Item Code: PN27
Phad Painting on Cotton31.8 inch X 15.5 inch
Price: $275.00 Shipping Free - 4 to 6 days
A historical figure or a legend, the undefeatable Dev Narayana was a great warrior with superhuman powers. All alone he could hold many lacs of herds and subdue the mightiest enemy. Though a Gurjar Rajput, a branch of Kshatriyas, he was revered as an incarnation of ‘Bhagwan’ – Vishnu. The legend that concludes with Dev Narayana runs back into many ages and births back to Satayuga to the period when ravenously hungry Shankara unable to satiate himself eats up his own devotee sages. The sin hangs heavy on him to redeem from which Brahma advises him to feed on his flesh twenty-four Bagaravats, who were sages in previous births. The legend does not reveal as to how and when Shankara accomplished Brahma’s advice; but it suggests that Bagaravats were born with Shiva’s power.
All twenty-four Bagaravats were exceptionally brave and mighty though among them Sawai Bhoj, the father of Dev Narayana, was the ablest and the mightiest. Sadu Mata was his mother. Sadu Mata was so virtuous a woman that Bhagwan : Vishnu, himself appeared before her. On serpent Vasuki’s complaint against Bagaravats of flooding its abode, Bhagwan, in disguise as a mendicant, visits Sadu Mata’s house. Sadu Mata was taking a bath but hearing a mendicant at her door she comes out of her bath covering her figure merely with her hair. Highly impressed by her response Bhagwan asks the noble lady to wish for anything. Sadu Mata wished that she had Bhagwan born of her womb. It was granted and the child born to her as Dev Narayan was none other than Bhagwan in a new incarnation.
The story then shifts to Kaliyuga. During the reign of Bisaladeva of Ajmer horrified by a monstrous lion, beyond anyone’s power to kill, the life had completely paralyzed. Even during daytime nobody was coming out of his house. Somehow people persuaded the monster to accept one human being every day to eat and spare the rest. One day it was the turn of a young boy but Hari Rama, a Gurjar Rajput, offered to go in his place. Before lion killed him he beheaded the lion. With the lion’s head on his shoulders he went to Pushkara to wash blood-stains from his person. A young Brahmin girl named Lila Sevari, bathing on the other side of the lake, saw his shadow in the lake’s waters. He looked like one with a lion’s head. She fell in love and even conceived. Finally with the king’s permission they were married. Afterwards she bore a son who had a lion’s head. He was named Bagh Simha. No woman agreed to marry Bagh Simha; however, his Brahmin cook fraudulently married him to twelve girls. Each bore him two sons, their number reaching twenty-four. These were twenty-four Bagaravats. They had befriended the Rana of Ran, and thus their power had immensely multiplied.
Arrogant as they were, even Bhagwan was afraid of them. He hence requested Devi to kill Bagaravats. In the form of a girl-child Devi appeared on the earth and was adopted by a king. She soon grew to marriageable age and wished to be married in the family of Bagaravats. Being married, they proposed that she should marry Rana, their friend. It was agreed. Sawai Bhoj led Rana’s elephant when the marriage procession reached Devi’s house. She had ordered the ‘toran’ to be hung on a high altitude so that the 120 years old Rana could not reach it. As preplanned, Sawai Bhoj was asked to strike the ‘torana’ on Rana’s behalf. Feigning illness Devi confined herself in her bed-chamber and under some excuse got the sword of Sawai Bhoj and circumambulated around it. Thus, though publicly she was married to Rana, she was actually married to Sawai Bhoj and insisted to go to Bagaravats’ house.
She went with Rana but on condition that Bagaravats would take her to their house after six months. As promised, after six months were over, Bagaravats brought her to their house. Rana repeatedly asked them to restore his wife but it all went unheard, Finally, Rana collected all friendly forces against Bagaravats. On the other hand Devi bound Bagaravats by promise that each of twenty-four would fight as one at one time. Thus, all were killed. Except Sadu Mata all their queens entered the fire of ‘Jauhar’ and ended their lives. Sadu Mata escaped to her parents’ house at Malwa and bore her son Dev Narayana there. After he grew young and learnt about how the king of Ran destroyed his father and uncles, he returned to his home state. He also met his four cousins and with them he attacked the Rana and killed him and destroyed his kingdom. Now the serpent Vasuki attended his court and a huge python afforded him seat.
The central part of the Phad represents the ‘torana’ episode. Old Rana is seated behind on his elephant and the young Sawai Bhoj is striking the ‘torana’ with his sword. There are guests on camels and horses comprising marriage procession, ladies with pots on heads and those blowing trumpets and beating drums, being in reception. Ladies behind the trumpeter are talking of the bride’s illness. On the left to the centre is seated in an arched pavilion Dev Narayana, an impressive personality with well trimmed moustaches. A python under him is providing him seat and serpent Vasuki is his courtier. Further beyond Vasuki there are Dev Narayana’s four cousins. As is the usual format of Phad, on the top right corner, there are representations of various gods : Ganesha, peacock riding and ‘vina’-holding Saraswati, half-man-half-lion Narsimha and the Naga – serpent deity, with a couple seeking its blessings for their son, and on the bottom left, Lord Shiva, Surya and Lord Vishnu’s tenth incarnation Kalki in the form of a horse without rider.
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.