As goes the story in the Bhagavata Purana and other sources, after all
his evil agencies had failed in killing the child Krishna, Kansa made
a plot to get him and his brother Balarama killed in his own presence
in a direct action. He decided to hold a fourteen days long
celebration ‘Dhanuryajna’ : bow-breaking competition, which comprised
besides, a number of other feats, main among them being wrestling.
Believing that his mighty wrestlers Chanur, Mustaka and others would
not only defeat Krishna and Balarama but also kill them he invited
them to participate in the competition. Kansa had also posted his
mighty elephant demon Kubalyapitha on the main entrance to kill
Krishna and Balarama the moment they entered the venue.
Being the king, the invitation from Kansa had an order’s force which
could only be complied. Apart, for further ensuring their attendance
Kansa ordered Akrura, one of his ministers and a most honoured leader
of Vrishnis, the clan to which Krishna and Balarama also belonged, to
personally go to Vrindavana and bring Krishna and Balarama with him.
Akrura knew Kansa’s design and had sympathy with Krishna and Balarama
but could not disobey Kansa knowing that its punishment would be
death. From the events in past when Krishna eliminated a number of
demons Akrura felt that he was not an ordinary child and wished that
he ended Kansa and his cruel rule. With such thoughts he reached
Vrindavana and convinced Nanda, Yashoda and others to let Krishna and
Balarama go to Mathura with him. A fief holder of Kansa Nanda could
not disobey. As for Krishna, he knew that the right moment had arrived
for the right action and hence insisted that they would go.
As portrays the painting, riding the chariot that Akrura drove Krishna
and Balarama left for Mathura. As the Bhagavata Purana has it, and as
portrays this Pata-chitra, no sooner than the news reached inhabitants
of Vrindavana : cowherd men, women, young and old, Krishna’s ‘sakhas’,
Gopis, Gopas and even the cows, all, desperate as they were, gathered
on the road to Mathura, some wailing in deep agony, some obstructing
the passage, some crying to halt, some heading to a shrine for praying
the deity to stop Krishna, and some lying down on the path preferring
to be crushed under the chariot instead of letting it take Krishna and
Balarama away from them. There appear divine powers, symbolised in the
painting by their flames-like radiating headdresses, and bless
Krishna. With anxiety on faces cows rush towards the chariot. A large
number of inhabitants, Krishna’s friends in particular, follow
Akrura’s chariot. Towards the right end in the register above the
bottom a Nanda-like figure seems to falter and a lady, perhaps
Yashoda, supports him on her arms. The bottom register portrays
all-across from right to left, the cowherd maidens bewailing and
falling on the ground. The painting has wondrously captured the mood
of the hour.
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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