Shiva’s hosts destroying the sacrifice of Daksha Prajapati
An illustration to the Bhagavata Purana.
The episode of the Daksha yajna mentioned in the fourth skandha of the Bhagavata Purana, is vividly illustrated in this painting.
The Purana mentions how Daksha, father of Parvati, deliberately avoided inviting Parvati and Shiva to the sacrifice he was performing. Despite this, Parvati decided to attend and on reaching there, found to her dismay that no seat was reserved for Shiva in the celebration. Deeply hurt at this insult, she immolated herself in the fire altar. Her attendants, the Pramathas and the Guhyakas, enraged by Daksha’s behaviour attacked him with the intention of killing him. Sage Bhrigu immediately performed a sacrifice to save Daksha. From the altar arose the Ribhus, armed with firebrands, and drove away the Pramathas.
In the upper panel is a group of rishis helplessly watching the advancing Pramathas aiming their weapons at Daksha, who is seated with his wife in the centre, facing the altar, from which the Ribhus are emerging. In the lower panel are seen the aggressive Ribhus and the retreating Pramathas, while a group of women are watching the scene.
A cluster of trees placed vertically demarcates the two locations. On Mount Kailasa Narada is breaking the news to Shiva and then as the Purana mentions, “Shiva got enraged and bit his lips. He pulled out a matted lock of hair, sprang to his feet and dashed it on the ground”. The second locale faithfully depicts this scene.
Sahebdin, to whom this painting can be easily attributed, is the first known artist of Mewar who has produced several illustrated sets of epics and the Bhagavata Purana. Sahebdin’s palette is of bright enamel colours, red, grey, blue and purple. His style is a continuation of the earlier style of manuscript illustrations. His small but proportionate human figures are engaged in brisk activities and show natural movements.
Indian Miniature Paintings
Attributed to Sahebdin
Opaque watercolour on paper
C. 1648 CE
33.3 x 17 cms.