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The Legend of Krishna in Wall Paintings of Gujarat and Rajasthan

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Item Code: NAO567
Author: Pradip Zaveri
Publisher: Niyogi Books
Language: English
Edition: 2018
ISBN: 9789386906496
Pages: 459 (Throughout Color Illustrations)
Cover: Hardcover
Other Details 9.5 inch x 8.0 inch
Weight 1.50 kg
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Book Description
About the Book

The Legend of Krishna in Wall Paintings of Gujarat and Rajasthan is a comprehensive documentation of the Krishna theme in an art form that is now on the verge of extinction. The exploits of Krishna have been and continue to be a great source of inspiration for the Indian artist. The author Pradip Zaveri has painstakingly collected images from temples, palaces, havelis, mansions, schools and houses during his extensive travels in Gujarat and Rajasthan.

This book explores the Krishna myth in its historical and cultural context. This collection essentially tells the story of Krishna's life as a child and then moves on to his adolescence as a cowherd, followed by his romantic dalliances. It includes paintings that illustrate the deeds of Vishnu and his other avataras. These wall paintings provide detailed glimpses of the social and cultural life of the people. Sadly this form of artistic representation is on the verge of extinction. In this book Pradip Zaveri preserves for posterity's sake this vibrant tradition that is an integral part of the country's representative art forms.

About the Author

Pradip Zaveri has always been inter-ested in various art forms, especially Indian paintings. His passion for travelling and photography led him to the interiors of Rajasthan where wall paintings are found in abundance. So, when he observed wall paintings in Kutch, now called Kachchh (Gujarat), his native place, he started photo documenting them. The first photog-raphy exhibition was held at Kutch museum. The Indira Gandhi Manav Sangrahalaya, the Bhopal based museum of mankind, appreciated his work and sponsored many exhibitions and workshops to help create awareness about the now extinct art of wall paintings. Udaipur based West Zone Cultural Centre sponsored his seminal documentation of the damage done to wall paintings in the aftermath of the 2001 earthquake in Kutch. This publication inspired Zaveri to explore and document wall paintings in other regions including north and central Gujarat. His published works include a book on Ramayana in the paintings of Kutch and Paintings of North and Central Gujarat: A Pictorial Journey (Niyogi Books). He lives in Vadodara with his family.


Gujarat and Rajasthan are globally renowned centres of arts and crafts. Wall art and paintings in residences have attracted academia to a larger extent in recent years. It is worth mentioning that Shekhavati in Rajasthan is a repository of mural paintings; and Gujarat is a preserving den of wall art. Shekhavati is widely studied by art historians and art lovers but the wall art in the residences of Gujarat is less explored.

My earlier work in this field was widely covered by West Zone Cultural Centre, Udaipur and Indira Gandhi Rashtriya Manav Sangrahalaya, Bhopal. Both these institutions brought out publications on the photo documentation I carried out as a wall painting enthusiast on murals of Gujarat.

This prompted me to venture into making of another catalogue based on the Krishna theme, which is depicted as paintings on the walls of palaces, temples and mansions in many pockets of both states.

Krishna, a figure from legends as an incarnation of Vishnu, a supreme being, is now for centuries the centre of faith for millions in the Indian subcontinent. There is hardly any living being, historical or mythological, who has so completely imbued the cultural life of people in India. Krishna, the dark god, enacting his leelas, and evoking bhakti rasa in his devotees, is . the most popular and perhaps among all Hindu gods the nearest to the heart of the masses. These leelas are abundantly depicted in all forms of art especially in paintings both in miniatures and on walls of sacred and secular places.

Though the Krishna theme based on miniature paintings of various schools has been written about and published by many experts, authors and critics, there is no study on the Krishna theme recounted in various Puranas, including the tenth chapter of Bhagavata Purana, in wall paintings.

I present my humble efforts in the form of this collection of images of wall paintings based on the exploits of Krishna which have been and are a great source of inspiration for the Indian artist. This catalogue constitutes the Krishna myth in its historical and cultural context. The daily life and deeds are recounted as it appears in murals depicted at many places in the states of Rajasthan and Gujarat. This catalogue essentially tells the story of Krishna's life as a child and then moves on to his adolescence as a cowherd followed by his romantic alliance as found depicted in wall paintings in both these states. Rarely a wall painting is found depicting Krishna as an epic hero. I am indebted to scholars and researchers who have earlier worked on the Krishna theme in paintings of various schools in India and whose work has guided me in this endeavour. For this catalogue, I have tried to explore as many places as possible which represent these wall paintings, for documentation and reproduction. It is physically impossible to visit all the areas in both the states where wall paintings are found.

These wall paintings may not be of the highest calibre but they provide detailed glimpses of the social and cultural life of the people. They also tell us about the people who could afford to paint walls to make them attractive. The tradition of painting on walls is still alive in Rajasthan. It is carried out in temples and on the outer walls of houses during festivals and on joyous occasions in the family. However, in Gujarat the tradition has stopped.

I am indebted to Prof. Adhya Bharati Saxena, Department of History, Faculty of Arts, the Maharaja Sayajirao University of Baroda for placing the wall paintings in a catalogue form as a 'pictorial record of an art form' which is now on the verge of extinction. Special thanks to the directors at Indira Gandhi Manav Sangrahalaya under whose auspice this catalogue is being published. I am grateful to them for supporting me in this endeavour. I am also grateful to my family members and friends for their suggestions and their support without which this catalogue would not have been a reality.


The Background15
Rise of Vaishnavism
krishna and the Indian Tradition47
Bhakti Movement57
  • Bhakti Trend in the Medieval period and its Influence on the Society
  • Vaishnavism and Bhakti in Gujarat: Bhakti Movement, Vallabhacharya and Saint Poets
  • Vallabhacharya
  • Krishna in Murals of Gujarat and Rajasthan87
    • Shekhavati Paintings
    • Decline of the Art of Wall Painting
    • Places in Rajasthan explored for Documentation on Krishna Theme
    • Places in Gujarat Explored for Documentation on Krishna Theme
    • Depiction of Krishna in Wall Paintings119
      Nsathdwara School of Painting and influence of Pushti Marg127
      • use of Symbolism in Painting Influenced by Pushti Marg
      • Murals in Medival Period of Gujarat and Rajasthan
      • Krishna in Folk and Decorative Arts153
        • Depiction of Krishna in Decorative Arts
        • The Legend167
          • Events Leading to krishna's Birth
          • Events during the Birth of Krishna
          • Birth of Krishna
          • Celebration in Braj
          • Feats and Leelas of Krishna185
            • Killing of demons
            • Calf Demon Vatsasura Attempts to Kill krishna
            • Krishna Slays the Horse-Demon Kesi
            • Makhanchor: Krishna Stealing Butter193
              • Krishna Denhing he Stole Butter
              • Realse of Gandharvas201
                Krishna Gopala: Pastoral Life of Krishna207
                Dannleela: Demand of Toll217
                Kaliya Daman: Quelling of Serpent Kaliya225
                Worship of Mount Govardhana233
                • Lifting of Mount FocESHn
                • Gopi Vastradaran: Krishna Stealing Clothes of Gopis243
                  Krishna Plays Holi With gopis255
                  • Holi in riti Poety where Krishna is Envisaged as Nayaka
                  • Krishna Radha273
                    Venu Gopala: Krishna the Flute Player301
                    Events Before Krishna Slaying Kansa341
                    • The Wrestling Match
                    • Krishna Slays Kansa
                    • Rukmini Vivah: Wedding of Rukmini with Krishna351
                      Krishna and Sudama357
                      Draupadi's Chirharan: forceful Disrobing of Draupadi361
                      Vishnu and His Incarnations367
                      • Matsya(fish) Avatara
                      • Kurma (Torltoise)Avatara
                      • Varaha(Boar)Avatara
                      • Narsinha (Man Lion)Avatara
                      • Vamana (Dwarf)Avatara
                      • Parasurama Avatara
                      • Rama Avatara
                      • Balarama Avatara
                      • Buddha Avatara
                      • Kalki Avatara
                      • Samudramanthan: kChurning of the Ocean407
                        Ganejdra Moksha: Liberation of Gajendra, an Elephant King413
                        Weighing of Krishna419
                        Nava-Nari Kunjara: Krishna Astride in Elephant Formed by a Group of Gopis425
                        Premanand and Okhaharan431
                        conclusion and acknowledgements448

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