Monthly Archives: March 2013

Miniature paintings – Mughal, Kangra and Rajasthan

Miniature paintings from India

Miniature paintings are popular folk art form. India, as diverse in flora and fauna and culture, has a range of these paintings which are so different, yet so mesmerising.

Paintings from Mughal Period

One of the important periods in Indian history is Mughal period, which contributed significantly to miniature paintings. The subject of these paintings varied and largely included scenes from court and representing significant events.

This style of painting is believed to be started with Humayun, who brought couple of artists from persia. This flourished in the reins of Akbar, Jehangir and Shahjahan.

Jehangir court scene in miniature painting

Jehangir court scene in miniature painting

Hunting by Mughal emperor

Hunting by Mughal emperor

The influence of these rulers is evident on these paintings as these have depicted the scenes of court of these emperors and other activities.

Another miniature painting depicting hunting scenes

Another miniature painting depicting hunting scenes

 

Kangra miniature paintings

Kangra miniature paintings are also famous. They mainly depict scenes from Indian mythology involving Shri Krishna. This form of art is originated from Kangra, Himachal pradesh. This paintings also came to known as Pahari school of paintings. Kangra paintings flourished under the ruler Sansar Chand. Some of the masterpieces are available in the museum on his name, Maharaja Sansar Chand museum.

Kangra paintings - Shri Krishna and Radha

Kangra paintings – Shri Krishna and Radha

Shri Krishna taming Kaliya - Kangra painting

Shri Krishna taming Kaliya – Kangra painting

Another gem from Pahari Painting school.

Pahari miniature painting

Pahari miniature painting

Rajasthani miniature paintings

Another popular folk art form of paintings are Rajasthani miniature paintings. Rajasthan is premier in this art form, which evolved from Marwar-Mewat region. Some of these priceless paintings are housed in National Museum, New Delhi.

 

Radha and Krishna playing blind man buff

Radha and Krishna playing blind man buff

 

Rajasthani painting - Krishna and Radha

Rajasthani painting – Krishna and Radha

Bundi is another region where this folk art form has been developed. The blend of Mughal and Deccani art elements in Bundi style is unique. Similarly, kota also provides these paintings whose subject are ram lila, krishna lila, etc.

 

When Vishwamitra and Vasistha used Brahmastra weapon

Brahmastra (a weapon) used by sages

Here is  another story, related to Brahmastra from Indian mythology. Two great sages fought between them. Vishwamitra, who was king Kaushika, had stayed with his army at sage Vasishtha’s ashram (hermitage).  Vasishtha fed everyone and out of curiosity, Vishwamitra asked him – “How have you managed this?”

Vasistha said that – Sabala (or Nandini) , the daughter of Kamdhenu, has provided all the food. Kaushika thought that this would be very useful for him and asked for the cow. Vasishtha politely refused him. Vishwamitra became angry and asked his army to capture the cow with force.

The cow helped Vasishtha and Vishwamitra was defeated. Seeing this, Vishwamitra started penance of Lord Shiva. Due to his severe penance, Lord Shiva granted him the knowledge of all celestial weapons.

Armed with the knowledge of these celestial weapons, Vishwamitra came back to Vasistha’s ashram and in attempt to destroy his ashram and sage Vasishtha, he uses those weapons.

Vishwamitra and Vasistha - using Brahmastra

Vishwamitra and Vasistha – using Brahmastra

Vasistha became angry, as his ashram has been destroyed, but able to counter all the weapons used by Vishwamitra. Vishwamitra eventually summoned the Brahmastra. Vasishtha neutralized this by Brahmadanda. Out of anger, Vasishtha wanted to use Brahmastra. But moved by the prayers of humankind, he retracted this deadly weapon.

Vishwamitra again lost everything he had, and went on to do the penance again. After doing again severe penance, he attained the status of rajarshi. Here, we see, that out of anger and revenge, a king and then a sage, lost everything, which he obtained through severe penance. This is another story related to revenges in Indian mythology.

Note: Interesting here is that both these sages were associated of seventh avatar of Vishnu Dashavatar, Lord Rama.

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Vishnupad mandir – temple at Gaya

The Gaya town is an important entity for Hindu religion followers. This is because of the fact that here Hindus worship their forefathers. But this town has great significance because Lord Buddha attained enlightenment here.  But few people know that this place has a great temple of Lord Vishnu, where the foot of the lord is seen. This place has a story behind where Lord Vishnu helped mankind. Another great temple in Gaya is Mangla Gauri temple.

 

Vishnupad Mandir (Temple)

This temple is in the town of gaya, bihar, dedicated to Lord Vishnu. There is an interesting story behind this temple. Once a demon known as Gayasura, did a heavy penance and sought a boon that whoever sees him should attain salvation (Moksham). Since salvation is achieved through being extreme orthodox and too good (committing no known or unknown mistakes) in one’s lifetime, people started obtaining it easily. Unable to withstand this, Lord Vishnu asked Gayasura to go under the earth and he put his right foot on demon’s head. After pushing Gayasura below the surface of earth, Lord Vishnu’s foot print remained on the rock which is seen even today.

Though the origins of the temple are unknown, Ahilya Bai Holkar, the ruler of Indore, had rebuilt the present octagonal shrine with Lord Vishnu’s footprints at the centre in 1787. The 40 cm long footprint of Lord Vishnu is imprinted in solid rock and surrounded by a silver plated basin.

Vishnupad Mandir at Gaya

Vishnupad Mandir at Gaya

 This temple is situated in a huge complex along with about 24 other temples. The main temple is 30 metres tall and has a mandap attached to it. The temple has the footprints of Vishnu in an octagonal enclosure. The footprint has a silver umbrella above it. The temple is built of large gray granite blocks jointed with iron clamps. The octagonal shrine faces east. Its pyramidal tower rises up a 100 feet.

Lord Vishnu's feet imprint

Lord Vishnu’s feet imprint

This place is also believed to be the one under which the Lord Buddha meditated for six years.

Gaya is situated about 92 kms. south of Patna and 15 kms. north of Bodh Gaya. Gaya is one of the most important pilgrimage places for the Hindus and Buddhists as at bodh gaya, Bhagwan Buddha has attained enlightenment.

Mahavir mandir (temple) at Patna

Mahavir Mandir or Hanuman temple

One of the most famous Hanuman temple in country. The unique fact is that this temple houses two statues of Hanuman, one is believed to protect the good souls (paritranay sudhunay) and the other to eliminate the bad ones ( Vinashayati cha dushkritam).

Mahavir idols

Mahavir idols

Historically, this temple belonged to ramanand sect but from 1900, it was in the control of gosain sanyasis. in 1948, Patna high court declared it as  a public temple.

The current beautiful and grand temple was constructed in mid 1980s under the patronage of Kishore Kunal. This temple is very close to patna railway station.

Mahavir temple at night, Patna

Mahavir temple at night, Patna

This temple has three floors, ground, first and second. The ground floor contains the idols of Hanuman jee.

First floor

First floor has Lord Rama’s temple. Shri Krishna’s delivering Shrimadbhagwadgita to Arjuna is also portrayed here. Goddess Durga is also present on this floor. Lord Shiva, Parvati and Nandi are also present here. Shiva linga is also available to enable Rudrabhishek.

The floating Ram-setu Shila is also placed on this floor only. It has been kept in a glass container and is revered by the people. The volume of this stone is 13,000 mm, while the weight is approx. 15kgs.

On the first floor, while crossing Dhyanmandap, to the left  Lord Ganesha and Lord Buddha are available and further on, Lord satyanarayan, Lord Rama accompanied by Mother Sita and Goddess Sarasvati seem to cast a benevolent look on the devotees. In front of this façade of deities, below the Pipal tree, is the temple of Shani-maharaj. This temple, designed in the style of cave architecture, looks beautiful.

Second Floor

On the second floor,this  floor is mainly used for ritual purposes. Sanskar mandap is located at this floor only. Chanting of mantras, japa, recitals of Holy Scriptures, Satyanarayan katha and various other rituals are practiced and performed here. The floor also has the pictographic representation of the scenes from the Ramayana.

Shakuni – The mastermind in mahabharata

Shakuni – in Mahabharata

Shakuni’s character cannot be underestimated in the context of Mahabharata. He has been a highly intelligent person and a brave warrior. He had been a matermind to lot of plots to help Duryodhana gain upper hand on Pandavas. The most notorious and damage inflicting was the game of dice.

Pandavas losing the game of dice to Shakuni

Pandavas losing the game of dice to Shakuni

There are lot of therories which say why he left his own kingdom (gandhar) and was living at Hastinapur. One theory says that he was appalled because of his sister was forcefully married to a blind prince and he decided to take the revenge. But I doubt, as his actions were directed towards only one thing, welfare of Duryodhana.

He played many clever tricks like building the house of Lac, sending the dangerous saint Durvasas to the forest, waging war on the kingdom that hosted the Pandavas secretly (so that their hide out was exposed before end of stipulated one year and they were forced to start the exile de novo), etc etc All perfect designs befitting royal strategy of high order.

His Grandest act

Shakuni’s grandest act in mahabharata was inviting Yudhisthira to the game of dice and ensuring that he lost everything to Duryodhana. The plan was very beautiful, and it would have ensured the kingdom to Duryodhana, had they have been able to identify the place of hiding of Pandavas agyaatvaas. The condition was such that Pandavas had to spend twelve years in forest and one year in hiding and if they were discovered during the year, they have to repeat the cycle. Pandavas hid themselves well in kingdom of Virata during the year.

Shakuni defeating Yudhishthira

Shakuni defeating Yudhishthira

It is said that the dice which were used in the game of dice were made from his father’s bones and they obeyed him. He was killed by Sahdev in the war of mahabharata.

His father was Subala, who also had 100 sons. Youngest of them was Shakuni.