This largely stylised formal miniature represents Lord Krishna, a timeless epic without a prologue and without an epilogue, as seated with Radha on a full blown lotus afloat Kshirasagara, the ocean of milk. The artist seems to have in mind his status as Para-Brahma – Supreme God, the same as Jagannatha in Oriya tradition which does not perceive him as one of Vishnu’s incarnations but as Vishnu himself, and hence chose to associate Kshirasagara, Vishnu’s usual seat, with him and of course Radha, a Lakshmi’s transform. Krishna, the cowherd, is not known to have ever shown any interest in lotus or garland of Parijata flowers, the attributes of Vishnu. Here in the painting both, the lotuses and the garland of celestial Parijata, are associated with his iconography. In the iconography of Vishnu Lakshmi is invariably represented as serving Vishnu. In Krishna’s legend, as well as iconography, Radha has a status equal to Krishna. While seeking to transform Krishna as Vishnu, the artist of this masterpiece preferred not to give up this status of Radha and despite that Krishna is Vishnu-like, Radha is only Radha.
This painting, rendered using Pahari art style as prevailed around the first-second decades of the nineteenth century at Garhwal and other hill states influenced by Kangra art-idiom, is outstanding in delineating strong features of both Radha and Krishna, especially the emotionally charged eyes. A partner on equal footing, Radha carries a ‘vina’ – stringed instrument, for accompanying Krishna when he plays on his flute. They are seated on a full blown double lotus laid over the milky waters of the ocean. The ocean-part around them has lotuses – plants and flowers, scattered all over. In distant background there is a mountain range, typical of Pahari artists and beyond it a clear light blue sky.
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
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