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The Loves of Krishna in Indian Painting and Poetry by W. G. Archer

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1695,[96] shortly after Raja Kirpal Pal's death, the other almost
certainly fifteen years earlier.[97] The text in question is a treatise on
poetics illustrating how romantic situations should best be treated in
Sanskrit poetry--the conduct of mature mistresses, experienced lovers, sly
go-betweens, clowns or jokers being all subjected to analysis.[98] The
subject of the text is secular romantic poetry and Krishna himself is
never mentioned. None the less, in producing their illustrations, the
artists made Krishna the central figure and we can only conclude that
eschewing the obvious _Rasika Priya_, Raja Kirpal Pal had directed his
artists to do for Sanskrit what Keshav Das had done for Hindi poetry--to
celebrate Krishna as the most varied and skilled of lovers and as a
corollary show him in a whole variety of romantic and poetic situations.
As a result Krishna was portrayed in a number of highly conflicting
roles--as husband, rake, seducer, paramour and gallant.

In one picture he is 'a gallant whose word cannot be trusted' and we see
him in the act of delicately disengaging a lady's dress and gazing at her
with passion-haunted eyes. The poem on the reverse runs as follows:

Showing her a beautiful girdle
Drawing on a fair panel with red chalk
Putting a bracelet on her wrists
And laying a necklace on her breasts
Winning the confidence of the fawn-eyed lady of fair brows
He slyly loosens the knot of her skirt
Below the girdle-stead, with naughty hand.[99]

In another picture, he appears as 'a gallant well versed in the ways of
courtesans,' the dreaded seducer of inexperienced girls. He is now shown
approaching a formal pavilion, set in a lonely field. Inside the pavilion
is the lovely object of his attack, sitting with a companion, knowing that
willy-nilly she must shortly yield yet timidly making show of maidenly

His swollen heart
Knows neither shame nor pity
Nor any fear of anger
How can such a tender bud as I
Be cast into his hands today?[100]

In yet a third picture, he is portrayed standing outside a house while the
lady, the subject of his passions, sits within. He is once again 'a false
gallant,' his amorous intentions being shown by the orange, a conventional
symbol for the breasts, poised lightly in his hand. As the lady turns to
greet him, she puts a dot in the circle which she has just drawn on the
wall--a gesture which once again contains a hint of sex. On the picture's
reverse the poem records a _conversation galante_.

'Beloved, what are you doing
With a golden orange in your hand?'
So said the moon-faced one
Placing a dot
On the bright circles
Painted in the house. [101]

In other pictures, a clown or jester appears, introducing a witty joking
element into the scene and thus presenting Krishna's attitude to love as

From 1693, the year of Raja Kirpal's death, painting at Basohli
concentrated mainly on portraying rulers and on illustrating _ragas_ and
_raginis_--the poems which interpreted the moods and spirit of music. The
style maintained its fierce intensity but there was now a gradual rounding
of faces and figures, leading to a slight softening of the former brusque
vigour. Devotion to Krishna does not seem to have bulked quite so largely
in the minds of later Basohli rulers, although the cult itself may well
have continued to exert a strong emotional appeal. In 1730, a Basohli
princess, the lady Manaku, commissioned a set of illustrations to the
_Gita Govinda_ and Krishna's power to enchant not only the male but also
the female mind was once again demonstrated.[102]

This series of illustrations is in some ways a turning point in Indian
painting for not only was it to serve as a model and inspiration to later
artists but its production brings to a close the most creative phase in
Basohli art. After 1730, painting continued to be practised there but no
longer with the same fervour. Basohli artists seem to have carried the
style to other states--to Guler, Jammu, Chamba, Kulu, Nurpur and
Bilaspur--but it is not until 1770 that the Krishna theme again comes into
prominence. In about this year, artists from Guler migrated to the distant
Garhwal, a large and straggling state at the far south of the Punjab
Hills, taking with them a style of exquisite naturalism which had
gradually reached maturity under the Guler ruler, Raja Govardhan
Singh.[103] During his reign, a family of Kashmiri Brahmans skilled in the
Mughal technique had joined his court and had there absorbed a new
romantic outlook. On at least three occasions they had illustrated scenes
from the _Bhagavata Purana_--Nanda celebrating Krishna's birth,[104]
Krishna rescuing Nanda from the python which had started to devour his
foot,[105] and finally the game of blind man's bluff[106]--but their chief
subject had been the tender enchantments of courtly love. Ladies were
portrayed longing for their lovers. The greatest emphasis was placed on
elegance of pose. Fierce distortions were gradually discarded and the whole
purpose of painting was to dwell on exquisite figures and to suggest a rapt
devotion to the needs of love.

It is this suavely delicate art which now appears in Garhwal. Among the
Guler painters was a master-artist and although his first Garhwal pictures
are concerned with passionate romance, devotion to Krishna quickly
becomes apparent.[107] The great Alaknanda River which roared through
Srinagar, the capital, had a special fascination for him and just as
Leonardo da Vinci evinced at one time a passionate interest in springing
curls, the Guler artist found a special excitement in winding eddies and
dashing water. The result was a sudden new interpretation of the Krishna
theme. In two pictures where Krishna is shown quelling the snake
Kaliya,[108] all the Guler qualities of elegant naturalism are abundantly
present. Each figure has a smooth suavity and in every face there appears
a look of calm adoration. It is the swirling, curling water, however,
which gives the pictures their special Garhwal quality. The play of water
evokes a melody of line and the result is a sense of upsurging joy. A
similar religious exaltation marks other pictures by this master. At some
time he appears to have been commissioned to illustrate the tale of Sudama
the poor Brahman whose tattered hovel is changed by Krishna into a golden
palace. He was evidently assisted by a weaker painter but in the pictures
which are clearly his own work, the same quality of lyrical incantation
appears. As Sudama journeys to Dwarka Krishna's golden city, his heart
swoons with adoration, the hills, trees and ocean appear to dance about
him and once again, the linear music of the composition engenders a
feeling of supreme ecstasy.[109] We do not know which member of the Garhwal
court acted as his patron--it is even possible that it was not the ruler
himself but his consort, the Guler princess whom he had married in about
the year 1770. What, at any rate, is clear is that at least one lively
adorer of Krishna existed at the Garhwal court and that until the Gurkha
invasions of 1803, there were other painters, besides the master-artist,
who were similarly encouraged to interpret the Krishna theme.[110] Their
style was clearly influenced by that of the master but in their use of
slender leafless branches and towering spikes of blossom, they developed a
special Garhwal imagery designed to suggest the slender beauty of
love-enchanted girls. After the expulsion of the Gurkhas in 1816, a new
Raja revived Garhwal painting. Krishna the lover was once again portrayed
and until the middle of the nineteenth century, pictures continued to be
produced blending the delights of courtly passion with adoration of God.

It was in the state of Kangra, however, that the greatest developments
occurred. In 1775, the young Sansar Chand became Raja, and despite his
extreme youth, quickly acquired mastery of the Kangra court. It is
unlikely that artists were immediately summoned, but certainly by 1780 a
flourishing school of painters had come into existence.[111] As at Garhwal,
the artists of Kangra came originally from Guler and thus a similar
phenomenon arises--the Guler manner providing the basis for yet a second
great style. Sansar Chand was obviously quite exceptional, for not only
was he successful in politics and war, but from his early manhood was
devoted to Krishna as lover god. And it is this all-absorbing interest
which explains the vast expansion of painting which now occurred. Under
Sansar Chand's stimulus artists began to portray every situation involving
Krishna, the cowherd. He was shown as a baby crying for the moon, being
washed by his foster-mother, Yasoda, or mischievously breaking pitchers
full of curds. He would be painted strolling with the cowherds, playing on
his flute, or bringing the cattle home at evening. But the main theme to
which the artists constantly returned was his main cowgirl love. Radha
would be shown standing with Krishna in the forest, gazing trustfully into
his eyes, seeking shelter with him from the rain or sitting with him by a
stream.[112] Sometimes she and the cowgirls were shown celebrating the
spring festival of Holi, Krishna syringing them with tinted water while
they themselves strove to return his onslaughts by throwing red
powder.[113] Often the scene would shift from the forest to the village,
and Krishna would then be shown gazing at Radha as she dried herself after
bathing or squatted in a courtyard cooking food. At other times he
appeared assisting her at her toilet, helping her to dress her hair or
applying a beauty mark to her forehead. If the scene was night itself,
Radha would be shown sitting in her chamber, while far away across the
courtyards and gardens would loom the small figure of Krishna waiting
lonely on a bed. Occasionally the lovers would be portrayed expressing
their rapture by means of simple gestures. Krishna's arm would be shown
placed lovingly around Radha's shoulders, or Radha herself would be
portrayed hiding her head on Krishna's breast.[114] In all these pictures,
the style had an innocent and exquisite clarity, suggesting by its simple
unaffected naturalism the artists' delight in Krishna's character, their
appreciation of the feminine mind, their sense of sex as inherently noble
and their association of romance with God himself.

It is in a series of illustrations to certain texts, however, that Kangra
painting reaches its greatest heights. Among the many artists employed by
Sansar Chand, a certain Purkhu was notable for his 'remarkable clearness
of tone and delicacy of handling,'[115] and though none of his pictures are
signed it is these qualities which characterize one of the two most famous
sets of illustrations executed in Kangra. The subject was the tenth book
of the _Bhagavata Purana_ and the scenes illustrated ranged from Krishna's
birth and adventures with demons to his frolics with the cowgirls and
final slaughter of Kansa. Purkhu's style--if Purkhu is indeed the master
responsible--is remarkable for its luminous clarity, its faint suggestions
of modelling, and above all for its natural use of rhythm. In every
scene,[116] cowherds appear engaged in different tasks, yet throughout
there is a sense of oneness with Krishna himself. Krishna is shown
delighting all by his simple friendliness and dignified charm and the
style itself endows each scene with gentle harmony.

Purkhu was clearly one of the greatest artists ever to practise in the
Punjab Hills, but it is a certain Kushala who is supposed to have been
Sansar Chand's special favourite. We do not know which pictures are by his
hand but there exist two series of illustrations of such distinctive
quality that Kushala may well have been responsible.[117] One is a series
of paintings illustrating part of Bihari's _Sat Sai_--the seven-hundred
poems in which he extolled Krishna's love-making.[118] The other is yet
another version of the _Gita Govinda_ where Krishna is shown consorting
with the cowgirls in blissful abandon.[119] In both these series, the
inherent loveliness of Radha and the cowgirls is expressed by supple
flowing line, a flair for natural posture and the inclusion of poetic
images. The scarlet of a cowgirl's skirt is echoed by the redness of a
gathering storm, the insertion of Krishna into the background suggesting
the passionate nature of their imminent embraces.[120] In a similar way,
the forest itself is 'threaded with phases of passion' and slender trees
in flower parallel the slim romantic girls who long for Krishna's love.

One other Kangra master remains to be mentioned. Besides the pictures
already noted, there exists a further series illustrating the tenth book
of the _Bhagavata Purana_. The artist's identity is once again uncertain,
but just as the Garhwal master was fascinated by the swirl of curling
water, the Kangra artist in question delighted in the blonde pallor of
the Indian moon.[121] Each incident in the text is rendered as if in
moonlight--a full moon riding in the sky, its pale reflection shining in
water, the countryside itself bathed throughout in frosty whiteness. As a
result the figures of Radha and the cowgirls seem imbued with pallid
glamour, their love for Krishna with an almost unearthly radiance.

Kangra painting continued throughout the nineteenth century but it was
only during Sansar Chand's own reign (1775-1823) that the style achieved
great lyrical glory. Similarly it was only towards the end of the
eighteenth century that other states in the Punjab Hills developed their
own interpretations of the great impassioned theme. At Nurpur, Chamba,
Kulu and Bilaspur[122] pictures of Krishna had temporary vogues and at all
these places artists created new modes of expression. None of the local
styles, however, possessed the same prestige as that of Kangra and all
were subsequently obliterated by the general Kangra manner. By the
mid-nineteenth century, the Rajput order in the Punjab Hills foundered
before the British and while lesser nobles and merchants continued to
purchase pictures of Krishna the cult as a whole declined in princely
favour. Only in Eastern India and then mainly in the villages did delight
in Krishna continue to evoke new painting. From the twelfth century
onwards Bengal had constantly celebrated the loves of Krishna--the poets
Jayadeva, Chandi Das and Vidyapati being all natives of this part of
India. Hymns to Krishna were sung in the villages and as part of this
fervid adhesion, local manuscripts of the _Bhagavata Purana_ and the _Gita
Govinda_ were often produced. Such manuscripts were normally not
illustrated but were preserved between wooden covers, on which scenes of
Krishna dancing with the cowgirls or with male devotees were painted.[123]
Book covers of this kind were produced in the seventeenth and eighteenth
centuries and the resulting pictures have something of the savage elation
associated with the Basohli style and its derivatives. During the
nineteenth century, painted book-covers ceased to be produced but three
other kinds of painting continued to celebrate the Krishna theme. Frescoes
of Hindu gods and goddesses including Krishna were often executed on the
mud walls of village houses in Mithila, the birthplace of the poet
Vidyapati, and the style of painting with its brilliant colours and
brusque distortions testified to the great excitement still engendered by
Krishna's name.[124] At Kalighat near Calcutta, a special type of
water-colour picture was mass-produced for sale to pilgrims and although
the stock subjects included almost every Hindu god, many incidents from
Krishna's life were boldly portrayed.[125] The style with its curving
sumptuous forms is more a clue to general Bengali interests than to any
special attitudes to Krishna, but the pictures, strangely parallel in
style to the work of the modern artist Fernand Leger, have a robust gaiety
and bounding vigour, not inappropriate to the Krishna theme. The third
type of painting is the work of professional village minstrels known as
_jadupatuas_. As a means of livelihood, _jadupatuas_ travel from village
to village in West Bengal, entertaining the people by singing ballads and
illustrating their songs with long painted scrolls. As each ballad
proceeds, the scroll is slowly unwound, one scene leading to another until
the whole is concluded. Among the ballads thus intoned, the romance of
Krishna is among the most common and the style of painting with its crude
exuberance suggests the strength of popular devotion.[126]

There remains one last form of painting. During the twentieth century, the
modern movement in Indian art has produced at least four major
artists--Rabindranath Tagore, Amrita Sher-Gil, Jamini Roy and George Keyt.
Of these four, the first two did not illustrate the Krishna theme. Jamini
Roy, on the other hand, has often painted Krishna as flute-player and
dancer.[127] It would be unrealistic to suggest that these pictures spring
from a lively sense of Krishna as God--Jamini Roy has, in fact, resorted
to themes of Christ with equal, if not greater, frequency but has shown no
signs of becoming a Christian. It is rather that in painting these
pictures, he has treated Krishna as a symbol of rural vitality, a figure
whose boisterous career among the cowherds is an exact reflection of his
own attitudes and enthusiasms. To Jamini Roy, the Bengali village with its
sense of rude health is infinitely to be preferred to a city such as
Calcutta with its artificiality and disease and in a style of bold
simplifications, he has constantly celebrated the natural vigour and
inherent dignity of simple unsophisticated men.

Such pictures stress a comparatively unimportant side of Krishna's
character and it is rather in the paintings of George Keyt that Krishna
the lover is proudly portrayed. Born in Ceylon of mixed ancestry, Keyt
has, for many years, been acutely responsive to Indian poetry. In 1947,
he published the translation of the _Gita Govinda,_ excerpts from which
have been quoted in the text, and throughout his career his work has been
distinguished by a poet's delight in feminine form and sensuous rapture.
To Keyt such a delight is a vital component of adult minds and in the
romance of Radha and Krishna he found a subject subtly expressive of his
own most intimate beliefs. His paintings and line-drawings of Radha,
Krishna and the cowgirls--at once modern yet vitally Indian in
spirit--have the same qualities as those in the _Gita Govinda_.[128] Radha
and Krishna are shown luxuriating in each other's elegance, a certain
ineffable tenderness characterizing their gestures and movements. Their
love is gentle rather than brusque, an air of glamorous wonder broods
above them and we meet once more that blend of romantic sensuality and
loving innocence which is perhaps the chief Indian contribution to
cultured living. It is this quality which gives to Indian paintings of
Krishna and his loves their incomparable fervour, and makes them enduring
expressions of Indian religion.

[Footnote 66: Plates 3, 5, 6, 8, 9, 11, 13-17, 21 and 36.]

[Footnote 67: M.R. Mazumdar, 'The Gujarati School of Painting,' _Journal of
the Indian Society of Oriental Art_, 1942, Vol. X, plates 3 and 4.]

[Footnote 68: Collection Maharaja of Jaipur, Pothikhana, Jaipur.]

[Footnote 69: Collection Maharaja of Jodhpur, Pustakaprakash, Jodhpur

[Footnote 70: Plate 22. Collection N.C. Mehta, Bombay. For reproductions of
2 and 3, see Karl Khandalavala, 'Leaves from Rajasthan,' _Marg_, Vol. IV,
No. 3. Figs. 8 and 10.]

[Footnote 71: Moti Chandra, _Jain Miniature Paintings from Western India_
(Ahmedabad, 1949), Figs. 99-105.]

[Footnote 72: Khandalavala, op. cit., Fig. 14; _The Art of India and
Pakistan_, Pls. 81 and 82.]

[Footnote 73: Plates 23 and 24.]

[Footnote 74: For reproductions, see E. Wellesz, _Akbar's Religious Thought
reflected in Mogul Painting_ (London, 1952), Pls. 1-37.]

[Footnote 75: Reproduced Hendley, _Memorials, The Razm Namah_; see also
Plates 1 and 2 below.]

[Footnote 76: _The Art of India and Pakistan_, Plate 88.]

[Footnote 77: H. Goetz, _The Art and Architecture of Bikaner State_
(Oxford, 1950), Fig. 91.]

[Footnote 78: Coomaraswamy, _Boston Catalogue, VI, Mughal Painting_,
Plates 8-19.]

[Footnote 79: Goetz, op. cit., Figs. 78 and 93.]

[Footnote 80: Plate 29. See also B. Gray, _Treasures of Indian Miniatures
from the Bikaner Palace Collection_ (Oxford, 1951), Plate 6.]

[Footnote 81: Plates 28 and 32. See also Archer, _Indian Painting_, Plate

[Footnote 82: _The Art of India and Pakistan_, Plate 85.]

[Footnote 83: Plate 32.]

[Footnote 84: Plate 34.]

[Footnote 85: Plate 33.]

[Footnote 86: Bharat Kala Bhawan, Banaras.]

[Footnote 87: Eric Dickinson, 'The Way of Pleasure: the Kishangarh
Paintings', 2 _Marg_, Vol. III, No. 4, 29-35.]

[Footnote 88: Ibid., 31.]

[Footnote 89: Plate 39.]

[Footnote 90: For cartoons of this picture, see A.K. Coomaraswamy, _Indian
Drawings_ (London, 1912), Vol. II, Plate 2 and _Rajput Painting_, Vol. II,
Plates 9 and 10.]

[Footnote 91: Note 22.]

[Footnote 92: Gangoly, _Masterpieces of Rajput Painting_, Plate 10.]

[Footnote 93: Plates 4, 10, 26, 27, 30 and 31. _The Art of India and
Pakistan_, Plates 100-102.]

[Footnote 94: Plate 4.]

[Footnote 95: Plate 10.]

[Footnote 96: Archer, _Indian Painting in the Punjab Hills_, Fig. 6.]

[Footnote 97: Plate 30. Coomaraswamy, _Boston Catalogue, V, Rajput
Painting_, Plates 92-95.]

[Footnote 98: Note 23.]

[Footnote 99: Coomaraswamy, _Boston Catalogue, V, Rajput Painting, 171_.]

[Footnote 100: Ibid., 172.]

[Footnote 101: Ibid., 173.]

[Footnote 102: Plates 26 and 27. _The Art of India and Pakistan_, Plate

[Footnote 103: Archer, _Garhwal Painting_, 1-4.]

[Footnote 104: Gangoly, op. cit., Plate 35.]

[Footnote 105: Archer, _Indian Painting in the Punjab Hills_, Fig. 23.]

[Footnote 106: Mehta, _Studies in Indian Painting_, Plate 21.]

[Footnote 107: Plates 19, 20 and 35.]

[Footnote 108: Coomaraswamy, _Rajput Painting_, Plates 53 and 54.]

[Footnote 109: Archer, _Garhwal Painting_, Plate 1.]

[Footnote 110: Plates 7, 12 and 25.]

[Footnote 111: Archer, _Kangra Painting_, 2-5.]

[Footnote 112: Ibid., Plate 2.]

[Footnote 113: Ibid., Plate 1.]

[Footnote 114: Ibid., Plate 2.]

[Footnote 115: B.H. Baden Powell, _Handbook of the Manufactures and Arts
of the Punjab_ (Lahore, 1872), 355. Purkhu must now, most probably, be
connected with the first of the two Kangra masters described in _Kangra
Painting_ (p. 4)--Plates 3 and 4 being examples of his work.]

[Footnote 116: Plates 3, 5, 6, 8, 9, 11 and 16.]

[Footnote 117: Archer, _Kangra Painting_, Plates 1 and 2; also p. 4 where
the second of the two Kangra masters is described.]

[Footnote 118: Plate 36; Mehta, op. cit., Plates 25 and 26.]

[Footnote 119: Plate 21.]

[Footnote 120: Mehta, op. cit., Plate 22.]

[Footnote 121: Plates 13-15.]

[Footnote 122: Plate 18.]

[Footnote 123: _The Art of India and Pakistan_, Plate 79]

[Footnote 124: W.G. Archer, 'Maithil Painting,' _Marg_, Vol. III, No. 2.]

[Footnote 125: W.G. Archer, _Bazaar Paintings of Calcutta_ (London, 1953),
Plates 8, 9, 14, 19, 30, 31 and 41.]

[Footnote 126: Ajit Mookerjee, _Art of India_, (Calcutta, 1952) Fig. 94.]

[Footnote 127: B. Dey and J. Irwin, 'Jamini Roy,' _Journal of the Indian
Society of Oriental Art_ (1944), Vol. XII, Plate 6.]

[Footnote 128: For reproductions of Keyt's work, see Martin Russell,
_George Keyt_ (Bombay, 1950), Plates 1-101.]


Note 1, p. 13.

For a further discussion of these two main kinds of Indian expression, see
my _Indian Painting_ (Iris, Batsford, London, 1956).

Note 2, p. 14.

In Indian painting, Krishna is normally blue or mauve in colour, though
cases occur in which he is black, green or dark brown. Black would seem
to follow from Krishna's name--the word 'Krishna' meaning 'black'--and may
have been applied either because he sprang from a black hair of Vishnu
or because he was born at midnight, 'black as a thundercloud.' It has
been suggested that his dark complexion proves a Dravidian or even an
aboriginal origin since both the Dravidian races and the aboriginal tribes
are dark brown in colour in contrast to the paler Aryans. None of the
texts, however, appears to corroborate this theory. So far as 'blue' and
'mauve' are concerned, 'blue' is the colour of Vishnu and characterizes
most of his incarnations. As the colour of the sky, it is appropriate to
a deity who was originally associated with the sun--the sun with its
life-giving rays according well with Vishnu's role as loving protector.
'Blue' is also supposed to be the colour of the ocean on which Vishnu is
said to recline at the commencement of each age. In view of the variations
in colour in the pictures, it is perhaps significant that 'blue,' 'mauve'
and 'green' are commonly regarded in village India as variants of
'black'--many Indians making no distinction between them. In Indian
painting, the fact that Krishna is blue makes it easy to identify him, his
only serious rival being another and earlier incarnation of Vishnu, the
princely Rama. The latter can usually be distinguished from Krishna by the
fact that he carries a bow (never a cowherd's stick) and is often
accompanied by Hanuman, the monkey leader.

Note 3, p. 17.

For a comparison of Ghora Angirasa's teaching in the _Chandogya Upanishad_
with Krishna's precepts in the _Gita_, see Mazumdar, _The Age of Imperial
Unity_ (432-4) and Basham, _The Wonder that was India_ (242-7, 304-5)

Note 4, p. 17.

Although the actual date of the _Mahabharata_ war has been variously
assessed--'between 1400 and 1000 B.C.' (M.A. Mehendale in _The Age of
Imperial Unity_, 251) 'the beginning of the ninth century B.C. (Basham,
op. cit., 39)--the epic itself is generally recognized as being a product
of many centuries of compilation. The portions relating to Krishna the
hero may well date from the third century B.C. The _Gita_, on the other
hand, was possibly composed in the second century B.C. 'but assumed the
form in which it appears in the _Mahabharata_ today in the early centuries
A.D.' (Mehendale, op. cit., 249).

Note 5, p. 24.

The implication is that the Pandavas have not been granted ultimate
salvation i.e. final release from living but have reached the important
transitional level of 'the heaven of the doers of good deeds.' They have
also been granted the limited status of petty gods.

Note 6, p. 25.

_Harivansa_, 'the Genealogy of Krishna' but more literally, 'the Genealogy
of Hari,' a synonym for Vishnu. For the sake of clearness and to avoid
burdening the text with too much periphrasis, I have throughout referred
to Krishna as such. In the texts themselves, however, he is constantly
invoked under other names--Hari (or Vishnu), Govinda (the cowherd),
Keshava (the hairy or radiant one), Janarddana (the most worshipful),
Damodara ('bound with a rope,' referring to the incident (p. 32) when
having been tied by Yasoda to a mortar, Krishna uproots the two trees),
Murari ('foe of Mura, the arch demon' p. 58) or in phrases such as
'queller of Kaliya the snake,' 'destroyer of Kesi, the demon horse,'
'slayer of Madhu--the demon who sprang from the ear of Vishnu and was
killed by him.' A similar use of periphrasis occurs in Anglo-Saxon
kennings ('world-candle' for sun, 'battle-adders' for arrows). In the same
way, Abul Fazl's chronicle, the _Akbarnama_, never names the emperor Akbar
but refers to him in terms such as 'His Majesty,' 'the holy soul,' 'lord
of the age,' 'fountain of generosity,' 'the sacred heart,' 'the
world-adorning mind,' 'the decorated mansion of sports.'

Note 7, p. 26, 34, 46, 68, 69.

In Chapters 3 and 4 I have, in the main, strictly followed the _Bhagavata
Purana,_ incorporating, however, a few important details and passages
either not given in this text but included in the _Vishnu Purana_ or if
given, not so vividly expressed. The details and passages in question are
page 27 concerning the white and black hairs of Vishnu, page 34--the
lyrical description of Krishna's life in the forest, page 46--Akrura's
meditation as he goes to visit Krishna, page 68--the drunken brawl and
page 69 the deaths of Balarama and Krishna. All extracts are from H.H.
Wilson, _The Vishnu Purana_ (pages 498, 511, 541-2, 609-612).

Note 8, p. 28.

The resemblance between Kansa's order to kill all male infants and Herod's
slaughter of the innocents has often been remarked.

Note 9, p. 29.

Krishna's constant alterations of role, appearing sometimes as God but
more often as boy or man, have been commented on by Isherwood and
Prabhavananda in connection with Arjuna's dilemma in the _Mahabharata_.
'Krishna is the divine incarnation of Vishnu, Arjuna's chosen deity.
Arjuna knows this--yet, by a merciful ignorance, he sometimes forgets.
Indeed, it is Krishna who makes him forget, since no ordinary man could
bear the strain of constant companionship with God. After the vision of
Krishna's divine aspect, Arjuna is appalled by the realization that he has
been treating the Lord of the universe as 'friend and fellow-mortal.' He
humbly begs Krishna's pardon, but his awe soon leaves him. Again, he has
forgotten. We may infer the same relationship between Jesus and his
disciples after the vision of the transfiguration.' _(The Song of God,
Bhagavad-Gita,_ 29-30).

Note 10, p. 33.

Although part of the supreme Trinity, Brahma was often treated in
literature as an ordinary god who ambled gently about the world, was often
rather absent-minded, sometimes behaved as if he were a priest, and was
prone, as on the present occasion, to act a trifle misguidedly.

Note 12, p. 40.

The scene is illustrated in two Kangra and Guler paintings (Archer,
_Indian Painting in the Punjab Hills_, Figs. 10 and 23).

Note 12, p. 58.

Pragjyotisha--a city situated in the east, in Kamarupa on the borders of
Assam. According to the _Vishnu Purana_ (Wilson, 582), its environs were
defended by 'nooses, constructed by the demon Mura (Naraka's ally), the
edges of which were as sharp as razors.' Mura had seven thousand sons (not
seven, as stated in the _Bhagavata_). All, however, were 'burnt like moths
with the flame of the edge of Krishna's discus.'

Note 13, p. 67.

Basham (op. cit., 305) points out that elements in the Krishna story such
as the destruction of the Yadavas and the death of the god are 'quite
un-Indian in their tragic character. The themes of the drunken brawl
leading to a general slaughter, of the hero slain by an arrow piercing his
one vulnerable spot, and of the great city engulfed by the sea, are
well-known in European epic literature, but do not occur elsewhere in that
of India and are not hinted at in the Vedas. The concept of the dying god,
so widespread in the ancient Near East, is found nowhere else in Indian

It is unfortunate that Krishna's reasons for destroying the Yadava race
are nowhere made very clear. The affront to the Brahmans is the immediate
occasion for the slaughter but hardly its actual cause; and, if it is
argued that the Yadavas must first be destroyed in order to render
Krishna's withdrawal from the world complete, we must then assume that the
Yadavas are in some mysterious way essential parts of Krishna himself.
Such a status, however, does not seem to be claimed for them and none of
the texts suggest that this is so. The slaughter, therefore, remains an

Note 14, p. 68.

Wilson (op. cit., 608) summarizing the portents listed in the
_Mahabharata_ but not included in the _Vishnu_ or _Bhagavata Puranas_.

Note 15, p. 72.

From the _Brihadaranyaka_, quoted A. Danielou, 'An Approach to Hindu
Erotic Sculpture,' _Marg_, Vol. II, No. i, 88. For a Western expression of
this point of view, compare Eric Gill, 'Art and Love,' _Rupam_ (Calcutta,
1925), No. 21, 5.

'If the trees and rocks, the thunder and the sea, the frightful avidity of
animal life and the loveliness of flowers are so many hints of the God who
made them, how much more obviously are the things of humanity analogues of
the things of God? And among all such things, the union of man and woman
takes the highest place and is the most potent symbol. Therefore it is
that outside the commercial civilizations of the western world, love and
marriage take their place as types of divine union and everywhere love and
marriage are the subject matter, the theme of religious writers, singers,
painters and sculptors. It is true that love is the theme of western
writers also but with them the idea of love is entirely free from divine
signification. (As a corollary), the more the divine background
disappears, the more the prudishness of the police becomes the standard of
ethics and aesthetics alike. Under such an aegis the arts are necessarily
degraded to the level of the merely sentimental or the merely sensual and
while the sentimental is everywhere applauded, the sensual is a source of

Note 16, p. 73.

In later poetry as well as in popular worship, Radha's position is always
that of an adored mistress--never that of a beloved wife. And it is
outside or rather in the teeth of marriage that her romance with Krishna
is prosecuted. Such a position clearly involved a sharp conflict with
conventional morals and in the fourteenth century, an attempt was made,
in the _Brahma Vaivarta Purana_, to re-write the _Bhagavata Purana_,
magnifying Radha as leader of the cow-girls, disguising or rather denying
her adultery and finally presenting her as Krishna's eternal consort. For
this purpose, three hypotheses were adopted. Radha was throughout assumed
to be Krishna's spouse and it is only on account of a curse that she takes
human form as a cowgirl and comes to live in Brindaban. Radha herself does
not marry Ayana the cowherd--his wedding being only with her shadow.
Thirdly, Krishna comes to Brindaban and goes through a secret marriage
with her. Their love-making is, therefore, no longer adulterous but
strictly conjugal. It is not perhaps surprising that the _Brahma Vaivarta
Purana_ failed to capture the Indian imagination and indeed is nowadays
hardly ever heard of. It is of interest mainly on account of the prolific
information given about Radha, the fact that it sets her firmly in the
centre, dethroning the hapless Rukmini, and its baroque descriptions of
sexual union.

Note 17, p. 73.

During the eleventh and twelfth centuries, a parallel situation seems to
have arisen in feudal France and Germany where local love-poetry also
treated adultery as a _sine qua non_ of romance.

'Two things prevented the men of that age from connecting their ideal of
romantic and passionate love with marriage. The first is, of course, the
actual practice of feudal society. Marriages had nothing to do with love
and no 'nonsense' about marriage was tolerated. All marriages were matches
of interest and, worse still, of an interest that was continually
changing. When the alliance which had answered would answer no longer, the
husband's object was to get rid of the lady as quickly as possible.
Marriages were frequently dissolved. The same woman who was the lady and
'the dearest dread' of her vassals was often little better than a piece of
property to her husband. He was master in his own house. So far from being
a natural channel for the new kind of love, marriage was rather the drab
background against which that love stood out in all the contrast of its
new tenderness and delicacy. The situation is indeed a very simple one,
and not peculiar to the Middle Ages. Any idealization of sexual love, in a
society where marriage is purely utilitarian, must begin by being an
idealization of adultery.' (C.S. Lewis, _The Allegory of Love_ (London,
1936), 13.)

Note 18, p. 77.

Much of the _Gita Govinda's_ power arises from the endowment of Nature
with romantic ardour, the forest itself being presented as a highly
sensitive and symbolic setting for the behaviour of lovers. The following
passage from _Tess of the D'Urbervilles_ is perhaps the nearest approach
in English to this kind of treatment.

'Amid the oozing fatness and warm ferments of the Var Vale, at a season
when the rush of juices could almost be heard below the hiss of
fertilization, it was impossible that the most fanciful love should not
grow passionate. The ready bosoms existing there were impregnated by their
surroundings. July passed over their heads and the weather which came in
its wake seemed an effort on the part of Nature to match the state of
hearts at Talbothays Dairy. The air of the place, so fresh in the spring
and early summer, was stagnant and enervating now. Its heavy scents
weighed upon them, and at mid-day the landscape seemed lying in a swoon.
Ethiopic scorchings browned the upper slopes of the pastures, but there
was still bright herbage here where the water courses purled. And as Clare
was oppressed by the outward heats, so was he burdened inwardly by waxing
fervour of passion for the soft and silent Tess.'

Note 19, p. 77.

The _Gita Govinda_ was one of the first Sanskrit poems to be rendered into
English--Sir William Jones publishing a mellifluous version in _Asiatick
Researches_ in 1792. Later in the nineteenth century it was translated
into Victorian verse by Sir Edwin Arnold. The present translation from
which all the extracts are taken is by George Keyt, the foremost modern
artist of Ceylon. It is greatly to be hoped that the entire translation,
hitherto available only in an Indian edition, will one day be published in

Note 20, p. 86.

Poems 1 and 2 are based on versions by O.C. Gangoly (_Masterpieces of
Rajput Painting_, 29, 58); poems 3-11 are from new translations by Deben

Note 21, p. 91.

For the originals of certain poems in the _Rasika Priya_ and their literal
translation, see Coomaraswamy, 'The Eight Nayikas.'

Note 22, p. 104.

The first scholar to draw attention to this fact, i.e. that the subjects
are not Radha and Krishna but palace ladies impersonating them, is Dr.
Joan van Lohuizen de Leeuw, whose paper on this and kindred problems is
under preparation.

Note 23, p. 105.

For a detailed discussion of Bhanu Datta's _Rasamanjari_ and of similar
treatises by other Sanskrit authors, see V. Raghavan, _Srngaramanjari of
Saint Akbar Shah_ (Hyderabad, 1951).


AGRAWALA, V.S.: 'The Romance of Himachal Paintings,' _Roopa-Lekha_ XX, 2,
(1948-9), 87-93.

ARCHER, W.G.: _Indian Painting in the Punjab Hills_ (London, 1952).
_Kangra Painting_ (London, 1952). _Garhwal Painting_ (London, 1954).
_Indian Painting_ (London, 1956).

BASHAM, A.L.: _The Wonder that was India_ (London, 1954).

BURNOUF, E. (trans.): _Le Bhagavata Purana_ (Paris, 1840-98).

COOMARASWAMY, A.C.: 'The Eight Nayikas,' _Journal of Indian Art and
Industry_, XVI (New Series), No. 128 (1914), 99-116. _Rajput Painting_
(Oxford, 1916). _Catalogue of the Indian Collections in the Museum of Fine
Arts, Boston: Part V, Rajput Painting; Part VI, Mughal Painting_
(Cambridge, Mass. 1926, 1930). (trans.) _The Taking of Toll_ (London,

GANGOLY, O.C.: _Masterpieces of Rajput Painting_ (Calcutta, 1926). _Ragas
and Raginis_ (Calcutta, 1934).

GRAY, B.: _Rajput Painting_ (London, 1948). 'Painting,' _The Art of India
and Pakistan_, ed. L. Ashton (London, 1950).

GRIERSON, G.A.: _The Modern Vernacular Literature of Hindustan_ (Calcutta,

HENDLEY, T.H.: _Memorials of the Jeypore Exhibition. IV, the Razm Namah_
(London, 1883).

HOLLINGS, W. (trans.): _The Prem Sagar_ (Lucknow, 1880).

ISHERWOOD, C. and PRABHAVANANDA, S. (trans.): _The Song of God,
Bhagavad-Gita_ (London, 1947).

JONES, W. (trans.): 'Gitagovinda or Songs of Jayadeva,' _Asiatick
Researches_ (Calcutta, 1792).

KEYT, G. (trans.): _Sri Jayadeva's Gita Govinda_ (Bombay, 1947).

MATHERS, E. POWYS (trans.): _Eastern Love_ (London, 1927-30). (trans.)
_Love Songs of Asia_ (London, 1944).

MAZUMDAR, R.C. (ed.): _The History and Culture of the Indian People, I, The
Vedic Age_ (London, 1951); II, _The Age of Imperial Unity_ (Bombay, 1951).

MEHTA, N.C.: _Studies in Indian Painting_ (Bombay, 1926). _Gujarati
Painting in the Fifteenth Century_ (London, 1931).

RANDHAWA, M.S.: _Kangra Valley Painting_ (New Delhi, 1954). _The Krishna
Legend in Pahari Painting_ (New Delhi, 1956).

ROY, P.C. (trans.): _The Mahabharata_ (Calcutta, 1883).

SEN, D.C.: _History of Bengali Language and Literature_ (Calcutta, 1911).

SEN, R.N. (trans.): _The Brahma Vaivarta Purana_ (Allahabad, 1920).

STCHOUKINE, I.: _La Peinture Indienne_ (Paris, 1929).

WINTERNITZ, M.: _A History of Indian Literature_ (Calcutta, I, 1927; II,

WILSON, H.H. (trans.): _The Vishnu Purana_ (London, 1840).


Abul Fazl, 116, pl. 1 (comment)
Aditi, mother of the gods, 58, 59
_Age of Imperial Unity, The_, 115, 121
Agni, god of fire, 18
Agrawala, V.S., 121
Ahmadnagar, Deccan, 97
Ajmer, Rajasthan, 103
Akbar, Mughal Emperor, 97-99, 116, pl. 1 (comment)
_Akbarnama_, 98, 116
Akrura, chief of the Yadavas, 45-47, 49, 51, 57, 116
_Allegory of Love, The_, 119
Altdorfer, 93
Amaru, Sanskrit poet, 73
Aniruddha, son of Pradyumna and grandson of Krishna, 64
Archer, Mildred, 4, 9
Archer, W.G., 4, 101, 105, 107-112, 115, 117, 121
Arjuna, leading Pandava, husband of Draupadi, husband of Krishna's sister,
Subhadra, 20-22, 64, 65, 67, 69, 116, 117
Arnold, Sir Edwin, 119
_Art of India and Pakistan, The_, 96, 98, 101, 104, 107, 111, 121
_Asiatick Researches_, 119
Assam, 117
Aurangzeb, Mughal Emperor, 99
Ayana, husband of Radha, brother of Yasoda, 72, 118

Baden Powell, B.H., 110
Bakasura, crane demon, 33
_Balagopala Stuti_, poem by Bilvamangala, 84, 94
Balarama, brother of Krishna, 27, 30, 31, 34-36, 44-48, 50-56, 61-64, 66,
67, 69, 116, pls. 1, 5, 6, 9, 12, 16, 17
Bali, ruler of the underworld, 62
Bani Thani, poetess of Kishangarh, 103
_Barahmasa_, poems of the twelve months, 102, pl. 32
Basawan, Mughal artist, pls. 1, 2 (comment), 3 (comment)
Basham, A.L., 9, 19, 115, 117, 121
Basohli, Punjab Hills, 104, 105, 107, 111, pls. 18 (comment),
26 (comment), 30 (comment)
Beatty, Sir Chester, pls. 17, 19
_Bhagavad Gita_, 15-17, 24, 67, 115, 117
_Bhagavata Purana_, 11, 25-71, 72, 74, 85, 85, 99, 101, 105, 107,
110, 111, 116-18, 121, pls. 3-19
_Bhakti_, devotion to God, 19, 24
Bhanu Datta, author of _Rasamanjari_, 9, 105, 120, pls. 30, 31
Bharat Kala Bhawan, Banaras, 103, pl. 37
_Bharatiya Natya Sastra_, Sanskrit treatise, 90
Bhartrihari, Sanskrit poet, 73
Bhattacharya, Deben, 9, 87-90, 119
Bhima, strongest of the five Pandavas, 24, 65, 66
Bihari Lai, poet, 84, 110, pl. 36
Bijapur, Deccan, 97
Bikaner, Rajasthan, 99, 100, 103
Bilaspur, Punjab Hills, 107, 111, pl. 18
Bilvamangala, poet, 84, 94
Blue, colour of Krishna, 14, 115
Book covers, Bengali, 111
Brahma, 17, 27, 28, 33, 34, 58, 59, 65, 67, 117, pl. 2
_Brahma Vaivarta Purana_, 118, 121
Brahmans, 22, 28, 30, 38, 39, 62, 63, 67, 68, 71, 74, 107, 108, 117
Wives of, 38, 39
Braj, country around Mathura, 26, 28, 40
_Brihadaranyaka_, 117
Brindaban, forest near Gokula, 33, 35, 45, 46, 49, 52, 53, 59-62, 103,
pl. 6
British Museum, pl. 18
Brough, J., 9
Buddhism, 94
Bull demon, 44
Bundelkhand, 91, 99
Bundi, Rajasthan, 101-103
Burnouf, E., 121

Calcutta, 111, 112
Campbell, Roy, 75
Ceylon, 57, 112
Chamba, Punjab Hills, 107, 111
Chandi Das, Bengali poet, 84, 85, 89, 111
Chandigarh Art Gallery, East Punjab, pl. 27
_Chandogya Upanishad_, 17, 24, 115
Chanura, wrestler, 45, 48
Chawand, Mewar, 100
Christ, 14, 112, 117
Clothes, stealing of cowgirls', 37, 38, 74, 75, pl. 11
Coomaraswamy, A.K., 99, 104-6, 108, 120, 121, pl. 8 (comment)
Cowgirls, loves of the, 29, 36-38, 41-44, 46, 49, 50, 52, 53, 58, 60-62,
66, 70-82, 85, 86, 109, 110, 113, pls. 11, 13-15, 20-23.
Cowherds, abandonment of, by Krishna,
Krishna's life with, 49-53, 61, 62

Damodara, pseudonym for Krishna, 116
Dance, circular, 38, 41, 43, 46, 74, 75, p. 13 (comment)
Danielou, A., 117
Daruka, charioteer to Krishna, 68, 69
Demons, combats with, 29, 30, 33-36, 44, 45, 54, 55, 58, 64, 116, 117,
pl. 9
role of, 18, 19
Devaka, younger brother of King Ugrasena, 27
Devaki, mother of Krishna, 17, 27, 28, 44, 46, 48-50, 52, 63, 69, pl. 3
Devi, goddess, Earth Mother, 28, 40, 56, pls. 3, 18
Dey, B., 112
_Dharma_, 18, 23
Dhenuka, ass demon, 34
Dhritarashtra, blind son of Kuru, father of Kauravas, 20, 21, 51, 66
Dice, contest by, 21
Dickinson, Eric, 103
Draupadi, daughter of King of Panchal, common wife of the five Pandavas,
20-23, 64, 67
Drumalika, demon, 26
Duryodhana, leading Kaurava and son of Dhritarashtra, 23, 51, 66, 67
Dwarka, Krishna's capital in Western India, 21, 22, 54-59, 61-64, 66-70,
94, 108, pls. 2 (comment), 19

Earth, 27, 49, 58, 67
_Eastern Love_, 121
El Greco, 93

Flute playing, 15, 36, 37, 41, 61, 78, 86, 109, 112, pl. 21
Forest fires, 35, 36, pl. 10
France, feudal, 118

Games with cowherds, Krishna's, 31-35, 45, pls. 4-9
Gandhi, Mahatma, 15
Gangoly, O.C., 104, 119, 121
Garga, sage, 30, 31
Garhwal, Punjab Hills, 107-110, pl. 38
_Garhwal Painting_, 107, 108, 121
Germany, feudal, 118
Ghora Angirasa, 17, 115
Gill, Eric, 118
_Gita Govinda_, Sanskrit poem by Jayadeva, 9, 11, 76-84, 94-96, 98,
110, 111, 113, 119, 121, pls. 20-27
Gods, role of, 18, 19
Goetz, H., 99, 100
Gokula, district near Mathura, 26, 30, 33, 44
Govardhan Singh, Raja of Guler, 107
Govardhana, greatest of the hills, 39, 40, 42, 59, pl. 12
Govind Das, poet, 84, 88
Govinda, pseudonym for Krishna, 116
Gray, Basil, 100, 121
Grierson, Sir G.A., 121
Grunewald, 93
_Gujarati Painting in the Fifteenth Century_, 121
Guler, Punjab Hills, 107-109, pl. 18 (comment)

Hari, pseudonym for Krishna, 116
_Harivansa_, appendix to _Mahabharata_ epic, 25, 32, 98, 116
Hendley, T.H., 98, 121
Herod, 116
Holi festival, 109
Hollings, W., 121
Hunter, slayer of Krishna, see Jara.
Hussain Shah, ruler of Jaunpur, 96

India Office Library, London, pl. 34 (comment)
Indian Museum, Calcutta, pl. 35
_Indian Painting_, 115, 121
_Indian Painting in the Punjab Hills_, 105, 107
Indra, king of the gods, lord of the clouds, 18, 24, 39, 40, 46, 58, 59,
65, 66, pls. 2, 12
Irwin, J., 112
Isherwood, Christopher, 15, 24, 116

Jadupatuas, minstrel artists of Bengal, 112
Jaipur, Rajasthan, 95, 98, 103, 104, pls. 1 (comment), 2 (comment)
Jaisalmer, Rajasthan, 103
Jambhavati, a queen of Krishna, 56, 57, 60
Jammu, Punjab Hills, 107
Janarddana, pseudonym for Krishna, 116
Japan, 13
Jara, Bhil hunter, slayer of Krishna, 24, 67, 69, pl. 2
Jarasandha, demon king of Magadha, 26, 54-56, 65
Jaunpur, Eastern India, 96, 97
Jayadeva, Sanskrit poet, 76, 77, 84, 94, 111, 121
Jodhpur, Rajasthan, 95, 103
Jones, Sir William, 119, 121
Jumna, river, 22, 28, 35, 37, 41, 43, 47, 48, 61, 74, 82, 85, pls. 8,

Kalidasa, Sanskrit poet, 73
Kalindi, a queen of Krishna, 57, 60, 64
Kaliya, giant hydra-headed snake, 35, 42, 46, 108, 116, pls. 8,
10 (comment)
Kaliyavana, 54
_Kalpasutra_, Jain Scripture, 96
Kama, god of passion, 18, 64
Kamalavati, mother of Radha, 72
Kangra, Punjab Hills, 93, 108-11, pl. 3 (comment)
_Kangra Painting_, 109, 110, 121
_Kangra Valley Painting_, 121
Kanoria, Gopi Krishna, 9, pls. 7, 29, 39
Kansa, tyrant king of Mathura, son of Pavanarekha by the demon
Drumalika, 26-9, 31, 33, 43-50, 54, 55, 57, 62, 110, 116, pls. 3,
9 (comment), 16 (comment), 17, 35 (comment)
Karna, leading Kaurava killed by Arjuna at Kurukshetra, 23
Kauravas, the 100 sons of Dhritarashtra, rivals of the Pandavas
(vide _Mahabharata_) 20, 21, 23, 26, 51, 62, 66, 67
Kennings, Anglo-Saxon, 116
Keshav Das, poet, 84, 91, 99, 100, 105, pls. 28, 30 (comment)
Keshava, pseudonym for Krishna, 116
Kesi, horse demon, 44, 45, 115
Keyt, George, artist and translator of the _Gita Govinda_, 9, 76-83,
112, 113, 119, 121, pls. 21-27 (comments)
Khandalawala, Karl, 95, 96, pls. 10, 23 (comment)
Khurasan, 97, pl. 1 (comment)
Kirpal Pal, Raja of Basohli, 104, 105, 107, pl. 10 (comment)
Kishangarh, Rajasthan, 103, pl. 39
Kotah, Rajasthan, 103
Krishna Das, poet, 84
Kubera, yaksha king, pl. 5 (comment)
Kubja, hunchback girl, 47, 53, 54
Kulu, Punjab Hills, 107, 111
Kumbhan Das, poet, 84
Kundulpur, 56
Raja of, father of Rukmini, 55
Kunti, wife of Pandu, mother of the Pandavas, sister of Vasudeva
(Krishna's father), 20, 21, 51, 57, 62, 64
Kuru, common ancestor of the Pandavas and Kauravas, 20
Kurukshetra, battle-field of, 15, 21, 26, 61
Kushala, Kangra artist, 110, pls. 3, 21, 36
Kuvara, brother of Nala, 32, pl. 5.

Lahore, State Museum, pl. 26
Lanka, modern Ceylon, 57
Leger, F., 112
Lewis, C.S., 119
Lohuizen, Dr. Joan van, de Leeuw, 120
_Love Songs of Asia_, 121
Lucknow, State Museum, pl. 5

MacNeice, Louis, 15
Madhu, demon, 116
Magadha, 26, 54, 55
_Mahabharata_, 11, 17, 19-25, 51, 70, 98, 115
Mahavira, founder of Jainism, 94
Malabar, 84
Malwa, Central India, 97, 100-2
Manaku, Basohli princess, patron of painting, 107, pl. 26 (comment)
Manohar, Mewar artist, 100
_Marg_, Indian art journal, 95, 103, 111, 117
_Masterpieces of Rajput Painting_, 104, 119, 121
Mathers, E. Powys, 121
Mathura, town in Northern India, 26, 29, 30, 38, 39, 44-55, 61, 74, 76,
pls. 16 (comment), 17 (comment)
Mazumdar, M.R., 94
R.C., 115, 121
Mehendale, M.A., 115, 116
Mehta, N.C., 95, 107, 110, 121, pls. 4, 21, 22, 36
Mewar, Rajasthan, 100, 103
Mira Bai, poetess, 84
Mithila, 111
_Modern Vernacular Literature of Hindustan, The_, 121
Mody, J.K., pls. 3, 8, 11, 13, 15, 16
Monkey demon, 64
Mookerjee, A., 112
Moonlight, master of the, pls. 13-5
Moti Chandra, 96
Mukund, Mughal artist, pl. 2
Murari, pseudonym for Krishna, 116
Muru (or Mura), arch demon, 58, 117
Muslim artists, 99, 100
invasions, 73
rulers, 93, 96, 98
states, 97, 101
Mustaka, wrestler, 48

Nainsukh, Guler artist, pls. 3 (comment), 21 (comment)
Nala, brother of Kuvara, 32, pl. 5
Nanda, wealthy herdsman, foster-father of Krishna, 27-32, 35-41, 44-53,
61, 62, 77, 107, pls. 5, 10, 12, 20
Narada, sage, 60
Naraka, demon son of Earth, 58, 117
Nasiruddin, Mewar artist, 100
_Nayikas_ and _Nayakas_, 90, 91, 102, pl. 28
New Delhi, National Museum, pls. 5, 9, 12, 14, 20, 28
New Testament, 15
Nihal Chand, Kishangarh artist, 103
Nude, the, pl. 11
Nurpur, Punjab Hills, 107, 111

Ocean, 69
Orchha, Central India, 84, 91, 99

Painting, Basohli, 104-7, pls. 4, 10, 18 (comment), 26 (comment), 27,
30, 31
Bengali, 111, 112
Bikaner, 99, 100
Bilaspur, 107, 111, pl. 18
Bundi, 101, 102, pls. 28, 32
Deccani, 97, pl. 34
European, pl. 1 (comment)
Flemish, 14
Garhwal, 107, 108, pls. 3 (comment), 7, 8 (comment), 12, 19, 20, 25, 35,
38 (comment)
German, 93
Gujarati, 94, 121
Guler, 107, 108, 117, 121, pls. 3 (comment), 21 (comment), 37
Italian, 14
Jain, 94-96, pl. 22 (comment)
Jaipur, 104, 120
Jaunpur, 96, pls. 23-24
Kalighat, 111, 112
Kangra, 93, 103-111, 117, 121, pls. 3, 5, 6, 8, 9, 11, 13-17, 21, 36
Kishangarh, 103, 104, pl. 39
Maithil, 111
Malwa, 97, 101, 102, pl. 33
Mughal, 13, 97-99, 103, 105, 107, 121, pls. 1, 2, 3 (comment)
Nahan, pl. 38
Persian, 97
Udaipur, Mewar, 100, 101, 103-105, pl. 28 (comment), 29
Western Indian, 94-96, pl. 22 (comment)
Western Rajasthani, pl. 22
Panchala, kingdom of, 20, 21
Pandavas, five sons of Pandu, rivals of the Kauravas (vide _Mahabharata_),
20-26, 51, 57, 62-66, 70, 116
Pandu, second son of Kuru, father of the Pandavas, 20
Parasurama, 'Rama with the Axe,' incarnation of Vishnu, 20
Parikshit, great-grandson of Krishna, 69
Parmanand Das, poet, 84
Parvati, consort of Siva, 37
Pavanarekha, wife of King Ugrasena, 26
Prabhasa, town near Dwarka, 68, 94, pl. 1 (comment)
Prabhavananda, Swami, 15, 24, 116, 121
Pradyumna, Krishna's son by Rukmini, 64
Pragjyotisha, city of the demon, Naraka, 58, 117
Pralamba, demon in human form, 35, pls. 9, 10 (comment)
Pratap Singh, Raja of Jaipur, 104
Prince of Wales Museum, Bombay, pls. 23, 24, 32
Punjab Hills, 4, 13, 93, 98, 104, 105, 107, 111
Purkhu, Kangra artist, 109, 110, pls. 3, 5, 6, 8, 9, 11, 16
Putana, ogress, 29, 42

Radha, Krishna's chief cowgirl love, 15, 16, 72-90, 96, 98, 103-105,
109-111, 113, 117, pls. 13 (comment). 20-29, 31-39
_Ragas_ and _Raginis_, modes of Indian music, 84, 101, 102, 107,
pls. 33, 34
_Ragas and Raginis_, 121
Raghavan, V., 120
Rajasthan, 13, 95, 96, 99-105
_Rajput Painting_ (Coomaraswamy), 104, 108, 121, pl. 8 (comment)
(Gray), 121
Ram Gopal, 15
Rama, incarnation of Vishnu, 20, 57, 115
_Ramayana_, 98
Rana Jagat Singh, ruler of Mewar, 100
Rana Raj Singh, ruler of Mewar, 100, 105
Randhawa, M.S., 121
_Rasamanjari_, Sanskrit treatise by Bhanu Datta, 9, 105, 106, 120,
pls. 30, 31
_Rasika Priya_, Hindi treatise by Keshav Das (comment), 11, 90-92,
99-102, 105, 120, pls. 28, 30 (comment)
_Razmnama_, Persian abridgement of the _Mahabharata_, 98, Pls. 1, 2
Re-birth, theory of, 17-19
Revati, wife of Balarama, 55
Rohini, a wife of Vasudeva, mother of Balarama, 27-31, 35, 44, 53, 99
_Roopa-lekha_, Indian art journal, 121
Roy, Jamini, 112
Roy, P.C., 121
Rukma, brother of Rukmini, 56, 64
Rukmini, Krishna's first queen, 15, 55, 56, 59, 60, 64, 66, 69-72, 118,
pl. 18
Ruknuddin, Bikaner artist, 99
_Rupam_, Indian art journal, 118
Russell, M., 113

Saktasura, demon, 30
Sankhasura, yaksha demon, 44
Sansar Chand, Raja of Kangra, 13, 108-111
_Sat Sat_, poems by Bihari Lal, 110, pl. 36
Sattrajit, father of Satyabhama, 56, 57
Satyabhama, a queen of Krishna, 56, 57, 59, 60
Sawant Singh, Raja of Kishangarh, 103
Scroll paintings, 112
Sen, D.C., 121
Sen, R.N., 121
Sesha, serpent of eternity, a part of Vishnu, 27, 69, pl. 1
Shah Jahan, Mughal emperor, 99
Shahabaddin, Mewar artist, 100
Sher-Gil, Amrita, 112
Shiraz, 97
Sirmur, Punjab Hills, pl. 38 (comment)
Sisupala, claimant to Rukmini, rival of Krishna, 22, 56, 59, 66,
pl. 18 (comment)
Sitwell, Sacheverell, 14
Siva, 17, 18, 37, 44, 58, 59, 64, 65, 67, pl. 2
Srinagar, Garhwal, 108
St. John of the Cross, 74, 75
Stchoukine, I, 121
_Studies in Indian Painting_, 121
Subhadra, sister of Krishna, 22, 64, 65
Sudama, brahman, early friend of Krishna, 62, 63, 108, pl. 19
Sudarsana, Celestial dancer, 40, 41
Sur Das, poet, 84, 86, pl. 29
Surabhi, cow of plenty, 40
Sursagar, Hindi poem, pl. 29
Surya, sun god, 18

Tagore, Rabindranath, 112
_Taking of Toll, The_, 121
_Ten Burnt Offerings_, 15
_Tess of the D'Urbervilles,_ 119
Trinavarta, whirlwind demon, 30

Udaipur, chief city, Mewar, 100, 101, 103-105, pl. 29 (comment)
Udho, friend of Krishna, 52-54, 68
Ugrasena, king of Mathura, 26, 48, 54, 57, 67, 69
Ugrasura, snake demon, 33
_Upanishads_, 17
Usa, daughter of demon Vanasura, 64

Vaikuntha, heaven of Vishnu, 18, 59
Vallabhacharya, poet, 84
Vamana, dwarf incarnation of Vishnu, 20
Vanasura, demon with a thousand arms, 64
Varuna, god of water, 18, 38, pl. 1
Vasudeva, Yadava prince, father of Krishna, husband of Devaki, brother of
Kunti, 21, 27-31, 44, 46, 48-53, 62, 69, pl. 3
Vatsasura, cow demon, 33
Vedas, 39, 46, 56, 117
_Vedic Age, The_, 121
Victoria and Albert Museum, 98, pls. 30, 33, 34
Vidyapati, poet, 84, 87, 90, 111
Vishnu, 17-20, 26-29, 36, 39, 40, 45-47, 49, 56-58, 67, 69, 70, 76, 115,
116, pl. 2 (comment)
_Vishnu Purana_, 25, 116, 117, pl. 8 (comment)
Visvakarma, divine architect, 54, 63
Vrishabhanu, father of Radha, 72
Vrishnis, kinsmen of Krishna, 23
Vyamasura, wolf demon, 45

Wellesz, E., 98
Williams, R.H.B., pl. 30 (comment)
Wilson, H.H., 116, 117
Winternitz, M., 121
_Wonder that was India, The_, 19, 115, 117, 121
Wrestlers, Krishna's conflict with, 44, 45, 48, pl. 17

Yadavas, pastoral caste, Krishna's castemen, 21, 26, 27, 45, 49-57, 61,
62, 54, 66-69, 117, pls. 1 (comment), 2 (comment)
Yasoda, wife of Nanda, foster-mother of Krishna, 27-33, 35, 49, 51-53, 61,
62, 72, 109
Yoga, 19, 23
Yudhisthira, leader of the Pandavas, husband of Draupadi, 21-23, 65, 66




_The Death of Balarama_

Illustration to the Persian abridgement of the
_Mahabharata_, the _Razmnama_ (or Book of the Wars)
By Basawan
Mughal (Akbar period), c. 1595
Collection H.H. the Maharaja of Jaipur, Jaipur

Although illustrations of the Hindu epic, the _Mahabharata_, were rarely
commissioned by Hindu patrons, the gigantic text possessed a unique appeal
to Indian minds and for this reason the Mughal emperor, Akbar, chose it
for translation into Persian. 'Having observed the fanatical hatred
prevailing between Hindus and Muslims,' writes his biographer, Abul Fazl,
'and convinced that it arose only from their mutual ignorance, the
enlightened monarch wished to dispel the same by rendering the books of
the former accessible to the latter.' The work of translation was begun in
1582 and was probably concluded in 1588 when Abul Fazl wrote the preface.
It is unlikely, however, that the illustrations were completed before

The present picture by one of Akbar's greatest Hindu artists illustrates
the sensitive naturalism which from antecedents in Khurasan came to
elegant maturity in Mughal India between 1585 and 1600. Certain
details--the drapery with its shaded folds, the steeples rising in the
distance--are modelled on the European Renaissance pictures which by 1580
had already reached the court. Other details such as the lithe squirrels
gambolling in the tree, the rearing snakes and dense luxuriant foliage can
only have been painted by an artist devoted to the Indian scene.

In subject, the picture represents what Krishna saw on his return from
destroying the Yadavas at Prabhasa. Balarama, his half-brother, has gone
down to the sea and has there yielded up his spirit. Sesha, the great
serpent, who is part of Vishnu himself, is now issuing from the body
Balarama having been his incarnation. Snakes come to greet him while
Varuna, the god of water, stands as 'an old man of the sea' ready to
escort him to his long home.



_The Death of Krishna_

Illustration to the Persian abridgement of the
_Mahabharata_, the _Razmuama_ (or Book of the Wars)
By Mukund
Mughal (Akbar period), c. 1595
Collection H.H. the Maharaja of Jaipur, Jaipur

Following the death of Balarama, Krishna prepares to leave the world. He
sits in meditation and is shot in the sole of his right foot by Jara, a
Bhil hunter--the arrow which kills him being tipped with part of the iron
which has caused the destruction of the Yadavas.

The picture shows Krishna reclining on a platform of the kind still
constructed in India at the base of sacred trees. An arrow transfixes his
right foot while the hunter, dressed as a courtier in Mughal dress, is
shown releasing the bow. In front of Krishna stand four awe-struck
figures, representing the celestial sages and devotees of Vishnu who have
come to attend his passing. In the sky four gods look down. To the right
is Siva. Then, a little to the left, is four-headed Brahma, below him,
Indra, his body spotted with a thousand eyes and finally a fourth god of
uncertain identity. Around the platform surges the snarling sea as if
impatiently awaiting Krishna's death before engulfing the doomed Dwarka.

The painting is by a colleague of Basawan (Plate 1) and illustrates the
same great text.



_The Slaughter of an Innocent_

Illustration to the _Bhagavata Purana_
Kangra, Punjab Hills, c. 1790
J.K. Mody collection, Bombay

Following the expansion of Indian miniature painting in the early
seventeenth century, illustrated versions of the tenth book of the
_Bhagavata Purana_ began to be produced in parts of Hindu India. It was in
the Punjab Hills, at the end of the eighteenth century, however, that
romance and religion achieved their most delicate expression. The artist
chiefly responsible was a certain Nainsukh who had arrived at the State of
Guler in about 1740. His way of painting had marked affinities with that
of Basawan (Plate 1) and represents a blend of early Mughal naturalism
with later Hindu sentiment. The style founded by him influenced members of
his own family, including his nephew Kushala and ultimately spread to
Kangra and Garhwal where it reached its greatest heights. The present
picture, together with Plates 5, 6, 8, 9, 11 and 16, is possibly by the
Kangra artist Purkhu and with others of the series illustrates perhaps the
greatest interpretation of the _Bhagavata Purana_ ever produced in Indian

In the picture, the tyrant ruler Kansa is sleeping on a bed as a courtier
prepares to break the fateful news of Krishna's birth. To the right,
Devaki, Krishna's mother, nurses the baby girl whom her husband, Vasudeva,
has substituted for the infant Krishna. Kansa is wresting the baby from
her in order to dash its head against a boulder. As he does so, she eludes
his grasp and ascends to heaven in a flash, being, in fact, the
eight-armed goddess Devi.



_Krishna stealing Butter_

Illustration to an incident from the _Bhagavata Purana_
Basohli, Punjab Hills, c. 1700
N.C. Mehta collection, Bombay

Besides illustrating the tenth book of the _Bhagavata Purana_ as a whole,
Indian artists sometimes chose isolated episodes and composed their
pictures around them. The present picture is an instance of this practice,
its subject being the baby Krishna pilfering butter. As Yasoda, Krishna's
foster-mother, goes inside the house, Krishna and the cowherd children
stage an impudent raid. A cowherd boy mounts a wooden mortar and then,
balanced on his shoulders, the young Krishna helps himself to the butter
which is kept stored in a pot suspended by strings from the roof. A second
cowherd boy reaches up to lift the butter down while edging in from the
right, a monkey, emblematic of mischievous thieving, shares in the spoil.

The picture illustrates the wild and vehemently expressive style of
painting which suddenly appeared at Basohli, a tiny State in the Punjab
Hills, towards the end of the seventeenth century. The jagged form of
Yasoda, cut in two by the lintel of the doorway, the stabbing lines of the
churning pole, grazing sticks and cords, as well as the sharp angles of
the house and its furniture, all contribute to a state of taut excitement.



_The Felling of the Trees_

Illustration to the _Bhagavata Purana_
Kangra, Punjab Hills, c. 1790
State Museum, Lucknow

From the same great series as Plate 3, here attributed to the Kangra
artist Purkhu.

The young Krishna, tied to a mortar to keep him out of mischief, has
dragged it between two trees and thereby uprooted them. The cowherds, led
by the bearded Nanda, Krishna's foster-father, have hurried to the scene
and Balarama, Krishna's half-brother, is excitedly pointing out that
Krishna is safe. In the foreground, emerging from the earth are two
crowned figures--Nala and Kuvara, the sons of the yaksha king, Kubera,
who, as a consequence of a curse had been turned into the two trees.
Doomed to await Krishna's intervention, they have now been released.
Reclining on the trunks, still tied to the mortar, the young Krishna
surveys the scene with pert satisfaction.



_The Road to Brindaban_

Illustration to the _Bhagavata Purana_
Kangra, Punjab Hills, c. 1790
National Museum, New Delhi

With Plates 3 and 5, part of the series attributed to Purkhu.

Led by Nanda, the majestic figure in the front bullock-cart, the cowherds
are moving a day's march across the River Jumna to enjoy the larger
freedom of Brindaban. Their possessions--bundles of clothes,
spinning-wheels, baskets of grain and pitchers--are being taken with them
and mounted with Yasoda on a second cart go the children, Balarama and
Krishna. With its great variety of stances, simple naturalism and air of
innocent calm, the picture exactly expresses the terms of tender
familiarity on which the cowherds lived with Krishna.



_Krishna milking_

Illustration to the _Bhagavata Purana_
Garhwal, Punjab Hills, c. 1800
G.K. Kanoria collection, Calcutta

Like Plate 4, an illustration of an isolated episode. Krishna, having
graduated from tending the calves, is milking a cow, his mind filled with
brooding thoughts. A cowgirl restrains the calf by tugging at its string
while the cow licks its restive offspring with tender care. Other
details--the tree clasped by a flowering creeper, the peacock perched in
its branches--suggest the cowgirls' growing love. The image of tree and
creeper was a common symbol in poetry for the lover embraced by his
beloved and peacocks, thirsting for rain, were evocative of desire.

In style, the picture represents the end of the first great phase of
Garhwal painting (c. 1770-1804) when romantic themes were treated with
glowing ardour.



_The Quelling of the Snake Kaliya_

Illustration to the _Bhagavata Purana_
Kangra, Punjab Hills, c. 1790
J.K. Mody collection, Bombay

With Plates 3, 5 and 6, an example of Kangra painting in its most serene

Krishna, having defied the hydra-headed snake whose poison has befouled
the River Jumna, is dancing in triumph on its sagging heads. The snake's
consorts plead for mercy--one of them holding out bunches of lotus
flowers, the others folding their hands or stretching out their arms in
mute entreaty. The river is once again depicted as a surging flood but it
is the master-artist's command of sinuous line and power of suffusing a
scene of turmoil with majestic calm which gives the picture greatness.

Although the present study is true to the _Bhagavata Purana_ where the
snake is explicitly described as vacating the water and meeting its end
on dry land, other pictures, notably those from Garhwal[129] follow the
_Vishnu Purana_ and show the final struggle taking place in the river

[Footnote 129: Reproduced A.K. Coomaraswamy, _Rajput Painting_ (Oxford,
1916), Vol. II, Plates 53 and 54.]



_Balarama killing the Demon Pralamba_

Illustration to the _Bhagavata Purana_
Kangra, Punjab Hills, c. 1790
National Museum, New Delhi

A further example from the Kangra series, here attributed to Purkhu.

As part of his war on Krishna and young boys, the tyrant Kansa sends
various demons to harry and kill them, the present picture showing four
stages in one such attack. To the right, the cowherd children, divided
into two parties, face each other by an ant-hill, Krishna with arms
crossed heading the right-hand group and Balarama the left. Concealed as a
cowherd in Krishna's party, the demon Pralamba awaits an opportunity of
killing Balarama. The second stage, in the right-hand bottom corner, shows
Balarama's party giving the other side 'pick-a-backs,' after having been
vanquished in a game of guessing flowers and fruit. The third stage is
reached in the top left-hand corner. Here Pralamba has regained his demon
form and is hurrying off with Balarama. Balarama's left hand is tightly
clutched but with his right he beats at the demon's head. The fourth and
final stage is illustrated in the bottom left-hand corner where Balarama
has subdued the demon and is about to slay him.

The picture departs from the normal version, as given in the _Bhagavata
Purana,_ by showing Balarama's side, instead of Krishna's, carrying out
the forfeits. According to the _Purana_, it was Krishna's side that lost
and since Pralamba was among the defeated, he was in a position to take
Balarama for a ride. It is likely, however, that in view of the other
episode in the _Purana_ in which Krishna humbles his favourite cowgirl
when she asks to be carried (Plate 14), the artist shrank from showing
Krishna in this servile posture so changed the two sides round.



_The Forest Fire_

Illustration to an incident from the _Bhagavata Purana_
Basohli, Punjab Hills, c. 1680
Karl Khandalavala collection, Bombay

Under Raja Kirpal Pal (c. 1680-1693), painting at Basohli attained a
savage intensity of expression--the present picture illustrating the style
in its earliest and greatest phase. Surrounded by a ring of fire and with
cowherd boys and cattle stupefied by smoke, Krishna is putting out the
blaze by sucking the flames into his cheeks. Deer and pig are bounding to
safety while birds and wild bees hover distractedly overhead.

During his life among the cowherds, Krishna was on two occasions
confronted with a forest fire--the first, on the night following his
struggle with Kaliya the snake when Nanda, Yasoda and other cowherds and
cowgirls were also present and the second, following Balarama's encounter
with the demon Pralamba (Plate 10), when only cowherd boys were with him.
Since Nanda and the cowgirls are absent from the present picture, it is
probably the second of these two occasions which is illustrated.

For a reproduction in colour of this passionately glowing picture, see
Karl Khandalavala, _Indian Sculpture and Painting_ (Bombay, 1938) (Plate



_The Stealing of the Clothes_

Illustration to the _Bhagavata Purana_
Kangra, Punjab Hills, c. 1790
J.K. Mody collection, Bombay

Despite the Indian delight in sensuous charm, the nude was only rarely
depicted in Indian painting--feelings of reverence and delicacy forbidding
too unabashed a portrayal of the feminine physique. The present picture
with its band of nude girls is therefore an exception--the facts of the
_Purana_ rendering necessary their frank inclusion.

The scene illustrated concerns the efforts of the cowgirls to win
Krishna's love. Bathing naked in the river at dawn in order to rid
themselves of sin, they are surprised by Krishna who takes their clothes
up into a tree. When they beg him to return them, he insists that each
should freely expose herself before him, arguing that only in this way can
they convince him of their love. In the picture, the girls are shyly
advancing while Krishna looks down at them from the tree.



_The Raising of Mount Govardhana_

Illustration to an incident from the _Bhagavata Purana_
Garhwal, Punjab Hills, c. 1790
National Museum, New Delhi

With Plate 7, an example of Garhwal painting and its use of smoothly
curving line.

Krishna is lifting Mount Govardhana on his little finger and Nanda, the
cowherds and cowgirls are sheltering underneath. The occasion is Krishna's
slight to Indra, king of the gods and lord of the clouds, whose worship he
has persuaded the cowherds to abandon. Incensed at Krishna's action, Indra
has retaliated by sending storms of rain.

In the picture, Indra, a tiny figure mounted on a white elephant careers
across the sky, goading the clouds to fall in torrents. Lightning flickers
wildly and on Govardhana itself, the torn and shattered trees bespeak the
gale's havoc. Below all is calm as the cowherds acclaim Krishna's power.



_Krishna with his Favourite after leaving the Dance_

Illustration to the _Bhagavala Purana_
Kangra, Punjab Hills, c. 1790
J.K. Mody collection, Bombay

Besides Purkhu, at least two other master-artists worked at Kangra towards
the end of the eighteenth century--one, responsible for the present
picture and Plates 14 and 15, being still unknown. He is here referred to
as 'the master of the moonlight' on account of his special preoccupation
with moonlight effects.

The present picture shows Krishna and a girl standing by an inlet of the
River Jumna. The girl is later to be identified as Radha but in the
_Bhagavata Purana_ she is merely referred to as one who has been
particularly favoured, her actual name being suppressed. The moment is
some time after they have left the circular dance and before their sudden
separation. Krishna, whose hand rests on the girl's shoulder, is urging
her forward but the girl is weary and begs him to carry her. The incident
illustrates one of the vicissitudes in Radha and Krishna's romance and was
later to be endowed with deep religious meaning.



_Krishna's Favourite deserted_

Illustration to the _Bhagavata Purana_
Kangra, Punjab Hills, c. 1790
National Museum, New Delhi

From the same series as Plates 13 and 15 by 'the master of the moonlight.'

The girl's request (Plate 13) that Krishna should carry her brings to a
head the question of Krishna's proper status. To an adoring lover, the
request is not unreasonable. Made to God, it implies an excess of pride.
Despite their impassioned love-making, therefore, the girl must be humbled
and as she puts out her arms and prepares to mount, Krishna vanishes.

In the picture, the great woods overhanging the rolling Jumna are tilting
forward as if to join the girl in her agonized advances while around her
rise the bleak and empty slopes, their eerie loneliness intensified by
frigid moonlight.



_The Quest for Krishna_

Illustration to the _Bhagavata Purana_
Kangra, Punjab Hills, c. 1790
J.K. Mody collection, Bombay

By the same 'master of the moonlight' as Plates 13 and 14.

Krishna's favourite, stunned by his brusque desertion, has now been met by
a party of cowgirls. Their plight is similar to her own, for, after
enjoying his enchanting love, they also have been deserted when Krishna
left the dance taking his favourite with him. In the picture, Radha holds
her head in anguish while to the right the cowgirls look at her in mute
distress. Drooping branches echo their stricken love while a tree in the
background, its branches stretching wanly against the sky, suggests their
plaintive yearning.



_The Eve of the final Encounter_

Illustration to the _Bhagavata Purana_
Kangra, Punjab Hills, c. 1790
J.K. Mody collection, Bombay

From the same series as Plates 3, 5, 6, 8, 9 and 11, here attributed to
the Kangra artist Purkhu.

Invited by Kansa, the tyrant king, to attend a festival of arms, Nanda and
the cowherds have arrived at Mathura and pitched their tents outside the
walls. Krishna and Balarama are eating their evening meal by candle-light,
a cowherd, wearing a dark cloak to keep off the night air, is attending to
the bullocks while three cowherd boys, worn out by the day's march, rest
on string-beds under the night sky. In the background, Krishna and
Balarama, having finished their meal, are peacefully sleeping, serenely
indifferent to the struggle which awaits them the next day. The moon
waning in the sky parallels the tyrant's declining fortunes.



_The End of the Tyrant_

Illustration to the _Bhagavata Purana_
Kangra, Punjab Hills, c. 1790
Chester Beatty Library, Dublin

In the same style as Plate 16, but perhaps from a different series.

The festival of arms is now in progress but has already taken an
unexpected turn. Set on by the savage elephant, Krishna and Balarama have
killed it and taken out the tusks. They have then engaged two giant
wrestlers, Krishna killing his opponent outright. In the picture Balarama
is about to kill the other wrestler and Krishna, holding an elephant tusk
under his arm, looks at the king with calm defiance. The king's end is now
in sight for a little later Krishna will spring on the platform and hurl
him to his death. Gathered in the wide arena, townspeople from Mathura
await the outcome, while cowherd boys delightedly encourage the two



_The Rape of Rukmini_

Illustration to the _Bhagavata Purana_
Bilaspur, Punjab Hills, c. 1745
British Museum. London

Compared with Krishna's life among the cowherds, his adventures as a
prince were only scantily illustrated in Indian painting--his consort
Rukmini being totally eclipsed in courtly favour by the adored cowgirl,
Radha. The present picture--one of the very few to represent the
theme--shows Rukmini and her maids worshipping at the shrine to Devi, the
earth mother, on the morning of her wedding. Her proposed husband is
Sisupala and already he and his party have arrived to claim her hand. In
despair Rukmini has apprised Krishna of her fate but does not know that he
will intervene. As she worships, Krishna suddenly appears, places her on
his chariot and, in the teeth of Sisupala's forces, carries her away. The
picture illustrates the dramatic moment when after descending on the
shrine, Krishna effects her rescue.

The picture is in an eighteenth-century style of painting which, from
antecedents in Kashmir and the Punjab Plains, developed at Bilaspur. This
small Rajput State adjoined Guler in the Punjab Hills and shared in the
general revival of painting caused by the diffusion of artists from



_Krishna welcoming the Brahman Sudama_

Illustration to the Sudama episode in the _Bhagavata Purana_
Garhwal, Punjab Hills, c. 1785
Chester Beatty Library, Dublin

Sudama is a poor Brahman whose devotion leads him to go to Dwarka, and
seek out Krishna. Krishna remembers the time when they had shared the same
preceptor and warmly welcomes him to his princely palace. The picture
shows Sudama in rags seated on a stool while Krishna washes his feet and
hails him as a Brahman. In close attendance are various ladies of the
court, their graceful forms transcribed with sinuous delicacy and suave
poetic charm.

Although an episode in Krishna's later career as a prince and one designed
to buttress the priestly caste of Brahmans, the story--with its emphasis
on loving devotion--is actually in close accord with Krishna's life among
the cowherds. For this reason, it probably continued to excite interest
long after other aspects of his courtly life had been ignored. In this
respect. Sudama's visit to Krishna is as much a parable of divine love as
Krishna's dances with the cowgirls.



_The Beginnings of Romance_

Illustration to the _Gita Govinda_
Garhwal. Punjab Hills, c. 1790
National Museum, New Delhi

The first poem to celebrate Radha as Krishna's supreme love is the _Gita
Govinda_ of Jayadeva, written at the end of the twelfth century. The poem
recounts Radha's anguish at Krishna's fickleness, his subsequent
repentance and finally their passionate re-union.

The present picture with its glamorous interpretation of the forest in
spring illustrates the poem's opening verse and re-creates the setting in
terms of which the drama will proceed. Nanda, the tall figure towering
above the cowherd children, is commanding Radha to take Krishna home. The
evening sky is dark with clouds, the wind has risen and already the
flower-studded branches are swaying and bending in the breeze. Krishna is
still a young boy and Radha a girl a few years older. As Radha takes him
home, they loiter by the river, passion suddenly flares and they fall into
each other's arms. In this way, the verse declares, the loves of Radha and
Krishna began. The left-hand side of the picture shows the two lovers
embracing--the change in their attitudes being reflected in their altered
heights. Krishna who originally was shorter than Radha is now the taller
of the two, the change suggesting the mature character of their passionate

The picture with its graceful feminine forms and twining lines has the
same quality of rhythmical exaltation as Plates 19 and 35, a quality
typical of the Garwhal master-artist in his greatest phase.



_Krishna playing on the Flute_

Illustration to the _Gita Govinda_
Kangra, Punjab Hills, c. 1790
N.C. Mehta collection, Bombay

As Radha wilts in lonely anguish, a friend describes how Krishna is

'The wife of a certain herdsman sings as Krishna sounds a tune of love
Krishna here disports himself with charming women given to love.'

In the picture, Radha sits beneath a flowering tree, conversing with the
friend while, to the right, Krishna plays the flute to a circle of adoring

The painting is by a Kangra master, perhaps Kushala, the nephew of the
Guler artist, Nainsukh, and illustrates the power of Kangra painters to
imbue with innocent delicacy the most intensely emotional of situations.
It was the investment of passion with dignity which was one of the chief
contributions of Kangra painting to Indian art.



_Krishna dancing with the Cowgirls_

Illustration to the _Gita Govinda_
Western Rajasthan, c. 1610
N.C. Mehta collection, Bombay

Besides describing Krishna's flute-playing, Radha's friend gives her an
account of his love-making.

'An artless woman looks with ardour on Krishna's lotus face.'
'Another on the bank of the Jumna, when Krishna goes to a bamboo
Pulls at his garment to draw him back, so eager is she for amorous
'Krishna praises another woman, lost with him in the dance of love,
The dance where the sweet low flute is heard in the clamour of
bangles on hands that clap. He embraces one woman, he kisses
another, and fondles another beautiful one.'
'Krishna here disports himself with charming women given to love.'

The present picture illustrates phases of this glamorous love-making--Krishna
embracing one woman, dancing with another and conversing with a third. The
background is a diagram of the forest as it might appear in spring--the
slack looseness of treatment befitting the freedom of conduct adumbrated
by the verse. The large insects hovering in the branches are the black
bees of Indian love-poetry whose quest for flowers was regarded as
symbolic of urgent lovers pestering their mistresses. In style the picture
illustrates the Jain painting of Western India after its early angular
rigidity had been softened by application to tender and more romantic



_Krishna seated with the Cowgirls_

Illustration to the _Gita Govinda_
Jaunpur, Eastern India, c. 1590
Prince of Wales Museum, Bombay

After flute-playing and dancing (Plates 21 and 22), Krishna sits with the

'With his limbs, tender and dark like rows of clumps of blue lotus
By herd girls surrounded, who embrace at pleasure any part of his body,
Friend, in spring, beautiful Krishna plays like Love's own self
Conducting the love sport, with love for all, bringing delight into

And it is here that Radha finds him.

'May the smiling captivating Krishna protect you, whom Radha, blinded
by love,
Violently kissed as she made as if singing a song of welcome saying,
"Your face is nectar, excellent," ardently clasping his bosom
In the presence of the fair-browed herdgirls dazed in the sport of love.'

The picture shows Krishna surrounded by a group of cowgirls, one of whom
is caressing his leg. To the right, Radha and the friend are approaching
through the trees. The style with its sharp curves and luxuriating
smartness illustrates a vital development of the Jain manner in the later
sixteenth century.[130]

[Footnote 130: For a first discussion of this important series, see a
contribution by Karl Khandalavala, 'A _Gita Govinda_ Series in the Prince
of Wales Museum,' _Bulletin of the Prince of Wales Museum. Bombay_ (1956),
No. 4.]



_The neglected Radha_

Illustration to the _Gita Govinda_
Jaunpur, Eastern India, c. 1590
Prince of Wales Museum, Bombay

Following his revels with the cowgirls, Krishna is smitten with remorse.
He roams the forest, searching for the lovely Radha but finding her
nowhere. As he pursues his quest, he encounters the friend and learns of
Radha's dejected state.

'Her body is wholly tormented by the heat of the flame of desire;
But only of you, so loved, she thinks in her langour,
Your extinguishing body; secluded she waits, all wasted--
A short while, perhaps, surviving she lives.
Formerly even a moment when weary she closed her eyes.
The moment's parting she could not endure, from the sight of you;
And now in this long separation, O how does she breathe
Having seen the flowery branch of the mango, the shaft of Love?'

In the picture, Radha is sitting in the forest, lonely and neglected.
Trees surround her, suggesting by their rank luxuriance the upward surge
of spring while cranes, slowly winging their way in pairs across the
blackening sky, poignantly remind her of her former love.



_Krishna repentant_

Illustration to the _Gita Govinda_

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