Moods of the heroine (nayikabheda) are a popular theme in Indian art and literature. Allegorically this human relationship refers to the aspiration of the soul for the Supreme. The theme is systematically dealt with in the famous poem Rasikapriya by Keshavadasa who lived in Orcha, Madhya Pradesh in the 16th century. This painting is inspired by Rasikapriya as indicated by an inscription on the reverse referring to the twenty-third verse of the seventh chapter of the Rasikapriya of Keshavadasa.
On a moonlit night, the heroine has dressed up with jewellery. The bed of banyan leaves is prepared under a green tree on the bank of a river, and after eagerly waiting for her lover through the night, she is now discarding all her ornaments in despair; because he betrayed her. Her pinkish complexion, thick locks of hair falling over her neck almost reaching her knees, her firm circular breasts, elongated eyes deeply engrossed in thought and sharply curved eyebrows lend an unusual charm to this painting.
Describing the Vipralabdha Nayika, Keshavadasa writes:
Vipralabdha is a nayika who is dejected.
This night the nayaka being absorbed in some work of his did not come,
Where at the flowers seemed to her darts, And perfumed things with evil stunk!
Her house a parcher’s oven seemed, Gardens to fearful forests turned,
Like fever was the cool moonbeams, Which all her body seemed to burn!
Songs were abuse, and betels made, Looked to her as if they poison were!
And all sixteen adornments appeared As if they merely were embers!
Sir Ratan Tata Collection
Indian Miniature Paintings
Opaque watercolour on paper
Indian Miniature painting
Early 19th century CE
Full page: 21.5 x 28.5 cms. Painting: 14 x 21.5 cms.