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Showing 301 to 310 of 314 results
The Iconographic Perfection Of Devi Saraswati
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The Iconographic Perfection Of Devi Saraswati
Devi Saraswati has no equal in terms of learning and refinement. As such, these attributes of Brahmapriya (the favourite of Her husband, Lord Brahma) find expression in Her unmistakable iconography. This classical painting of Saraswati Mata is replete with the same, of which the veena in Her delicate hands and the white of Her saree are the most prominent.

In fact, the colour white dominates the palette of this work. Her skin is dewy, the unusual colour of crushed olives. A milk-white swan, Her vahana, is seated in perfect stillness behind Her. Her asana is a gigantic lotus in full bloom, its pristine petals featuring undertones of powdery pink and gold. The waters flowing underneath are calm and clear as crystal.

There is so much of the dynamic in this painting. If you gaze into this painting long enough, you could almost observe the displacement of the swans flying in the background and see the flora in the foreground sway in the breeze. The brushstrokes employed at the waters convey a sense of gentle motion. From the tilt of Her neck and the direction of Her gaze, it seems that She is in close communion with the miniscule swans and lotus-buds in the stream, as if She is playing to infuse them with life and nourishment.

Ganesha With Parasole And Kamandalu, Under An Ornate Kirtimukha Aureole
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Ganesha With Parasole And Kamandalu, Under An Ornate Kirtimukha Aureole
When one begins to look for the beloved Ganesha in itihasa, the older of the two, which is Ramayana, yields no result. One would expect the great Lord of auspicious beginnings to be invoked during Rama's departure to the woods or Hanuman's to Lanka in the search for Seeta, but it is not until the advent of Kaliyuga that the Ganesha cult evolves. When Krishnadvaipayana Vyasa had the greatest of epics composed in his mind, He turned to Lord Brahma in search of a scribe worth the task. It is upon His suggestion that he meditated upon Ganesha to invoke Him to be his scribe. Ganesha's condition was that his motions with the pen be not interrupted once He begins; Vyasa's, that He not pen down anything without understanding it first. With the sacred syllable of AUM etched at the beginning of the manuscript, Ganesha thus began the writing of the Mahabharata.

Indeed, no other deity of the Hindu pantheon could have made a better scribe for the greatest epic known to humankind. While His appearance is not on par with the characteristic handsomeness of Indian deities, it is His adorably boyish form that devotees love. His pot belly gives away His undying love of laddoos (He is holding one at the tip of His trunk). His chubby limbs are every ready to break into dance or to be raised in blessing. The innocent elephant-head stands for all the gentleness and wisdom associated with the mortal animal. This one-of-a-kind wood-cut sculpture of the Lord depicts Him in the midst of a walk along divine pathways, with a kamandalu in one anterior hand and an ornate parasol in the other. Lotuses about to bloom are in His posterior hands. His befitting silks and shringar are matched by the glamour of the Kirtimukha aureole that frames the composition and the grandeur of the pedestal on which the same is placed.

Bhadrakali Worshipped By Both Dharm And Adharm, The Mortal And The Immortal (Tantric Devi Series)
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Bhadrakali Worshipped By Both Dharm And Adharm, The Mortal And The Immortal (Tantric Devi Series)
Of the 32 Basholi watercolours that have been found of tantric devis, no less than 17 of them feature the Devi Bhadrakalil. The shaant swaroopa (peaceful form) of the super-wrathful Devi Kali, Bhadrakali is the wife of Veerbhadra. Her skin is the colour of barely molten gold, like a stroke of fiery lightning as local verses go. She is dressed in a feminine, flowing green skirt accompanied by a gold choli and translucent dupatta. Her shringar is dominated by pearls and gold. Her dense hair is piled atop Her head in place of a crown (one of the many things that sets this watercolour apart from the others in the series), held together long black winding snakes. More snakes wind around Her torso and Her limbs, each longer and blacker than the other, with its hood raised ferociously.

The Devi is flanked by dharm and adharm. To Her right are Indradeva and young siddha. While Indra is a heavenly being in His vibrant red silk and pearly shringar, and the thousand eyes that grace His body; the siddha is the perfect mortal and dressed like one. To the left of Bhadrakali is an asura, whose tribe is at perpetual war with the devas. He is big and boorish; and while His adornments are no match for Indra, He is as much of the immortal realm as He is. All three stand before Bhadrakali with their palms joined in namaskaram, supplicating to Her because She is all-powerful and lords over the dharmic cycle itself. Note how the shades of Her halo blend with the moors painted in the background of the painting.

Vishnu-Lakshmi On The Shoulders Of Lord Garuda
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Vishnu-Lakshmi On The Shoulders Of Lord Garuda
Lord Vishnu and Mother Lakshmi are the divine couple responsible for preserving srishti as we know it. While He belongs to the trinity that otherwise comprises of Lord Brahma, the srishtikarta, and Lord Shiva, the destroyer; She, as His wife, presides over resources and is the Devi of affluence, a precondition for preservation. They are a beauteous couple as portrayed in this superfine watercolour, exuding in their togetherness a world of bliss. It is Lord Garuda who has hoisted the divine couple up on His magnificent shoulders. He is the vahana (mount) of Lord Vishnu, a ginormous example of divine life, unsurpassed in strength and vigour and martial prowess. In fact, in the Mahabharata, Dronacharya employs a military formation named after the great vulpine creature.

The setting is against a Mughal-style garden. Lush vegetation and ample flowering foliage characterise the surroundings of the deities. The parrot-beaked Lord Garuda supports His masters by their feet, the stance of His wings as if He is about to take off into the heavens. Lord Vishnu and His Devi Lakshmi are in auspiciously coloured silks (saffron and red) and gold-and-pearls shringar. She secures Herself in position with a hand on the vahana's crown, as She sits in close communion with Her Lord. They are looking straight into each other's eyes, as His multiple weapons-laden arms flank their composite central figure. A rosy sunset dominates the background, bringing out the beauty of the delicate sprigs that dangle from the shock of green along the upper edge of the painting.

Tribhang Murari Chaturbhujadhari Krishna, With The Towering Kirtimukha Crown
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Tribhang Murari Chaturbhujadhari Krishna, With The Towering Kirtimukha Crown
The most relatable of the Vishnu-avataras, the most widely loved deity of the Hindu pantheon. There is no way the heart of the spiritually inclined would not turn to Lord Krishna. Here He is in the iconic silhouette of the tribhang murari, which is Sanskrit for 'flute-player (murari) with the body jutting out (bhang) in three (tri) places'. In addition to the shoulder, the hip, and the ankle, the cascading sashes of the dhoti and the extended rays of His halo add harmony to the brass composition. His roopa is the very epitome of youth - tall stature, long limbs, luscious musculature. No wonder He was the blue-eyed boy of Vrindavan, especially with the young gopis whose hearts uncontrollably went out to Him.

This work speaks volumes about the personal devotion of the artisan. The Lord is shown to be wearing a gorgeous silk dhoti and sashes. The rest of Him is bedecked with a world of shringar, which gather against His skin in lifelike angles. One of the unusual aspects of this tribhang murari depiction of Lord Krishna is the fact that He is chaturbhujadhari (four-armed). His smoothly carved feet rest on the typical dual-lotus arrangement found at the feet of Indian deities (two lotuses with their pistils brought together), which in turn is placed on a multi-tiered quadrilateral pedestal. The same is engraved with rangoli-esque motifs, the lateral trappings set off by leonine figurines that are miniscule but majestic. The twoering kirtimukha crown of the Lord completes the composition.

The Introspecting Shakyamuni
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The Introspecting Shakyamuni
We all know the Buddha as the Enlightened Shakyamuni, seated in the perfect padmasana. Upon hearing His name, an image of His gracious form steeped in meditation or involved in vitarka or even cradling the characteristic alms-bowl. He is the ascetic supreme, and such an image befits Him. However, there is more to the Buddha than asceticism and enlightenment. Before those came years of introspection and intense reflection. It is one such episode - nay, a moment - that has been captured in this sculpture of the Buddha. An unusual portrayal of the Shakyamuni prior to His Enlightenment. He is seated with His legs folded, a knee raised to support His heaving head, which He cushions with His soft, gracious hands as He begins to lose Himself on an inward voyage.

Note how lifelike is the stance of the figure in the composition. This is despite the stillness - from the angle of the neck and the shoulders, to the superbly carved folds of His robe gathered about Him. Even though it is an unconventional visualisation, His personality is replete. Lengthened lobes, which are verily the sign of wisdom in this part of the world; a brow as thick and graceful as the outstretched wings of the albatross; and delicately sculpted fingers and toes, which are best zoomed in on. His composure, as especially conveyed by the mouth, is restful like a true yogi's. His eyes are half-shut, hair gathered in coils and piled atop His shapely head. Should you deide to seat this form of the Buddha somewhere in your interiors, it would fill the surroundings with an aura of divine calm and stability.

The Glorious Hanuman, The Jewel Of The Ramayana
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The Glorious Hanuman, The Jewel Of The Ramayana
The more that is said about Lord Hanuman, the more that remains left out. Of superlative strength and great personal beauty, this vanar-roopa deity is best known for His devotion to Rama in the itihasa. Vanar-roopa, because He used to be very mischievous as a child (son of Anjanadevi and Vayudeva) and had subsequently been punished with a blow to the face Indra Himself. He was tutored by Sooryadeva, and is the most perfect of yogis across space and time. In the necklace of Ramayana characters, He is the brightest jewel. Of elegant speech and extraordinary intelligence, it is His active devotion to Rama that enables the latter to finally rescue His wife from the clutches of Ravana. From consoling Vali's queen Tara upon His death in the hands of Rama to being entrusted to lead the Southern-bound troops (because the likelihood of Her being found there was the highest) and discovering Her thus, He was indispensable to His master.

This brass sculpture captures the divinity of the Lord with considerable skill. Its smooth glistening surface exudes power. The musculature of His form, the lifelike silks that clothe Him, and the aspects of His shringar have been sculpted with great detail. His tail, glorious as it is, flourishes behind His head like a halo. A minimalistic crown sits on His brow, set off by a determined composure of countenance. In one hand is the signature goad, while the other is raised in blessing. A simple, statement double-lotus pedestal completes the composition. Zoom in on the embroidery on His sashes and His loincloth to admire the skill of the artisan who made this.

A Powerful Vision Of The Ferocious Bhadrakali (Tantric Devi Series)
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A Powerful Vision Of The Ferocious Bhadrakali (Tantric Devi Series)
The image of the solo Bhadrakali is as powerful as it gets. The paintings in this series have been reproduced from the famous Basholi watercolours, all the hallmarks of which are to be found in this one. A naked, barely adorned corpse for a pedestal; portrayals of Shakti-roopa devis from India's tantric tradition against a solid-coloured background with minimal hints of landscape; and a singular shringar and style of crown for the deties in question. The Devi Bhadrakali is dusky, the ashen blue of Her silks blending with Her complexion. Chunks of gold in Her pearls-dominated shringar match the gold on the border of Her garment. She rules over not just the universe as we know it, but also whom we consider the rulers of the universe.

Her head is set with a crown that befits Her heavenly status - it is ornate and made from gold, studded with emeralds and trimmed with three pink lotuses that are just about to bloom. The halo that surrounds Her head is in the form of the sun itself, albeit a solid grey colour that gives off rays of pristine light. From the colour of the moors behind Her, it seems that the sun may have set and the twilight is making way for the dusk. Zoom in on the Devi's face, wherein lies the beauty of the whole composition. A ferocious composure of countenance characterises that beauteous face, with the large bloodshot eyes and the awe-inspiring fangs that emerge from betwixt Her luscious lips. A third eye is to be found on Her vibhuti-smeared brow, on which sits a sliver of the silver moon.

The Splendour Of The Chariot-borne Soorya
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The Splendour Of The Chariot-borne Soorya
Lord Soorya is revered as the prime source of life and nourishment by the peoples of the subcontinent. His many names include Vivasvat (Sanskrit word for 'brilliant'), Savitra ('nourisher'), and Lokachakshu ('eye of the realm'). Lore has it that He rides a chariot as brilliant as He is, drawn by no less than seven horses, across the skies each day in His bid to overpower the demons of darkness. He is one of the highest-order deities of Hinduism, and a lesser-known deity in Buddhism. This sculpture of the highly venerated Deva depicts Him with His usual two hands, seated in padmasana in His chariot. In each of His hands is a lotus, an image of the sun itself constituting the halo behind His towering crown. Seated before the ornately engraved compartment of the chariot, with the reins of all the seven horses in His hands, is Aruna, the charioteer of Soorya.

Born to Kashyapa (a Vedic rishee) and Aditi (who is the heavenly mother-figure), He is sung about in the Rigveda. Samja, the daughter of Vishvakarma, is His wife, and He is the father of Manu, Yama, and Yami. It is from fragments of His superb glamour that the signature weapons of the other devas (the trishool of Shiva, the discus of Vishnu, and the lance of Karttikeya) have been fashioned. Understandably, He is the chief of the lords of the respective planets in the solar system. Having been somewhat replaced by the Brahma-Vishnu-Shiva trinity in terms of importance, He is the chosen deity of worship during new-year festivities in Nepal and in the South. This sculpture of the chariot-borne Soorya is replete with the splendour expounded poetically in the oldest of the Vedas.

Mahavidya Matangi
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Mahavidya Matangi
The Goddess Matangi is a blend of the serene and the fierce from the Hindu pantheon of goddesses. She is the shyaam-rang (dark-complexioned) form of the Goddess Saraswati Herself, Who manifested herself as the daughter of the chandala, Rishi Matang. This was because of his intense aspiration to Brahminhood through the acquisition of knowledge (Saraswati is the goddess of learning). Mahavidya Matangi (of great learning) wields in her four hands the sickle indicative of her ferocity, a kapala symbolic of her association with cremation grounds (chandalas have traditionally been responsible for the rituals following death), and a slender veena that likens Her to Saraswati. In other words, Mahavidya Matangi is the Tantric form of Saraswati.

In this one-of-a-kind watercolour, She sits atop a delicate pink lotus in full bloom, Her tender foot rested on a lotuspad. Her figure is full and broad, adorned with ample golds and pearls and jewels. From beneath Her elaborate ruby- and emerald-studded gold crown emerges a sea of superbly curly, frizzy black tresses that seemingly have a life of their own. Note the glow of the third eye that suffuses the Devi's even temple.

Undulating hills, their verdant coat set off by the grace of the twilight sun, constitute the background, together with a couple of temple-like structures to the left of the painting.