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Paintings > Folk Art > The Cosmic Dance of Krishna
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The Cosmic Dance of Krishna

The Cosmic Dance of Krishna

The Cosmic Dance of Krishna

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Madhubani Painting on Hand Made Paper treated with Cow Dung
Artist Dhirendra Jha

2.5 ft x 1.8 ft
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The Cosmic Dance of Krishna

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Viewed 3612 times since 2nd Oct, 2008
This large size in characteristic Madhubani idiom, combining in its form the legend and the folk, the art and the science, the facts and the fiction and the mundane and the transcendental, represents in its fully elaborate form the Rasa, or the Maharasa of Lord Krishna and his Gopis. In the Madhubani tradition a pata-chitra is the same as a bhitti-chitra. What the bhitti-chitra renders on a wall space, the pata-chitra does on the canvas. In the Madhubani, it is usually an established legend from India's mythological tradition that turn into a folk. In geometrical forms, numerical balance and elaboration and anatomical semblance the Madhubani art discovers its dimensions. More than what has been apparently painted reveals from behind and between the lines. What appears to be so casual and common has cosmic implications and a day today ephemeral thing or occurrence is seen having transcendental bearings and pith.

Hence, the Madhubani art displays greater ingenuity in themes like this, which occur on mundane plane but are transcendental in their essence. The Rasa, or Maharasa is a dance and as such a mundane act, but in the context of Lord Krishna this mundane dance is seen permeating the entire cosmos and thus acquiring cosmic dimensions. In Indian thought, which now modern science also affirms, macrocosm is the extension of the micro. Accordingly He is the micro as well as the macro. Similarly it is the strength, the ecstasy, the urge that matters and not its kind. The absolute love or ecstatic love is the same as the absolute detachment for it detaches from the entire world, which the absolute detachment demands. The ecstatic involvement in dance and music sets one free from the bonds of this ephemeral world. The Rasa, or the dance, in the context of Krishna, is this same ephemeral act acquiring cosmic dimensions for it drags the dancing Gopis away from the mundane and transcends into the timeless regions of light and delight.

In Vaishnava cult, Maharasa defines the union of the temporal with the timeless, the sublimation of the ephemeral passion into the transcendental love and its inherent delight and a journey of the being from the micro to the macro. Dance and music are its instruments, ecstasy its guiding principle and love its axis and the finest spirit. In the Rasa, the love, the finest spirit, elevated to ecstatic heights by dance, unites Gopis, the temporal, with Lord Krishna, the timeless, and in the process the temporal becomes one with the timeless. Lord Krishna is the Supreme Being manifest in the mortal coil. He is both, the micro, as well as the macro. The inner ring, the micro, has Krishna engaged in playing upon his flute. Planted into a mortal coil he is the micro manifestation of the cosmos. Here Radha, the Gopi, representing temporal existence, by her dance and love, unites with him. Beyond this inner ring and its outer ring and seven surmounting rings, in the four corners, that is, beyond all layers of cosmic existence, Krishna, in his symbolic realisation as peacock, re-appears. This defines His macro-manifestation and depicts the journey of the temporal from the micro to the macro. Beyond that point is all glow and glory, which the Kirtimukha motifs symbolise.

The artist has realised his theme tremendously well. Radha's union with Krishna is absolute. This inner ring represents the invisible bhavabhumi, the regions of spiritual realisation. The circle beyond it represents this world with dancing Gopis, its temporal existence attempting at uniting with the transcendental. It has been divided into eight parts, that is, the atha prahara, or the eight divisions of each solar cycle of twenty-four hours, which continue to span this world. Beyond this circle, which represents this world, there are seven circles, the sapta lokas, the seven worlds, or the seven layers of cosmic existence. The lowest of these is the partially known sky, covered by arched cloudy region. Beyond that everything is defused in dark, but once the self transcends it, there are worlds, first that of stoics, second of delight, third of ultimate bliss and finally, that which leads to ultimate void, that is the final redemption and the ultimate union with the Supreme.

This description by Prof. P.C. Jain and Dr Daljeet. Prof. Jain specializes on the aesthetics of ancient Indian literature. Dr Daljeet is the chief curator of the Visual Arts Gallery at the National Museum of India, New Delhi. They have both collaborated on numerous books on Indian art and culture.

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