Na chainam kledayantayo na shoshayati marutah.
'This Self is eternal and incessant. Neither do arms pierce it nor does burn it fire; neither does it dissolve in water nor it dries in air'.
This Madhubani painting, with excerpts from the text of Bhagvata Gita, beginning with above sloka, inscribed on its left top, depicts Lord Krishna delivering the immortal message to Arjuna. The scene is laid in the battlefield of Kurukshetra. The Great War, Mahabharata, has begun much before in the minds of Kauravas and Pandavas. Kurukshetra is the slate where they have gathered to translate their minds into the language of arms and the acts of vengeance and killing. Everything is ready, armies to attack, conches to blow, swords to strike and arrows to shoot and pierce those bosoms which once cradled upon them the hands rose now to shoot them. Two mightiest of armies stand facing each other. They stretch farther than the human eye is capable to go through. On yonder side stand in the foremost line Pitamah, the great grandfather Bhishma, Acharya Drauna, Acharya Krapa, kith and kin, near and dear. Krishna is on the driving seat of Arjuna's chariot. Arjuna asks him to take his chariot to the centre of the battle-field to let him see fully the warriors he has to raise arms against. Krishna does accordingly.
Perceiving his close relations - uncles, maternal uncles, grandfather, great grandfather, teachers, in-laws, brothers, nephews, sons, grandsons, friends and others stand amongst the warriors Arjuna's heart fills with grief, pity and penitence. He moans - is it only for the enjoyment some land that he has to direct his arrows against them? Are not amongst them the ones who cradled him upon their bosom, loved him more than themselves and wept in his pain, smiled at his success, delighted in his happiness and prided in his achievements? Nay, they certainly are not the people his arrows may target. He says he will retire and leave his cause, land and power to let Duryodhana enjoy it. He declares that he would not kill his own dear and near just for just for petty things. He says he hasn't a desire to win land or worldly riches. He asks Krishna to take his chariot back.
Krishna consoles Arjuna and inspires him to do his part leaving it to Him to decide what is right or wrong. He says whether for pity and pain or for love, if he leaves battle-field, he will be seen only as a coward and impotent and Duryodhana will laugh at him. He says this is only his ego, which tells that he can kill or spare someone from killing. Does he know what he eliminates by killing exists truly or not ? He tells Arjuna whatever is true shall not be eliminated and what is untrue, fake, has to perish now or now-after by itself or by someone's hands. He says in the entire existence the spirit alone is true and is imperishable. It neither melts in water nor burns in fire. Neither it dries in air nor is pierced by weapons. The body to which he is feeling so attached and has all his ties with is a perishable thing. If he does not put it to its end it will end by itself. Hence, for such perishable thing he should not evade his 'karma', his duty. He asks Arjuna to do his 'Karma' unattached and beyond consideration of gain or loss, defeat or victory, right or wrong and the kingdom of God shall be bestowed on him.
Despite a larger canvas this Madhubani painting places its emphasis only on Krishna and Arjuna. The figures of a few warriors opposite them symbolise Kauravas' army. Typical of folk style this Madhubani artist has created a galaxy of colours, versatile and colourful motifs and patterns and all by using only a very few basic colours and those too in their primary tones. The multiplication of visuals is simply unique. The wheels of Arjuna's chariot are also the magnificent floral motifs, the colourful balloons and the decorative 'alpana', the floor designs. Excellent line-work gives to the painting most of its patterns and motifs. Simply drawn eyes are so expressive and the colour scheme extremely daring or who would draw the total figure of a horse in jet black or that of Krishna in deep blue without the variation of even tones or shades?
This description by Prof. P.C. Jain and Dr. Daljeet. Prof. Jain specializes on the aesthetics of literature and is the author of numerous books on Indian art and culture. Dr. Daljeet is the curator of the Miniature Painting Gallery, National Museum, New Delhi. They have both collaborated together on a number of books.
Of Related Interest:
Gita Updesha (Orissa's Paata Painting)
Gita Updesha (Water Color Painting on Marble)
Krishna's Gita Updesha (Batik Painting On Cotton)
Gita Updesha (Kalamkari Painting on Cotton)
Cosmic Form of Krishna as Revelaed in the Gita (Kalamkari Painting on Cotton)
Ready For War (Batik Painting On Cotton)
The Gita (Paperback Comic Book)
An Introduction to the Study of The Gita (Paperback Book)