Thursday, September 23, 2010

Govinda - A Museum Visit

The Chattrapathi Shivaji Maharaj Vastu Sangralaya (formerly known as the Prince of Wales Museum), Mumbai has many fascinating contents, but none more exciting for me, than the Krishna Gallery.

The best part of my recent trip to the Museum (egotistically speaking) was finding affirmation for the many research calls I had taken during the writing of Govinda!

Here's a small photo documentation of some of the most interesting facts and artefacts that I came across during my last visit (August 2010).

The first of these delights was this map, alongside. (Click on map to enlarge). Look familiar?

Also check out these coins from Magadha and Kashi, dating to the Epic Ages. (Left. Click to enlarge).

Note the solar symbols on the coins. The minor variations suggest that these may be Imperial currency, issued under Magadhan Dominion, but somewhat customised or different based on the actual kingdoms of the Aryavarta Empire that they were issued in.

The Krishna Gallery, a distinct exhibit with the Museum, is both a historical and artistic exhibit in one. It contained many different representations, from the diverse regional cultures of the Indian sub-continent; arranged chronologically to form the narrative of Krishna's story, as is commonly (and uncommonly) known. Both canon and popular versions found their place here, and there was just so much to be seen and admired.

The Dancing Krishna shown to the right here, is from Nepal.

The jewellery is disctinctive and typical of the region, but what is refreshing is the absence of the usual paraphernelia associated with Krishna-Govinda - His flute, the discus or other weapons, or one of his Gopis or consorts.

The familiar Bhagavad Gita scene below is made of rosewood, teakwood and ivory. (Click to enlarge).

Unfortunately, the amateurish photo does little to showcase the exquisite and intricate carving; but a close look at the bow and arrow thrown down (in the foreground), at the chariot-wheels, and of course, the figure of Krishna himself still takes the breath away!

As for my historical research, the photo alongside says it all. (Click to enlarge).

Note the picture of the Heliodorus pillar on the extreme left of the picture.


In conclusion, I present the compellingly cheerful image below. The semi-rustic Madhubani painting is of a recent make, and not ancient at all. But it is timeless, as it is contemporary.

Just like the Epic.

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