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Paintings > Hindu > Radha and Krishna in Lila-hava
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Radha and Krishna in Lila-hava

Radha and Krishna in Lila-hava

Radha and Krishna in Lila-hava

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Watercolor on Paper
Artist: Kailash Raj

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HJ19
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This strange form of Radha and Krishna, not merely covered with lotuses but the lotuses comprising their entire anatomical figures barring their faces, reveals Lord Krishna’s ‘lila-hava’ – sportive mood. ‘Lila-hava’, a theme typical to the iconography of Krishna, represents the divine lovers in a mood, or rather in a body-gesture revealing a sportive mood, not an act, having wider dimensions than a mere form of adorning the body or reflecting a disposition of mind. ‘Hava’ is a disposition of mind reflecting in one’s entire being, the body and mood, preceding an act expressing joy. The Lord of Creation, in Krishna’s case ‘hava’ is the ultimate for in his case ‘hava’ does not precede ‘lila’ – an act, ‘hava’ itself is ‘lila’ and itself the expression of joy of which Creation is the manifest form. Thus, Krishna, the Creator, does not create by act – ‘lila’, but the Creation evolves out of his joy and his joy seeks its expression in his ‘lila-hava’. In his mere mood to create the Creation evolves.

Besides the multiple lotuses comprising the two figures the artist has brilliantly used the lotus motif for revealing this analogy. No other motif so effectively symbolises the three cosmic regions – three worlds, as does a lotus. With its roots in the earth, growth of body across the water, and flowering apex in the space above – the sky, a lotus represents all three worlds. In this iconography of Krishna lotus – the symbol of three worlds, or the cosmos, comprises Krishna’s body suggesting that three worlds, that is, the entire Creation, is the mere magnification of his body as engaged in ‘lila-hava’. The ‘lila-hava’ is thus the ultimate. Hence, whoever its part is also the part of this magnification. Radha, the devoted self, shares this ‘lila-hava’ with Krishna and hence has same dimensional breadth as has Krishna. In her form too, cosmos seeks its magnification.

The painting has been rendered pursuing Pahari art idiom, both in the perception of the theme as well as in the style of painting it. This theme was painted earlier in the seventeenth century by Basohli artists and later in late eighteenth century, at Kangra by its artists. Though used as a part of adornment, lotus served as an essential component of the figures in Basohli art tradition from the earliest days. Obviously this must have prompted Basohli artists to discover a complete human form using lotuses as its formative medium. Such form could only be one of a divine being and who else but Radha and Krishna could be the most appropriate models for the experiment. Subsequently Mandi artists illustrated the Ramayana using figures of Rama and Lakshmana clad in garments made of leaves. These two mighty streams of Pahari art using flowers and leaves as body-components might have led Kanga artists to conceive the figures of Radha and Krishna as made of lotus flowers. This contemporary artist seems to have used these models for his images of Radha and Krishna.

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.


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