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Jaur: Gita Govinda

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Jaur: Gita Govinda

Jaur: Gita Govinda

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Item Code: NAF430
Author: Kapila Vatsyayan
Publisher: National Museum, New Delhi
Language: English
Edition: 2011
Pages: 135 (Throughout Color Illustrations)
Cover: Hardcover
Other Details: 9.5 inch X 12.0 inch
weight of the book: 1.175 kg

Although conscious of the unique impact of the Gita-Govinda and its phenomenal pervasive influence throughout India, I had no idea that the project entitled ‘Gita-Govinda and the Indian artistic traditions’ (on which I had launched some years ago) would assume such gigantic proportions. Over these years the more I have delved into it, the more humble and small I have felt before the subject of my enquiry. The tiny book of barely twenty-four cantos ascends to the fathomless depths of the ocean and the immeasurable perennial flow of the Ganges.

I had begun in the belief that the primary source material was largely known and that my task would be to pull together the diverse threads for a meaningful examination of the creative use of the principles of inter-dependence and inter-relationship of the Indian literary, plastic and performing arts, enunciated in the aesthetic theories. The primary objective was to undertake a case study of this artistic phenomenon through a single work so as to unfold the multiple dimensions of the poetic imagery and its manifestations through diverse media.

As I proceed I realized that despite the hundred odd published editions, commentaries and translations of the Gita-Govinda (now included in the bibliography), there was a vast body of primary source material extant in private and public collections which required investigation. This ranged from epigraphical records, commentaries, translations and imitations, based on the Gita-Govinda to pictorial material in practically all schools of miniature painting. It was also necessary to undertake extensive field work in temples, meals, community gatherings, in order to assess its survival in the living continuities still vibrant in contemporary music and dance performance.

It soon became clear that neither a historical reconstruction nor a critical appraisal of the totality of the impact of the Gita-Govinda was possible without a fuller examination of this hitherto unknown material.

The first pre-requisite was thus to list, collate, document the primary material, scattered all over India and some repositories abroad. Even a rough listing of the unpublished manuscripts aggregated 1500 or more. Besides, there were secondary sources from the field of poetics, music, dance and drama, which required to be perused, apart from the creative works, of the different Indian languages. The documentation of the oral traditions accumulated to about two hundred hours of taped music, and this is by no means comprehensive.

The classification and analysis of this material became a task unto itself, primary and fundamental to any subsequent interpretative appraisal of the totality of the Gita-Govinda traditions. A full investigation of this material will perhaps make it possible to identify the exact paths of mobility and the nature of interaction and communication which took place, and takes place, amongst regions and diverse arts and between levels of society.

While this task will remain an essential pre-requisite for a historical reconstruction, recognizing the limitations of a single researcher for conducting such an inter-disciplinary study, the original methodology and approach has been slightly modified. It is now proposed to provide an annotated catalogue and bibliography of the primary source material (under preparation) for future researches. I am for the present restricting myself to an intensive analysis of a select number of unpublished manuscripts and commentaries. The annotated bibliography, when complete, will hopefully provide the basis for the rough chronology of the spread of the Gita-Govinda over a period of six hundred years of Indian history.

Amongst the unpublished manuscripts is a valuable group of illustrated manuscripts and sets of miniature paintings based on the Gita-Govinda. They are found in all parts of India and in Nepal, except Kashmir and the South. They range from the mid-fifteenth century to the late nineteenth century.

As a first step, it is proposed to consider each of these manuscripts and sets of paintings based on the Gita-Govinda individually. Nearly forty such unpublished manuscripts, or sets of paintings, comprising about 600 paintings, have been located and fully documented. This has come as a welcome surprise, especially because I was strongly advised to exclude this area in the mistaken, though sincere belief, that all the illustrated manuscripts were known and published. While I am grateful for the advice of the eminent art historians, I am glad I did not accept it, because my research has belied this notion. Indeed, it is my belief that more illustrated manuscripts may still come to light.

Be this as it may, the discovery and full documentation of these illustrated manuscripts demands a full study of each one individually. They are significant both as primary incontrovertible data for determining chronology, and valuable for their intrinsic worth as pictorial expression. They provide the basis for exploring the nature of relationship between the poetic theme, phraseology and imagery and the pictorial interpretation. Each of these studies is planned as an indepth study from the point of view of the inter-relationship and interdependence of the diverse artistic media, especially textual and pictorial, and will not be restricted to mere stylistic analysis of each pictorial school. Perhaps this will fulfil one initial objective objective of the project, namely to investigate the power of the literary work for multiple interpretations and the creative use of the principle of interrelationship and interdependence at the pan-Indian, as also regional, local, specific level.

Ten such monographs on the illustrated manuscripts and sets of paintings are planned. Critical volumes on the Gita-Govinda and the history of the literary, pictorial and performing arts will follow.

For the present, five such monographs are in the press. They belong to different regions of India extending from Mewar to Assam. The Jaur Gita-Govinda is the first amongst these individual monographs to be published. The manuscript is valuable both as a dated document, with a clear colophon, which enables us to establish chronology, comment on date, provenance, etc., and for the excellence of its literary and pictorial material. It raises many important questions of the development of languages and dialects and the evolution of miniature painting styles, during the last quarter of the sixteenth century.

Although the monograph stands on its own, it must be considered as one of a series and as a unit of the larger study on the Gita-Govinda and the Indian artistic traditions. It will, I hope, provide the basis for critically examining some fundamental assumptions of the Indian arts, particularly the processes and nature of interaction amongst regions, languages and the arts. Perhaps the analysis will also reveal the areas of dependence and autonomy of word, paint line, brush and colour. Further, it may unfold the manner by which a theme is interpreted concurrently at the universal mythical and local specific plane.

I am gratified that the National Museum of India should have decided to publish this first volume in their publication programme. I am grateful to the institution and to its officers, particularly Dr. N. R. Banerjee, Dr. P. Banerjee, Dr. C.B. Pandey, Shri B.S. Bisht and Shri J. C. Arora who have all been most cooperative and helpful. Dr. Grace Morley has always been gracious in sparing time to peruse manuscripts with meticulous care and offer many valuable and constructive editorial suggestions. To her, I offer my sincerest thanks. Shri B.M. Jawalia of the Saraswati Bhandar, Rajasthan, has helped in determining the exact data of the colophon according to the Christian era. Besides, he responded readily to my request for an edited version of the Mewari-Bagari text. This appears as an appendix. I am grateful to him.

Many museums and individuals have given permission for reproductions of paintings from collections. I am grateful to them all, particularly to the Prince of Wales Museum, Bombay, and the B.J. Institute, Ahmedabad, the Bharat Kala Bhavan, especially Dr. Anand Krishna and Shri O. P. Tandon, the Saraswati Bhandar, Udaipur, particularly Shri B.M. Jawalia, the Maharaja of Kankorali, through Shri U.P. Shah, the Gujarat Society Museum, Ahmedabad, particularly Shri Ramesh Patel, and many others. To Shri S. Sharma and Shri Krishan Kumar, I am indebted for typing the manuscripts and the bibliography.

Finally, I am grateful to the Jawaharlal Memorial Fund for the award of the Jawaharlal Nehru Fellowship. It provided the opportunity to conduct a research which has assumed, as I have said before, the dimensions of a life-long pursuit. I should particularly like to thank Dr. Karan Singh for his encouragement and interest.

On this occasion, I should also like to remember with deep gratitude two other persons. First my Guru, the late Amobi Singh, who was responsible for the first creative experience of the Gita-Govinda in Manipuri. Indeed, the research was initially begun at his command and behest. Secondly, my revered father who provided the emotional security and support throughout the period of my fellowship. Although both are no longer with me physically, I know that their spirit will continue to provide the inspiration and faith to pursue the Gita-Govinda for many more years. Also, I know that both would have rejoiced at this first tiny fruit of the many branched and hued tree which is the Gita-Govinda. Guruji would have exclaimed :



In an attempt to study the unique role of the Gita-Govinda in the literary, pictorial, musical and theatrical history of the Indian arts between 1250-1850 many hitherto unpublished illustrated manuscripts of the Gita-Govinda have come to light. These belong to diverse schools of Indian miniature painting and cover a vast geographical area ranging from Gujarat to Orissa and Assam. While an independent larger study is contemplated on the Gita-Govinda and the Indian artistic traditions (literary, visual and the performing arts), the present monograph restricts itself to a consideration of an important illustrated manuscript acquired by the National Museum in 1976. Similar monographs on twenty other unpublished illustrated Gita-Govinda manuscripts are envisaged as part of the larger study. This volume should be considered as one of the series.

The manuscript acquired by the National Museum is described so far, as a Gujarati illustrated manuscript of the 16th century. It raises some questions regarding both the language and the prose style of the text, as also the stylistic features of the paintings.

The first observation on these details pertains to the language of the manuscript. Although on the face of it the language appeared to have some Gujarati case endings, a reference both to Shri U. P. Shah and the B. J. Institute, Ahmedabad, confirmed our initial finding that the text was not in old Gujarati. Shri B. M. Jawalia of the Rajasthan Oriental Research Institute, Udaipur, ultimately helped in deciphering the language and kindly sent a working Nagari transcription and Hindi rendering of the text. He has now edited the text which appears in Devangari as Appendix I.

At the outset it should be made clear that the text is in prose and that the author is not following the patterns of the sargas and prabandhas of Jayadeva’s Gita-Govinda. It will also be evident that although the manuscript has been classified and catalogued initially as a Gita-Govinda manuscript, it is in fact a work which may be identified as one modeled on the Gita-Govinda in old Mewari (with words of old Bagari), but is not a faithful translation of the Gita-Govinda. These initial comments are necessary in view of the fact that so far all the scholars who have had a first book at the manuscript have called it a Gita-Govinda manuscript in Gujarati of the 16th century. These include Dr. Anand Krishna and Dr. B. N. Goswamy ; the National Museum and the scholars will no doubt revise these tentative findings when they examine the manuscript more closely.

Based on the edited version and Shri Jawalia’s reading of the text, a translation of the contents is presented. The textual and pictorial material has been correlated. Thereafter an attempt has been made to evaluate both its historical and artistic importance. Its provenance and the colophon make it an important piece of evidence for a re-assessment of the evolution of early Rajasthani painting. Its language and the method of narration assume significance in the context of literary drama or recitative forms.

Although it has not been possible to include here a complete faithful translation of the text the gist of each folio and the b havas (sentences or sections)as literally as possible, has been presented to convey the main points of the narrative and the manner in which the theme is handled. The text and illustration folios have been placed in juxtaposition to give an idea of the relationship of the text and the illustrations.

Even from this somewhat abridged description of the thematic content of the work, it will be clear that although the work has been considered a Gita-Govinda manuscript, it is in fact a text closely modelled on the Gita-Govinda, but not an exact translation of the Gita-Govinda. There are significant departures in the sequence of events. A closer comparison of this prose version and other similar versions in Gujarati, early Rajasthani and Mewari may well tell us of the existence of a nataka based on the Gita-Govinda which was called Sri Bhagavan Govinda Rangalila. For the time being, however, we have looked at this text and illustrations alone for the few conclusions which are obvious and the many questions it raises both from the point of view of the text and the illustrations.

1. First is the question of provenance. The language and the colophon make it clear that this does not belong either to early Gujarati or to an Apabhramsa bhasa which is akin to Avadhi, etc. but is a Bagari-Mewari mixture. It is apparently from a village called Jaur or Javar. The exact location of the village is thirty miles from Udaipur. The village continues to be a centre of the traditional arts. The name, Kiratadasa, may refer either to the author or the painter. The exact date works out to be 17th February 1594 A.D. and not 1593 A.D., so far given in the accession details of the National Museum.

2. The narrative reads in part as a story, but rather more as a dialogue with three main characters –Radha, Sakhi and Krsna. The dialogues are written in a simple style as conversation with familiar similies and metaphors, but without the ornate elaboration of riti kala poerty of a slightly later date. The author’s acquaintance with the original Gita-Govinda is clearly evident in the manner in which the story proceeds alternating between separation and union. It is also obvious that although the sequence of many events is changed, the author was familiar with Rana Kumbha’s commentary.

3. The appearance of the word jhanki is significant; it points to a dramatic presentation of a tableaux type which begins to appear in the 16th century in many parts of Northern India. The word is used in two different senses: first in its primary meaning as glimpse, and the second in its derived meaning as referring to a jhanki type of presentation. It may also suggest that the prose rendering may have been a pictorial representation of a play by that name. also words like ghumar, etc. for the dance tell us of the author’s preoccupation with a typical dance form prevalent in Rajasthan.

4. The composition’s heavy reliance on the Gita-Govinda is borne out by both the colophon and the internal evidence of the text. Many passages are a faithful prose rendering of passages of the Gita-Govind. In others the author departs fairly radically and often he changes the sequence of events.

5. Finally, there is the important question of determining the stylistic features of the paintings, in relation to what has been termed as the Western India or Gujarati school by some and the Apabhramsa by other. Also, since the language and the provenance is Rajasthan, it would be necessary to investigate if a similar style was prevalent in other parts of Rajasthan by comparing it with other examples, both contemporaneous and those that precede and follow it.

while it is not the purpose of this monograph at this stage to attempt a comprehensive analysis of the manuscript from all these points of view, a few broad conclusions are self-evident.

The manuscript is valuable for a study of the spread of the Gita-Govinda in different parts of India. Judging from the inscriptional evidence of Palhanapura it would appear that the theme, if not the work, had already travelled to Gujarat within sixty to seventy years of its creation. Then occurs a larger gap because the next important commentary on the Gita-Govinda appears only in the fifteenth century with the writing of Mananka’s commentary and Rana Kumbha’s commentary on the Gita-Govinda in 1463 (15th century). To this period also belongs the earliest Gujarati series on the Gita-Govinda to which Sri M. R. Mazmudar had drawn our attention as early as 1938. This series, however, restricts itself to the Dasavatara theme. Literary works based on the Gita-Govinda begin to appear in all parts India, including Bengal, Orissa, Mithila, Rajastha, Gujarat and Andhra Pradesh by the 16th century. A chronological history of this material is being attempted elsewhere and this will make the mobility pattern clear. Here it is sufficient to point out that prose works based on the Gita-Govinda are as prolific as the commentaries and the imitations which indicate a tala and raga for each prabandha. The present work does not fall into the category of either the commentaries or the imitations meant to be sung or danced and which are found in practically all parts of India. It belongs to a genre which was prevalent in Orissa where a dramatic presentation in prose was attempted. Amongst these the Piyusa Lahari from Orissa is an important landmark. Other versions of a similar nature appear in Gujarati and Maithili.

The manner of this dramatic recital is obviously in the form of a jhanki, a tableaux-like presentation, in which many lila natakas were presented in Northern India. The division of the bhavas where the story moves from one situation to the other was a common feature of all the lila natakas of the period. Possibly this type of prose recitation accompanied a dramatic presentation.

Although the work under consideration does not follow the Bhagavata Purana and is closely modeled on the Gita-Govinda, it has some interesting departures. The chief amongst these are the two seeming meetings of Krsna and Radha in an intermediate stage without an actual consummation. These may be accounted for by the author’s misreading the sections of the Gita-Govinda where the fantasies of Radha and Krsna of reminiscences are vividly described. While the theme of separation and meeting is repeated in the work, its movement pattern does not have the same easy flow that we witness in the Gita-Govinda. There are some abrupt passages and transitions. It would, for example, be difficult to break up the present work into the complete series of nayika b heads so evident in the transition from one mood to another in the Gita-Govinda. Nevertheless, there is a clear movement of vipralambha and sambhoga, the two predominant aspects of presenting the srngara rasa. Each of these is clearly and unequivocally presented both in the case Radha and Krsna. The role of the sakhi is important and she presents a near perfect example of the conventional character with all the attributes of the poetic motif. In this respect it faithfully follows the Gita-Govinda format. The role of the sakhi in persuading Radha and Krsna is indispensable to the conception, on many planes, both mystical and artistic.

Thematically, the illustrations have a vague but not a precise relationship with the text. Obviously the two media, i.e. the ‘word’ and the ‘visual presentation’, handle the same theme with an autonomy distinctive to each medium. The deduction that the illustrations are only a stimulus for the painter to interpret the theme according to his unique understanding would not be incorrect judging from this example and many others. Indeed, the painter takes a single word or a single sentence or motif to represent the mood pictorially. Variations and improvisations are many. The painter is nowhere trying to illustrate the text precisely or unimaginatively, a view point held by some in the context of Indian miniatures. What is perhaps nearer to the truth is the fact that the painter perhaps like the theatre director or the director of jhanki type of presentation was choosing the most dramatic heightened moment for his presentation. In this respect the latter two were closer to each other than to the verbal expression, full of loaded imagery of the poet.

Finally, as regards the style of the paintings and the use of spatial demarcations, sense of the perspective, the linear drawing of figures, the use of the ‘extended eye’ or the ‘farther eye’, the pointed nose, the use of coiffures and garments, the manuscript is reminiscent of some other found in Gujarat, but never identical. It has, however, little or nothing in common with the Gita-Govinda folios in the Prince of Wales Museum, known as the Caurapancasika group. Nor does it have any features of the other Gita-Govinda paintings of the N. C. Mehta collection now in the Gujarat Museum Society or the one with the Maharaja of Kankorali, all identified as the early Western Indian by some and Rajasthani by others. Also, the style of these paintings does not make it a natural precursor of the two folios of the Gita-Govinda in the National Museum and those others of the early 18 th century in the Udaipur Museum or that of the Saraswati Bhandara (c. 1714 A.D. and c. 1654 A.D. respectively) or the Kumar Sangram Singh collection or the Gita-Govinda in the Maharaja of Jaipur collection. It has also little to do with the examples of early Rajasthani paintings brought to light by Ratan Parimoo and called Lodhi period by Karl Khandalavala. It is also not akin to some folios of the Gita-Govinda recently acquired by the City Palace Museum, Jaipur.

The rough chronology of some of these Gita-Govinda sets so far accepted places them in this order :

(a) The Gita-Govinda, Gujarati, published by Sri M. R. Mazmudar, 15th Century.

(b) The Gita-Govinda in the B. J. Institute, Ahmedabad, in a folk idiom, also published by M. R. Mazmudar. He places it in the 15th century and Sri Karl Khandalavala places it in the early 17th century.

(c) The Caurapancasika style Gita-Govinda, dated 1525-1570 by Karl Khandalavala, considered to be from Jaunpur.

(d) The Gita-Govinda folios in the National Museum, also dated late 16the century by Moti Chandra and Karl Khandalavala (c. 1575 A.D.).

(e) The Gita-Govinda of the N. C. Mehta collection which N. C. Mehta places in the 15th century and Moti Chandra and Karl Khandalavala in the early 17th century (1610 A.D.).

(f) A few folios (eighteen) of the Gita-Govinda acquired by the City Palace Museum, Jaipur in 1977. Stylistically it is close to the Dasamaskandha of the Jodhpur Library or the Dasamaskandha of the Jagdish Mittal collection.

(g) A Gita-Govinda set in the collection of the Maharaj of Kankorali, some of its folios being in the same style as some folios of the N. C. Mehta collection. This set would also have to be placed latest at the end of the 16th or early 17th centuries.

(h) A Gita-Govinda set in the collection of the Maharaja of Jaipur. Stylistically it is closer to the Malwa idiom and cannot perhaps be dated later than mid 17th century.

(i) The Gita-Govinda set in the Saraswati Bhandara, Udaipur, judging from a colophon which appears in a manuscript of the Kavipriya which precedes the Gita-Govinda manuscript. This belongs to the mid-seventeenth century.

(j) Some paintings of this set, i.e. (i) above, are close to the Gita-Govinda in the collection of the Raja of Navalagarh, dated 1650 A.D. by Motichandra in the Lalit Kala Akademi publication on Mewar paintings.

Thereafter follow other Gita-Govinda sets in the various sub-schools of Bundi, Kishangarh and Jaipur and those of Basohli and Kangra in the 18th and 19th centuries which we need not take into consideration here.

Judging from the clear colophon of 1593 A.D., it would be reasonable to expect a style which would be nearer either to the sets mentioned at (b), above or certainly as (d), (e) or (f). It should also be expected that it may have something to do with the later sets mentioned at (i) and (j). it date may even make us expect a style which may co-ordinate with the Caurapancasika group.

The present Gita-Govinda belies all these expectations and takes us back visually to recollect vaguely the Balagopalastuti series of the 15th century, some marginal figures of the Devasano Pado Kalpasutra and the features of the Mahapurana of Digambar Naya Mandir of the 15th century.

In short, this is a style which appears to have been abandoned by the mid 16th century by all the Gita-Govinda sets mentioned above, and by many paintings of the Laur-canda group.

However, it also does not exhibit the formal elements of what is generally recognized as the Jaina School, identified with the Kalpasutra or the Kalakacarya Katha series, found in many collections in regard to division of spatial areas or the manner of presenting the narrations. The compositional pattern is closer to the Digambar Naya Mandir Mahapurana and yet not identical. The movements of the dancers, however, are rather vaguely reminiscent of the Vasantavilasa and the Vaisnava paintings of Gujarat. But the similarity ends here. The impression of the overcrowding of the latter is totally absent here. Some paintings of the Balagopalastuti, however, have this sense of space, where figures are freely interspersed.

First, let us take the distinctive feature of the format of these paintings. as will be clear from the accompanying photographs and the initial description, each of the folios is in variably divided into a number of sections. Only two or three present a single sequence spread throughout the painting area (e.g. folio 24). Normally there are three sections (e.g. folios 4, 6, etc.) but in some there are either two (folio 5) or in a few, four or five (folios 26 and 27). The maximum, as in two illustration folios, are five. Each of these is largely a single unit where one single dramatic event is presented unlike other miniatures of the Western Indian schools where multiple scenes or groups are evident in a vertical or horizontal arrangement in mutually exclusive self contained frames. Where the actual frame is broken, the trees serve as a space divider in the Western Indian or Apabhramsa. In the matter of garments, ornaments and the coiffure patterns, the paintings have some features common to what we see in what has been called ‘Western Indian’ painting, but not early Rajasthani of the 17th century. Therein the dhoti with a sash of Krsna suggesting a pitambara and an angavastra. In most scenes he is seen in this expect in folio 4 (section one) where he sits with a short striped dhoti or shorts, with a tuft or hair on top, and in folio 6, where also he wears a short, dhoti or shorts of a criss-cross pattern. In some the longer dhoti has a printed design (folio 7, 1st section) while in most others it is a plain or a striped dhoti. In one folio (illustration folio 9) there is yet another variant of the short dhoti, which in this case comes down to the knee, with sash hanging in front. This type of dhoti is not seen in the various Balagopalastuti series or in other Vaisnava paintings of Gujarat. In the latter they are tighter, stiffer and more formal. The parallels with some Vaisnava paintings are close but there is no immediate identity. Radha, the sakhi and other gopis and dancers are seen in a variety of costumes which can also be grouped under three or four types. There is a long flowing plain or printed dhoti of Radha and sakhi, which is obviously not a skirt, despite the impression that the gathers, or the sash in front, create. Radha and the sakhi wear a tight choli as upper garment, a characteristic feature of many paintings of the ‘Western Indian’ or more specifically the Jaina School of the late 15th century but not always of the 16th century. However, the saris of the present manuscript are never draped tightly around the legs and hips as is evident in the Kaplasutra or kalakacarya Katha, (i.e. Devasano Pado or Jaunpur, or the Jamanagar Kaalpasutra) and others of the Jaina schools. The saris here are loose and flowing and invariably reach only to the ankles. However, the gopis with Krsna or appearing solo as dance figures always wear shorts coming down only to the knee, a common feature of some marginal figures of dancers in the Devasano Pado Kalpasutra and many in the Jamanagar Kalpasutra. These appear on folio 6 (section 2), folio 20 (section 2) and folio 27 (section 4) in the present manuscript. This costume of the ‘shorts’ of the dancers is an important clue for establishing a link between the present manuscript and those others of the Jaina tradition which precede it but are not contemporary. It is interesting to note that there are many continuation of the earlier style which are abandoned in other examples of the late 16th century. An interesting costume of the cowherd or a present or possibly Balarama speaking to Krsna appears in folio 28 (section 2) where we encounter a short dholi and a headdress seen in the Krsna and cowherd scenes of the Balagopalastuti series, and other Vaisnava paintings from Gujarat. Important also, are the trees, the foliage and the depiction of clouds, the flowing river and the delineation of the animals. Most vivacious are the several folios where cows are seen. An unmistakable rhythm and a sense of movement and linear perspective are communicated through the pair or groups of cows in folios 2, 6, 9, 10, 13, 22 and 26. In each of these they appear to share the joy, distress or surprise of their master. The painter uses them as supporting motifs to create the mood, although there is no mention of their existence in the text. The rhythm and the movement of the animals is achieved through an easy flow of a clearly sketched outline which is drawn with a minimum of strokes. They are impressive for their brushwork and greatly enhance the lyrical, pastoral charm of the pictorial presentation. Again, although these are reminiscent of a similar depiction in the paintings of the Balagopalastuti series, the present illustrator has a more flexible (less rigid) approach. Also the animals are invariably placed in an asymmetrical pattern, unlike the neat symmetry of the row of animals in the Balagopalastuti as also in other Vaisnava paintings from Gujarat. Clouds are depicted through a minimum of curvilinear lines, which serve as an essential background to indicate the passage of time and the hour of the day. Their curvilinear patterns are in deep contrast to the static and vertical portrayal of trees. The trees and the foliage are used to demarcate different painting areas, or to clearly distinguish the scene as being indoors or outdoors. The circular, rather formalized drawing of the foliage of the trees, emphasizes the rounded contours without minute details of leaves and branches. Also by the diminishing size of the trees, gradually receding, a new sense of perspective is created. This is a marked distinguishing feature of the paintings. nevertheless, the few, but sure strokes (e.g. folios 5, 6, 9, 12 etc.) are most effectively used. This feature of an optical perspective distinguishes the illustrations from all the others to which they are being compared. Finally, there is the depiction of the Yamuna in many of these folios. In each of them it is represented through two diagonals in a large horizontal area, with wavy or semicircular patterns suggestive of waves or the rhythm of water. In a few simply drawn fish can be seen. This device is a common cliché of many painting styles of the 15th and 16th centuries and helps in establishing locale and indicating distance for the journey which the heroine or hero has to undertake. In folio 7 (section i) Krsna’s journey is thus represented and in folios 10 and 13 Krsna’s presence on the banks of the Yamuna is similarly effectively stablished. A sense of waiting and of being separated and yet longing for Radha is conveyed by changing the spatial arrangement in folio 22, where a triangular space in a corner (of section 1) represent the Yamuna. The feature of representing a river as a dividing line for different moods and for establishing locale is common and can also be seen in some of the paintings of the Western Indian, Jaina and Vaisnava schools of the 15th, 16th and 17th centuries, and also in some early Rajasthani paintings.




1 Preface vii-ix
2 Introduction 1-12
3 The Manuscript text and Illustrations 13-37
4 Colour plates and their description 39-75
5 Monochrome Illustrations 77-94
6 (Devanagari Transliteration by Shri B. M. Jawalia) 95-102
7 Appendix II. Bibliography of Gita Govinda 103-114
8 Index 115-125

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