Friday, September 11, 2009

Anatomy of a Pattachitra

Kalia Dalan Pattachitra

Pattachitra has always been used as a story telling medium. Though one may find various themes in a Pattachitra painting now-a-days, traditionally stories from Indian mythology have been told through this medium. As Krishna and Jagannath culture is predominant in Orissa stories from Krishna’s life occupy a dominant position in Pattachitra paintings. What you see in this post is a basic Pattachitra painting depicting a very important incident from Krishna’s life.

The incidence the painting depicts is called ‘Kalia Dalan’. A multi-headed serpent called Kalia along with his hundred wives had taken refuse in Yamuna river near Vrindavan, the village where Krishna grew up as a child. Its venom had caused havoc killing all the cattle that used to go to the river to drink water, all the birds that flew over it and all trees that were there on the bank of the river. Kalia had a bloated ego because of the powers that he possessed.

Nobody in Vrindavan village dared to go near Yamuna, which was the lifeline of the village. One day Krishna while playing with his friends veered towards the river and playfully jumped into it. His friends ran back and informed the villagers and his parents.

In the meanwhile inside river Yamuna Krishna has a small encounter with Kalia whereby Kalia tries to display his powers against Krishna. But Krishna in a very playful way climbs on top of the hood of the great serpent as the serpent rises above water. The villagers of Vrindavan watch in awe as the great serpent emerges out of water with its hood raised and Krishna dancing on top of it. Kalia bleeds heavily and his venom also starts to come out as he keeps becoming weaker.

The wives of Kalia surface and ask Krishna for forgiveness. Finally Kalia’s ego too is broken and he asks for forgiveness. Then Krishna directs him to go to a certain place and live harmoniously there.

This whole incident is a metaphor for the Hinduism’s philosophy of giving up one ego and surrendering to supreme lord. Complete surrender is a way of attaining Moksha.  

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