Krishna’s Rasakrida in the Yamuna
There have been many paintings of the Rasalila of Krishna, but the scene where gopis sprinkled the water of the Yamuna on Krishna is rarely illustrated in the Bhagavata Purana manuscripts. It is described in the Bhagavata Purana X, 33, 24-40 how, during the Rasalila, Krishna entered the waters of the Yamuna, and “sported here like a king elephant as he was profusely sprinkled over with water on all sides by the youthful damsels who were casting amorous glances at him and were laughing heartily while he was being praised by the gods who were showering on him flowers from their aerial cars”. Later at Brahma muhurta (early morning), the gopis reluctantly returned home.
This folio of a Bhagavata Purana manuscript elaborately painted at Nagpur illustrates the episode. It is a full moon night in Vrindavan, the trees are in full bloom, and the clear blue waters of the Yamuna in the foreground are full of pink
lotuses. The Blue God, dressed as usual in his pitambara with a golden border, a long white vanamala, and a morapichha in his mukuta, is encircled by the gopis dressed in colourful garments. All of them are standing partially submerged in the river. They spray water at Krishna in delightful amorous sport. The blue water turns into tiny white drops as it splashes against Krishna. In return, he also throws water on the faces of two gopis. The four gopis standing on the bank behind the trees seem to be looking for Krishna or are returning home.
The manuscript in long horizontal format is important for an understanding of the Nagpur style of painting. It seems that there were two identical manuscripts of the Bhagavata Purana commissioned probably for the two Bhosla brothers.1 It is
interesting that one, a few folios of which are in the Museum collection, is made of Indian handmade paper, while the folios of the other have watermarks on the paper which must have been imported from the West. This folio bears a watermark, and due to the smoother surface, the quality of workmanship and colour differ to some extent from those done on Indian handmade paper. Verses 39 and 40 of the Bhagavata Purana X, 33 are inscribed to the left of the painting.
9 Folios (Folio No. 134, 137, 138, 140, 144, 159, 162, 190, 193)
(only one illustrated)
Karl and Meherbai Khandalava Collection
Indian Miniature Paintings
Manuscript Miniature Painting
Tempera on paper
40 x 17.8 cms