painting under M. Palsikar.
Along with solo exhibitions in Mumbai, New Delhi and Kolkata he was invited to exhibited along with artists from the Progressive Artists Group from the mid to the late 1950’s. He was invited to exhibit at the Venice Biennale in 1956 and 58, the Tokyo Biennale in 1957 and 59 and the Sao Paulo Biennale in 1960. During this period he received several awards including the National Award from the Lalit Kala Akademi in 1956 and the Gold Medal from the Bombay Art Society in 1956 and 57.
He left for Italy on a Cultural Exchange Scholarship awarded by the Italian Government and exhibited at the Rome Institute of Oriental Studies in 1958.
In 1959 he received a Cultural Exchange Scholarship from the Asia Society, New York where he lived and worked for the next six years. In New York he was represented by World House Galleries and had four solo exhibitions between 1961 and 65 along with group participations at the National Gallery, Washington and Yale University, Connecticut. His work was represented in Paintings from the Museum of Modern Art, New York at the National Gallery of Art, Washington D.C. in 1963. In the same year Dunn International selected Mohan Samant to be amongst the 102 Best Painters of the World.
In 1965 Samant returned to India, for the next three years exhibiting in Mumbai New Delhi and Kolkata including the Indian Triennial in 1968.
After his stint in India, Samant returned to New York where he lived and worked until his demise in 2004. Along with solo exhibitions in New York, Mumbai and Kolkata his works were exhibited at the Hirshhorn Museum, Washington D.C. and the Festival of India in the United Kingdom and America. He received the Asian American Heritage Award in 2000.
His works are in the permanent collection of Museum of Modern Art, New York; National Gallery of Modern Art, New Delhi; Hirshhorn Museum, Washington D.C.; Tata Institute of Fundamental Research, Mumbai and Carnegie Institute, Pittsburgh.