Jaur Gita Govinda, Part 4


Sep 10, 2011 — CANADA (SUN) — Reprise of a 2005 month-long series on the illustrious Jaur Gita-Govinda.

Text Folio No. 6

Bhava 10

Bhava 10 describes the intense longing of Radha for Krsna. She addresses the sakhi and calls her a cruel friend, who can find no way of ensuring a meeting with Krsna. She promises gratitude for life if the sakhi will bring her Lord to her. The description makes full use of the conventional conceits of Indian poetry for longing and of an impassioned fevered physical state. The heated torment of the expectation can be cooled says she only be a meeting with Krsna.

Text Folios No. 7 and 8

Bhava 11

In Bhava 11, the scene shifts. Now it is not Radha, but the lonely journey of Sri Hari along the Yamuna. There is a poignant description of the long and arduous journey which resulted in blistered feet. Krsna crosses many mountains and woods and calls aloud for Radha. But Radha is not to be found. By and by, on the banks of the Yamuna he sees a sakhi drying her garments. He asks her the whereabouts of Radha. The sakhi offers to take him to his beloved Radha. Sri hari begins to walk eagerly with the sakhi but his weary fevered body cannot keep pace with her. Ultimately the sakhi offers to bring Radha to him. The eager Krsna is impatient, he can endure the separation no longer and insists on accompanying the sakhi notwithstanding his anxious fatigued state. Finally, they arrive and see Radha, who sits lonely and desolate. The long wait, the anxious pining, gives way to a mad rage at the sight of Krsna. Soon Radha swoonos and is tenderly revised to consciousness by the healing touch of Sri Ji. The lovers fall into each other's arms, unmindful of the presence of the sakhi. Radha was soothed, says the writer, like the Himalayas through this love play (lila-krida. This is vaguely based on Sarga III, but there are significant departures.

Illustration Folios 6 and 7

These illustrations do not precisely follow the sequence of events presented in the text. Folio 5 had shown the two characters separately, each in a state of longing. Folio 6 is divided into three sections. In the first, Krsna is touching the forehead of Radha, who sits clasping her knees against the background of a hill and a tree. The blue may be the Yamuna, but the three stripes of background color also indicate the passage of time. In the second panel, Krsna is seen with a sakhi in a playful mood, as the two play polo, scarves fluttering in the breeze. This pastime shows the artist's creative originality. The third panel shows a cow. Neither of these sections appears to illustrate the text except the first section of folio 6, where Krsna is perhaps winning Radha over.

The long and arduous journey of Krsna is affectively portrayed in folio 7 (not pictured here), which is divided into two unequal sections. In the first horizontal panel, Krsna is seen standing solitary and expectantly in one corner. The rest of the painting surface is covered with the Yamuna and the woods. All this is suggested through a flowing diagonal of the Yamuna and many trees and plants diminishing in space as they recede.

The painter achieves a great sense of linear perspective and of space in a limited frame. Pictorially, this treatment of space with large blank sections is freer, and not often seen in other paintings of the fifteenth century. The use of a diagonal for flowing rivers is, however, a common convention. The intensity of the verbal picture is complemented by the visual impression of a Krsna waiting and taking a long, long journey. The second panel of folio 7 shows two sakhis in animated conversation and nothing more. Besides the lines of the diagonal Yamuna and the verticals of the stylized trees, the different colours of the background of each of the sections suggests a passage of time. The folio manifests a perfect mastery of the painter over his medium, where he is breaking rigid conventions. The costume and the coiffure of the sakhis is significant. It recalls the coiffure patterns of some marginal figures of the Devasano Pado Kalpasutra and the Sarasvati pata of the famous Khazanchi collection.

Illustration Folio 8

Illustration folio 8 is again divided into three sections. In the largest of these, Krsna is seen in a pensive mood lying on a couch. It is obviously an indoor scene without an exact co-ordination with the text, suggesting the end of a long and painful journey. Nevertheless, the state of expectant waiting is conveyed, both through his posture and the expression on his face. In the second section, Radha is being persuaded by a sakhi to meet Krsna, and there is a little flutter and agitation. In the third, there is the gaze of a surprised sakhi. The pictorial image captures a general mood rather than a precise visualization in line and colour of the text.

Illustration Folio 9

This folio takes us into the open air again. In the first section, Krsna is seen sitting accepting a gift. In the second section, he plays the flute in a dance pose and is accompanied by two entranced cows, responding to the melody of his flute. Space is clearly differentiated through the use of a different background colour in each of the sections. The bright red foreground beneath the feet of Krsna and the cows increase the energy of the panel. The trees are uniquely depicted throughout the folios, adding great charm to the illustrations.


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