The India Legend On Art Work collections

The Legend Of Nale Damayanti

Damayanti with Swan

Nala was the ruler of Nishada. Nala pined for Damayanti the daughter of the King of Vidarbh, with Nala fell in love with her without seeing her.He spent long hours in the garden of his palace dreaming about her. A group of swans lived in the lakes in the garden. They daily observed the despondent king wasting his time. One day the leader of the swans approached the king and asked him what the matter was. The king informed the swan that he was in love with Damayanti but was unable to press his suit. He did not even know if Damayanti was in love with someone else. Custom prevented him from going to Vidarbh himself and this was too delicate a mission to entrust to someone else. “If you think fit I can deliver your message,” said the swan. Nala lighted up. At last there was an end to his immediate problems. And there could be no more romantic way to woo a maiden. That night the swan left for Vidarbh. This painting shows the Swan conveying Nala’s love to Damayanti.

Vegetable Dyes on Silk

 

 

Shakuntala with her sakhis.

Shakuntala was born of the sage Vishwamitra and the Apsara Menaka. Menaka had come at the behest of the King of the Gods, Indra, to distract the great sage Vishwamitra from his deep meditations. She succeeded, and bore a child by him. Menaka left the newborn Shakuntala in the forest. It was here that the new born child was found by Kanva Rishi surrounded by birds. He thus named her Shakuntala. Kanva Rishi took the child to his ashram, which was known as “Kanva Ashram” on the banks of the Malini River which rises in the Shivalik hills of Himalayas. Shakuntala is with her friends Priyamvada and Anasuya. This is where Shakuntala grew up, to become a lovely maiden and lived a happy life among friends, under the loving care of Gautami and Kanva, and loving the flowers and trees and animals of the forests and her playmates in the ashram. Acrylic on Silk, 24″/36″, Teakwood Frame.

 

 

 

Damayanti with Swan.

Nala was the ruler of Nishada. Nala pined for Damayanti the daughter of the King of Vidarbh, with Nala fell in love with her without seeing her.He spent long hours in the garden of his palace dreaming about her. A group of swans lived in the lakes in the garden. They daily observed the despondent king wasting his time. One day the leader of the swans approached the king and asked him what the matter was. The king informed the swan that he was in love with Damayanti but was unable to press his suit. He did not even know if Damayanti was in love with someone else. Custom prevented him from going to Vidarbh himself and this was too delicate a mission to entrust to someone else. “If you think fit I can deliver your message,” said the swan. Nala lighted up. And there could be no more romantic way to woo a maiden. That night the swan left for Vidarbh. This painting shows the Swan conveying Nala’s love to Damayanti. Acrylic on Silk, 24″/30″, Teakwood Frame.

 

 

 

 Kadambari.

Kadambari is the central character of a romantic novel in the Sanskrit language, which B?nabhatta wrote in the seventh century. The king of a race of demigods had a daughter named Kadambari. The story is about Kadambari and her friend Mahasweta, and their lovers

The Nala-Damayanti Katha in Vyasa’s Mahabharata

 
 
 
 Those who have kept track of Writers Workshop’s effort at serving up theMahabharata in small doses to the extremely busy twenty-first century reader through the remarkable Kathaseries will be pleased to know that the latest addition, the eighth, the Nala-Damayanti Katha, is now available. Like the earlier books it is a reproduction of the Nala-Damayanti episode in the Vana Parva of Prof. P.Lal’s magnum opus, the shloka-by-shloka transcreation of theMahabharata. And, as with the earlier books, the two very compelling features of this work are the exquisite transcreation of Prof. P.Lal in free-flowing English verse and the splendid introduction by Dr. Prema Nandakumar. The Nala-Damayanti episode is a curious tale in many ways. It is the entire Kuru-Pandava story in miniature with Nala, the king of the Nishadhas, playing the Pandavas. He is a great king, very fond like Yudhishthira of playing dice and, like him, not too good at it. He wins Damayanti in the svayamvaracongregation as the Pandavas do Draupadi. The description of the two ladies, the ‘lovely-waisted Damayanti’ and the ‘slim-waisted Draupadi’ is almost the same: Damayanti achieved world-wide fame‘for her incandescent beauty, grace,
virtue and excellence’
She was faultless-featured;
‘with her ornaments she dazzled
like lightening in the sky.
A lady of impossible beauty!
Like large-eyed Sri-Lakshmi!
None among the gods or yakshas
could equal her.
None among humans or others
Ever possessed such beauty:
She soothed the eyes,
She was lovelier than a goddess.’
 (III.53.10-14, Nala-Damayanti Katha)And, ‘auspicious, eye-ravishing, large-black-eyed Panchali rose from the yajna altar,Dark-skinned Panchali
Lotus-eyed lady,wavy-haired Panchali,
Hair like dark blue clouds,
Shining coppery carved nails,
Soft eye-lashes,
Swelling breasts
Shapely thighs.
A girl like goddess
born to humans. 
‘There was none on earth
to match her loveliness.
Gods, anti-gods, and yakshas
yearned for such celestial beauty.’ 
(169:45-47, Adi Parva, Mahabharata)

Both were equally beautiful except that Draupadi was ‘dark-sinned’ and Damayanti was perhaps very fair because interestingly, she has been compared to lightening twice, one in this passage and again at the time of her entry into the city of Subahu ‘ ‘you dazzle like lightening in the midst of clouds’. 

Then the dice game. Both Nala and Yudhishthira play the game and lose everything. Why do they play the game? Why indeed do they feel honor-bound and compelled to play? And that too when, being well-educated, they are surely aware of scriptural injunctions against gambling. The Aksha Sukta a rare secular sukta of the Rigveda condemns the game of dice,

Akshairma divyah krishimit krishasva vitte ramasya vahumanyamanah
Tatra gavah kitaba tatra jaya tanme vi chashte Savitayamarshah
‘ (10:34:13) 
(‘Play not with dice, but cultivate thy cornfield; Rejoice in thy goods and fame gained from cultivation, deeming them abundant. From there you will get thy cows and thy wife, O gambler. This counsel Savita gives me.’)

In spite of such injunctions they resort to some na’ve argument of compulsion of honor, and play. Yudhishthira ignored the fact that there could be no honor in deeds not sanctioned by the Vedas. He knew that it was wrong to play dice yet he says, ‘If he challenges me, I will accept the challenge. I have firmly vowed this.’ And then he says, ‘Like flashing flames blinding the eyes, fate blinds clear thinking.’ Again, before the second dice game he says, ‘The old monarch commands me to play dice again. I know it means my doom. But I cannot refuse.’ Once more, the question of the Kshatriya honor. On this Vaishampayana comments, ‘When doom is imminent, thinking gets blurred.’ (Sabha Parva). This then was Yudhishthira’s compulsion’ if challenged it was his vow never to refuse. 

But what were Nala’s compulsions? Nothing much really. When Pushkara ‘insistently kept inviting him to a dice-game, the maha-minded raja could not refuse.’ So, ‘obsessed, he could think only of the dice-game’ and ‘Damayanti saw the fulsomely-famed, noble-minded king obsessed with gambling, and seemingly bereft of his reason.’ He too, like Yudhishthira, lost all and went on exile to the forest. In Yudhishthira’s case there was some justification, though fairly vague, that he was one of the chief protagonists of the power struggle of the time and he had to contend with a very strong opposition. He might have considered the dice game to be an acceptable alternative and might have thought of taking this shortcut to success, like most gamblers. Militarily he had no chance as all the kings conquered by him during the Rajasuya sacrifice were on the side of the Kauravas, as he himself admits in the Vana Parva during a conversation with Draupadi and Bhima. He must have had, at that time, supreme confidence in his own dice-playing abilities. But Nala was not under any such duress. There was no power-struggle, no political necessity ‘Pushkara was not a claimant to the throne’and peace and prosperity reigned everywhere. It was just a gambler’s urge that made Nala play. But in Nala’s case there was also supernatural intervention. Three deadly factors combined against him: an evil god (Kali) possessed him, an evil time (Kali yuga) and the worst throw of dice (the four yugas are named after the four throws of dice, Krita, Trita, Dvitaand Kali of which Krita is the best throw and Kali the worst). No such power was operating on Yudhishthira; he played of his own volition. However, both committed political hara-kiri on the dice-board. 

Dice were usually made of vibhitaka nuts. In the Virata Parva Yudhishthira carries “black and red dice made of gold inset with sapphires and beautiful ivory pawns of blue, yellow, red and white by hue.” In the Nala-Pushkara game, “Kali transformed himself into the principal dice to be cast at the game.” In the Yudhishthira-Shakuni game, Vyasa merely speaks of Shakuni, a supremely skilled player and Dvapara-incarnate, cheating in the dice-throw.

There is an interesting point about the dices used in the game of the two kings. Even though Kali had earlier asked his friend Dvapara to enter the dice, during the actual game ‘Kali transformed himself into the principal dice to be cast at the game.’ So the dice here was cleverly doctored. A similar charge of doctoring the dice in the Yudhishthira game too has been raised by Parashuram, the well-known satirist of Bengali literature, in his story, ‘The Third Dice-game’ (translated into English by Dr. Pradip Bhattacharya) – Shakuni hid a beetle inside his dice. So, in whichever way one threw the dice it would always fall the right-side up due to the obstinate beetle inside which ‘being of extremely intractable nature could not be overturned or turned on its side.’ The concept of doctored or enchanted dice made of the bones of Shakuni’s father is a later vernacular addition. However, cutting out all the frills of Kali and the beetle, there is no doubt that both Nala and Yudhishthira were cast against much stronger adversaries and were soundly thrashed. The only thing that can be said for Nala, if that is any consolation, is that he was a much better player than Yudhishthira since he could continue playing for months whereas Yudhishthira lasted not even a day’ and he played twice in that single day. 

The Nala story reflects most of the important events of the Pandava story in some way or the other. The Draupadi-vastraharana episode is considered to be an interpolation by some. If so, Vyasa would not have written about the birds flying away with Nala’s cloth, his cutting Damayanti’s cloth in two with the magically appearing sword and disappearing, leaving her wearing just half of it. The similarity between the two stories indicates that both are integral to the original, though some details may have been interpolated.

Both the kings went to the forest thereafter with their wives. Like the thirteenth year of the Pandavas, Nala spent the last period of his exile incognito in the court of Rituparna as his charioteer. Like Yudhishthira he also obtained the Aksha-hridaya, expert knowledge of the game of dice. Damayanti too spent some time with the princess of Chedi, Sunanda, in the kingdom of Subahu as Sairindhri, just as Draupadi spent the last year of exile with Sudeshna, the Virata queen, disguised as Sairindhri. Both of them put up the same terms as conditions of their service. Prema Nandakumar has very perceptively pointed out in her introduction that this story ‘also gave insights to the Pandavas and Draupadi when they wished to disguise themselves and live in an alien land for one whole year.’ Yudhishthira became Kanka, a companion to the king who would play dice with him (in which he had already become an expert like Nala by learning Aksha-hridaya from sage Brihadashva); Bhima became Ballabha, the cook (an expert chef like Nala who got his expertise in cooking from Yama-Dharma during the svayamvara congregation); Arjuna became Brihannala, transforming himself into a transvestite using the curse of Urvashi just as Nala’s appearance was changed by Karkotaka’s bite; Nakula became Granthika, the expert in horses like Nala; and Sahadeva took the name, Arishtanemi, the keeper of cattle, the sole exception who did not take a pointer from the story of Nala. Nandakumar gives a reason: ‘The youngest brother, wise, intelligent and an unequal devotee of Krishna, it was natural for him to become the guardian of the cow.’ However, there is no evidence of Sahadeva’s unequalled Krishan-bhakti in Vyasa. The remark is based on Villi’s Tamil version of the epic where Sahadeva is so depicted.

Brihadashva was a wise old seer. He had seen the world. Not for nothing he chose this tale to console Yudhishthira in an effort to draw him out of his massive self-pity. This story, while it provided some succor to Yudhishthira, was also an indictment. Yudhishthira, in his blind headlong plunge into self-destruction, not only staked himself and his brothers but also Draupadi. Was this shameful act in consonance with his much vaunted idea of Kshatriya ‘honor’? Nandakumar writes, ‘Not all tomes expounding the significance of the term ‘honor-bound’ can wipe away their shame of considering one’s wife as disposable chattel!’ Even if we accept Yudhishthira’s argument of Kshatriya– dharma, his action of staking Draupadi can never be a part of that dharma. It merely exposes the extent to which he had fallen at that moment of madness, the depths of his frightening and compulsive addiction. Nala, on the other hand, knew his limits. When he heard Pushkara say, ‘How about staking Damayanti?’ his heart broke. He looked painfully at Pushkara, took off all his ornaments and left silently, wearing a single piece of cloth, with Damayanti. And in that moment of silence, Brihadashva placed the Dharmaraja squarely in the dock in utter condemnation. He showed him that even a king of Nishadhas, a tribal king, can rise above a Kshatriya king who is none other than the son of Dharma. 

But then the story does not exculpate Nala completely. He too on his part has failed Damayanti. He left her to fend for herself in the wilderness on the flimsy ground,

‘if I leave her she will probably go to her parents’
If she remains with me 
she will suffer more;
if I leave her, it is possible
she will find some happiness’

He never paused to think that even if Damayanti decided to go to her parents, how she was going to find her way through this perilous forest infested with wild creatures and men of evil temperament. It was surely a childish and irresponsible decision which ultimately caused Damayanti untold misery. And in the final moment of truth, Nala too falls prey to the folly of Yudhishthira: he stakes Damayanti in the final game of dice with Pushkara. Granted that by this time he was the master of the Aksha-hridaya and he knew that he would never lose, but it was a principle that was compromised by that deed. The knowledge of Aksha-hridaya gave him supreme confidence, in fact, it made him vain, but it also clouded his sense of values. Even if you are one hundred per cent sure, you do not use your wife as stake in gambling. If Brihadashva was trying to pass a message of this kind indirectly to Yudhishthira to begin with, he failed by narrating this last game of dice in which Nala was guilty of the same offence as Yudhishthira. Well, every cloud has a silver lining. Perhaps it was due to this part of the story that we do not see another command performance by Yudhishthira in the Mahabharata on the dice board, even though, like Nala, he too at that time was armed with the Aksha-hridaya and had every reason to feel confident enough to take on Shakuni. Perhaps that was the objective of that wise man, Brihadashva: Yudhishthira must learn about the pitfalls that arrogance of learning holds. We have seen that Yudhishthira did learn his lesson well.

In fact, the entire Vana Parva contains the progress of Yudhishthira’s education. He had two big problems. He had to be first helped to get over his gigantic self-pity. Secondly, he had to be trained to become a king ‘ a kind of advanced course in administration that included acquiring administrative skills and power in the form of weaponry and political alliances. At the time of the dice game, he was young, inexperienced and had no political ally except Krishna and the Panchalas. The kings they defeated during the Rajasuya yajna, were naturally not friendly. His was a new kingdom, yet to find its political and diplomatic feet and all the alliances were with the established Hastinapur kingdom which was inimical to him. At this juncture he was exiled before he could organize himself politically. In addition to this predicament, he fell into a bitter depression and wallowed in self-pity, a luxury that he could ill-afford. So the benevolent forces more or less combined together and got busy in reconstructing Yudhishthira. Shiva, Indra and other gods gave Arjuna many weapons. The sages, the seers, conducted a severe regimen of education, one after the other. Vyasa came and gave him the Pratismriti spell. Shaunaka, Dhaumya, Markandeya, Baka, Brihadashva and Lomasha continued his education through a series of kathas and didactic discourses. Ajagara-Nahusha had a fruitful didactic discussion with him. He learnt about environmental balance through the deer who appeared in his dream. And finally, as an end-of-course examination, he had the famous encounter with the Baka-Yaksha-Dharma. With this encounter in the last chapter of Vana Parva, Yudhishthira’s education was complete. 

The problem of his self-indulgence was also handled in the process. First, Shaunaka advises him how to handle grief, fear and greed. He was the one who advised him on Nishkama Karma, much before Krishna recited the Gita to Arjuna. Apparently, he was not convinced. He seemed to be fairly desperate when confronted by Draupadi and Bhima. So, when Brihadashva came the first question he asked was, ‘Is there any raja on earth more miserable than me? Have you heard of one, seen one? I can think of none.’ Brihadashva’s was swift in administering a rather severe reprimand, ‘There was a raja on this earth who suffered more than you’In the forest, O raja, Nala had neither servants nor chariots; he had no brother and no friends to console him. But you have heroic brothers, equal to gods, and the best of Brahmins, equal to Brahma. You should not be sad.’ Then he launched into the narration of the Nala-Damayanti tale. Whether the story had any effect on him or not is not clear, but one thing is absolutely clear ‘ it made no dent in his impregnable self-pity. We find him carrying this burden till almost the end of Vana Parva and asking Markandeya after the Jayadratha episode, ‘Is there anyone in the world as unfortunate as I am? Have you heard of such a man? Have you seen one?’ Markandeya said Rama was such a king and began the narration of the Ramayana. After completing the story, he said, ‘This was how’Rama’endured such agonizing exile’O foe-tormentor, why do you grieve? You have supporters who can vanquish the thunder-wielder-Indra and the Maruts’Rama without such help, killed the ten-necked rakshasa of tremendous valor and rescued Vaidehi Sita. Rama’s only allies were black-faced bears and beast-like tree-men’do not grieve’mahatmas like you must never despair.’ After this tale, we find a dent in Yudhishthira’s self-pity and see him looking around and becoming conscious about the problems of others, especially of his wife. So he asks Markandeya, ‘Maha-muni, I am not sorry (?) for myself’I feel sorry for Draupadi’Have you ever heard of a woman as maha-fortune-favored and husband-devoted as Draupadi? Have you seen one?’ So, this brings forth the story of Savitri-Satyavan from Markandeya. With Nala too the same thing happened. He too wallowed in self-pity during exile for deserting Damayanti, reciting a shloka every evening lamenting her fate. He too acquired power in the form of Aksha-hridaya from King Rituparna with which he would be able to handle Pushkara. 

The Nala-Damayanti tale is a romantic story ‘ the story of immortal love between a love-struck husband and his wife, steadfast in her love for her husband. They fall in love when they had not even seen each other through the intervention of the divine postman, the golden swan. Thereafter it continues unswervingly through a myriad trials and tribulations till it reaches a happy conclusion. There is certain softness in the treatment of the character of Damayanti which sets her apart from Draupadi. She gives an impression of being like a creeper that is entirely and unconditionally dependant on the Nala-tree. She has a different, a stronger facet but, first and foremost, she is the beloved of Nala and is head over heels in love with Nala. She never complains when Nala deserts her except once during her helpless wanderings in the wilderness and is always worried about his well-being because she believes that a man is the happiest when he is with his wife, ‘What medicine is there for misery more healing than a wife?’ she asks Nala. In the most heart-rending scene in the forest, which is very unlike Vyasa, she runs from tree to tree and asks them about her Nala. It reminds one of Rama doing the same thing after Sita’s abduction. This kind of treatment of a female character persuaded Sri Aurobindo to comment that Nala-Damayanti is the creation of a young Vyasa when he was still under Valmiki’s influence. In the core Mahabharata, Vyasa is the stern and high epic poet. Perhaps that is why we do not see another instance of possession after Nala’s by Kali except when king Kalmashpada is possessed by a demon sent by Vishvamitra.

But then, Damayanti after all is a Vyasan character. It cannot be all milk and honey. The spark of fire, the strength of the obelisk must be there somewhere, lying dormant. She is intelligent and fearless. That strength peeps through the veneer of soft romance time and again. The first time we see this strength is when Nala meets her for the first time, not on his own behalf but on behalf of the gods. Nala tries to persuade her to choose a god as he is scared for his life. But Damayanti puts her foot down and says, ‘I would like all the gods to come with you to mysvayamvara. Nishada king, at that time I will choose you for my husband. O maha-muscled one, I do not see anything wrong in this.’ End of conversation. A princess has decided to exercise her rights as a bride going to svayamvara even against the opinion of her beloved whom she has met for the first time. She handles the gods who presented themselves like Nala in the assembly very cleverly and with ‘lan, throwing the ball into their court: ‘And she decided finally to seek help from the gods themselves’ saying, ‘The gods were the ones who settled that he be my husband. That is the truth; therefore, O gods, point him out to me.’ This capacity of thinking on her feet, shows her to be an intelligent and creative woman with an extraordinary personality. A strong woman who would refuse even gods for her beloved even though he has established himself to be slightly wanting in matters of love and intelligence. Later, when she saw that Nala was losing badly in the dice-game, once again she gave proof of her foresight and decision-making by deciding to send the children to her father’s place. By burning the Vyadha in the forest for making lewd advances, she made it clear that she was not one to be trifled with. Her conditions of service placed before the Rajmata at Chedi displayed her self-respect, personality and strength of character. Her proactive nature comes out very strongly when we see her sending out messengers to search for Nala, playing the ruse of the second svayamvara as a means of bringing Nala to her, in establishing his identity and meeting him in person when he did not look at all like the Nala she knew. Through all this, Nala did nothing except to sigh and lament. I think in his eagerness in portraying Damayanti in brilliant light, Vyasa painted Nala as more daft than necessary. 

But Damayanti, though strong, cannot be compared fairly with Draupadi. It is a matter of scale. If Damayanti is an unswerving bright lamp, Draupadi is a conflagration, proud flames rising from the sacrificial altar. From the time she, born of fire, appears in the epic she blazes through the rest of the story as the cause celebre of the destruction of the Kaurava clan. Damayanti is the heroine of a small tale, the product of a young and romantic mind but Draupadi is an epic heroine, conceived by a matured mind that is honed by experience and refined by the fire of ascesis, described by Sri Aurobindo as ‘the pale and marble rishi, the austere philosopher, the great statesman, the strong and stern poet of war and empire’ Damayanti’s tragic moments are underlined deliberately whereas Draupadi’s moments of pathos, her softer moments, are overwhelmed by her tremendous personality, her pride, passion and unforgiving temper.

This is perhaps the reason that persuaded Sri Aurobindo, who, unlike many, was convinced that ‘These poems (Nala and Savittrie) are very Vyasa’, to write, ‘Here we have the very morning of Vyasa’s genius, when he was young and ardent, perhaps still under the immediate influence of Valmekie (one of the most pathetic touches in the Nala is borrowed straight out of the Ramayana {Sri Aurobindo is probably referring to the scene where Damayanti, like Rama, is asking the trees the whereabouts of Nala}: at any rate without ceasing to be finely restrained to give some rein to his fancy. The Nala therefore has the delicate & unusual romantic grace of a romantic and severe classic who has permitted himself to go-a-maying in the field of romance. There is a remote charm of restraint in the midst of abandon, of vigilance in the play of fancy which is passing sweet and strange.’ 

Therefore being young and ‘with Valmekie’s mighty stanzas in his mind’ he created a fairy tale ambience in the Nala story with people having lots of magical powers thrown in. So, we have golden swans talking in a human voice, talking birds fleeing with clothes, a sword appearing from nowhere with which Nala would cut the cloth, burning of the hunter, Karkotaka Naga changing his size at will, hermitage appearing and disappearing, Nala’s magical powers over nature as a result of the gods’ boons, Rituparna’s ability to count leaves, etc. A lot of shape-shifting is also going on, like, the gods take on Nala’s form, Karkotaka becomes small and large, Nala, a handsome man, becomes ugly with Karkotaka’s bite and regains his original form later, Kali becomes the dice, etc. In the main tale of the Mahabharata, obviously a much later work, we see much restraint in Vyasa; here he has become the stern and high poet of the epic. He still loves the wonderful and the strange, but the touches of wonder and strangeness here are fleeting, ‘gone as soon as glimpsed’. So this weakness, coming down from the younger days still exists but severely ‘bitted and reined in.’ In any case, a romantic tale, severely influenced by Valmiki, ornamented with Valmikian frills and infested with fairy tales and magic, does surprise us. 

Prof. Lal has captured the typical Nala-Damayanti ambience, most unusual for a Vyasan creation, admirably in his transcreation of the tale in free-flowing English verse, his hall-mark. But that is only expected. The text therefore does not require any comment, neither do the readers need any encouraging nudge from a review. One has to merely catch hold of a copy, sit back and enjoy some brilliant poetry describing one lovely story from Indian mythology without getting hindered by any intellectual road-block. To quote one remarkable passage, Damayanti imploring the gods,

‘And, trembling with fear, in pranjali, said:
‘The words of the swans
made me choose the prince of the Nishadhas
as my husband.
In speech and in thought,
I am devoted to him.
That is the truth; therefore, O gods,
point him out to me.
The gods were the ones who settled
that he be my husband.
That is the truth; therefore, O gods, 
point him out to me.
I have already commenced 
my total dedication to Nala. 
That is the truth; therefore, O gods,
point him out to me.’

There are of course some minor mistakes that have crept in. Like, why at one place, he keeps referring to Nala as Varshneya is not very clear. Nala’s father is Virasena and Varshneya is the name of Nala’s charioteer. It must be an oversight. 

Besides Prof. Lal’s transcreation which, according to Dr. Prema Nandakumar, is in ‘bracing, easy-to-read, delightful English of our century’s Vyasa,’ the other asset of the book is the excellent introduction by her. She has described the tale, nicely bringing out the commonalities between the stories of Nala and Yudhishthira and also discussing how the Nala story is an indictment of Yudhishthira. She goes on to discuss some of the major Sanskrit, Malayalam, Tamil, Telegu and English versions of the Nala legend (Sriharsha’sNaishadhacharitam, (also known as Naiadhiyacarita, or Naiadha,) Kshemeswara’sNaishadhananda, Trivikram Bhatta’s Nala Champu, Unnayi Warrier’s Nalacharitram, Nallan Chakravarthy Sadagopacharya’s Bhaimi Svayamvaram, Ramaraja Bhushana’sHarishchandra-Nalopakhyanam, Ativeera Rama Pandyan’s Naidadham, Pugazhendi’sNalavenpa, Sri Aurobindo’s The Tale of Nala and K.R. Srinivasa iyenger’s Sati Sapthakam) and a very informative discussion on why Nala was one of the very few persons for whom Vyasa has used the epithet, punyashloka. In the process we get a glimpse of how these legends get enmeshed in the psyche of our society. The introduction is not only pleasant-reading but extremely enriching. However, it is not understood why she has translated ‘Kali’ as shani, Saturn, in the beginning of the essay. We find this Kali-Shani equation in the later parts of the essay too. In a personal communication she has explained, ‘I had this doubt, but could get no clarification. Hence I have given some details about the Tirunallaru temple where Saturn is worshipped, equated with Kali and the pond there is supposed to have cleared Nala of Kali-dosha.’

While talking of vernacular versions of the legend, I must mention that as in South India, the Nala-Damayanti story is quite popular in Bengal too. It is a part of the folk consciousness and there are many versions of the story based on which yatras are performed even today in rural Bengal. But I was quite surprised to find that there is no composition by any major litterateur of Bengal on this subject. If such a composition exists it has escaped my attention. Only Dinesh Chandra Sen, the famous historian of Bengali literature, mentions a few works: Loknath Datta’s Naishadh (1768 AD) describing the story of Nala, Ramayana and Indradyumna in 1440 verses, Sri Majhi Kait’s Naishadh (1147 BS) and Madhusudan Napit’s Nala-Damayanti(1809 AD) in 2124 verses (Dinesh Chandra Sen, Bangabhasha O Sahitya, Gurudas Chattopadhyaya & Sons, Kolkata, 7th ed. (first edition 1896)). It is interesting to note that Abul Faizi wrote a Persian version of the story at the instance of Akbar, the great, entitled Kisseh-ishq-i-Nal va Daman.

 

 

 

 

 

 Pundarika and Chandrapida. This painting shows Kadambari playing the Sitar. Vegetable Dyes on Silk, 24″/30″, Teakwood Frame.

 

 

livin sculpture and princess


watercolor 10×11″

Ottanthullal- a dance of kerala


13.5×14 watercolor on febriyano

Kathiruppu (Sold)


Watercolor

തോണി


A Fishing methode.Watercolor

Kathiruppu


Watercolor 12×14″

In a village


Watercolor 10×11″ handmade

Parampil


Water color 10×11″

Chungam Alappuzha


Watercolor.Handmade.Old work

waiting for krishna-water-acrylic

My New Painting-Acrylic


Rajasringaram

Yekshimol(witch-lusty)


Water color

 

 

 

 

 

Sita and the golden deer.

The demon Mareecha took the form of a golden deer and attracted Sita’s attention and drew away Rama and Laxmana from her side. This allows Ravana, the King of Lanka to kidnap Sita, disguising himself as a brahmana mendicant while her husband was away fetching the magnificent golden deer. Acrylic on Silk. 24″/36″, Teakwood frame.

 

 

 

Lady at a ball game

This sensuous painting of Raja Ravi Varma shows a lady playing with a ball while her sari unravels. This painting is naughty, bold, and graceful at the same time. This paintings uses acrylic on silk, which is mounted on a tussar silk fabric in typical Orissan design.

 

 

 

 

 

Damayanti with Swan

Nala was the ruler of Nishada. Nala pined for Damayanti the daughter of the King of Vidarbh, with Nala fell in love with her without seeing her.He spent long hours in the garden of his palace dreaming about her. A group of swans lived in the lakes in the garden. They daily observed the despondent king wasting his time. One day the leader of the swans approached the king and asked him what the matter was. The king informed the swan that he was in love with Damayanti but was unable to press his suit. He did not even know if Damayanti was in love with someone else. Custom prevented him from going to Vidarbh himself and this was too delicate a mission to entrust to someone else. “If you think fit I can deliver your message,” said the swan. Nala lighted up. At last there was an end to his immediate problems. And there could be no more romantic way to woo a maiden. That night the swan left for Vidarbh. This painting shows the Swan conveying Nala’s love to Damayanti.

Vegetable Dyes on Silk

 

 

 

 

 

Lord Rama meeting Sita

This painting is based on the theme from the Indian epic Ramayana. Sita grew up to be a girl of unparalleled beauty and charm. When Sita was of marriageable age, her father King Janaka decided to have a “Swayamvara” which included a contest. The king was in possession of an immensely heavy bow, presented to him by the god Shiva; whoever could wield the bow could marry Sita. The sage Vishwamitra attends the Swayamvara with Rama and Lakshmana. Only Rama could wield the bow and breaks it. Marriages are arranged between Rama and Sita as well as other sons of Dasharatha and daughters and nieces of Janaka.  This painting portrays the memorable scene where Rama, the King of Ayodhya sees Sita, his consort for the first time before the Swayamvara in a garden.

Vegetable Dyes on Silk

 

 

 

 

 

Taradevi

This painting is of Taradevi, which is another name of Goddess Saraswati.  In this painting, Goddess Saraswati is playing the Veena on a boat.

Vegetable Dyes on Silk

 

 

 

 

 

Mohini on a Swing

Mohini , is the name of the only female avatar of the god Vishnu. She is portrayed as a femme fatale, an enchantress, who maddens lovers, sometimes leading them to their doom. Mohini is introduced into Hindu mythology in the narrative epic of the Mahabharata. Here, she appears as a form of Vishnu, acquires the pot of Amrita (an elixir of immortality) from thieving asuras (demons), and gives it back to the Devas (demi-gods), helping them retain their immortality. The earliest reference to a Mohini-type goddess appears in the Samudra manthan or Churning of the Oceans. The Amrita, or nectar of immortality, is produced by the churning of the Ocean of Milk. The Devas and the Asuras fight over its possession. The Asuras contrive to keep the Amrita for themselves, angering the Devas. Vishnu, wise to their plan, assumes the form of an “enchanting damsel”. Mohini uses her allure to trick the Asuras into giving her the Amrita, and then distributes it amongst the Devas.

Acrylic on Silk

 

 

 

 

 

Shakuntala

The legend of the exquisitely beautiful Shakuntala and the mighty king Dushyant is a thrilling love story from the epic Mahabharata, which the great ancient poet Kalidasa retold in his immortal play Abhijnanashakuntalam. While on a hunting trip, King Dushyant of the Puru dynasty meets the hermit-girl Shakuntala. They fall in love with each other. In this painting Shakuntala is Looking for Dushyanta. Shakuntala spent much time dreaming of her new husband and was often distracted by her daydreams. Ravi Varma, depicts Shakuntala, a prominent character of Mahabaratha, pretending to remove a thorn from her foot, while actually looking for her husband/lover, Dushyantha, while her friends call her bluff.

Acrylic on Silk

 

 

 

 

 

Dancing Apsaras

Acrylic on Wood

In another effort at fusion and adaptation, the painter has decorated a wooden screen which is used as a partition. This large work features four women dancers from the temple who are preparing for the festival of the Lord. At the centre is featured the temple with an ornate elephant. The dancers are full and buxom and the poses are adapted from the sandstone statues of apsaras sculpted in the Orissa style. One of the dancers are shown applying ‘alta’ on her feet while others are applying make-up or practicing dance.

 

 

 

Tribal Figures

Acrylic on Silk

In another effort at fusion and adaptation, the painter has decorated a silk lampshade with figures in the style of Saora tribal art. The figures are colourful and have no facial features. They feature men, women and children.

 

Saora Tribal Paintings are basically paintings made in the inner walls of their mud huts which are called ittlans. These paintings are done with the aims of preservation of good harvests, avoiding bad luck and disease and honoring the dead and the valiant. The tribals’ occupation being mainly agriculture, they tend to depict lots of natural vistas in their paintings – farming, fields and landscape form important categories of painting. However, items of the modern world, like the plane, chairs, desks, etc have also started featuring in their works. The entire process includes a prolonged procedure of invocation of the spirits in order to make their hopes and wishes work.

 

Dasa-Avatara  Panel (Ten Incarnation of Vishnu)

Vegetable Dyes on Silk

As per Hindu Mythology, Lord Vishnu is supposed to undertake ten incarnations to restore order and peace in the world, and the primacy of good over evil. Nine of the incarnations are already manifest or completed, with one to come at the end of the present “Yuga” which is the Kali Yuga (Kalki Avatar). In Patachitra tradition, in Kalki avatar Vishnu rides a horse and has a sword in hand. It is interesting to note that Lord Buddha is counted as some branches of Hindu mythology (especially the Orissa School) as an incarnation of Vishnu. This may indicate the influence of Buddhism over this part of India. This panel uses vegetable dyes on silk and is one of the painter’s first pieces and is 15 years old. Some observe that coincidentally, the sequence of the avatars match the order of evolution of life on earth.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Dancing Apsaras

Acrylic on Wood

In another effort at fusion and adaptation, the painter has decorated a wooden screen which is used as a partition. This large work features four women dancers from the temple who are preparing for the festival of the Lord. At the centre is featured the temple with an ornate elephant. The dancers are full and buxom and the poses are adapted from the sandstone statues of apsaras sculpted in the Orissa style. One of the dancers are shown applying ‘alta’ on her feet while others are applying make-up or practicing dance.

 

 

 

Tribal Figures

Acrylic on Silk

In another effort at fusion and adaptation, the painter has decorated a silk lampshade with figures in the style of Saora tribal art. The figures are colourful and have no facial features. They feature men, women and children.

 

Saora Tribal Paintings are basically paintings made in the inner walls of their mud huts which are called ittlans. These paintings are done with the aims of preservation of good harvests, avoiding bad luck and disease and honoring the dead and the valiant. The tribals’ occupation being mainly agriculture, they tend to depict lots of natural vistas in their paintings – farming, fields and landscape form important categories of painting. However, items of the modern world, like the plane, chairs, desks, etc have also started featuring in their works. The entire process includes a prolonged procedure of invocation of the spirits in order to make their hopes and wishes work.

 

Page 5 of 12

Dasa-Avatara  Panel (Ten Incarnation of Vishnu)

Vegetable Dyes on Silk

As per Hindu Mythology, Lord Vishnu is supposed to undertake ten incarnations to restore order and peace in the world, and the primacy of good over evil. Nine of the incarnations are already manifest or completed, with one to come at the end of the present “Yuga” which is the Kali Yuga (Kalki Avatar). In Patachitra tradition, in Kalki avatar Vishnu rides a horse and has a sword in hand. It is interesting to note that Lord Buddha is counted as some branches of Hindu mythology (especially the Orissa School) as an incarnation of Vishnu. This may indicate the influence of Buddhism over this part of India. This panel uses vegetable dyes on silk and is one of the painter’s first pieces and is 15 years old. Some observe that coincidentally, the sequence of the avatars match the order of evolution of life on earth.

 “Young Krishna and friends stealing butter”

Acrylic on Silk

Lord Krishna, the son of Devaki and Vasudev, was brought up by Nandadev, a Yadav chieftain and his wife Yasodha in idyllic Vrundavan. He had a really joyful childhood, playing with his cowherd friends and getting into all kinds of mischief. One of his favourite past-times was stealing butter. This painting shows lord Krishna and his friends forming a human pyramid to reach pots of butter hung high and out of reach of the children.

 

 Pair of paintings depicting Krishna with Gopis 

 

Acrylic on Silk

This painting is part of a pair of paintings featuring Krishna in the company of Gopikas. The painter has used coloured silk cloth as the background instead of the natural silk colour, which is more commonly used. The colours used compliment the background and give the paintings a unique lustre.

“Kandarpa Hathi” or “Woman-elephant”

Acrylic on Silk

Kandarpa is another name for Kamadev, the Hindu God of Love. Themes in pata-chitras that have erotic overtones include the kandarpa ratha (Cupid-car) and the nari ashva (woman-horse) and ‘kandarpa hathi (women-elephant). In this painting, a group of gopi (cowherd) maidens form themselves into an elephant on which Krishna and his sweetheart Radha ride together. The intricate positions and level of detail make this a very interesting painting to view

 

“Young Krishna and friends stealing butter”

Acrylic on Silk

Lord Krishna, the son of Devaki and Vasudev, was brought up by Nandadev, a Yadav chieftain and his wife Yasodha in idyllic Vrundavan. He had a really joyful childhood, playing with his cowherd friends and getting into all kinds of mischief. One of his favourite past-times was stealing butter. This painting shows lord Krishna and his friends forming a human pyramid to reach pots of butter hung high and out of reach of the children.

 

 Pair of paintings depicting Krishna with Gopis 

 

Acrylic on Silk

This painting is part of a pair of paintings featuring Krishna in the company of Gopikas. The painter has used coloured silk cloth as the background instead of the natural silk colour, which is more commonly used. The colours used compliment the background and give the paintings a unique lustre.

“Kandarpa Hathi” or “Woman-elephant”

Acrylic on Silk

Kandarpa is another name for Kamadev, the Hindu God of Love. Themes in pata-chitras that have erotic overtones include the kandarpa ratha (Cupid-car) and the nari ashva (woman-horse) and ‘kandarpa hathi (women-elephant). In this painting, a group of gopi (cowherd) maidens form themselves into an elephant on which Krishna and his sweetheart Radha ride together. The intricate positions and level of detail make this a very interesting painting to view

Dasa-Avatara (Ten Incarnations of Vishnu)

Acrylic on Silk

 

This painting features Lord Vishnu as in Ananta Sayana form – reclining on Snake Ananta in a state of inactivity and bliss surrounded by his ten avatars including the one to come- Kalki. As per Hindu Mythology, Lord Vishnu is supposed to undertake ten incarnations to restore order and peace in the world, and the primacy of good over evil. Nine of the incarnations are already manifest or completed, with one to come at the end of the present “Yuga” which is the Kali Yuga. It is interesting to note that Lord Buddha is counted as some branches of Hindu mythology (especially the Orissa School) as an incarnation of Vishnu. This may indicate the influence of Buddhism over this part of India.

He realized that Krishna was the Supreme Lord, the master of everything. The creatures in the river also pay their respects to Krishna.

 

Ras-Lila

Acrylic on Silk

This painting portrays Ras-Lila, which is the dance of love that Krishna enjoyed the with the gopis, many of whom are expansions of his own internal energies. The supreme gopi known as Radha is the object of Krishna’s highest devotion. This beautiful dance would occur in the autumn season at night under a full moon when Lord Krishna would captivate the young gopis with the extraordinary music of his flute. Even today, we have villagers in India taking part in Raslila and depicting various stories of Radha and Krishna through dance, music and drama.

 

“Dancing Horses”

Acrylic on Silk

 

Horses have always been an essential part of patachitra paintings. However, the theme of dancing horses is a part of a recent effort by some artists to introduce a different element to this form. This painting shows horses in various poses representing joy and happiness. An effort has been made to convey freedom and motion in the painting. The decorative detail in the painting also adds to the effect.

 

The defeat of Kaliya

Acrylic on Silk

This painting shows the defeat of Kaliya the snake by young Krishna. This episode is the first time during the avatar that Krishna reveals his superhuman strengths. As the story goes, due to the giant snake Kaliya’s poison, trees and grass near the bank of the Yamuna had all dried up. Lord Krishna jumped into the poisonous lake and Kaliya, the serpent grabbed Krishna with His mighty coils and held him in his coils for two hours. Krishna then freed himself and then started to dance on the hoods of Kaliya. Gradually, Kaliya was reduced to struggling for his very life. Kaliya then began to vomit blood instead of poison; he was completely fatigued. His whole body appeared to be broken by the kicks of the Lord. Within his mind, however, he finally began to understand that Krishna was the Supreme Personality of Godhead, and he began to surrender unto Him.

 

Krishna with Gopis

Acrylic on Silk

This painting is part of a pair of paintings featuring Krishna in the company of Gopikas. The painter has used coloured silk cloth as the background instead of the natural silk colour, which is more commonly used. The colours used compliment the background and give the paintings a unique lustre.

the end

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2 responses to “The India Legend On Art Work collections

  1. My name is Judith Visser, from Holland and since I was born, the Swan is my personal totem. I am now starting my own Reiki practice and I was looking for a picture of a lady with a Swan. Am I allowed to use this beautiful picture of Dyamanti with the Swan for a logo of my firm? Who is the painter of this beautiful picture, that exactly visualicize my intentions? Who do I have to ask permission for using this?

    Yours sinceraly,,

    JudithVisser

    • thanks judith for you communications.
      please use the picture as your logo but you must mantioned my name and web blog, I donnot know the painters ,you can write anonim
      sincerely
      Dr iwan suwandy , MHA

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