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Paintings > South Indian > Yudhishthara in His Durbar
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Yudhishthara in His Durbar

Yudhishthara in His Durbar

Yudhishthara in His Durbar

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Water Color Mysore Painting on Paper
Artist: Chandrika

28 inch X 23 inch
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PS59
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A characteristic Mysore painting, rendered pursuing in its exactness the art idiom and the style of imagery of a mid nineteenth century Mysore painting portraying the same theme, palette and everything, represents Yudhishthara, the eldest of the five Pandavas, holding his durbar at Hastinapura after his coronation. The durbar of the Pandava-king Yudhishthara has been portrayed in the same order and spirit as described in the Mahabharata : Shanti-parva, Chapter 106. It was after long persuasion that Yudhishthara, immersed in deep sorrow over the deaths of so many of their kin including Karna, their eldest brother, agreed for taking over as the king of Hastinapura. As such, Yudhishthara’s coronation was a formal ritual not marked by any kind of expression of jubilation. The artist has aptly portrayed this mood in the thoughtful face of Yudhishthara and in the total ambience. Not only that the painting does not include any signs of jubilation but even the coronation part of the theme has been evaded. Among those present in the durbar were Dhratarashtra and Gandhari who had lost their hundred sons, Kunti, who had lost her eldest son, Draupadi who had lost her son Abhimanyu, and Uttara, her husband, and hundreds others. Obviously, an emotionally sensitive Yudhishthara could not celebrate the event in the conqueror’s spirit.

Exactly as the positions and places of different persons are described in the Mahabharata, Yudhishthara with Draupadi is seated east-facing on the throne made of gold and consisting of lion-figures as its legs under a gems’ studded gold umbrella in the main arch. With ‘Simha’ – lion, comprising its legs, or base, the king’s seat is known as ‘Simhasana’ : the lion-throne. Yudhishthara is holding in his right hand a flower, and in the left, the state’s standard. All male crowns are identically designed, though the Yudhishthara’s has in addition on its right a lace of pearls, perhaps denoting his distinction as the king. Facing him under another arch with alike green background is seated the blue-bodied Krishna with Sattviki on a throne identical to the Yudhishthara’s with similar gems’ studded umbrella, though not consisting of lion legs and not as large as his. Among all present in the court Yudhishthara and Krishna alone have the royal umbrellas over them and are seated in ‘lalitasana’, other being seated cushion-seats with their legs turned backwards.

In a seat on Yudhishthara’s right there is Bhima, his brother, next to him, holding his mighty weapon mace, and on his left, Arjuna, his younger brother, next to Bhima, and the hero of the Great War. He has on his left shoulder his bow Gandeeva. Behind Arjuna are seated Yudhishthara’s two other younger brothers, Nakula and Sahadeva with mother Kunti in between them. On extreme right, behind Krishna are seated on an elevated seat Dhratarashtra, the blind Kaurava king, and his wife Gandhari. Dhratarashtra was blind by birth and Gandhari had the vow of keeping her eyes bound for her entire life in oneness to her husband; however, under norms of art-aesthetics the Mysore artist, an art style known for its rare beauty, preferred to paint them not only as normal eyed but also youthful. Just under their seat there is Sanjaya who, endowed with divine power to see everything happening anywhere, had narrated to Dhratarashtra everything taking place in the battlefield.

Under the arch on the extreme left there are Dhratarashtra’s state priests Sudharma, Vidura, Dhaumya among others. There are on the Yudhishthara’s left attendants, chowri-bearers … and on the right, some of the princes heading other states and were in the Great War on Pandavas’ side. The bottom register portrays a number of warriors queuing to the centre from either side where an attendant is gifting them, in behalf of the king, a gold necklace studded with precious stones in honour to services they and their family members rendered in the Great War. An award function of this nature being a post-war convention, this part of the painting further asserts that the painting represents Yudhishthara’s coronation after the Great War was won.

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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