This watercolour conveys the contradictions that Devi Chhinamasta is all about. Her sahasranama is laden with paradoxes - from Prachanda Chandika to Sarvanandapradayini. This goes to show that Her wrath could be turned to something infinitely blissful with worship and devotion. Note the peacefulness that pervades the landscape behind Her. Undulating verdure punctuated with cool, still, grey lakes (one of which is in the foreground, at the superbly lifelike paws of the lion) and flower-laden shrubs and trees. A couple of birds soar against the light of the setting sun, while pristine templetops could be seen in the distance. These ar ein stark contrast to the superimposed imagery of blood and gore.
Zoom in on the complex field of this saree to ascertain the beauty of the motifs woven into the fabric. Between thick panels of the highly recognisable ikat weave are motifs of the local fauna. Elephants fiddling with the foliage with their trunks, peacocks perched on the upper reaches. These images have been very precisely and uniformly reproduced all the way till the fall of the saree. Do not miss the exquisite endpiece, and the rangoli-esque motifs on it. They are the inimitable result of the weave in question. While Sambhalpuri sarees are traditionally worn to poojas and other ritual functions, you could wear this one to any evening gala with a traditional spin. Your choicest gold pieces would go well with this one.
Devi Bhadrakali stands on the prostrate form of a man on the grass. Except for the hints of adornment on His arms, neck, and lobes, He is naked. The dominant colour of the background is the rich golden yellow of the tropical sunset. A layer of thick, pale blue clouds have been painted along the arc at the centre of which is an embossed aum syllable in smooth silver. The foreground comprises of the glowing green grass on which the ensemble stands, superimposed with a jet of water. The pristine silver of the foundation rims the composition. This statement pendant would inspire whoever sets eyes on it with an eerie curiosity about Devi Bhadrakali.
Krishna, mischievous as he is particularly when inventing ways for teasing Radha, is already standing before her but disguised as a Gopi and, as he had pre-meditated, Radha fails to recognise him not only because he is in a Gopi’s guise or has his face covered with the sari’s end, but also because with her bent head she is able to see only his feet and the sari worn around his legs. As if all this is not enough, for further beguiling her Krishna alternates his peacock feather-crest with an elaborate ‘benda’ – a forehead ornament, and instead of his usual flute carries a vina – a stringed instrument, like Todi Ragini manifesting the mood of separation in love. Except his blue body colour he has merged his identity completely with the Gopi’s. Maybe, Krishna struck the strings of his lyre but Radha, lost in his thought, might not have heard it at all, and this might have inspired Krishna to tease her more and more. Allegorically, Krishna as Gopi, that is, one as Radha – the soul in devotion, herself, asserts that a heart would find Him like itself if it truly merges in Him.
Obviously, it was after the Bhagavata Purana and the Jaideva’s Gita-Govinda discovered dimensions of Krishna’s divinity in his love’s sport, there developed a huge body of myths that sublimated not only Krishna’s fondness for Radha, or Radha’s passionate yearnings for him but also many lighter aspects of life, the essence of Krishna’s Vaishnavism that accepted the life as it is and discovered its divinity in its sublimation. The great masters like Vallabha and Chaitanya added to such narrative and poetic dimensions of the Bhagavata and the Gita Govinda philosophical perspective and devotional cult and elevated them to the status of God’s divine sport with Krishna manifesting Him, and Radha being its timeless medium. When the fanatic Mughal rule of the later days sought to trample Vaishnava icons under its boots and the institution of Vaishnavism was in great peril, Rajasthan emerged as the timeless sanctuary of Krishna’s worship cult and there emerged not only a huge body of art portraying Vaishnava myths but also numerous shrines.
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.
This fine bronze of the Devi Durga is an apt representation of this complex deity. She has eighteen arms, each wielding a unique heavenly implement, and rides the lioness no less fierce than She is ('simha' in Sanskrit is lion; 'vahini', one who rides). She is seated in lalitasana on Her back, Her stance unswerving, Her gaze determined. She is bedecked in a silken saree and ample golds that serve to bring out Her superlative beauty. Her haloed countenance bears a composure of maternal affection, which goes with Her anterior-most hand raised in blessing. The features are carved in such lifelike detail as could be found only in Swamimalai, the home of bronze. Together with Her vahana, She is placed on a sturdy tri-layered pedestal of relatively simple form.
Email a Friend