The Loves of Krishna in Indian Painting and Poetry
by W. G. Archer
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Your mouth, O Krishna, darkened, enhances the crimson beauty of your lovely body, Enhances with a, darkness, a blackness that arises from the kissing of eyes coloured with black unguent. Go, Krishna, go. Desist from uttering these deceitful words. Follow her, you lotus-eyed, she who can dispel your trouble, go to her.

I who follow you devoted—how can you deceive me, so tortured by love's fever as I am? O Krishna, like the look of you, your body which appears so black, that heart of yours a blackness shall assume. Follow her, you lotus-eyed, she who can dispel your trouble, go to her.

Faced with these reproaches, Krishna slinks away. Radha's friend knows, however, that despite her bitter anger, Radha desires nothing more than his love. She attempts, therefore, to instil in her a calmer frame of mind, urging her to end her pride and take Krishna back. She goes to look for Krishna and while she is absent, Krishna returns. Standing before Radha, he implores her once again to end her anger.

If you speak but a little the moon-like gleam of your teeth will destroy the darkness frightful, so very terrible, come over me; Your moon of a face which glitters upon my eye, the moon-bird's eye, now makes me long for the sweet of your lips. O loved one, O beautiful, give up that baseless pride against me, My heart is burnt by the fire of longing; give me that drink so sweet of your lotus face. O you with beautiful teeth, if you are in anger against me, strike me then with your finger nails, sharp and like arrows, Bind me, entwining, with the cords of your arms, and bite me then with your teeth, and feel happy punishing. O loved one, O beautiful, give up that baseless pride against me.

At these words, Radha's anger leaves her; and when Krishna withdraws, it is to go to the forest and await her coming. Radha's joy returns. She decks herself in the loveliest of her ornaments and then, accompanied by her maids, moves slowly to the tryst.[58] As they reach the bower which Krishna has constructed, her friend urges her to enter.

O you who bear on your face the smile that comes of the ardour of passion Sport with him whose love-abode is the floor of the beautiful bower.

Radha approaches and their love strains to its height.

She looked at Krishna who desired only her, on him who for long wanted dalliance, Whose face with his pleasure was overwhelmed and who was possessed with desire After embracing her long and ardently, Krishna with his necklace of pearls Krishna like the Jumna in a mighty flood with its necklace of specks of foam.[59]

The cowgirls go and Krishna speaks to Radha.

O woman with desire, place on this patch of flower-strewn floor your lotus foot, And let your foot through beauty win, To me who am the Lord of All, O be attached, now always yours. O follow me, my little Radha.

O lovely woman, give me now the nectar of your lips, infuse new life into this slave of yours, so dead, This slave, whose heart is placed in you, whose body burned in separation, this slave denied the pleasure of your love.

Radha yields and as the night passes they achieve height upon height of sexual bliss.

Their love play grown great was very delightful, the love play where thrills were a hindrance to firm embraces, Where their helpless closing of eyes was a hindrance to longing looks at each other, and their secret talk to their drinking of each the other's nectar of lips, and where the skill of their love was hindered by boundless delight.

She loved as never before throughout the course of the conflict of love, to win, lying over his beautiful body, to triumph over her lover; And so through taking the active part her thighs grew lifeless, and languid her vine-like arms, and her heart beat fast, and her eyes grew heavy and closed.

In the morning most wondrous, the heart of her lord was smitten with arrows of Love, arrows which went through his eyes, Arrows which were her nailed-scratched bosom, her reddened sleep-denied eyes, her crimson lips from a bath of kisses, her hair disarranged with the flowers awry, and her girdle all loose and slipping. With hair knot loosened and stray locks waving, her cheeks perspiring, her glitter of lips impaired, And the necklace of pearls not appearing fair because of her jar-shaped breast being denuded, And her belt, her glittering girdle, dimmed in beauty, The happy one drank of the face where the lips were washed with the juice of his mouth, His mouth half open uttering amorous noises, vague and delirious, the rows of teeth in the breath of an indrawn sigh delightedly chattering. Drank of the face of that deer-eyed woman whose body lay helpless, released of excessive delight, the thrilling delight of embraces.

When their passion is at last ended, Radha begs Krishna to help her with her toilet.

She said to the joy of her heart, Adorn the curl on my brow which puts the lotus to shame, my spotless brow, Make a beautiful spot on my forehead, a spot with the paste of the sandal, O giver of pride, on my tresses, untidy now on account of desire, place flowers, Place on my hips the girdle, the clothes and the jewels, Cover my beautiful loins, luscious and firm, the cavern of Love to be feared. Make a pattern upon my breasts and a picture on my cheeks and fasten over my loins a girdle, Bind my masses of hair with a beautiful garland and place many bracelets upon my hands and jewelled anklets upon my feet.

Krishna does so and with a final celebration of Krishna as God and of the song itself—its words 'sweeter than sugar, like love's own glorious flavour'—the poem ends.

[Footnote 51: Note 18.]

[Footnote 52: Plate 20.]

[Footnote 53: Plates 21 and 22.]

[Footnote 54: Note 19.]

[Footnote 55: Plate 23.]

[Footnote 56: Plate 24.]

[Footnote 57: Plate 25.]

[Footnote 58: Plate 26.]

[Footnote 59: Plate 27.]

(iii) Later Poetry

Jayadeva's poem quickly achieved renown in Northern and Western India and from the early thirteenth century became a leading model for all poets who were enthralled by Krishna as God and lover. In Western India, Bilvamangala, a poet of Malabar, composed a whole galaxy of Krishna songs, his poem, the Balagopala Stuti (The Childhood of Krishna) earning for him the title 'the Jayadeva of the South.' But it is during the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries that the most important developments occurred. In Bengal, the poets Vidyapati and Chandi Das flourished in about the year 1420, while in Western India, Mira Bai, a local princess, began a wide-spread popular movement. Mira Bai was followed by Vallabhacharya (born 1478) who in turn inspired four poet disciples—Krishna Das, Sur Das, Parmanand Das and Kumbhan Das. All these were at their height in the middle of the sixteenth century, writing Hindi poems in which Radha's adventures with Krishna and their rapturous love-making were devotedly described.[60]

The work of Sur Das was of special importance for in one of his compositions he took each of the thirty-six traditional modes of Indian music-the Ragas and Raginis—but instead of celebrating them as separate 'musical characters,' appended to each a love-poem about Krishna. Sur Das was followed by Keshav Das of Orchha (fl. 1580), Govind Das (fl. 1590), Bihari Lai (fl. 1650) and Kali Das (fl. 1700)—all poets in whom religious ecstasy was blended with a feeling for passionate romance. Of these poets Bihari Lai is famous for the Sat Sai in which he celebrated Krishna's romance in seven hundred verses.

All this later poetry differed from the Gita Govinda in one important respect. Instead of dwelling on the temporary rupture in Radha and Krishna's relationship, it roved freely over the many phases of their love-making, subjecting every incident to delighted analysis. A poet thought and felt himself into Radha's mind when as a young girl about to become a woman she discovered for the first time the exquisite sensations of awakening love. Or he imagined he was Krishna stumbling on Radha by accident and being stirred to ecstasy by his first glimpse of her glowing charms. Sometimes he even became the unseen viewer of their rapturous exchanges, comforting Radha with sage remarks or egging her on to appease her hungry lover. In this way many incidents not recorded of any cowgirl in the Bhagavata Purana, though possibly preserved in oral tradition, came gradually into prominence, thereby confirming Radha as Krishna's greatest love.

The following incidents will illustrate this process. Radha would be described as one day taking her curds and milk to a village the farther side of the river Jumma. Krishna hears of her expedition and along with other cowherd boys waylays Radha and her friends and claims a toll. Radha refuses to pay but at last offers to make a token gift provided he ferries them over. Meanwhile a cowherd boy has hidden the boat and night is coming on. It is now too late to return so the girls have no alternative but to stay with Krishna. They lie down by the bank but in the darkness give Krishna not only the toll but also their souls and bodies.

In another poem, Krishna is shown pestering the cowgirls for curds. Radha decides to stand this no longer and partly in jest dresses herself up as a constable. When Krishna next teases the girls, she descends upon him, catches him by the wrist and 'arrests' him as a thief.[61]

It is in the poems of Chandi Das, however, that Krishna's most daring ruses are described. Having once gained admittance to Radha's house by dressing himself as a cowgirl, he is shown pretending to be a flower-seller. He strings some flowers into a bunch of garlands, dangles them on his arm and strolls blandly down the village street. When he reaches Radha's house, he goes boldly in and is taken by Radha into a corner where she starts to bargain. Krishna asks her to let him first adorn her with a garland and then she can pay him. Radha agrees and as he slips a garland over her head, Krishna kisses her. Radha suddenly sees who it is and holds his hand.

On another occasion, Radha is ill from love and is lying at home on her bed. Krishna thereupon becomes a doctor and goes from house to house curing the sick. So successful are his cures that Radha also is tempted to consult the new doctor and sends a maid to call him, Krishna comes but before entering adopts a wild disguise—putting his clothes on inside out, matting his hair with mud, and slinging a bag of roots and plants over his shoulder. As he enters, he sits on Radha's bed, lifts her veil, gazes intently at her face and declares that certainly she is very ill indeed. He then takes her pulse and says, 'it is the water of love that is rotting her heart like a poison.' Radha is elated at this diagnosis, rouses herself and stretches her limbs. 'You have understood my trouble,' she says. 'Now tell me what I am to do.' 'I feel somewhat diffident at explaining my remedy,' replies the doctor, 'But if I had the time and place, I could ease your fever and cure you utterly.' As he says this, Radha knows that he is Krishna and this is only another of his reckless wiles designed to bring him near her.

But it was less in the recording of new incidents than in lyrical descriptions of Radha and Krishna, their physical charms and ecstatic meetings, that the poets excelled.


Krishna is dancing in a medley of moods and poses. His crown sways, his eye-brows move, Displaying the arts of a clever dancer. The swing of his waist makes his girdle sing And the anklets jingle. One fancies one is listening to the sweet voice of a pair of geese as they touch each other in dalliance. The bangles glitter and the rings and armlets shoot their rays. When with passion he moves his arms, what grace the movements bless! Now he dances after the gait of ladies and now in a manner of his own. The poet's lord is the jewel of the passionate And builds his dance in the depths of ecstasy.[62]

(Sur Das)


With Krishna in their midst the cowherds come to their homes. The calves and cows are ahead, frisking and playing as they go. All the pipes and horns go forth, each his own notes playing. The sound of the flute moves the cows to low as they raise a cloud of dust. The crown of peacocks' feathers glistens on the head like a young moon. The cowherd boys frolic on the path and Krishna in the centre sings his song. Ravished by the sight, the cowgirls pour out their minds and bodies, Gazing on Krishna, quenching their heart's desire.

(Sur Das)


Radha's glances dart from side to side. Her restless body and clothes are heavy with dust. Her glistening smile shines again and again. Shy, she raises her skirt to her lips. Startled, she stirs and once again is calm, As now she enters the ways of love. Sometimes she gazes at her blossoming breasts Hiding them quickly, then forgetting they are there. Childhood and girlhood melt in one And young and old are both forgotten. Says Vidyapati: O Lord of life, Do you not know the signs of youth?[63]



Each day the breasts of Radha swelled. Her hips grew shapely, her waist more slender. Love's secrets stole upon her eyes. Startled her childhood sought escape. Her plum-like breasts grew large, Harder and crisper, aching for love. Krishna soon saw her as she bathed Her filmy dress still clinging to her breasts, Her tangled tresses falling on her heart, A golden image swathed in yak's tail plumes. Says Vidyapati: O wonder of women, Only a handsome man can long for her.



There was a shudder in her whispering voice. She was shy to frame her words. What has happened tonight to lovely Radha? Now she consents, now she is scared. When asked for love, she closes up her eyes, Eager to reach the ocean of desire. He begs her for a kiss. She turns her mouth away And then, like a night lily, the moon seized her. She felt his touch startling her girdle. She knew her love treasure was being robbed. With her dress she covered up her breasts. The treasure was left uncovered. Vidyapati wonders at the neglected bed. Lovers are busy in each other's arms.



Awake, Radha, awake Calls the parrot and its love For how long must you sleep, Clasped to the heart of your Dark-stone? Listen. The dawn has come And the red shafts of the sun Are making us shudder.



Startled, the parrot calls. See those young lovers are still asleep. On a bed of tender leaves His dark figure is lying still. She, the fair one, Looks like a piece of jewelled gold. They have emptied their quivers. All their flower-arrows are discharged, Drowning each other in the joy of love. O lovely Radha, awake. Your friends are going to the temple. Asks Govind Das: Whose business is it To interrupt the ways of love?

(Govind Das)

In another kind of poem, Radha and Krishna are themselves made to speak—Krishna, for example, describing his first glimpses of Radha and Radha struggling to evoke in words the ecstasies of their love.


Like stilled lightning her fair face. I saw her by the river, Her hair dressed with jasmine, Plaited like a coiled snake. O friend, I will tell you The secret of my heart. With her darting glances And gentle smiles She made me wild with love. Throwing and catching a ball of flowers, She showed me to the full Her youthful form. Uptilted breasts Peeped from her dress. Her face was bright With taunting smiles. With anklet bells Her feet shone red. Says Chandi Das: Will you see her again?

(Chandi Das)


Listen, O lovely darling, Cease your anger. I promise by the golden pitchers of your breasts And by your necklace-snake, Which now I gather in my hands, If ever I touch anyone but you May your necklace-snake bite me; And if my words do not ring true, Punish me as I deserve. Bind me in your arms, hit me with your thighs, Choke my heart with your milk-swollen breasts, Lock me day and night in the prison of your heart.



Never have I seen such love nor heard of it. Even the eyelids' flutter Holds eternity. Clasped to my breasts, you are far from me. I would keep you as a veil close to my face. I shudder with fright when you turn your eyes away, As one body, we spend the night, Sinking in the deeps of delight. As dawn comes, we see with anxious hearts Life desert us. The very thought breaks my heart. Says Chandi Das: O sweet girl, how I understand.

(Chandi Das)


O friend, I cannot tell you Whether he was near or far, real or a dream. Like a vine of lightning, As I chained the dark one, felt a river flooding in my heart. Like a shining moon, I devoured that liquid face. I felt stars shooting around me. The sky fell with my dress Leaving my ravished breasts. I was rocking like the earth. In my storming breath I could hear my ankle-bells, Sounding like bees. Drowned in the last-waters of dissolution I knew that this was not the end. Says Vidyapati: How can I possibly believe such nonsense?


[Footnote 60: Plate 29.]

[Footnote 61: Plate 35.]

[Footnote 62: Note 20.]

[Footnote 63: Note 20.]

(iv) The Rasika Priya

It is a third development, however, which reveals the insistent attractions of Krishna the divine lover. From about the seventh century onwards Indian thinkers had been fascinated by the great variety of possible romantic experiences. Writers had classified feminine beauty and codified the different situations which might arise in the course of a romance. A woman, for example, would be catalogued according as she was 'one's own, another's or anyone's' and whether she was young, adolescent or adult. Beauties with adult physiques were divided into unmarried and married, while cutting across such divisions was yet another based on the particular circumstances in which a woman might find herself. Such circumstances were normally eight in number—when her husband or lover was on the point of coming and she was ready to receive him; when she was parted from him and was filled with longing; when he was constant and she was thus enjoying the calm happiness of stable love; when, for the time being, she was estranged due to some quarrel or tiff; when she had been deceived; when she had gone to meet her lover but had waited in vain, thereby being jilted; when her husband or lover had gone abroad and she was faced with days of lonely waiting; and finally, when she had left the house and gone to meet him. Ladies in situations such as these were known as nayikas and the text embodying the standard classification was the Sanskrit treatise, the Bharatiya Natya Sastra. A similar analysis was made of men—lovers or nayakas being sometimes divided into fourteen different types.

Until the fourteenth century, such writings were studies in erotics rather than in literature—the actual situations rather than their literary treatment being the authors' prime concern. During the fourteenth century, however, questions of literary taste began to be discussed and there arose a new type of Sanskrit treatise, showing how different kinds of lover should be treated in poetry and illustrating the correct attitudes by carefully chosen verses. In all these writings the standard of reference was human passion. The lovers of poetry might bear only a slight relation to lovers in real life. Many of the situations envisaged might rarely, if ever, occur. It was sufficient that granted some favourable accident, some chance suspension of normal circumstances, lovers could be imagined as acting in these special ways.

It is out of this critical literature that our new development springs. As vernacular languages were used for poetry, problems of Hindi composition began to dwarf those of Sanskrit. It was necessary to discuss how best to treat each nayika and nayaka not only in Sanskrit but in Hindi poetry also, and to meet this situation Keshav Das, the poet of Orchha in Bundelkhand, produced in 1591 his Rasika Priya. Here all the standard situations were once again examined, nayikas and nayakas were newly distinguished and verses illustrating their appropriate treatments were systematically included. The book differed, however, in two important ways from any of its predecessors. It was written in Hindi, Keshav Das himself supplying both poems and commentary and what was even more significant, the nayaka or lover was portrayed not as any ordinary well-bred young man but as Krishna himself.[64] As a girl waits at the tryst it is not for an ordinary lover but for Krishna that Keshav Das depicts her as longing.

'Is he detained by work? Is he loath to leave his friends? Has he had a quarrel? Is his body uneasy? Is he afraid when he sees the rainy dark? O Krishna, Giver of Bliss, why do you not come?'[65]

As a girl waits by her bed looking out through her door, it is the prospect of Krishna's arrival—not of an ordinary lover's—that makes her happy.

'As she runs, her blue dress hides her limbs. She hears the wind ruffling the trees and the birds shifting in the night. She thinks it must be he. How she longs for love, watching for Krishna like a bird in a cage.'

When the lover arrives at dawn, having failed to come in the night, the girl (another nayika, 'one who has been deceived') upbraids Krishna for wandering about like a crow, picking up worthless grains of rice, wasting his hours in bad company and ruining houses by squatting in them like an owl.

Similarly when a married girl sits longing for her husband's return, her companion comments not on an ordinary husband's conduct but on that of Krishna. 'He said he would not be long. "I shall be back," he said, "as soon as I have had my meal." But now it is hours since he went. Why does he sit beside them and no one urge him to go? Does he know that her eyes are wet with tears, that she is crying her heart out because he does not come?'

Krishna, in fact, is here regarded as resuming in himself all possible romantic experiences. He is no longer merely the cowherd lover or the hero prince, the central figure of a sacred narrative. Neither is he merely or only the lover of Radha. He is deemed to know love from every angle and thus to sanctify all modes of passionate behaviour. He is love itself.

Such a development concludes the varied phases through which the character of Krishna has passed. The cowherd lover supersedes the hero prince. Radha becomes all in all, yet touches of Krishna's princely majesty remain throughout. Even as a cowherd Krishna shows an elegance and poise which betrays his different origin. And in the Rasika Priya it is once again his courtly aura which determines his new role. A blend of prince and cowherd, Krishna ousts from poetry the courtly lovers who previously had seemed the acme of romance. Adoration of God acquires the grace and charm of courtly loving, passionate sensuality all the refinement and nobility of a spiritual religion. It is out of all these varied texts that the Krishna of Indian painting now emerges.

[Footnote 64: Plate 28.]

[Footnote 65: Note 21.]



Indian pictures of Krishna confront us with a series of difficult problems. The most exalted expressions of the theme are mainly from Kangra, a large Hindu state within the Punjab Hills.[66] It was here that Krishna, the cowherd lover, was most fully celebrated. Pictures were produced in large numbers and the Kangra style with its delicate refinement exactly mirrored the enraptured poetry of the later cult. This painting was due entirely to a particular Kangra ruler, Raja Sansar Chand (1775-1823)—his delight in painting causing him to spare no cost in re-creating the Krishna idyll in exquisite terms. Elsewhere, however, conditions varied. At the end of the sixteenth century, it was not a Hindu but a Muslim ruler who commissioned the greatest illustrations of the story. In the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, Hindu patrons were the rule but in certain states it was junior members of the ruling family rather than the Raja himself who worshipped Krishna. Sometimes it was not the ruling family but members of the merchant community who sponsored the artists and, occasionally, it was even a pious lady or devout princess who served as patron. Such differences of stimulus had vital effects and, as a consequence, while the cult of Krishna came increasingly to enthrall the northern half of India, its expression in art was the reverse of neat and orderly. Where a patron was so imbued with love for Krishna that adoration of the cowherd lover preceded all, the intensity of his feeling itself evoked a new style. There then resulted the Indian equivalent of pictures by El Greco, Grunewald or Altdorfer—paintings in which the artist's own religious emotions were the direct occasion of a new manner. In other cases, the patron might adhere to Krishna, pay him nominal respect or take a moderate pleasure in his story but not evince a burning enthusiasm. In such cases, paintings of Krishna would still be produced but the style would merely repeat existing conventions. The pictures which resulted would then resemble German paintings of the Danube or Cologne schools—pictures in which the artist applied an already mature style to a religious theme but did not originate a fresh mode of expression. Whether the greatest art resulted from the first or second method was problematical for the outcome depended as much on the nature of the styles as on the artist's powers. In considering Indian pictures of Krishna, then, we must be prepared for sudden fluctuations in expression and abrupt differences of style and quality. Adoration of Krishna was to prove one of the most vital elements in village and courtly life. It was to capture the imagination of Rajput princes and to lead to some of the most intimate revelations of the Indian mind. Yet in art its expression was to hover between the crude and the sensitive, the savage and the exquisite. It was to stimulate some of the most delicate Indian pictures ever painted and, at the same time, some of the most forceful.

The first pictures of Krishna to be painted in India fall within this second category. In about 1450, one version of the Gita Govinda and two of the Balagopala Stuti were produced in Western India.[67] They were doubtless made for middle-class patrons and were executed in Western India for one important reason. Dwarka, the scene of Krishna's life as a prince, and Prabhasa, the scene of the final slaughter, were both in Western India. Both had already become centres of pilgrimage and although Jayadeva had written his great poem far to the East, on the other side of India, pilgrims had brought copies with them while journeying from Bengal on visits to the sites. The Gita Govinda of Jayadeva had become in fact as much a Western Indian text as the Balagopala Stuti of Bilvamangala. With manuscript illustrations being already produced in Western India—but not, so far as we know, elsewhere—it was not unnatural that the first illustrated versions of these poems should be painted here. And it is these circumstances which determined their style. Until the fifteenth century the chief manuscripts illustrated in Western India were Jain scriptures commissioned by members of the merchant community. Jainism had originated in the sixth century B.C. as a parallel movement to Buddhism. It had proved more accommodating to Hinduism, and when Buddhism had collapsed in Western India in the ninth century A.D., Jainism had continued as a local variant of Hinduism proper. Jain manuscripts had at first consisted of long rectangular strips made of palm-leaves on which the scriptures were written in heavy black letters. Each slip was roughly three inches wide and ten long and into the text had been inserted lean diagrammatic paintings either portraying Mahavira, the founder of the cult, or illustrating episodes in his earthly career.

About 1400, palm-leaf was superseded by paper and from then onwards manuscripts were given slightly larger pages. Owing partly to their association with the same religious order and partly to their constant duplication, Jain manuscripts had early conformed to a certain rigid type. The painting was marked by lean and wiry outlines, brilliant red and blue and above all by an air of savage ferocity expressed through the idiom of faces shown three-quarter view with the farther eye detached and projecting into space. This style was exercised almost exclusively on Jain subjects and in the year 1400 it was the main style of painting in Western India and Raj as than.

During the fifteenth century, this exclusive character gradually weakened. There arose the idea that besides Jain scriptures, secular poetry might also be illustrated and along with the growing devotion to Krishna as God came the demand for illustrated versions of Krishna texts. The three texts we have just mentioned are due to this tendency. All three are illustrated in the prevailing Jain style with its spiky angular idioms and all three have the same somewhat sinister air of barbarous frenzy. At the same time, all disclose a partial loosening of the rigid wiry convention, a more boisterous rhythm and a slightly softer treatment of trees and animals; and, although no very close correlation is possible, the theme itself may well have helped to precipitate these important changes.

Between 1450 and 1575, Western Indian painting continued to focus on Jain themes, adulterated to only a very slight extent by subjects drawn from poetry. It is possible that the Krishna story was also illustrated, but no examples have survived; and it is not until the very end of the sixteenth century that the Krishna theme again appears in painting and then in two distinct forms. The first is represented by a group of three manuscripts—two of them dated respectively 1598[68] and 1610[69] and consisting of the tenth book of the Bhagavata Purana, the third being yet another illustration of the Gita Govinda[70]. All three sets of illustrations are in a closely similar style—a style which, while possessing roots in Jain painting is now considerably laxer and more sprawling. The faces are no longer shown three-quarter view, the detached obtruding eye has gone and in place of the early sharpness there is now a certain slovenly crudity. We do not know for whom these manuscripts were made nor even in what particular part of Western India or Rajasthan they were executed. They were clearly not produced in any great centre of painting and can hardly have been commissioned by a prince or merchant of much aesthetic sensibility. They prove, however, that a demand for illustrated versions of the Krishna story was persisting and suggest that even prosperous traders may perhaps have acted as patrons.

The second type is obviously the product of far more sophisticated influences. It is once again a copy of the Gita Govinda and was probably executed in about 1590 in or near Jaunpur in Eastern India. As early as 1465, a manuscript of the leading Jain scripture, the Kalpasutra, had been executed at Jaunpur for a wealthy merchant.[71] Its style was basically Western Indian, yet being executed in an area so far to the east, it also possessed certain novelties of manner. The heads were more squarely shaped, the eyes larger in proportion to the face, the ladies' drapery fanning out in great angular swirls. The bodies' contours were also delineated with exquisitely sharp precision. The court at the time was that of Hussain Shah, a member of the marauding Muslim dynasties which since the twelfth century had enveloped Northern India; and it is possibly due to persistent Muslim influence that painting revived in the last two decades of the sixteenth century. Illustrated versions of passionate love poetry were executed[72] and as part of the same vogue for poetic romance, the Gita Govinda may once again have been illustrated.[73] Between the style of these later pictures and that of the Jain text of 1465, there are such clear affinities that the same local tradition is obviously responsible. Yet the new group of paintings has a distinctive elegance all its own. As in the previous group, the detached projecting eye has gone. Each situation is treated with a slashing boldness. There is no longer a sense of cramping detail and the flat red backgrounds of Western Indian painting infuse the settings with hot passion. But it is the treatment of the feminine form which charges the pictures with sophisticated charm. The large breasts, the sweeping dip in the back, the proud curve of the haunches, the agitated jutting-out of the skirts, all these convey an air of vivid sensual charm. That Radha and Krishna should be portrayed in so civilized a manner is evidence of the power which the Krishna story had come to exercise on courtly minds. Krishna is portrayed not as God but as the most elegant of lovers, Radha and the cowgirls as the very embodiment of fashionable women.

Jaunpur painting does not seem to have survived the sixteenth century and for our next illustrations of the theme, we must turn to the school of painting fostered by the Mughals. During the sixteenth century at least three Muslim states other than Jaunpur itself had possessed schools of painting—Malwa in Central India and Bijapur and Ahmadnagar in the Deccan. Their styles can best be regarded as Indian offshoots of a Persian mode of painting which was current in the Persian province of Shiraz in about the year 1500. In this style, known as Turkman, the flat figures of previous Persian painting were set in landscapes of rich and glowing herbage, plants and trees being rendered with wild and primitive vigour. In each case the style was probably brought to India by Persian artists who communicated it to Indian painters or themselves adjusted it to local conditions. And it is this process which was repeated but on an altogether grander scale by the Muslim dynasty of the Mughals. Under the emperor Akbar (1556-1605), the Mughals absorbed the greater part of Northern India, concentrating in one imperial court more power and wealth than had probably been amassed at any previous time in India. Among Akbar's cultural institutions was a great imperial library for which a colony of artists was employed in illustrating manuscripts in Persian. The founders of this colony were Persian and it is once again a local style of Persian painting which forms the starting point. This style is no longer the Turkman style of Shiraz but a later style—a local version of Safavid painting as current in Khurasan. With its lively and delicate naturalism it not only corresponded to certain predilections of the emperor Akbar himself, but seems also to have appealed to Indian artists recruited to the colony. Its representational finesse made it an ideal medium for transcribing the Indian scene and the appearance at the court of European miniatures, themselves highly naturalistic, stimulated this character still further. The result was the sudden rise in India, between 1570 and 1605, of a huge new school of painting, exquisitely representational in manner and committed to a new kind of Indian naturalism. Such a school, the creation of an alien Muslim dynasty, would at first sight seem unlikely to produce illustrations of Hindu religion. Its main function was to illustrate works of literature, science and contemporary history—a function which resulted in such grandiose productions as the Akbarnama or Annals of Akbar, now preserved in the Victoria and Albert Museum.[74] None the less there are two ways in which Mughal painting, as developed under Akbar, contributed to the Krishna story. Akbar, although a Muslim by birth, was keenly interested in all religions and in his dealings with the Rajputs had shown himself markedly tolerant. He desired to minimise the hatred of Muslims for Hindus and believing it to arise from mutual ignorance, ordained that certain Hindu texts should be translated into Persian and thus rendered more accessible. The texts chosen were the two epics, the Ramayana and the Mahabharata, and of these Persian abridgements were duly prepared. The abridgement of the Mahabharata, known as the Razmnama, was probably completed in 1588 but illustrated copies, including the great folios now in the palace library at Jaipur, were probably not completed before 1595. As part of the project, its appendix, the Harivansa was also summarized and a separate volume with fourteen illustrations all concerned with Krishna is part of the great version now at Jaipur.[75] In these illustrations, it is Krishna the prince who is chiefly shown, all the pictures illustrating his career after he has left the cowherds. There is no attempt to stress his romantic qualities or to present him as a lover. He appears rather as the great fighter, the slayer of demons. Such a portrayal is what we might perhaps expect from a Mughal edition. None the less the paintings are remarkable interpretations, investing Krishna with an air of effortless composure, and exalting his princely grace. The style is notable for its use of smoothly flowing outlines and gentle shading, and although there is no direct connection, it is these characteristics which were later to be embodied in the Hindu art of the Punjab Hills.

Such interest by the Emperor may well have spurred Hindu members of the court to have other texts illustrated for, ten to fifteen years later, in perhaps 1615, a manuscript of the Gita Govinda was produced, its illustrations possessing a certain fairy-like refinement.[76] Krishna in a flowing dhoti wanders in meadows gay with feathered trees while Radha and her confidante appear in Mughal garb. Romance is hardly evident for it is the scene itself with its rustic prettiness which is chiefly stressed. Yet the patron by whom this version was commissioned may well have felt that it was sensitively rendered and within its minor compass expressed to some extent the magical enchantment distilled by the verses. That the Emperor's stimulus survived his death is plain; for in about the year 1620, two manuscripts of the Bhagavata Purana appeared—both in a style of awkward crudity in which the idioms of Akbar's school of artists were consciously aped.[77] The manuscripts in question are at Bikaner and it is possible that one or two inferior Mughal artists, deprived of work at the central court, travelled out to this northerly Rajput state, daring the desert, and there produced these vapid works. It is likely that in the early years of the seventeenth century, many areas of India possessed no artists whatsoever and if a Hindu ruler was to copy Mughal fashion, the only artists available to him might be those of an inferior rank. And although exact data are wanting, such circumstances may well explain another document of Krishna, the first illustrated version of Keshav Das's Rasika Priya.[78] As we have seen, this poem was composed at Orchha in Bundelkhand in 1591, at a time when both poet and court were in close association with Akbar. Yet the version in question shows the same poverty-stricken manner with its crude aping of imperial idioms and utter lack of sensitive expression. There is no evidence that at this time Bundelkhand possessed its own school of painting and in consequence the most likely explanation is that yet another inferior artist trained in the early Mughal manner, migrated to the court and there produced this crude prosaic version. In none of these provincial Mughal pictures is there any feeling for Krishna as God or even as a character. The figures have a wooden doll-like stiffness, parodying by their evident jerkiness the exquisite emotions intended by the poet and we can only assume that impressed by the imperial example minor rulers or nobles encouraged struggling practitioners but in an atmosphere far removed from that of the great emperor.

Such paintings in a broken-down Akbari manner characterize the period 1615 to 1630. From then onwards Mughal painting, as it developed under the emperor Shah Jahan, concentrated on more courtly themes. The early interest in dramatic action disappeared and the demand for costly manuscripts, sumptuously illustrated, withered up. Under Aurangzeb, tolerant understanding gave way to a vicious proselytism and it was only in remote centres such as Bikaner that later Mughal artists exercised their style on Krishna themes. It is significant that at Bikaner their leader was a Muslim, Ruknuddin, and that his chief work was a series of pictures illustrating the Rasika Priya.[79] His figures have a shallow prettiness of manner, stamping them once again as products of a style which, in its earliest phases, was admirably suited to recording dramatic action but which had little relevance to either religion or romance. For these a more poetic and symbolic manner was necessary and such a style appeared in the city of Udaipur in the Rajput State of Mewar.

Painting at Udaipur is inseparably associated with the influence of two great rulers—Rana Jagat Singh (1628-1652) and Rana Raj Singh (1652-1681) As early as 1605 pictures had been produced at the State's former capital, Chawand—the artist being a Muhammadan named Nasiruddin. His style was obviously quite independent of any Mughal influence and it is rather to the separate tradition of painting which had grown up in Malwa that we must look for its salient qualities—a tensely rhythmical line, a flamboyant use of strong emphatic colours, vigorous simplifications and boldly primitive idioms for plants and trees. It is this style which thirty or forty years later comes to luxuriant maturity in a series of illustrations executed at Udaipur.[80] Although the artists responsible included a Muslim, Shahabaddin, and a Hindu, Manohar, it is the Krishna theme itself which seems to have evoked this marvellous efflorescence. Rana Jagat Singh was clearly a devout worshipper whose faithful adhesion to Rajput standards found exhilarating compensations in Krishna's role as lover. Keshav Das's Rasika Priya achieved the greatest popularity at his court—its blend of reverent devotion and ecstatic passion fulfilling some of the deepest Rajput needs. Between the years 1645 and 1660 there accordingly occurred a systematic production not only of pictures illustrating this great poetic text but of the various books in the Bhagavata Purana most closely connected with Krishna's career. Krishna is shown as a Rajput princeling dressed in fashionable garb, threading his way among the cowgirls, pursuing his amorous inclinations and practising with artless guile the seductive graces of a courtly lover. Each picture has a passionate intensity—its rich browns and reds, greens and blues endowing its characters with glowing fervour, while Krishna and the cowgirls, with their sharp robust forms and great intent eyes, display a brusque vitality and an eager rapturous vigour. A certain simplification of structure—each picture possessing one or more rectangular compartments—enhances this effect while the addition of swirling trees studded with flowers imbues each wild encounter with a surging vegetative rhythm. Krishna is no longer the tepid well-groomed youth of Mughal tradition, but a vigorous Rajput noble expressing with decorous vehemence all the violent longings denied expression by the Rajput moral code. Such pictures have a lyrical splendour, a certain wild elation quite distinct from previous Indian painting and we can only explain these new stylistic qualities by reference to the cult of Krishna himself. The realization that Krishna was adorable, that his practice of romantic love was a sublime revelation of Godhead and that in his worship lay release is the motive force behind these pictures and the result is a new style transcending in its rhythmical assurance and glowing ardour all previous achievements.

Such an outburst of painting could hardly leave other areas unaffected and in the closing quarter of the seventeenth century, not only Bundi, the Rajput State immediately adjoining Udaipur to the east, but Malwa, the wild hilly area farther south east, witnessed a renaissance of painting. At Bundi, the style was obviously a direct development from that of Udaipur itself—the idioms for human figures and faces as well as the glowing colours being clearly based on Udaipur originals. At the same time, a kind of sumptuous luxuriance, a predilection for greens and oranges in brilliant juxtaposition, a delight in natural profusion and the use of recessions, shading and round volumes give each picture a distinctive aura.[81] In Malwa, on the other hand, the earlier tradition seems to have undergone a new resuscitation. Following various wars in Middle India, the former Muslim kingdom had been divided into fiefs—some being awarded to Rajput nobles of loyalty and valour. The result was yet another style of painting—comparable in certain ways to that of Bundi and Udaipur yet markedly original in its total effect. In place of tightly geometrical compositions, Malwa artists preferred a more fluid grouping, their straining luxuriant trees blending with swaying creepers to create a soft meandering rhythm and only the human figures, with their sharply cut veils and taut intense faces, expressing the prevailing cult of frenzied passion.[82] Such schools of painting reflected the Rajput need for passionate romance rather than any specially strong adhesion to Krishna, the divine lover. Although one copy of the Rasika Priya and one of the Bhagavata Purana were executed at both these centres, their chief subjects were the ragas and raginis (the thirty-six modes of Indian music) nayakas and nayikas (the ideal lovers) and barahmasas (the twelve months) while in the case of Malwa, there was the added theme of Sanskrit love-poetry. Krishna the god was rarely celebrated and it was rather as 'the best of lovers' that he was sometimes introduced into pictures. In a Bundi series depicting the twelve months, courtly lovers are shown sitting in a balcony watching a series of rustic incidents proceeding below. The lover, however, is not an ordinary prince but Krishna himself, his blue skin and royal halo leaving no possible doubt as to his real identity.[83] Similarly in paintings illustrating the character and personality of musical modes, Krishna was often introduced as the perfect embodiment of passionate loving. None of the poems accompanying the modes make any allusion to him. Indeed, their prime purpose is to woo the presiding genius of the melody and suggest the visual scene most likely to evoke its spirit. The musical mode, Bhairava Raga, for example, was actually associated with Siva, yet because the character of the music suggested furious passion the central figure of the lover dallying with a lady was depicted as Krishna.[84] In Hindola Raga, a mode connected with swinging, a similar result ensued. Swinging in Indian sentiment was normally associated with the rains and these in turn evoked 'memory and desire.' The character of the music was therefore visualized as that of a young prince swinging in the rain—his very movements symbolizing the act of love. Since Krishna, however, was the perfect lover, nothing was easier than to portray Hindola Raga as Krishna himself. Hindola might be invoked in the poem, but it was Krishna who appeared seated on the swing.[85] An exactly similar process occurred in the case of Megh Mallar Raga. This was connected with the rainy season, yet because rain and storm were symbolic of sex, Megh Mallar was portrayed not as a separate figure, but as Krishna once again dancing in the rain with ladies accompanying him. Even feminine modes of music suffered the same kind of transformation. Vasanta Ragini, 'the music of springtime,' was normally apostrophized as a lovely lady, yet because springtime suggested lovers, she was shown in painting as if she were Krishna dancing with a vase of flowers, holding a wand in his hand or celebrating the spring fertility festival. The mode, Pancham Ragini, was also feminine in character and was conceived of as a beauty enjoying her lover's advances. The lady herself was portrayed, yet once again Krishna was introduced, this time as her lover. In all these cases the celebration of Krishna was incidental to the main theme and only in one instance—a Malwa Rasika Priya—is there a trace of undisguised adoration. In this lovely series,[86] Krishna's enchantment is perfectly suggested by the flowering trees which wave above him, the style acquiring an even more intense lyricism on account of its divine subject.

During the eighteenth century, painting in Rajasthan became increasingly secular, even artists of Udaipur devoting themselves almost exclusively to scenes of court life. The Ranas and the Mewar nobility were depicted hunting in the local landscape, watching elephant fights or moving in procession. Similar fashions prevailed in Jodhpur, Jaisalmer, Bikaner, Bundi and Kotah. Only, in fact, in two Rajasthan States and then for only brief periods was there any major celebration of the Krishna theme. At Kishangarh, a small State midway between Ajmer and Jaipur, a series of intensely poetic paintings were produced between the years 1750 and 1760—the prime stimulus being the delight of Raja Sawant Singh in Krishna's romance.[87] Born in 1699, Sawant Singh had ascended the throne in 1748 and given all his time to three activities, the rapturous re-living of Krishna's romance with Radha, the composition of ecstatic poems and the daily worship of Krishna as lover god. So great was his devotion that in 1757 he abandoned the throne and taking with him his favourite maid of honour, the beautiful poetess, Bani Thani, retired to Brindaban where he died in 1764. Sawant Singh's delight seems to have been shared by a local artist, Nihal Chand, for under the Raja's direction he produced a number of pictures in which Radha and Krishna sustained the leading roles. The pictures were mainly illustrations of Sawant Singh's own poems—the lovers being portrayed at moments of blissful wonder, drifting on a lake in a scarlet boat, watching fireworks cascading down the sky or gently dallying in a marble pavilion.

Here is Love's enchanted zone Here Time and the Firmament stand still Here the Bride and Bridegroom Never can grow old. Here the fountains never cease to play And the night is ever young.[88]

Nihal Chand's style was eminently fitted to express this mood of sensitive adoration. Originally trained in the later Mughal style, he was able to render appearances with exquisite delicacy but was also acutely aware of rhythmical elegance. And it is this which constantly characterized his work, his greatest achievement being the creation of a local manner for portraying Radha and Krishna.[89] Radha was endowed with great arched eyebrows and long eyes—the end of the eye being tilted so as to join the downward sweeping line of the eyebrow while Krishna was given a slender receding forehead and narrow waist. Each was made to seem the acme of elegance and the result was a conception of Krishna and his love as the very embodiment of aristocratic breeding.

The same sense of aristocratic loveliness is conveyed by a scene of dancing figures almost life size in the palace library at Jaipur.[90] Painted under Raja Pratap Singh (1779-1803) the picture shows ladies of the palace impersonating Radha and Krishna dancing together attended by girl musicians.[91] Against a pale green background, the figures, dressed in greenish yellow, pale greyish blue and the purest white, posture with calm assured grace, while the pure tones and exquisite line-work invest the scene with gay and luminous clarity. We do not know the circumstances in which this great picture was painted but the existence of another large-scale picture portraying the circular dance—the lines of cowgirls revolving like flowers, with Radha and Krishna swaying in their midst—suggests that the Krishna theme had once again inflamed a Rajput ruler's imagination.[92]

Such groups of paintings are, at most, exquisite exceptions and it is rather in the Rajput states of the Punjab Hills—an area remote and quite distinct from Rajasthan—that the theme of Krishna the divine lover received its most enraptured expression in the eighteenth century. Until the second half of the seventeenth century this stretch of country bordering the Western Himalayas seems to have had no kind of painting whatsoever. In 1678, however, Raja Kirpal Pal inherited the tiny state of Basohli and almost immediately a new artistic urge became apparent. Pictures were produced on a scale comparable to that of Udaipur thirty years earlier and at the same time a local style of great emotional intensity makes its sudden appearance.[93] This new Basohli style, with its flat planes of brilliant green, brown, red, blue and orange, its savage profiles and great intense eyes has obvious connections with Udaipur paintings of the 1650-60 period. And although exact historical proof is still wanting, the most likely explanation is that under Rana Raj Singh some Udaipur artists were persuaded to migrate to Basohli. We know that Rajput rulers in the Punjab Hills were often connected by marriage with Rajput families in Rajasthan and it is therefore possible that during a visit to Udaipur, Raja Kirpal Pal recruited his atelier. Udaipur painting, however, can hardly have been the only source for even in its earliest examples Basohli painting has a smooth polish, a savage sophistication and a command of shading which suggests the influence of the Mughal style of Delhi. We must assume, in fact, a series of influences determined to a great extent by Raja Kirpal Pal's political contacts, his private journeys and individual taste, but perhaps above all by an urge to express his feelings for Krishna in a novel and personal manner. The result is not only a new style but a special choice of subject-matter. The Rasika Priya and the Bhagavata Purana, the texts so greatly favoured at Udaipur, were discarded and in their place Basohli artists produced a series of isolated scenes from Krishna's life—the child Krishna stealing butter,[94] Krishna the gallant robbing the cowgirls or exacting toll, Krishna extinguishing the forest-fire,[95] Krishna the violent lover devouring Radha with hungry eyes. Their greatest achievements, however, were two versions of Bhanu Datta's Rasamanjari, one of them completed in 1695,[96] shortly after Raja Kirpal Pal's death, the other almost certainly fifteen years earlier.[97] The text in question is a treatise on poetics illustrating how romantic situations should best be treated in Sanskrit poetry—the conduct of mature mistresses, experienced lovers, sly go-betweens, clowns or jokers being all subjected to analysis.[98] The subject of the text is secular romantic poetry and Krishna himself is never mentioned. None the less, in producing their illustrations, the artists made Krishna the central figure and we can only conclude that eschewing the obvious Rasika Priya, Raja Kirpal Pal had directed his artists to do for Sanskrit what Keshav Das had done for Hindi poetry—to celebrate Krishna as the most varied and skilled of lovers and as a corollary show him in a whole variety of romantic and poetic situations. As a result Krishna was portrayed in a number of highly conflicting roles—as husband, rake, seducer, paramour and gallant.

In one picture he is 'a gallant whose word cannot be trusted' and we see him in the act of delicately disengaging a lady's dress and gazing at her with passion-haunted eyes. The poem on the reverse runs as follows:

Showing her a beautiful girdle Drawing on a fair panel with red chalk Putting a bracelet on her wrists And laying a necklace on her breasts Winning the confidence of the fawn-eyed lady of fair brows He slyly loosens the knot of her skirt Below the girdle-stead, with naughty hand.[99]

In another picture, he appears as 'a gallant well versed in the ways of courtesans,' the dreaded seducer of inexperienced girls. He is now shown approaching a formal pavilion, set in a lonely field. Inside the pavilion is the lovely object of his attack, sitting with a companion, knowing that willy-nilly she must shortly yield yet timidly making show of maidenly reserve.

His swollen heart Knows neither shame nor pity Nor any fear of anger How can such a tender bud as I Be cast into his hands today?[100]

In yet a third picture, he is portrayed standing outside a house while the lady, the subject of his passions, sits within. He is once again 'a false gallant,' his amorous intentions being shown by the orange, a conventional symbol for the breasts, poised lightly in his hand. As the lady turns to greet him, she puts a dot in the circle which she has just drawn on the wall—a gesture which once again contains a hint of sex. On the picture's reverse the poem records a conversation galante.

'Beloved, what are you doing With a golden orange in your hand?' So said the moon-faced one Placing a dot On the bright circles Painted in the house. [101]

In other pictures, a clown or jester appears, introducing a witty joking element into the scene and thus presenting Krishna's attitude to love as all-inclusive.

From 1693, the year of Raja Kirpal's death, painting at Basohli concentrated mainly on portraying rulers and on illustrating ragas and raginis—the poems which interpreted the moods and spirit of music. The style maintained its fierce intensity but there was now a gradual rounding of faces and figures, leading to a slight softening of the former brusque vigour. Devotion to Krishna does not seem to have bulked quite so largely in the minds of later Basohli rulers, although the cult itself may well have continued to exert a strong emotional appeal. In 1730, a Basohli princess, the lady Manaku, commissioned a set of illustrations to the Gita Govinda and Krishna's power to enchant not only the male but also the female mind was once again demonstrated.[102]

This series of illustrations is in some ways a turning point in Indian painting for not only was it to serve as a model and inspiration to later artists but its production brings to a close the most creative phase in Basohli art. After 1730, painting continued to be practised there but no longer with the same fervour. Basohli artists seem to have carried the style to other states—to Guler, Jammu, Chamba, Kulu, Nurpur and Bilaspur—but it is not until 1770 that the Krishna theme again comes into prominence. In about this year, artists from Guler migrated to the distant Garhwal, a large and straggling state at the far south of the Punjab Hills, taking with them a style of exquisite naturalism which had gradually reached maturity under the Guler ruler, Raja Govardhan Singh.[103] During his reign, a family of Kashmiri Brahmans skilled in the Mughal technique had joined his court and had there absorbed a new romantic outlook. On at least three occasions they had illustrated scenes from the Bhagavata Purana—Nanda celebrating Krishna's birth,[104] Krishna rescuing Nanda from the python which had started to devour his foot,[105] and finally the game of blind man's bluff[106]—but their chief subject had been the tender enchantments of courtly love. Ladies were portrayed longing for their lovers. The greatest emphasis was placed on elegance of pose. Fierce distortions were gradually discarded and the whole purpose of painting was to dwell on exquisite figures and to suggest a rapt devotion to the needs of love.

It is this suavely delicate art which now appears in Garhwal. Among the Guler painters was a master-artist and although his first Garhwal pictures are concerned with passionate romance, devotion to Krishna quickly becomes apparent.[107] The great Alaknanda River which roared through Srinagar, the capital, had a special fascination for him and just as Leonardo da Vinci evinced at one time a passionate interest in springing curls, the Guler artist found a special excitement in winding eddies and dashing water. The result was a sudden new interpretation of the Krishna theme. In two pictures where Krishna is shown quelling the snake Kaliya,[108] all the Guler qualities of elegant naturalism are abundantly present. Each figure has a smooth suavity and in every face there appears a look of calm adoration. It is the swirling, curling water, however, which gives the pictures their special Garhwal quality. The play of water evokes a melody of line and the result is a sense of upsurging joy. A similar religious exaltation marks other pictures by this master. At some time he appears to have been commissioned to illustrate the tale of Sudama the poor Brahman whose tattered hovel is changed by Krishna into a golden palace. He was evidently assisted by a weaker painter but in the pictures which are clearly his own work, the same quality of lyrical incantation appears. As Sudama journeys to Dwarka Krishna's golden city, his heart swoons with adoration, the hills, trees and ocean appear to dance about him and once again, the linear music of the composition engenders a feeling of supreme ecstasy.[109] We do not know which member of the Garhwal court acted as his patron—it is even possible that it was not the ruler himself but his consort, the Guler princess whom he had married in about the year 1770. What, at any rate, is clear is that at least one lively adorer of Krishna existed at the Garhwal court and that until the Gurkha invasions of 1803, there were other painters, besides the master-artist, who were similarly encouraged to interpret the Krishna theme.[110] Their style was clearly influenced by that of the master but in their use of slender leafless branches and towering spikes of blossom, they developed a special Garhwal imagery designed to suggest the slender beauty of love-enchanted girls. After the expulsion of the Gurkhas in 1816, a new Raja revived Garhwal painting. Krishna the lover was once again portrayed and until the middle of the nineteenth century, pictures continued to be produced blending the delights of courtly passion with adoration of God.

It was in the state of Kangra, however, that the greatest developments occurred. In 1775, the young Sansar Chand became Raja, and despite his extreme youth, quickly acquired mastery of the Kangra court. It is unlikely that artists were immediately summoned, but certainly by 1780 a flourishing school of painters had come into existence.[111] As at Garhwal, the artists of Kangra came originally from Guler and thus a similar phenomenon arises—the Guler manner providing the basis for yet a second great style. Sansar Chand was obviously quite exceptional, for not only was he successful in politics and war, but from his early manhood was devoted to Krishna as lover god. And it is this all-absorbing interest which explains the vast expansion of painting which now occurred. Under Sansar Chand's stimulus artists began to portray every situation involving Krishna, the cowherd. He was shown as a baby crying for the moon, being washed by his foster-mother, Yasoda, or mischievously breaking pitchers full of curds. He would be painted strolling with the cowherds, playing on his flute, or bringing the cattle home at evening. But the main theme to which the artists constantly returned was his main cowgirl love. Radha would be shown standing with Krishna in the forest, gazing trustfully into his eyes, seeking shelter with him from the rain or sitting with him by a stream.[112] Sometimes she and the cowgirls were shown celebrating the spring festival of Holi, Krishna syringing them with tinted water while they themselves strove to return his onslaughts by throwing red powder.[113] Often the scene would shift from the forest to the village, and Krishna would then be shown gazing at Radha as she dried herself after bathing or squatted in a courtyard cooking food. At other times he appeared assisting her at her toilet, helping her to dress her hair or applying a beauty mark to her forehead. If the scene was night itself, Radha would be shown sitting in her chamber, while far away across the courtyards and gardens would loom the small figure of Krishna waiting lonely on a bed. Occasionally the lovers would be portrayed expressing their rapture by means of simple gestures. Krishna's arm would be shown placed lovingly around Radha's shoulders, or Radha herself would be portrayed hiding her head on Krishna's breast.[114] In all these pictures, the style had an innocent and exquisite clarity, suggesting by its simple unaffected naturalism the artists' delight in Krishna's character, their appreciation of the feminine mind, their sense of sex as inherently noble and their association of romance with God himself.

It is in a series of illustrations to certain texts, however, that Kangra painting reaches its greatest heights. Among the many artists employed by Sansar Chand, a certain Purkhu was notable for his 'remarkable clearness of tone and delicacy of handling,'[115] and though none of his pictures are signed it is these qualities which characterize one of the two most famous sets of illustrations executed in Kangra. The subject was the tenth book of the Bhagavata Purana and the scenes illustrated ranged from Krishna's birth and adventures with demons to his frolics with the cowgirls and final slaughter of Kansa. Purkhu's style—if Purkhu is indeed the master responsible—is remarkable for its luminous clarity, its faint suggestions of modelling, and above all for its natural use of rhythm. In every scene,[116] cowherds appear engaged in different tasks, yet throughout there is a sense of oneness with Krishna himself. Krishna is shown delighting all by his simple friendliness and dignified charm and the style itself endows each scene with gentle harmony.

Purkhu was clearly one of the greatest artists ever to practise in the Punjab Hills, but it is a certain Kushala who is supposed to have been Sansar Chand's special favourite. We do not know which pictures are by his hand but there exist two series of illustrations of such distinctive quality that Kushala may well have been responsible.[117] One is a series of paintings illustrating part of Bihari's Sat Sai—the seven-hundred poems in which he extolled Krishna's love-making.[118] The other is yet another version of the Gita Govinda where Krishna is shown consorting with the cowgirls in blissful abandon.[119] In both these series, the inherent loveliness of Radha and the cowgirls is expressed by supple flowing line, a flair for natural posture and the inclusion of poetic images. The scarlet of a cowgirl's skirt is echoed by the redness of a gathering storm, the insertion of Krishna into the background suggesting the passionate nature of their imminent embraces.[120] In a similar way, the forest itself is 'threaded with phases of passion' and slender trees in flower parallel the slim romantic girls who long for Krishna's love.

One other Kangra master remains to be mentioned. Besides the pictures already noted, there exists a further series illustrating the tenth book of the Bhagavata Purana. The artist's identity is once again uncertain, but just as the Garhwal master was fascinated by the swirl of curling water, the Kangra artist in question delighted in the blonde pallor of the Indian moon.[121] Each incident in the text is rendered as if in moonlight—a full moon riding in the sky, its pale reflection shining in water, the countryside itself bathed throughout in frosty whiteness. As a result the figures of Radha and the cowgirls seem imbued with pallid glamour, their love for Krishna with an almost unearthly radiance.

Kangra painting continued throughout the nineteenth century but it was only during Sansar Chand's own reign (1775-1823) that the style achieved great lyrical glory. Similarly it was only towards the end of the eighteenth century that other states in the Punjab Hills developed their own interpretations of the great impassioned theme. At Nurpur, Chamba, Kulu and Bilaspur[122] pictures of Krishna had temporary vogues and at all these places artists created new modes of expression. None of the local styles, however, possessed the same prestige as that of Kangra and all were subsequently obliterated by the general Kangra manner. By the mid-nineteenth century, the Rajput order in the Punjab Hills foundered before the British and while lesser nobles and merchants continued to purchase pictures of Krishna the cult as a whole declined in princely favour. Only in Eastern India and then mainly in the villages did delight in Krishna continue to evoke new painting. From the twelfth century onwards Bengal had constantly celebrated the loves of Krishna—the poets Jayadeva, Chandi Das and Vidyapati being all natives of this part of India. Hymns to Krishna were sung in the villages and as part of this fervid adhesion, local manuscripts of the Bhagavata Purana and the Gita Govinda were often produced. Such manuscripts were normally not illustrated but were preserved between wooden covers, on which scenes of Krishna dancing with the cowgirls or with male devotees were painted.[123] Book covers of this kind were produced in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries and the resulting pictures have something of the savage elation associated with the Basohli style and its derivatives. During the nineteenth century, painted book-covers ceased to be produced but three other kinds of painting continued to celebrate the Krishna theme. Frescoes of Hindu gods and goddesses including Krishna were often executed on the mud walls of village houses in Mithila, the birthplace of the poet Vidyapati, and the style of painting with its brilliant colours and brusque distortions testified to the great excitement still engendered by Krishna's name.[124] At Kalighat near Calcutta, a special type of water-colour picture was mass-produced for sale to pilgrims and although the stock subjects included almost every Hindu god, many incidents from Krishna's life were boldly portrayed.[125] The style with its curving sumptuous forms is more a clue to general Bengali interests than to any special attitudes to Krishna, but the pictures, strangely parallel in style to the work of the modern artist Fernand Leger, have a robust gaiety and bounding vigour, not inappropriate to the Krishna theme. The third type of painting is the work of professional village minstrels known as jadupatuas. As a means of livelihood, jadupatuas travel from village to village in West Bengal, entertaining the people by singing ballads and illustrating their songs with long painted scrolls. As each ballad proceeds, the scroll is slowly unwound, one scene leading to another until the whole is concluded. Among the ballads thus intoned, the romance of Krishna is among the most common and the style of painting with its crude exuberance suggests the strength of popular devotion.[126]

There remains one last form of painting. During the twentieth century, the modern movement in Indian art has produced at least four major artists—Rabindranath Tagore, Amrita Sher-Gil, Jamini Roy and George Keyt. Of these four, the first two did not illustrate the Krishna theme. Jamini Roy, on the other hand, has often painted Krishna as flute-player and dancer.[127] It would be unrealistic to suggest that these pictures spring from a lively sense of Krishna as God—Jamini Roy has, in fact, resorted to themes of Christ with equal, if not greater, frequency but has shown no signs of becoming a Christian. It is rather that in painting these pictures, he has treated Krishna as a symbol of rural vitality, a figure whose boisterous career among the cowherds is an exact reflection of his own attitudes and enthusiasms. To Jamini Roy, the Bengali village with its sense of rude health is infinitely to be preferred to a city such as Calcutta with its artificiality and disease and in a style of bold simplifications, he has constantly celebrated the natural vigour and inherent dignity of simple unsophisticated men.

Such pictures stress a comparatively unimportant side of Krishna's character and it is rather in the paintings of George Keyt that Krishna the lover is proudly portrayed. Born in Ceylon of mixed ancestry, Keyt has, for many years, been acutely responsive to Indian poetry. In 1947, he published the translation of the Gita Govinda, excerpts from which have been quoted in the text, and throughout his career his work has been distinguished by a poet's delight in feminine form and sensuous rapture. To Keyt such a delight is a vital component of adult minds and in the romance of Radha and Krishna he found a subject subtly expressive of his own most intimate beliefs. His paintings and line-drawings of Radha, Krishna and the cowgirls—at once modern yet vitally Indian in spirit—have the same qualities as those in the Gita Govinda.[128] Radha and Krishna are shown luxuriating in each other's elegance, a certain ineffable tenderness characterizing their gestures and movements. Their love is gentle rather than brusque, an air of glamorous wonder broods above them and we meet once more that blend of romantic sensuality and loving innocence which is perhaps the chief Indian contribution to cultured living. It is this quality which gives to Indian paintings of Krishna and his loves their incomparable fervour, and makes them enduring expressions of Indian religion.

[Footnote 66: Plates 3, 5, 6, 8, 9, 11, 13-17, 21 and 36.]

[Footnote 67: M.R. Mazumdar, 'The Gujarati School of Painting,' Journal of the Indian Society of Oriental Art, 1942, Vol. X, plates 3 and 4.]

[Footnote 68: Collection Maharaja of Jaipur, Pothikhana, Jaipur.]

[Footnote 69: Collection Maharaja of Jodhpur, Pustakaprakash, Jodhpur Fort.]

[Footnote 70: Plate 22. Collection N.C. Mehta, Bombay. For reproductions of 2 and 3, see Karl Khandalavala, 'Leaves from Rajasthan,' Marg, Vol. IV, No. 3. Figs. 8 and 10.]

[Footnote 71: Moti Chandra, Jain Miniature Paintings from Western India (Ahmedabad, 1949), Figs. 99-105.]

[Footnote 72: Khandalavala, op. cit., Fig. 14; The Art of India and Pakistan, Pls. 81 and 82.]

[Footnote 73: Plates 23 and 24.]

[Footnote 74: For reproductions, see E. Wellesz, Akbar's Religious Thought reflected in Mogul Painting (London, 1952), Pls. 1-37.]

[Footnote 75: Reproduced Hendley, Memorials, The Razm Namah; see also Plates 1 and 2 below.]

[Footnote 76: The Art of India and Pakistan, Plate 88.]

[Footnote 77: H. Goetz, The Art and Architecture of Bikaner State (Oxford, 1950), Fig. 91.]

[Footnote 78: Coomaraswamy, Boston Catalogue, VI, Mughal Painting, Plates 8-19.]

[Footnote 79: Goetz, op. cit., Figs. 78 and 93.]

[Footnote 80: Plate 29. See also B. Gray, Treasures of Indian Miniatures from the Bikaner Palace Collection (Oxford, 1951), Plate 6.]

[Footnote 81: Plates 28 and 32. See also Archer, Indian Painting, Plate 7.]

[Footnote 82: The Art of India and Pakistan, Plate 85.]

[Footnote 83: Plate 32.]

[Footnote 84: Plate 34.]

[Footnote 85: Plate 33.]

[Footnote 86: Bharat Kala Bhawan, Banaras.]

[Footnote 87: Eric Dickinson, 'The Way of Pleasure: the Kishangarh Paintings', 2 Marg, Vol. III, No. 4, 29-35.]

[Footnote 88: Ibid., 31.]

[Footnote 89: Plate 39.]

[Footnote 90: For cartoons of this picture, see A.K. Coomaraswamy, Indian Drawings (London, 1912), Vol. II, Plate 2 and Rajput Painting, Vol. II, Plates 9 and 10.]

[Footnote 91: Note 22.]

[Footnote 92: Gangoly, Masterpieces of Rajput Painting, Plate 10.]

[Footnote 93: Plates 4, 10, 26, 27, 30 and 31. The Art of India and Pakistan, Plates 100-102.]

[Footnote 94: Plate 4.]

[Footnote 95: Plate 10.]

[Footnote 96: Archer, Indian Painting in the Punjab Hills, Fig. 6.]

[Footnote 97: Plate 30. Coomaraswamy, Boston Catalogue, V, Rajput Painting, Plates 92-95.]

[Footnote 98: Note 23.]

[Footnote 99: Coomaraswamy, Boston Catalogue, V, Rajput Painting, 171.]

[Footnote 100: Ibid., 172.]

[Footnote 101: Ibid., 173.]

[Footnote 102: Plates 26 and 27. The Art of India and Pakistan, Plate 102.]

[Footnote 103: Archer, Garhwal Painting, 1-4.]

[Footnote 104: Gangoly, op. cit., Plate 35.]

[Footnote 105: Archer, Indian Painting in the Punjab Hills, Fig. 23.]

[Footnote 106: Mehta, Studies in Indian Painting, Plate 21.]

[Footnote 107: Plates 19, 20 and 35.]

[Footnote 108: Coomaraswamy, Rajput Painting, Plates 53 and 54.]

[Footnote 109: Archer, Garhwal Painting, Plate 1.]

[Footnote 110: Plates 7, 12 and 25.]

[Footnote 111: Archer, Kangra Painting, 2-5.]

[Footnote 112: Ibid., Plate 2.]

[Footnote 113: Ibid., Plate 1.]

[Footnote 114: Ibid., Plate 2.]

[Footnote 115: B.H. Baden Powell, Handbook of the Manufactures and Arts of the Punjab (Lahore, 1872), 355. Purkhu must now, most probably, be connected with the first of the two Kangra masters described in Kangra Painting (p. 4)—Plates 3 and 4 being examples of his work.]

[Footnote 116: Plates 3, 5, 6, 8, 9, 11 and 16.]

[Footnote 117: Archer, Kangra Painting, Plates 1 and 2; also p. 4 where the second of the two Kangra masters is described.]

[Footnote 118: Plate 36; Mehta, op. cit., Plates 25 and 26.]

[Footnote 119: Plate 21.]

[Footnote 120: Mehta, op. cit., Plate 22.]

[Footnote 121: Plates 13-15.]

[Footnote 122: Plate 18.]

[Footnote 123: The Art of India and Pakistan, Plate 79]

[Footnote 124: W.G. Archer, 'Maithil Painting,' Marg, Vol. III, No. 2.]

[Footnote 125: W.G. Archer, Bazaar Paintings of Calcutta (London, 1953), Plates 8, 9, 14, 19, 30, 31 and 41.]

[Footnote 126: Ajit Mookerjee, Art of India, (Calcutta, 1952) Fig. 94.]

[Footnote 127: B. Dey and J. Irwin, 'Jamini Roy,' Journal of the Indian Society of Oriental Art (1944), Vol. XII, Plate 6.]

[Footnote 128: For reproductions of Keyt's work, see Martin Russell, George Keyt (Bombay, 1950), Plates 1-101.]


Note 1, p. 13.

For a further discussion of these two main kinds of Indian expression, see my Indian Painting (Iris, Batsford, London, 1956).

Note 2, p. 14.

In Indian painting, Krishna is normally blue or mauve in colour, though cases occur in which he is black, green or dark brown. Black would seem to follow from Krishna's name—the word 'Krishna' meaning 'black'—and may have been applied either because he sprang from a black hair of Vishnu or because he was born at midnight, 'black as a thundercloud.' It has been suggested that his dark complexion proves a Dravidian or even an aboriginal origin since both the Dravidian races and the aboriginal tribes are dark brown in colour in contrast to the paler Aryans. None of the texts, however, appears to corroborate this theory. So far as 'blue' and 'mauve' are concerned, 'blue' is the colour of Vishnu and characterizes most of his incarnations. As the colour of the sky, it is appropriate to a deity who was originally associated with the sun—the sun with its life-giving rays according well with Vishnu's role as loving protector. 'Blue' is also supposed to be the colour of the ocean on which Vishnu is said to recline at the commencement of each age. In view of the variations in colour in the pictures, it is perhaps significant that 'blue,' 'mauve' and 'green' are commonly regarded in village India as variants of 'black'—many Indians making no distinction between them. In Indian painting, the fact that Krishna is blue makes it easy to identify him, his only serious rival being another and earlier incarnation of Vishnu, the princely Rama. The latter can usually be distinguished from Krishna by the fact that he carries a bow (never a cowherd's stick) and is often accompanied by Hanuman, the monkey leader.

Note 3, p. 17.

For a comparison of Ghora Angirasa's teaching in the Chandogya Upanishad with Krishna's precepts in the Gita, see Mazumdar, The Age of Imperial Unity (432-4) and Basham, The Wonder that was India (242-7, 304-5)

Note 4, p. 17.

Although the actual date of the Mahabharata war has been variously assessed—'between 1400 and 1000 B.C.' (M.A. Mehendale in The Age of Imperial Unity, 251) 'the beginning of the ninth century B.C. (Basham, op. cit., 39)—the epic itself is generally recognized as being a product of many centuries of compilation. The portions relating to Krishna the hero may well date from the third century B.C. The Gita, on the other hand, was possibly composed in the second century B.C. 'but assumed the form in which it appears in the Mahabharata today in the early centuries A.D.' (Mehendale, op. cit., 249).

Note 5, p. 24.

The implication is that the Pandavas have not been granted ultimate salvation i.e. final release from living but have reached the important transitional level of 'the heaven of the doers of good deeds.' They have also been granted the limited status of petty gods.

Note 6, p. 25.

Harivansa, 'the Genealogy of Krishna' but more literally, 'the Genealogy of Hari,' a synonym for Vishnu. For the sake of clearness and to avoid burdening the text with too much periphrasis, I have throughout referred to Krishna as such. In the texts themselves, however, he is constantly invoked under other names—Hari (or Vishnu), Govinda (the cowherd), Keshava (the hairy or radiant one), Janarddana (the most worshipful), Damodara ('bound with a rope,' referring to the incident (p. 32) when having been tied by Yasoda to a mortar, Krishna uproots the two trees), Murari ('foe of Mura, the arch demon' p. 58) or in phrases such as 'queller of Kaliya the snake,' 'destroyer of Kesi, the demon horse,' 'slayer of Madhu—the demon who sprang from the ear of Vishnu and was killed by him.' A similar use of periphrasis occurs in Anglo-Saxon kennings ('world-candle' for sun, 'battle-adders' for arrows). In the same way, Abul Fazl's chronicle, the Akbarnama, never names the emperor Akbar but refers to him in terms such as 'His Majesty,' 'the holy soul,' 'lord of the age,' 'fountain of generosity,' 'the sacred heart,' 'the world-adorning mind,' 'the decorated mansion of sports.'

Note 7, p. 26, 34, 46, 68, 69.

In Chapters 3 and 4 I have, in the main, strictly followed the Bhagavata Purana, incorporating, however, a few important details and passages either not given in this text but included in the Vishnu Purana or if given, not so vividly expressed. The details and passages in question are page 27 concerning the white and black hairs of Vishnu, page 34—the lyrical description of Krishna's life in the forest, page 46—Akrura's meditation as he goes to visit Krishna, page 68—the drunken brawl and page 69 the deaths of Balarama and Krishna. All extracts are from H.H. Wilson, The Vishnu Purana (pages 498, 511, 541-2, 609-612).

Note 8, p. 28.

The resemblance between Kansa's order to kill all male infants and Herod's slaughter of the innocents has often been remarked.

Note 9, p. 29.

Krishna's constant alterations of role, appearing sometimes as God but more often as boy or man, have been commented on by Isherwood and Prabhavananda in connection with Arjuna's dilemma in the Mahabharata. 'Krishna is the divine incarnation of Vishnu, Arjuna's chosen deity. Arjuna knows this—yet, by a merciful ignorance, he sometimes forgets. Indeed, it is Krishna who makes him forget, since no ordinary man could bear the strain of constant companionship with God. After the vision of Krishna's divine aspect, Arjuna is appalled by the realization that he has been treating the Lord of the universe as 'friend and fellow-mortal.' He humbly begs Krishna's pardon, but his awe soon leaves him. Again, he has forgotten. We may infer the same relationship between Jesus and his disciples after the vision of the transfiguration.' (The Song of God, Bhagavad-Gita, 29-30).

Note 10, p. 33.

Although part of the supreme Trinity, Brahma was often treated in literature as an ordinary god who ambled gently about the world, was often rather absent-minded, sometimes behaved as if he were a priest, and was prone, as on the present occasion, to act a trifle misguidedly.

Note 12, p. 40.

The scene is illustrated in two Kangra and Guler paintings (Archer, Indian Painting in the Punjab Hills, Figs. 10 and 23).

Note 12, p. 58.

Pragjyotisha—a city situated in the east, in Kamarupa on the borders of Assam. According to the Vishnu Purana (Wilson, 582), its environs were defended by 'nooses, constructed by the demon Mura (Naraka's ally), the edges of which were as sharp as razors.' Mura had seven thousand sons (not seven, as stated in the Bhagavata). All, however, were 'burnt like moths with the flame of the edge of Krishna's discus.'

Note 13, p. 67.

Basham (op. cit., 305) points out that elements in the Krishna story such as the destruction of the Yadavas and the death of the god are 'quite un-Indian in their tragic character. The themes of the drunken brawl leading to a general slaughter, of the hero slain by an arrow piercing his one vulnerable spot, and of the great city engulfed by the sea, are well-known in European epic literature, but do not occur elsewhere in that of India and are not hinted at in the Vedas. The concept of the dying god, so widespread in the ancient Near East, is found nowhere else in Indian mythology.'

It is unfortunate that Krishna's reasons for destroying the Yadava race are nowhere made very clear. The affront to the Brahmans is the immediate occasion for the slaughter but hardly its actual cause; and, if it is argued that the Yadavas must first be destroyed in order to render Krishna's withdrawal from the world complete, we must then assume that the Yadavas are in some mysterious way essential parts of Krishna himself. Such a status, however, does not seem to be claimed for them and none of the texts suggest that this is so. The slaughter, therefore, remains an enigma.

Note 14, p. 68.

Wilson (op. cit., 608) summarizing the portents listed in the Mahabharata but not included in the Vishnu or Bhagavata Puranas.

Note 15, p. 72.

From the Brihadaranyaka, quoted A. Danielou, 'An Approach to Hindu Erotic Sculpture,' Marg, Vol. II, No. i, 88. For a Western expression of this point of view, compare Eric Gill, 'Art and Love,' Rupam (Calcutta, 1925), No. 21, 5.

'If the trees and rocks, the thunder and the sea, the frightful avidity of animal life and the loveliness of flowers are so many hints of the God who made them, how much more obviously are the things of humanity analogues of the things of God? And among all such things, the union of man and woman takes the highest place and is the most potent symbol. Therefore it is that outside the commercial civilizations of the western world, love and marriage take their place as types of divine union and everywhere love and marriage are the subject matter, the theme of religious writers, singers, painters and sculptors. It is true that love is the theme of western writers also but with them the idea of love is entirely free from divine signification. (As a corollary), the more the divine background disappears, the more the prudishness of the police becomes the standard of ethics and aesthetics alike. Under such an aegis the arts are necessarily degraded to the level of the merely sentimental or the merely sensual and while the sentimental is everywhere applauded, the sensual is a source of panic.'

Note 16, p. 73.

In later poetry as well as in popular worship, Radha's position is always that of an adored mistress—never that of a beloved wife. And it is outside or rather in the teeth of marriage that her romance with Krishna is prosecuted. Such a position clearly involved a sharp conflict with conventional morals and in the fourteenth century, an attempt was made, in the Brahma Vaivarta Purana, to re-write the Bhagavata Purana, magnifying Radha as leader of the cow-girls, disguising or rather denying her adultery and finally presenting her as Krishna's eternal consort. For this purpose, three hypotheses were adopted. Radha was throughout assumed to be Krishna's spouse and it is only on account of a curse that she takes human form as a cowgirl and comes to live in Brindaban. Radha herself does not marry Ayana the cowherd—his wedding being only with her shadow. Thirdly, Krishna comes to Brindaban and goes through a secret marriage with her. Their love-making is, therefore, no longer adulterous but strictly conjugal. It is not perhaps surprising that the Brahma Vaivarta Purana failed to capture the Indian imagination and indeed is nowadays hardly ever heard of. It is of interest mainly on account of the prolific information given about Radha, the fact that it sets her firmly in the centre, dethroning the hapless Rukmini, and its baroque descriptions of sexual union.

Note 17, p. 73.

During the eleventh and twelfth centuries, a parallel situation seems to have arisen in feudal France and Germany where local love-poetry also treated adultery as a sine qua non of romance.

'Two things prevented the men of that age from connecting their ideal of romantic and passionate love with marriage. The first is, of course, the actual practice of feudal society. Marriages had nothing to do with love and no 'nonsense' about marriage was tolerated. All marriages were matches of interest and, worse still, of an interest that was continually changing. When the alliance which had answered would answer no longer, the husband's object was to get rid of the lady as quickly as possible. Marriages were frequently dissolved. The same woman who was the lady and 'the dearest dread' of her vassals was often little better than a piece of property to her husband. He was master in his own house. So far from being a natural channel for the new kind of love, marriage was rather the drab background against which that love stood out in all the contrast of its new tenderness and delicacy. The situation is indeed a very simple one, and not peculiar to the Middle Ages. Any idealization of sexual love, in a society where marriage is purely utilitarian, must begin by being an idealization of adultery.' (C.S. Lewis, The Allegory of Love (London, 1936), 13.)

Note 18, p. 77.

Much of the Gita Govinda's power arises from the endowment of Nature with romantic ardour, the forest itself being presented as a highly sensitive and symbolic setting for the behaviour of lovers. The following passage from Tess of the D'Urbervilles is perhaps the nearest approach in English to this kind of treatment.

'Amid the oozing fatness and warm ferments of the Var Vale, at a season when the rush of juices could almost be heard below the hiss of fertilization, it was impossible that the most fanciful love should not grow passionate. The ready bosoms existing there were impregnated by their surroundings. July passed over their heads and the weather which came in its wake seemed an effort on the part of Nature to match the state of hearts at Talbothays Dairy. The air of the place, so fresh in the spring and early summer, was stagnant and enervating now. Its heavy scents weighed upon them, and at mid-day the landscape seemed lying in a swoon. Ethiopic scorchings browned the upper slopes of the pastures, but there was still bright herbage here where the water courses purled. And as Clare was oppressed by the outward heats, so was he burdened inwardly by waxing fervour of passion for the soft and silent Tess.'

Note 19, p. 77.

The Gita Govinda was one of the first Sanskrit poems to be rendered into English—Sir William Jones publishing a mellifluous version in Asiatick Researches in 1792. Later in the nineteenth century it was translated into Victorian verse by Sir Edwin Arnold. The present translation from which all the extracts are taken is by George Keyt, the foremost modern artist of Ceylon. It is greatly to be hoped that the entire translation, hitherto available only in an Indian edition, will one day be published in England.

Note 20, p. 86.

Poems 1 and 2 are based on versions by O.C. Gangoly (Masterpieces of Rajput Painting, 29, 58); poems 3-11 are from new translations by Deben Bhattacharya.

Note 21, p. 91.

For the originals of certain poems in the Rasika Priya and their literal translation, see Coomaraswamy, 'The Eight Nayikas.'

Note 22, p. 104.

The first scholar to draw attention to this fact, i.e. that the subjects are not Radha and Krishna but palace ladies impersonating them, is Dr. Joan van Lohuizen de Leeuw, whose paper on this and kindred problems is under preparation.

Note 23, p. 105.

For a detailed discussion of Bhanu Datta's Rasamanjari and of similar treatises by other Sanskrit authors, see V. Raghavan, Srngaramanjari of Saint Akbar Shah (Hyderabad, 1951).


AGRAWALA, V.S.: 'The Romance of Himachal Paintings,' Roopa-Lekha XX, 2, (1948-9), 87-93.

ARCHER, W.G.: Indian Painting in the Punjab Hills (London, 1952). Kangra Painting (London, 1952). Garhwal Painting (London, 1954). Indian Painting (London, 1956).

BASHAM, A.L.: The Wonder that was India (London, 1954).

BURNOUF, E. (trans.): Le Bhagavata Purana (Paris, 1840-98).

COOMARASWAMY, A.C.: 'The Eight Nayikas,' Journal of Indian Art and Industry, XVI (New Series), No. 128 (1914), 99-116. Rajput Painting (Oxford, 1916). Catalogue of the Indian Collections in the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston: Part V, Rajput Painting; Part VI, Mughal Painting (Cambridge, Mass. 1926, 1930). (trans.) The Taking of Toll (London, 1915).

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