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Paintings > Sikh Art > Maharaja Ranjit Singh Worshipping Devi
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Maharaja Ranjit Singh Worshipping Devi

Maharaja Ranjit Singh Worshipping Devi

Maharaja Ranjit Singh Worshipping Devi

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Water Color On Paper
Artist Kailash Raj

9.5" X 12.0"
Item Code:
$275.00   Shipping Free - 4 to 6 days
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Time required to recreate this artwork: 12 to 14 weeks
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Maharaja Ranjit Singh Worshipping Devi

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Viewed 23097 times since 2nd Oct, 2008
This magnificent miniature, a re-creation of a 1863 masterpiece of Kangra-Pahari mixed style, represents the illustrious Sikh ruler Maharaja Ranjit Singh worshipping Devi. Behind the Maharaja there stands Hira Singh, the son of Dhyan Singh, one of his favoured Sardars. Maharaja Ranjit Singh loved Hira Singh like his son and always kept him with him. Hira Singh was so much privileged that he could even use Maharaja's horse. The humbly attired Maharaja, without crown, 'kalagi' or jewels and also without his shield or sword, in his usual long gown and simple turban, stands before the Adi-Shakti with folded hands. Humbleness defines his demeanour and white beard his age.

The Devi image has been consecrated on a lotus flower laid on a hexagonal golden shrine inlaid with precious stones and gems inside a domed pavilion. The entire pavilion, from dome to steps leading to sanctum, is covered with gold leaves and is inlaid with varied coloured precious stones. The opening of the pavilion is square but its back recedes into a half hexagon. The floor of the pavilion is laid with a rich lavish red carpet embroidered varied coloured floral and creeper motifs. The back and side walls are stuccoed with delicately carved alcoves motifs, typical of Islamic architecture. The shrine supported on elegant gold pillars has the shape of a lotus flower. There rise from its back a curved stand and support on it a gold 'chhatra' inlaid with jewels and adorned with frill of pearls.

The four armed richly bejeweled Devi is seated in semi 'padmashana-mudra' against a huge bolster. In her upper hands she carries a double edged sword and a noose, her lower left hand is raised in 'abhaya' or boon granting 'varada-mudra', while her lower right hand is extended towards the Maharaja in a gesture of accepting his offerings. Halos define both, the image of Devi and the figure of Maharaja Ranjit Singh, but the halo around the Devi image is brighter, larger and far more radiating. Devi image wears a crown with multiple 'kalgis', something typical of Pahari icons of Devi. Davi's facial features, sharp nose, rising neck, pointed chin, small lips and moderate sized but deep thoughtful eyes, are also characteristic features of Pahari iconography. The facial features of Maharaja Ranjit Singh and Hira Singh reveal a marked difference and are more akin to Sikh artists. The artist has displayed great ingenuity in seeking colour balance while rendering Devi's costume. Against a widely expanding deep orange-red 'odhani' he has scattered all her variedly coloured garments, the sash, 'choli', 'salwara' etc. giving them striking projection and balance.

In Sikh history and life, Maharaja Ranjit Singh has passed now into a legend. Leaving aside the ten Gurus, of the born ones, he is the most revered amongst Sikhs. He was not only a great ruler, liberal and largely secular, but also a strong Sikh as well. But in his practices, approach and modalities he was altogether different. Art was his vision, hence he got carved even on sword-handles and other items of daily use the prohibited images of Gurus. He believed this would help propagation of their ideals. Idol worship was prohibited in Sikhism. But, despite, Maharaja Ranjit was a strong devotee of Devi. It hence surprises many how against the Sikh ideal he worshipped Devi's idols. This miniature depicts a shrine more of a domestic sort, as if he had the same in one of his palaces. But this is nothing extraordinary. As a soldier he found in Devi's chivalrous exploits greater inspiration for himself and his soldiers. Besides, his ideal in Sikh-panth was Guru Gobind Singh, together a saint and warrior, who not only worshipped and invoked Devi but also wrote a long poem, Chandi-Charita, in Devi's praise.

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.

Click here for more paintings by Kailash Raj

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  • Hi Brijesh, I tried to email you but the postmaster says "Delivery to the following recipients failed.".
    Could you please put up the correct address as I'd like to tap into your ideas? Thanks kindly
    by Rishi on 19th Aug 2009
  • Hello,

    The painting is beautiful, however I must say one thing about the commentary below.

    I have studied Religious Philosophy for nearly 7 years, I have a PhD from Oxford and an MA from St. Andrews. I spent most of my academic life specialising on Sikh history and took Hindu philosophy and Islam as minor subjects.

    I do agree with some of the posters below, it is highly unlikely Maharaja Ranjit Singh worshipped Devi. Many historical documents have been examined for years at several of the finest institutions in the UK and India, however there is little or no contextual evidence to support the claim that Maharaja Ranjit Singh worshipped any idols at all. Although a more secular ruler of the Khalsa, he rarely strayed from the ideals, and when he did he was reprimanded and immediately seeked forgiveness.

    Many of the posters below have not took information in context, Guru Gobind Singh did not praise or invoke Devi in a manner of worship in any sense of the word. Read the writings in context, Guru Gobind was a poet, he was very artistic in his writing approach, if we are to sit here and say Gurus worshipped Hindu gods, we are lieing, the Gurus broke taboos of using multi-religious writings in Guru Granth Sahib.

    Please look at the facts in context, the commentary has been baseless.

    by Brijesh Patel ( on 16th Aug 2009
  • Guru Nanak did not ask us to keep a beard, but Gobind did ...that's history. So the SiKhs of yester years were not fanatics but the Khalistanis started fanaticism, forgetiing that Four of our gurus were martyred by the muslim sword.
    by bahadur on 30th Apr 2009
  • this is a not a historically and culturally accurate depiction but a deception. It is true that history shows the maharaja respecting both islam and hinduism but he certainly didn't believe it. hindus and their fantasies...
    by Sikh Scholar on 11th Apr 2009
  • I am surprised by some of the commentary. None of the people who are arguing that Ranjit Singh did no worship Devi have read Sikh history with depth. Maharja Ranjit Singh was far from the post-Singh Sabha movement cookie cutter definition of a Sikh. This painting reflects the historical Ranjit Singh not a figure of Neo-Sikh imagination.

    The Sikh hymn of "Deh Shiva Mohe" itself is an invocation of devi in the form of 'Shivaa' (consort of male deity 'Shiv'). The hymn itself is based on Devi Markandya Purana and Durga Saptasati.

    The Sikhism of Ranjit Singh's era was imbued with Hinduism to the degree that his wives committed Sati and gates of Somnath temple were installed in the Golden Temple.

    I hope the (Neo) Sikh reviewers would get their facts straight from historical books rather than from SGPC controlled scholars before they rant about this historically and culturally accurate depiction. Thanks.
    by Sikh Art on 10th Mar 2009
  • Anyone who has made this picture and who has described the picture is good artist but has spoiled the truth .
    by tajinder pal singh on 10th Jan 2009
  • This is a disgrace. The great Maharaja Ranjit Singh was a son of Guru Gobind Singh ji and would never bow his head to a devi. Hindus and their imaginaion...
    by Budwal on 15th Aug 2008
  • this is a painting! your imagination! not a photograph. maharaja ranjit singh was a gem of a ruler who respected all religions. this does not mean that he looked to a devi for his strength and spiritual fortitude. He bowed alone to the Akal Takht, the jathedar of which was Akali Phoola Singh. when the jathedar announced a punishment for the maharaja for some misdeed, the maharaja showed up the Akal Takht and accepted the punishment. GO GET YOUR HISTORICAL FACTS RIGHT BEFORE U START WRITING NONSENSICAL STUFF ABOUT THE SHER-E-PUNJAB.
    by preet on 29th Jun 2008
  • In his 50 Years Regime Hindus were safe u know y? BCZ He Respected all Races and Religions. And 2 day we we are making fun of this Great RULER.
    by Krish on 27th Jun 2008
  • Taj u r great I am a hindu myselve but i dnt belive in Godess. I think u r fond of apasras. I herd that our godess use to moop the flor of there Gurus.
    by Krish on 27th Jun 2008
  • Mr Taj you are not a sikh of guru gobind singh you are a i think converted sikh who just wants to spoil the image of sikhism
    by singh on 20th Jun 2008
  • Sikhs do not worship the devi, this photo was just a creation of jealous people of Maharaja Ranjit Singh. Sikhism forbids idolism, idolic worship, And people manipulate and twist the meanings of texts such as chandi di vaar for this.
    by Singhaa on 26th May 2008
  • Thats what sikhs want us to believe but you cannot change history. Just accept that he was devoted to Devi. Sikh fundamentalists dont like the sound of this because they want to propogate the sikh religion which is understandable. I am sikh yet I am fully devoted to the Goddess...the two aspects live side by side.

    Sikhs get over it!...your ego is getting in the way
    by taj on 5th Apr 2008
  • This painting is not worth the paper it is on. It is historically incorrect. Maharaja Ranjit Singh was a Sikh, this painting makes no sense at all. He never ever worshipped any devi, he loved his religion and respected other's religion.
    by Ajay Singh on 17th Jul 2007
  • Maharaja Ranjit Singh was a Sikh who didn't bow his head in front of the British. The sikhism of Ranjit Singh's era was pure in its nature. The later sikhism is nothing but a bad replica of a british church. Sikhism has been covertly moulded into a monotheisic cult since the acquision of Punjab. Sikhism is Dharmic not abrahmic.
    by Sukhpal ( on 15th Apr 2007
  • I dont know about ranjit singh worshipping the devi, he wasnt even a baptised khalsa of guru gobind singh.Nevertheless, due respect to him for what he did for the sikh faith.However, your innacurate statement about Guru Gobind Singh worshipping the devi is baseless.He openly rejected idol worship in his writings in the dasam granth and his famous work, the zafarnamah.However, he did gain inspiration from the goddess durga and shiva.He admired their warrior prowess, however,to him,they were beings under the supreme command of the one omnipresent,formless god.So please remove any innacurate statements which might mislead others trying to find out about sikhism.It is a monotheistic religion.
    by Jagvinder Singh on 31st Mar 2007
  • something terreble said wrong here, guru ji were lord themself, and they didnot worship any godess, but they them self were worshiped by all. they were a incarnation of the allmighty so there didnot need to worship anything but almighty, so please remove anthing is said wrong about guru ji the almighty.
    by jag on 4th Feb 2007
  • "Besides, his ideal in Sikh-panth was Guru Gobind Singh, together a saint and warrior, who not only worshipped and invoked Devi but also wrote a long poem, Chandi-Charita, in Devi's praise." - This comment is inaccurat as Guru Gobind Singh Ji never worshiped devi he wrote Chandi-Charita sayin that in a past life he came to the aid of devi, but he never worshiped her
    by Amrit on 2nd Mar 2006
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