Category Archives: history of india

Terracotta temples of Bengal : grandeur revisited at Kalna

     The area of Bardhaman in Bengal has been named after the 24th Jain tirthankara Mahavira Vardhamana. The area was called Bardhamanbhukti around 700 B.C, a part of Rarh.  One of the 16 janapadas of ancient India, the Magadhan dynasty, the Mauryas, the Kushanas, the Guptas have ruled it. The Gauda, the Pala, the Senas have ruled  before the Khilji powers.  Bardhaman was a paragana during Mughal period. Emperor Jahangir took the wife of Sher Afghan as his consort, the jagirdar of Bardhaman who was killed  near Bardhaman in 1606;  Meher-un-nissa, who later became Nur Jahan.  In  seventeeth century Raja Krishnaram Rai was made the zamindar of Bardhaman by Emperor Aurangzeb. The Rai family was the governing family of the area. Kirti Chandra Rai expanded his region and defeated the Raja of Bishnupur. Chitrasen followed and was given the title of Raja by the Mughals in 1740. He was succeeded by Tilakchand Rai when the British acquired Bardhaman and many other areas of Bengal.

  Against the backdrop of many a political  scene and happening, the town of Ambika Kalna or Kalna there have been lot temple building activity and construction of monuments like the Rajbari. Kalna is on the western bank of the Bhagirathi river.

  Kalna is home to many temples.  The Naba-Kailasha temple , Bijoy Vaidyanath Temple, Giri Gobardhan Temple,Gopalji Temple,Jaleswar Temple, Krishna Chandraji Temple Lalji Temple, Pancharatna Temple, Pratapeswar Siva Temple in Rajbari complex, Rameswar Temple, Ratneswar Temple and Rupeswar Temple.  A few temples are highlighted with the structures and carvings in terracotta reflecting the refined art technique of the time.

 

 

File:Kalna Temple Complex by Piyal Kundu.jpg

Rajbari complex,Ambika Kalna, Bardhaman,West Bengal.

By Piyal Kundu / পিয়াল কুণ্ডু (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0) or GFDL (http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons

  The Naba Kailash temple was built by Maharaja Teja Chandra Bahadur in 1809 ad these atchala brick Temples are made out of auspicious numerical combination in two concentric Circles and dedicated to Lord Shiva. The outer circumference contains 74 temples and inner circumference has 34 temples. The temples represent beads in a rosary symbolically. the outer  circle’s shrines have the linga made of black stone, and the inner circle’s shrines have the linga made from white marble. All the lingas can be seen from the centre of the temple complex.

 

Naba Kailash temple, Kalna, Bardhaman, West Bengal.

By Indrajit Das – Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=51920155

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Naba Kailash temple, Kalna, Bardhaman, West Bengal.

By Manojit Pati – Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=28070367

Inner Circle Entrance - Naba Kailash - Kalna 2016-09-25 6468.jpg

Inner Circle Entrance, Naba Kailash, Kalna, Bardhaman, West Bengal.

By BengaliHindu – Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=51952698

108 Shiva Temple 5.JPG

     The Krishna Chandra Mandir was built in 1752 by Maharani Laxmi Kumari Devi. It has 25 spires. Epics are depicted on the walls of this beautiful temple.

Krishna Chandra Temple WLM2016-5327.jpg

Krishna Chandra Mandir, Kalna, West Bengal.

By Schwiki – Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=51810228

WLM@WB-Krishna Chandraji Temple in Kalna 02.jpg

Krishna Chandra Mandir, Kalna, West Bengal.

By Indrajit Das – Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=51953945

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Krishna Chandra Mandir, Kalna, West Bengal.

By Schwiki – Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=51951562

Terracota Panel in Krishnachandra temple WLM2016 DSC 5371.jpg

Krishna Chandra Mandir, Kalna, West Bengal.

By Sujay25 – Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=51951981

The Lalji temple has 25 spires and is a Panchavimshati-Ratna. It was built by Braja Kishori Devi, the wife of Maharaja Jagat Ram in 1739. Built of bricks, and the walls are covered with terracotta figures.

Lalji temple,Kalna,Bardhaman, West Bengal.

By Piyal Kundu / পিয়াল কুণ্ডু – Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=5702479

Lalji Temple - Kalna - Inner Panel - 11.jpg

Lalji temple, Kalna, west Bengal.

By Sumit Surai – Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=51950563

Lalji Temple - Kalna - Outer Panel - 2.jpg

Lalji temple, Kalna, west Bengal.

By Sumit Surai – Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=51950707

Lalji Temple depicting terracotta sculpture, Kalna, Bardhaman, West Bengal.

By Piyal Kundu / পিয়াল কুণ্ডু – Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=5702521

Rameswar Temple WLM2016 5174.jpg

Rameswar Temple, Kalna,Bardhaman,West Bengal.

By Sujay25 – Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=51805016

Terrakotta Panel-Rameswar Temple WLM2016-5178.jpg

Rameswar Temple, Kalna,Bardhaman,West Bengal.

By Sujay25 – Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=51806016

Rupeswar Temple. Kalna. Burdwan.jpg

Rupeshwar temple,Kalna,West Bengal.

By Ajit Kumar Majhi – Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=51566183

 

References :

  • Terracotta art of Bengal/Biswas,S.S,Delhi : Agam Kala Prakashan,1981.
  • Indian terracotta art/Ganguly,O.C, Bombay : rupa and Co,1959.
  • wikipedia.org

 

Posted by:

 

Soma Ghosh

©author

 

 

 

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Art of Harappan civilisation : some glimpses

     The Harappan civilisation existed predominantly in areas in present day Punjab in Pakistan. It is one of the oldest known civilisations. There was a bronze age city in a place near the village of Harappa and is an archaeological site in modern times. It was an urban culture, and flourished in the basins of the Indus river. Harappan civilisation is interchangeably used with the term Indus valley civilisation. Harappa was the first site to be excavated. The river Indus flows through present day Pakistan.

File:Ancient Harappa Civilisation.jpg

Ancient Harappa.

By Shefali11011 (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons

     More and more cities are being discovered and excavated of the Harappan civilisation. The area which the Indus valley civilisation covered was Western India, north-eastern parts of Afghanistan and most of Pakistan. The early Harappan age lasted from 3300 to 2600 B.C. the mature period was between 2600 to 1900 B.C. and the late age was from 1900 to 1300 B.C.

Indus Valley civilisation , main sites.

By The original uploader was Nataraja at French Wikipedia – Michel Danino, téléchargé par Nataraja 20 jan 2004 à 16:13 (CET)Originally from fr.wikipedia; description page is/was here., Attribution, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=1744041

  The art of Harappan times were very impressive. The average person living in a city was either a trader or craftsman/artisan. Their art is evident on seals, pottery and beads. Also bronze vessels, gold jewellery and terracotta figures. The arts included working with agate, shell etc. Bronze casting was done too. Human and animal figures were depicted. Some were half of one animal and half of another.

   There seems  to have been a high degree of planning and civic planning as is evident from the ruins of Harappa. The common building material was baked brick. The cities of Harappa comprised not just of private houses but granaries, public wells and baths. Shops of metalsmiths, ivory workers and craftsmen existed at Lothal, a port city. Mohen-jodaro was an important site among the Indus Valley sites. There was a Great bath at Mohenjodaro, maybe used for a ritual purpose.

A well and probably bathing place at Harappa.

By Hassan Nasir (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0             (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons

       The advanced structure of the cities suggest an equivalent advance in the sculptural techniques. Many seals and terracotta sculptures have been found. A common subject is a  female – often called Mother goddess. Often a small child is seen with her. The dancing girl and bearded man who is most likely a priest are well known. the bearded man is made of limestone, maybe the figure is of a Mesopotmanian given the facial features and hair type. His garment over his shoulder is a type seen in Mesopotamanian art.

Statue of an Indus priest or king found in Mohenjodaro, 1927

Priest or bearded man, Mohenjadaro.

By Mamoon Mengal – world66.com, CC BY-SA 1.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=1257115

   Another well preserved figure is of a bronze statue of a female. She has been projected nude with elongated limbs. She has been thought of as a dancer, because of the posture of her limbs. She is wearing jewellery; a necklace and bangles.

File:Dancing girl. Mohenjodaro.jpg

Dancing girl, Mohenjodaro.

By Ismoon (talk) 12:06, 20 February 2012 (UTC) (Own work) [CC0], via Wikimedia Commons

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              Bowl from Harappa, National Museum, New Delhi.

By Nomu420 – Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=30787092

 

 

     The terracottas found at Harappan sites are not very exquisite and were most probably a popular art. the women depicted have wide hips,pellet like breasts, tube like limbs and wear jewellery. Many bulls have been found at Harappan sites. The bull was representative of fertility and wealth. Many seals have been found at Harappan sites. The seals are made of stearite and coated with an alkali which was then fired. Most seals had animal or humans and a script or writing on them. The script was pictographic. The animals included elephants,rhinoceros, and the unicorn  with one horn; the ekashringa.

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Three different seals from early river valley civilizations

By MrABlair23 – Own work, Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=11058028

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Seals of Harappa, National Museum, New Delhi.

By Nomu420 – Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=30791882

   Seals with a male figure a proto-Shiva depicted seated with the soles of the feet together and legs on each side with arms away from the body and thumbs resting on the knees have been found. This figure has been termed a yogin.  The figure has either a horn or a head-dress. There are many speculations about this figure. The figure might be abull-man or a ruler/king.  The Hindu God Shiva is associated with the Bull, hence this figure is taken to be a prototype of Lord Shiva. There are animal figures around the central figure; this has been linked to Lord Shiva’s Pasupati aspect. The peepal  tree leaf motif has been used as a motif on pottery and seals.

                                                                     Pasupati seal.

                                                      Source of pic : wikipedia.org.

File:Female figure, possibly a fertility goddess, Indus Valley Tradition, Harappan Phase, c. 2500-1900 BC - Royal Ontario Museum - DSC09701.JPG

                 Exhibit in the Royal Ontario Museum, Toronto, Ontario, Canada.

By Daderot (Daderot) [CC0 or CC0], via Wikimedia Commons

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Female figurine. Terracotta. 2700-2000., Harappa , at National Museum, New Delhi.

By Ismoon (talk) 21:50, 21 February 2012 (UTC) (Own work) [CC0], via Wikimedia Commons

WLA brooklynmuseum Harappa Miniature Votive Images.jpg

Miniature Votive Images or Toy Models, ca. 2500, Harappa.

By Wikipedia Loves Art participant “one_click_beyond” – Uploaded from the Wikipedia Loves Art photo pool on Flickr, CC BY 2.5, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=8747555

References :

  • The art of ancient india/Huttington,Susan L.,New York : Weather Hill,1985.
  • wikipedia.org

 

Posted by :

 

Soma Ghosh

 

©author

 

Battle-scenes in art : vivid images

          Battles have been a part of the history of mankind. Many battles have taken place since ancient times. Some battles are well-remembered and illustrated in art through miniature and oil paintings. The main Hindu epics of India, the Ramayana and the Mahabharata have two major battles in it. The Ramayana has the confrontation between Lord Rama with his vanara (monkey)army along with his brother Lakshmana against the demon King, Ravana. Ravana has abducted Lord Rama’s wife Sita during their exile in the forest and he has to liberate her from captivity in Lanka.

Battle-scene at Lanka, Ramayana,17th century.

By Sahibdin – British Library, Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=4179627

File:Battle Scene in a City, Folio from a Ramayana (Adventures of Rama) LACMA M.85.228.jpg

Battle-scene in a city, illustration,Ramayana, probably Varnanasi,early 17th century,LACMA,USA.

See page for author [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

        The Kurukshetra war is also called the Mahabharata war fought mainly between the Pandavas and Kauravas, cousin groups, for the throne of Hastinapur in the Kuru kingdom. It occurred at Kurukshetra in modern Haryana and the battle lasted for eighteen days. It has been roughly dated to 3100 B.C.

File:A battle scence from Mahabharata.jpg

Battle-scene, Mahabharata,Kangra painting,1800.

See page for author [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

Kurukshetra war,9th day,painting,21st century.

By RajeshUnuppally (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0) or GFDL (http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons

Image result for battle scenes from india in paintings

Battlescene,Bhagavata purana,illustration,17th century.

See page for author [No restrictions or Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

       The first battle of Panipat was very decisive battle in the history of India. It was fought in 1526 between the forces of Babur and the Lodi empire. It ushered in the Mughal era in India. This battle used gunpowder and fire-arms. The guns used by Babur helped him win against Ibrahim Lodi, the booming cannons scaring away Lodi’s elephants who trampled its own soldiers.

First Battle of Panipat,illustration from Baburnama,16th century.

By Painters of Babur (Baburnama) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

File:1565-Battle Scene with Boats on the Ganges-Akbarnama.jpg

Battle-scene with boats, from Akbarnama, Mughal painting, 16th century.

By Tulsi (the elder) (artist), Jagjivan (artist) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

The fierce battle of Talikota in 1565 was fought between one of the largest South Indian empires, the Vijayanagara empire and the powerful Deccan Sultanates. Vijayanagara lost at this battle in present North Karnataka close to Bijapur.

Battle of Talikota, 16th century.

By Aftabi – Template:Ta’rif-i Husain Shahi [1][2], CC BY-SA 4.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=41665109

       The seige of Seringapatnam or Srirangapatnam in 1799 also called the Fourth Anglo-Mysore War will be remembered in history for ever. It was a confrontation between the British East India Company and the Kingdom of Mysore. The British allied with the Nizam of Hyderabad and stormed the fort of Seringapatnam. Tipu Sulan  Mysore’s de-facto ruler was killed in the action. After the decisive battle the British restored the Wodeyar dynasty to the throne while keeping indirect control over Mysore

File:A Qajar Persian copy of a British painting of the assault.jpg

Battle at Seringapatnam,Qajar painting,Persia,1836/7.

See page for author [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

File:Kangra painting of a battle scene presented to the US by Sarvepalli Radhakrishnan.jpg

Battlescene, Kangra painting,19th century.

By White House [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

    The battle of Plassey (Palashi) in 1757 was another decisive battle in India’s history.Fought between the British East India Company, it consolidated Brtish position in Bengal which later covered most of India. The battle took place on the banks of the Bhagirathi river, 150 km form Kolkata(previously Calcutta) between Siraj-ud-daowlah, the last independent Nawab of Bengal and the British East India Company.

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After Battle of Plassey,painting.

By Francis Hayman – http://www.sterlingtimes.org/memorable_images56.htm (http://www.sterlingtimes.org/clive_of_india.jpg)NPG link: http://www.npg.org.uk/collections/search/portrait/mw01347/Robert-Clive-and-Mir-Jafar-after-the-Battle-of-Plassey-1757Current image source [1], Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=565912

References :

  • An advanced history of India/Majumdar R.C,Roychoudhuri,H.C, Datta,Kalinkar,London : Macmillan,1948.
  • wikipedia.org

 

 

Posted by

Soma Ghosh

© author

Chandra in art : moon-god depictions

The Moon-God is Chandra or Soma in Hindu mythology.  He is believed to have emerged during the samudramanthana or churning of the ocean of milk. One legend says he is the son of Surya another mentions him as the son of Atri. As per the Vishnu Purana the moon is said to receive nectar or amrita from the Sun and distribute to the Gods,human beings, animals and plants.Chandra is the lord of plants and vegetation.

      Chandra has been depicted in sculpture and paintings. He is a copper-coloured deity with a red banner and rides in a chariot at night cross the sky, drawn by an antelope or ten white horses.  He is a beautiful God, two-armed and having in his hands a club and a lotus. The royal lineage of the Chandravamshis derives its name from the moon. He is the father of Budha, Planet Mercury. Budha is born form his union with Tara, wife of Brihaspati or Planet Jupiter. This angers Brihaspati who wages war, but the devas (Gods) interfere and Tara returns to Brihspati. As per another legend Chandra is married to to 27 daughters of Daksha . He favours only Rohini and so his other wives complain to Daksha who curses Chandra which account for the waxing and waning of the moon. The nakshatras are named after his wives in Hindu astrology.

Image result for chandra moon god wiki commons

Chandra, sculpture,13th century, Konark,British Museum,U.K.

By Redtigerxyz (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0) or GFDL (http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons

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Mandala of Chandra, distemper on cloth, 14th-early 15th century, Nepal.

See page for author [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

File:Chandra, The Moon God; Folio from a Book of Dreams LACMA M.83.219.2 (2 of 3).jpg

Chandra,painting, early 18th century, Udaipur, Rajasthan.

See page for author [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

Chandra

Chandra,illustration,19th century.

By E. A. Rodrigues – The complete Hindoo Pantheon, comprising the principal deities worshipped by the Natives of British India throughout Hindoostan, Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=14498030

 

References :

  • Epics, myths and legends of India/Thomas, P, Bombay : D.B. Taraporevala and Sons.
  • wikipedia.org

 

 

Posted by :

Soma Ghosh

© author

 

Yaksha-yakshi depictions : benevolent spirits

             Yaksha and Yakshi are nature spirits. They are usually benevolent mythical beings; and attendees of Kubera, the Lord of Yakshas and Yakshis.They have been depicted in sculpture,paintings and illustrations in India and few countries of Asia. They find place in Hindu, Buddhist and Jain mythology.

   In Hinduism Yakshas have a dual personality.They could be benevolent and friendly or could be offensive like a rakshasa or demon. Yakshas are believed to be protectors of forests and villages. Yakshas are depicted as strong warriors or as stout,short figures with a big belly. In contrast Yakshis are projected as very beautiful with gentle faces, full hips, rounded breasts and slender waists.The thirty six yakshis who grant desires mentioned in the Uddamareshwara tantra are Vichitra, Hamsi,Shankhini,Kapalini ,Mahendri,Vishala among others.

    In Buddhist lore, Yakshas are the attendants of Vaisravana. They are the twelve generals who guard Bhaisajyaguru, the Medicine Buddha. They are a main part of the folklore of Thailand and are guardian deities in their temples-gates, the dwarapalas. The yakshis became salabhanjikas holding on to a  ashoka tree-branch or a flowering tree depicted majorly at the gates of many Buddhist monuments and Hindu temples. They were associated with fertility and prosperity.

      In Jainsim the Yakshas  and Yakshis are guardian duties around the jinas. Over time they have come to be woshipped too. There are twenty four yakshas in Jainism. Gomukha,Trimukha,Mahayaksha,Yakshanayaka,Tamburu,Kusuma,Dharanendra,Matanga,Vijaya, Ajita,Gomedh among others. The twenty four yakshis include Chakreswari,Ambika,Manasi, Jaya among others.

Yaksha Vyala, sculpture,1st century B.C,Government Museum, Mathura.

Biswarup Ganguly [GFDL (http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html) or CC BY 3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons

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Yakshi,plaque,terracotta, 3-2nd century B.C, Bengal.

By Hiart (Own work) [CC0], via Wikimedia Commons

File:Yaksha Carrying Human Figure and Mudgar - 2nd Century BCE - Government Museum - Mathura 2013-02-24 6090.JPG

Yaksha depiction carrying human being,2nd century B.C,Government Museum, Mathura.

Biswarup Ganguly [GFDL (http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html) or CC BY 3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons

File:Yakshi - Railing Pillar - 2nd Century CE - Sand Stone - Mathura - Indian Museum - Kolkata 2012-11-16 1962.JPG

Yakshi,sandstone,2nd century,Mathura, Indian Museum, Kolkata.

Biswarup Ganguly [GFDL (http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html), CC BY 3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0), GFDL (http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html) or CC BY 3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons

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Yaksha Gomedh with Ambika,sculpture,11th century,Maharaja Chhatrasal Museum, Dhubela, Madhya Pradesh.

By Sagar Das, Rosehub – Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=45605239

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Yaksha Gomukha with his consort,sandstone,Gurjara Pratiharas, 8th century, North India.

By Davide Mauro (Own work) [CC BY-SA 4.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons

File:Nswag, india, madhya pradesh, stele con yaksha-yakshini e jinas, XI sec..JPG

Yaksha-yakshi,sculpture,11th century, Madhya Pradesh.

I, Sailko [GFDL (http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html), CC-BY-SA-3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0/) or CC BY 2.5 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.5)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons

 

 

 

Yaksha,,Angkor Wat,12th century,Cambodia.

By Tsui (Own work) [GFDL (http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html) or CC-BY-SA-3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0/)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons

 

File:Yaksha General Anila - Google Art Project.jpg

Yaksha Anila, painting on cloth, 15th century,Tibet.

See page for author [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

Kalpasutra manuscript,15th century,pigment on paper, second image depicts birth of Mahavira watched over by goat headed Yaksha,Naigamesha.

Walters Art Museum [Public domain, CC BY-SA 3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0) or GFDL (http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons

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Yaksha Thotsakan,Thai Ramakien depiction,mural,18th century,Wat Phra Kaew,Bangkok,Thailand.

By Heinrich Damm (User:Hdamm, Hdamm at de.wikipedia.org) (Own work (Own photo)) [CC BY 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0), GFDL (http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html) or CC-BY-SA-3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0/)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons

 

 

 

References :

  • wikipedia.org

 

Posted by :

Soma Ghosh

© author

Indra in art : Lord of the heavens

      Indra is a Vedic deity in Hinduism ,a guardian deity in Buddhism and also the king of the first heaven in Jainsim. He has been represented in sculpture and paintings. In Hindu mythology too he is the Lord of swarga or heaven. He has been highly mentioned in the Rigveda. Indra is the destroyer of Vritra who is against human happiness. Indra is not mentioned much in post-Vedic literature as he is known to disturb monks and sages who meditate because he thinks they will develop powers more than him.

   In Buddhism he is referred to as Shakra as someone paying homage to Buddha.He rules over the realm of devas with the samsara doctrine of Buddhism.In Jainism he is the king of Gods and a part of Jain rebirth cosmology. He is seen with his wife Indrani to celbrate auspicious moments with Jain tirthankaras.

  Indra wields the thunderbolt known as Vajra, riding on his white elephant Airavata. The rainbow too is considered the visible symbol of his mighty bow. In Buddhism Airavata has three heads, an in Jainsim he is shown with five heads. His heaven is called Amaravati and pious mortals go there to be reborn again on earth.

High-relief of Indra, god of the firmament. Wellcome M0009457.jpg

Indra, wood relief, Wellcome images, U.K.

By http://wellcomeimages.org/indexplus/obf_images/3b/8c/ee7781370ae8b76ea3397896b01e.jpgGallery: http://wellcomeimages.org/indexplus/image/M0009457.html, CC BY 4.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=36340498

File:Chaitya Window - Indra - Circa 5th Century CE - Bhumara - Madhya Pradesh - Indian Museum - Kolkata 2013-04-10 7797.JPG

Indra, chaitya window, 5th Century, Bhumara, Madhya Pradesh, Indian Museum, Kolkata

Biswarup Ganguly [GFDL (http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html), CC BY 3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0), GFDL (http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html) or CC BY 3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons

Fire vs Rain - The Defeat of Indra.jpg

Battle between Indra and Lord Krishna,painting,mid-19th century, ,Jaipur,Rajasthan.

By Unknown – http://www.saffronart.com/customauctions/PostWork.aspx?l=6680, Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=42871509

       This beautiful Jaipur painting above  portrays the grand finale in the fierce battle between Indra the God of heaven and Lord Krishna who was aided by Arjuna. Agni, the god of fire wanted to eat the Khandava forest. But Indra, the God of heaven stopped the process with torrential rain to protect a friend of his. Thus the battle between fire and rain continued. A tired Agni finally approached Krishna and Arjuna for help. A battle ensued between Indra and his supporters on one side and Krishna and Arjuna on the other. In this scene one can see a blue sky with thundering clouds. Indra is seated on Airavata with his allies seated on horses. All of them are seen making a humble retreat. They are surrounded by celestial beings seated in their respective chariots. Manama Daitya, a bare-bodied demon in a short tight lower vestment, stands with folded hands before Krishna and Arjuna. The vast, undulating landscape and the forest on fire add to the beauty.  The chariots also have very fine motifs. The main figures have been identified with inscriptions. On careful observation one can even see the pearl settings on the headgears of the charioteers, peacock feathers adorning Krishna’s crown and hair on the body of the demon, Manama Daitya. This Jaipur painting is one based on themes from the epic, Mahabharata. 

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Indra sculpture  in Indrasabha, cave no 32, Ellora, Maharashtra.

By J. Johnston [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

Deity riding elephant in relief at Keshava temple in Somanathapura.jpg

Indra,Chennakeshava temple,13th century, Somanathapura, Karnataka.

By Hemanth M Y – Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=21133786

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Indra, painting,19th century, South India.

Autor: Unknown – http://www.britishmuseum.org/research/search_the_collection_database/search_object_details.aspx?objectid=3080760&partid=1&searchText=indra&fromADBC=ad&toADBC=ad&numpages=10&images=on&orig=%2fresearch%2fsearch_the_collection_database.aspx&currentPage=1, Voľné dielo, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=9874867

          The Harivamsa , was a continuation of epic, Mahabharata. The Mughal emperor Akbar ordered it to be translated into Persian so that it could be read by non-Hindus. In this illustration to the text done in about 1590, Krishna sweeps down on the bird Garuda to triumph over Indra,  riding on his white elephant Airavata, watched by gods and other celestial beings. The swirling fabrics, billowing clouds, and the boat in the lower part of the scene, are all the result of the influence on Mughal court artists of European style  of painting. The original manuscript was dispersed and some pages were remounted for later albums, as here. The borders were probably added in Lucknow in the 18th century.

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Indra on Airavata ,Mughal painting, late 16th century.

By Unknown (production) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons
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 Indra on Airavata, Banteay Srei Temple,10th century,Cambodia.

By Anandajoti (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons

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Indra and Indrani , sculpture, Musée des arts asiatiques, Nice, France.

By Jean-Pierre Dalbéra from Paris, France (Indra et Indrani (Musée des arts asiatiques, Nice)) [CC BY 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons

File:Indradeva.jpg

Indra and Sachi riding the elephant Airavata, folio from a Panchakalyanaka (Five Auspicious Events in the Life of Jina Rishabhanatha [Adinatha]),17th century,painting, Amber, Rajasthan.

By Unknown, India, Rajasthan, Amber, South Asia (from LACMA [1]) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

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Indra on Airavata, Banteay Srei temple, 10th century,Cambodia.

By Jean-Pierre Dalbéra from Paris, France (Indra sur Airâvana (Banteay Srei, Angkor)) [CC BY 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons

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Indra paying homage to Krishna, folio from a Bhagavata Purana,1640,Malwa,  Madhya Pradesh.

See page for author [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

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Indra with Lord Vishnu,illustration,20th century.

By Ramanarayanadatta astri (http://archive.org/details/mahabharata06ramauoft) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

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Indra on Airavata, his elephant,sculpture,12th century, Halebidu, Karnataka.

http://www.flickr.com/photos/ankurp;Image by Ankur P.

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Indra conveying Jina Rishabhanatha (Adinatha) on Airavata, early 19th century,folio from a Bhaktamara Stotra (Hymn of the Immortal Devotee),LACMA,USA.

See page for author [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

 

 

References :

  • Epics, myths and legends of India/Thomas, P, Bombay : D.B. Taraporevala and Sons.
  • wikipedia.org

Posted by :

Soma Ghosh

© author

Saraswati in art : various depictions

 

          The Hindu goddess of learning, wisdom, music,arts is Saraswati. She is part of the Tridevi or trinity of Goddesses of Lakshmi, Saraswati and Parvati. They help the trinity of Brahma, Vishnu and Shiva  to create, preserve and regenerate the Universe, and are their consorts respectively. She was first mentioned in the Rigveda and is worshipped to the present time. She has been depicted in sculpture and paintings. On Vasant Panchami, young children are initiated into the world of learning by learning how to write alphabets.

The Jainas of Western and Central India revere the Goddess and the Buddhists also consider her as the Goddess of learning. She has believers in Nepal,Vietnam, Indonesia , Myanmar and Japan besides India.

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Goddess Saraswati, Raja Ravi Varma. 19th century.

Raja Ravi Varma [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

The Goddess Sarasvati LACMA M.84.32.6.jpg

Saraswati ,painting on cloth,Eastern Tibet, Kham region, 18th century ,LACMA,USA.

By Image: http://collections.lacma.org/sites/default/files/remote_images/piction/ma-31970039-O3.jpgGallery: http://collections.lacma.org/node/248719, Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=27348921

Indian - Sarasvati - Walters 2550.jpg

Saraswati, sculpture, 10th century, Walters Art Museum, USA.

By Walters Art Museum: Home page  Info about artwork, Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=18788645

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Saraswati, Hoysala sculpture, 13th century,Chennakesava temple , Somanathapura, Karnataka.

By Nagarjun Kandukuru (Flickr: Saraswati Devi) [CC BY 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons

File:Figure of Saraswati, Hindu Goddess, standing on a duck Wellcome M0012561.jpg

 Saraswati,  Wellcome images.

See page for author [CC BY 4.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons

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Saraswati , Brihadeshwara temple, Gangaikondacholapuram, Tamil Nadu

By Jonathan Freundlich (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons

File:Amardas Bhatti (attr.) Ganesha, Saraswati and Jallandharnath, Marwar, ca. 1825, Mehrangarh Museum Trust..jpg

Saraswati, Ganesha in a painting, Marwar, 1825, Rajasthan.

Amardas Bhatti (attr.) Ganesha, Saraswati and Jallandharnath, Marwar, ca. 1825, Mehrangarh Museum Trust.

By Anonymous [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

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Saraswati, A folio from the Rukmini-Parinaya series , Kotah painting, 1700,Rao Madho Singh Museum Trust, City Palace, Kotah. Rajasthan.  

The legendary scene above depicts a king paying homage to a hermit seated on a bagh chhal in a lovely hermitage. The great respect shown by rulers to holy men can be sensed in this painting thought it deals with a mythological theme. The presence of Vishnu and Saraswati is indicative of the auspiciousness of the occasion and their presence also signifies their showering blessings on the royal personage of the king. The elongation of the figures is a feature derived from Mughal painting during the reign of Aurangzeb.

By Kotah, Rajasthan [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

Goddess Saraswati is the consort of Brahma who is the creator. She being his consort is the goddess of creative sciences. Music, poetry , learning and language are all attributed to her. She is also called Vach meaning speech.  She is believed to have invented the Sanskrit language and the Devanagari script.

    She is mentioned in the Rigveda as Vach. She is depicted in sculpture and paintings as a beautiful  woman riding a swan or peacock, holding a veena, musical instrument. On Saraswati-puja day, once in a year, scholars, students and  musicians worship her.

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Saraswati with Lord Brahma, Mallikarjuna Temple, 13th century,Basaralu, Mandya District,Karnataka. 

By Dineshkannambadi (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons

     The Goddess of learning is believed to have been produced by Lord Brahma who married her. In the Puranas ther is however another story. Once all the three Gods, Brahma, Vishnu and Shiva met at Vaikunta for a discussion and from their combined energy a brilliant female from emerged, whom each God wanted to possess. She divided herself into three namely, Saraswati Lakshmi and Parvati.

   She is known and worshipped by other names like Sharada, Pustakadharini,Vidyadayini Hamsavahini and Chaduvula-thalli.

Saraswati wood.jpg

Saraswati, wood carving,Hawaii.

By Copyrighted to Himalayan Academy Publications, Kapaa, Kauai, Hawaii. Licensed for Wikipedia under Creative Commons and requires attribution when reproduced., CC BY-SA 2.5, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=1850648

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Saraswati, sculpture.

http://www.flickr.com/photos/jepoirrier/2052703080.

Image by Jean-Etienne Minh-Duy Poirrier

        The Goddess is often shown in a white sari seated on a white lotus representing light, knowledge and truth.She is shown as having four arms symbolising manas, buddhi, chitta and ahamkara, that is mind, intellect,creativity and self-consciousness or ego. The hands hold a book or pustaka signifying learning or the vedas, a rosary or mala signifying meditation, a water-container signifying purity and a veena, a musical instrument.

       A swan or hamsa is her vehicle and is seen sitting near her feet. The hamsa is a scared bird who can separate milk and water. This represents the ability to differentiate between good and evil, unreal from the real. A peacock is sometimes shown with Saraswati. The peacock or mayura represents splendour. The Goddess is usually depicted next to a river as she is also known as a river goddess.

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Saraswati, Mysore Painting,19th Century,National Gallery of Modern Art,New Delhi.

By Durgada Krishnappa [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

Kalighat pictures Indian gods f.2.jpg

Saraswati ,Kalighat painting, 19th century, Kolkata.

By Unknown – The Bodleian Libraries, Oxford, CC BY 4.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=41948586

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Saraswati appears to Yajnavalkya, illustration from a book,University of Toronto, Canada.

Author: Ramanarayanadatta astri Volume: 5 Publisher: [Gorakhpur Geeta Press] Possible copyright status: NOT_IN_COPYRIGHT Language: Hindi Call number: AAO-3248 Digitizing sponsor: University of Toronto Book contributor: Robarts – University of Toronto Collection: robarts; toronto

By Ramanarayanadatta astri (http://archive.org/details/mahabharat05ramauoft) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

File:Durga-puja-koln-2009-5.JPG

Image of Saraswati, Durga Puja,21st century, Köln (Cologne), Germany.

By Wiki-uk (Own file) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

File:Saraswati f. Strassenpuja.JPG

Goddess Saraswati image, Saraswati puja,21st century, Kolkata

By Christina Kundu (Own work) [GFDL (http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html) or CC-BY-SA-3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0/)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons

References :

  • Epics, myths and legends of India/Thomas, P, Bombay : D.B. Taraporevala and Sons.
  • wikipedia.org

Posted by :

Soma Ghosh

©author