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British Great Artist William Hogarth Life

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William Hogarth

William Hogarth

One of Britain's most gifted and influential artists, Hogarth achieved fame both as a painter and as an engraver. His pictures were widely circulated in printed form, and were enormously popular. Their subject matter was drawn from the London the artist observed around him, and his early experience of his father's imprisonment for debt gave him an enduring interest in the seamier sides of life in the city.

Hogarth was working at a time when British art was largely dominated by foreign artists, and he did much to promote the position of native British artists. He also brought fresh vigour to conventional portraiture, and helped introduce theatre pictures and conversation pieces to British art. But it is as the inventor of that particularly British genre the modern moral narrative that he is best remembered today.

The William Hogarth’s life

A Fervent Patriot 

Born and brought up in London, Hogarth spent the first 12 years of his life in Smithfield an area which had escaped the Great Fire of 1666. Pugnacious and patriotic when it came to recognizing the worth of English art, Hogarth's successful career was a never ending battle against 'connoisseurs', printsellers and publishing pirates.

William Hogarth was born on 10 November 1697, in Smithfield. His father, Richard Hogarth, was a failed schoolmaster and writer who tried to recoup his fortunes by keeping a superior kind of coffee house for the learned, a place where 'the master of the House, in the absence of others, is always ready to entertain gentlemen in the Latin tongue'. This venture failed, and by the time William was 12, the family was living in The Fleet, a debtors' prison. His mother was making what she could by selling an ointment 'which, in the very moment of application, cures the gripes in young children and prevents fits'. Unfortunately two of her own children, William's brothers, died during this time.

In September 1712, Hogarth's father was released from the Fleet, and the family took up residence in Long Lane. And, just over a year later, with the help of his uncle, Edmund Hogarth, a prosperous victualler at London Bridge, William e, was apprenticed for seven years to Ellis Gamble silver plate engraver.

Hogarth, the most English of artists, chose the 23 April for his public debut as it was both St. George's Day and Shakespeare's birthday.
In the spring of 1720, when his apprenticeship still had nearly one year to run, Hogarth set up on his own. It was a bold gesture, but perhaps a necessary one. His father was dead worn out, he insisted, by 'the cruel treatment he met with from booksellers and printers'. Uncle Edmund was also dead and had turned against Hogarth's mother and cut her out of his will, so it may well have been essential for William to cut short his apprenticeship and become the breadwinner of the family. This he did by issuing a shop card and opening a business at his mother's house in Long Lane. On the card were printed the words W. Hogarth, Engraver' flanked by two figures symbolizing Art and History, making it clear that the young Hogarth would no longer be a mere craftsman but was determined to be an artist and a history artist at that.

Hogarth's venture into oil painting proved a success. He painted six versions of The Beggar's Opera, each capturing the drama of the theatre.
Convinced as he was that the status of English painting should be elevated, Hogarth still found that when he started learning to paint formally in 1720, he had to go to an academy in St: Martin’s Lane run by two painters of foreign extraction, John Vanderbank and Louis Cheron and pay a fee of two guineas. Three years later, however, the academy closed, but a free academy was opened by Sir John Thornhill at his house in Covent Garden. Hogarth was one of Thomhill's first pupils, being a great admirer of the history painter who was the first English born painter to receive a knighthood.

Key Dates

1697 born in London

1714 apprenticed to the engraver Ellis Gamble

1720 sets up own engraving business

1729 marries Jane Thornhill. Starts to paint conversation pieces and portraits

1731 paints A Hanoi's Progress

1733 sets up shop as a print seller

1734 paints A Rake's Progress

1735 founds St Martin's Line Academy

1739 is a founding governor of the Foundling Hospital

1743 paints Marriage a la Mode

1753 Analysis of Beauty published

1754 finishes the Election series

1764 dies in London

The work of Sir lames Thornhill, the first English born painter to be knighted, was much revered by Hogarth who saw it as a sign that English history painting was finally gaining some measure of recognition. Later, in 1735, when Hogarth's reputation was well established, he founded a 'new' St Martin's Lane Academy, a relatively informal school for practising artists as well as younger students, organized on democratic lines. His attitude to academies or schools of art was to remain ambivalent. While appreciating the value of some kind of informal training, he publicly and frequently attacked the formal, rigidly structured schools run on the lines of the French Academy. He claimed they stifled initiative, encouraged adherence to outworn rules and turned out too many students hoping for a career in Fine Art whose ambitions were bound to be dashed in a society which generally cared little for native artists.

In the early 1720s Hogarth did some engraved illustrations to literary works, but one of his first independent engravings was a satire, The Taste of the Town, also known as Masquerades and Operas. In it Hogarth ridiculed the fashionable taste for Italian operas and Italian singers to the detriment of the works of British playwrights and authors. The Taste, Hogarth's first satire, announced themes which were to run through the whole of his work his patriotism, his opposition to what he considered as mindless adulation for French and Italian art and artists, his references to actual contemporary events and people and the overwhelmingly topical thrust of his art.


Hogarth spent his entire career, from his first independent engraving shown here, ridiculing what he considered the unquestioning dismissal of English writers, playwrights and artists in favour of 'foreigners'.
Around this time, too, Hogarth started to produce oil paintings. Although this was a medium in which he had had no formal training, by 1728 he had gained enough mastery to paint a number of versions of John Gay's Beggar's Opera, which was itself in part a satire on Italian opera. Hogarth was fascinated by theatre and shows of all kinds, and in these compositions showed the action on stage. 'Subjects I considered as Writers do,' he wrote, 'my picture was my stage and men and women my actors who were by means of certain actions and expressions to exhibit a dumb show.'

In about 1729 the year he eloped with Jane, Thornhill's daughter Hogarth started to paint group portraits or 'conversation pieces' for a largely aristocratic clientele. As an ambitious man it may have appeared that he was establishing himself as a painter of portraits in the conventional sense, the only branch of art where a native artist could expect to make a respectable income. But he was not temperamentally suited to the routine drudgery of 'face painting' alone and found that painting conversation pieces 'was not sufficiently paid to do everything my family required'. Hogarth had a very stable family life with his wife, although they appear to have had no children.



Novelist, playwright and magistrate, Henry Fielding (1707-7754) was a man deeply committed to social reform. His satirical writing was often influenced by the work of his friend Hogarth. Hogarth provided the frontispiece to Fielding's Tom Thumb.
Hogarth and his wife moved in with Sir James Thornhill in 1731, and the same year Hogarth painted the series A Harlot's Progress. Realizing that the sale of the paintings alone would not bring in much money he hit on the idea of engraving his works and selling them widely by subscription, already a familiar and indeed standard practice in the publication of literary works. A Harlot's Progress was issued the following year and was an immediate success. The subscription of the engravings, which he did himself, though he was to employ other engravers for some of his later engraved series, brought him £1200. This can be compared with the E700 which Henry Fielding got for his novel Tom Jones and the E1500 which Samuel Johnson got for his famous Dictionary. The success of Hogarth's Harlot can be gauged by the fact that two weeks after the publication of the prints a pamphlet appeared setting forth the story in verse which went through four editions in 17 days and Fielding's play, The Covent Garden Tragedy, of 1732, was in part inspired by the Harlot. Hogarth's aim was for his narrative series, such as the Harlot and later A Rake's Progress and Marriage a la Mode, to be seen not just as popular prints, but as modern 'History' paintings, to be judged by the same criteria as the High Art of the Italian Renaissance masters. When in the autumn of 1733, Hogarth set up shop as a print seller in his own right, he hung a gilded head of Sir Anthony Van Dyck over his shop door to show he was the successor to the great foreign painters of the past. The shop was called 'The Golden Head'.

Although a childless couple, Hogarth and his wife Jane appeared to have a happy, stable marriage. lane was the daughter of the history painter Sir James Thornhill, Hogarth's mentor. While working on his second major series, The Rake's Progress in 1734, Hogarth also tried his hand at religious decorative painting, executing two murals for the staircase of St Bartholomew's Hospital, the Pool of Bethesda and The Good Samaritan. These he did free of charge, partly because it was for a charitable purpose in an area of London he knew well and partly because there was a danger of the commission going to an Italian painter, Jacopo Amigoni. Hogarth had wanted to succeed in this more traditional form of High Art, but although he later painted some more religious pictures, such as an altarpiece for St Mary Redcliffe, Bristol, Hogarth was ill-at-ease in this kind of work.


Hogarth's profits from The Harlot had been curtailed by the pirating of his prints by unscrupulous publishers and printsellers. Remembering his father's experiences at the hands of these profiteers, Hogarth campaigned for an Engravers' Copyright Act which was passed through Parliament in 1735. He delayed the engravings of The Rake until the Act was on the Statute Book, thus ensuring that, as he wrote 'I could secure my Property to myself'. This Act was to benefit many future artists and engravers and shows how Hogarth, with his pugnacious character, was always determined to transform ideas into practical reality.

The subscription ticket to both Southwark Fair and A Rake's Progress suggested to subscribers that they, like the merry audience, would be in fits of laughter when they received the prints.
By the late 1730s Hogarth's reputation was well established, as was his attitude to the world and his art. His face stands out in The Painter and his Pug tough, challenging and matter of fact lie wanted to lead thought rather than tamely to work to commission simply as a craftsman. Although constantly attacking the connoisseurs and gentlemen theorists, his battling nature led him to fight on their own ground. He published his own art theory, The Analysis of Beauty, in 1753, which argued that beauty resided in the serpentine line. This line of Beauty and Grace had already been shown in the same self-portrait, which with its inclusion of books labelled 'Shakespeare', 'Swift' and 'Milton', amounted to a kind of artistic manifesto.




Hogarth's third major series, Marriage a la Mode, was completed in 1743. This satire on a marriage of convenience doomed to failure and tragedy focused on higher society than The Harlot and The Rake, though the story of human greed and fecklessness set within the teeming variety of London's people is just as moral. Hogarth employed well-known French engravers to produce the plates and gave to the compositions a greater refinement and complexity of meaning and allusion than his work of the 1730s. But the series was less successful than the earlier ones, perhaps because it attacked the very people who were likely to be subscribers and patrons.

In 1749 when Hogarth was living in Leicester Fields, now Leicester Square, London, he bought himself a country retreat in rural Chiswick to get away from the hustle and bustle of London life. And, as he got older, he enjoyed spending most of his time there. The Chiswick house is now a museum, preserved as a memorial to the artist. In this same year Hogarth suffered a major setback when he decided to sell his pictures by auction to show that they were in as much demand as the imported 'Old Masters'. The result of the first sale, and of a second held six years later, was so disastrous that he tore down the gilded head of Van Dyck from above his shop door.

Hogarth's assertiveness and bitterness intensified as he grew older. In 1759 he painted a grand style subject from the classical mythology, Sigismunda, because he was furious that a so-called Correggio of the same subject had been sold for the large sum of £404.5s. He considered it to be the work of an inferior artist, as it was, but his own Sigismunda was rejected by Sir Richard Grosvenor, his potential client, and Hogarth gave directions before his death that it should not be sold for less than £500. In the early 1760s a brief, late foray into political satire together with a hostile engraved portrait of John Wilkes and a public argument with Charles Churchill, both former friends, showed that his fighting spirit was with him till the end. He died in 1764, still battling to get his Sigismunda engraved, still hostile to the fashionable and unquestionable 'Old Masters', still attacking the picture dealers whose interest, he wrote with all the resentment toward them he had felt through-out his life, was `to depreciate every English work, as hurtful to their trade'.

Writer – Marshall Cavendish

Netherlandish Great Artist Hieronymus Bosch -A Year in the Life 1500

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Triumph of peasant cunning, The tales of Till Eulenspiegel were first collected together around 1500. They celebrate the pleasures of boisterous anarchy. Till, the simple peasant who was based on a jester living some 200 years earlier successfully cocks a snook at sophisticated town dwellers.

A Year in the Life 1500

In this jubilee year, pilgrims made their way to Rome in search of spiritual redemption, which was being dispensed by the greedy Borgia Pope, Alexander VI. And while Bosch was exploring the wilder shores of the human psyche, Spain and Portugal were sending emissaries on uncharted waters in search of spices.

While Bosch reflected medieval preoccupations with his visions of hell and sense of sin, the cynical Pope Alexander VI was eager to capitalize on them. He declared 1500 a jubilee year a year when penitents could shed their sins and be granted complete absolution and welcomed thousands of pilgrims from all over Europe to the Eternal City. He hoarded their alms in a special fund administered by his son, Cesare Borgia, for the 'pacification' of those rebellious cities which refused to pay dues to the papacy. For this service, Cesare was made Vicar of Rome in March 1500.

In his concern to preserve and enlarge papal dominions, Alexander issued an edict proclaiming a crusade against the infidel Turks who were steadily advancing in Eastern Europe. Alexander appealed for support directly to the King of France, but Louis XII was much more interested in recovering the duchy of Milan from Leonardo da Vinci's sometime patron, Ludovico Sforza. Early in 1500, French troops took the city; Ludovico himself was captured, and spent the rest of his life in a French dungeon.


The eclipse of a ruling dynasty, 1500 was the year when Ludovico Sforza the Moor was imprisoned in the castle of Loches by the French. Ludovico was the son of a condottiere from whom he inherited the duchy of Milan; here, with his formidable wife Beatrice d'Este, he dominated a brilliant court until ousted by Louis XII of France. Dramatic events were taking place outside Europe. In 1492, Christopher Columbus had crossed the Atlantic hoping to reach the fabled East, instead of which he had discovered America. In 1500 he still believed (as he was always to believe) that his voyages had taken him to the edge of 'the Indies', although in the same year his pilot, Juan de la Cosa, drew the earliest surviving map of the world, showing for the first time the eastern seaboard of North and South America in rough outline, with special prominence given to Spanish possessions, optimistically marked with a flag.

The year proved a particularly bad one for Columbus himself. Although a great sailor, he was an inept administrator, and as governor of the Spanish colony of Hispaniola (modern Haiti) he combined an often heavy hand with an inability to maintain order among the unruly settlers. Ferdinand and Isabella of Spain were advised of his incompetence, and appointed a new governor who promptly shipped the great discoverer back to Spain in chains.

The Spaniards had high hopes of their transatlantic discoveries, and the Portuguese took them seriously enough to insist0 on a share for themselves. A formally agreed line of demarcation, approved by Pope Alexander, had divided all 'new' lands between Spain and Portugal although, as the future was to show, the English, Dutch and French had no intention of observing this lordly private arrangement.

The limits of the known world, Juan de la Cosa accompanied Columbus on his first two voyages to America, and incorporated him as the figure of St Christopher on the left of this bold attempt to delineate the New World. This was the first map to acknowledge that Columbus had discovered a new continent, rather than Japan or the Indies.
But in 1500 the Atlantic crossing was old news. For it was rumoured that the Portuguese captain Vasco da Gama had discovered a new route to India - and wealth from the spice trade. The Portuguese immediately set out to exploit their advantage. In March 1500 a fleet loaded with trading goods set out from Lisbon under the command of Pedro Alvarez Cabral. Following the example of da Gama, Cabral swung his ships into the mid Atlantic in order to avoid bad weather and dangerous currents off the African coast; the intention was to reach the steadily blowing South Atlantic westerlies and run before them to the Cape.

Another piece of the jigsaw puzzle, By a happy accident, Pedro Alvares Cabral discovered Brazil in his quest for the riches of the Indies. The country was named after its main export a red dye called pau-brasil. Cabral's visit was followed up by Amerigo Vespucci, who gave his name to the continent.
In the event, Cabral swung too far west, and made land fall on an unknown shore: by accident he had found Brazil, which was to become the largest of all Portugal's colonies. He left two men there as observers, and sent a ship back to Portugal with news of the discovery. Then he pressed on across the Atlantic as it was still the spices that mattered most. Four of Cabral's ships were lost off the Cape of Good Hope, but contemporary profit margins were high enough to ride such losses. Cabral did splendid business in the East and returned to Lisbon in July 1501, his ships crammed with spices, incense, porcelain and other exotic products. Portugal's golden age of wealth and empire had begun.

Writer – Marshall Cavendish

German Great Artist Albrecht Durer - A Year in the 1521

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Luther's German Bible, In 1521, after his abduction hi the Elector of Saxony, Luther was installed in the castle of Wartburg. There he stayed until March 1522. It was an intensely active period, taken up with a series of pamphlets and correspondence with friends and supporters. It also saw the translation of the Greek New Testament into vernacular German. The first edition was published in 1522. A Year in the Life 1521

The year started with the excommunication of Martin Luther from the Church of Rome. The Lutheran faction spread through Germany, a war was brewing with nearby France and English support was being sought by both sides. By autumn, England and Germany had formed a powerful alliance against the French.

On 3 January 1521, a papal bull of excommunication was issued against the Augustinian monk and ardent church reformer, Martin Luther. It was a little over three years since Luther had nailed a placard to the door of the castle church at Wittenberg in Germany on which he had written his '95 Theses' attacking the Catholic system of Indulgences, and particularly their 'sale' to help fund the rebuilding of St Peter's in Rome. Luther's original aim was simply to purify the Catholic church and return to the fundamental truths of Christianity. But by 1521 his name was synonymous with the opposition to papal authority. And most of his native Germany was behind him.

Luther's excommunication was triggered by three books that he had published in 1520. These 'Reformation Treatises' calling for the reform of the church were considered heretical: in June 1520, Luther was given two months to recant or face excommunication. He did not recant.

The Diet of Worms, From January to May, 1521, the Diet debated the bull of excommunication issued by Leo X and allowed Luther to appear before it to justify his actions. But he refused to withdraw anything he had written in his books, citing his conscience as his ultimate counsel. Although censorship followed, his beliefs spread rapidly throughout the Holy Roman Empire. Three weeks after the bull of excommunication was issued, the 21-year-old Catholic Charles V-King of Spain, and Holy Roman Emperor opened his first 'Diet' (imperial council) at Worms in Germany. He summoned Luther to the Diet, giving him the chance to defend his doctrines or to withdraw what he had written. The Emperor offered Luther safe conduct to the city, and the monk made a triumphant entry. On April 18, Luther appeared before the Diet. He acknowledged that he had written the condemned books, but refused to withdraw a word: 'Unless I am proved wrong by Scriptures or by evident reason . . . I cannot retract and I will not retract. To go against the conscience is not safe, and is not right. God help me. Amen.' As he left the hall, he raised his hand high above his head in a symbolic gesture of defiance.

The diet had not been the-confrontation that Luther had hoped for. He had expected that King Charles would have collected 50 doctors of divinity to refute him in argument. But all they said was: 'Are these books yours?' Yes."Will you recant?' No."Then get out!'


Pierre Terrail, Seigneur de Bayard, This epitome of French chivalry was dubbed 'the chevalier without fear and beyond reproach'. A resourceful commander, he led seiges under several monarchs, notably Charles VIII, Louis XII and Francis I. Captured by the enemy, he was twice released without ransom, so great was the universal respect felt for him. Under Louis XII he reached the pinnacle of his career, leading the French forces at the Battle of Ravenna in 1521. Since the Emperor had given Luther safe conduct to the Diet, he was allowed to leave freely. But the following months he was outlawed from the Empire. Luther's patron, the Elector Frederick of Saxony, came to his aid at this point: he had him ‘Kidnapped’ on his way home to Wittenberg and hid him in the Saxon Castle of Wartburg until the spring of 1522. Here Luther let his hair grow and lived disguised as a minor nobleman 'Knight George'; he continued to write his religious tracts, and began his translation of the New Testament into German.

Luther's condemnation at Worms strengthened rather than weakened the spread of his beliefs. The secular rulers of Germany drew great advantage from the religious revolt. They looked on the efforts of Charles V to restrain Luther as an infringement of their own freedom, and insisted that they, not the Emperor, had the right to choose the religion of their states. They saw a chance to put an end to the power of the Church in their territories and to stop the flow of gold to Rome.

In several parts of Saxony, monks and nuns abandoned their monasteries, while in Wittenberg the townspeople over-threw altars and smashed images in churches.


A fearless explorer, This coloured map by Battista Agnese bears witness to the exploits of Ferdinand Magellan, captain of the first ship to circumnavigate the world. On April 27, Magellan was killed in a skirmish with islanders in the heart of the Philippines. Even as far away as England, Luther was gathering a small following in the academic world of Oxford and Cambridge. But King Henry VIII refuted Luther, and Pope Leo X rewarded him for his loyalty with the title of 'Defender of the Faith'.

1521 also saw the start of the war between Germany and France. Competition between the two countries for England's support was high, but Charles V had the advantage. His aunt, Catherine of Aragon, was married to Henry VIII. On 25 August, Henry and Charles formed their alliance against France. England had the winter to prepare for war.

Writer – Marshall Cavendish

Indian Painting - The Painter

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Lahore Court Style Painting

The Painter

An inscription of the second century B.C. in the Ramgarh (Jogimara) cave, in early characters, is the earliest to refer to a painter. It mentions a rupataka and his sweetheart an adept in dance. As art permeated life in ancient India, every young man and woman of taste had a knowledge of art, dance and music as essential factors of literary aesthetic education. The non-professional artists, with enough knowledge adequately to appreciate art trends in the country, were in abundance and judged the art of the professionals.

The fine arts were cultivated as a pastime, vinodasthana; and painting, being an easier medium than modelling and sculpture, was probably more readily preferred. The Kamasutra mentions painting as one of the several arts cultivated by a nagaraka, a gentleman of taste. His chamber should have a lute (vina) hanging by a peg on the wall, a painting board (chitraphalaka), a casket full of brushes (vartikasamudgaka), a beautiful illuminated manuscript and sweet-smelling flower garlands. The chitrakara was a professional artist of eminence. Inferior craftsmen were known as dindins. The Uttararamacharita refers to a chitrakara named Arjuna who had painted the murals illustrating the life of Rama in the palace. The architects, artists and painters who had decorated the royal palace on the eve of the marriage of princesss Rajyasri were shown great respect as recorded in the Harshacharita. This shows the high esteem in which they were held. When they were commissioned to do some work, they were honoured before they started on it. From the Kathasaritsagara, we learn that a painter enjoyed ten villages as a gift from the king. The chitrakaras, along with sculptors, jewellers, goldsmiths, wood-carvers, metal crafts-men and others, had an allocation of seats in the assembly of poets and scholars convened in the royal court, as described by Rajasekhara in his Kavyamimamsa.

Dogra Rajput PrinceDistinguished masters were specially honoured and invited to give their opinion on the aesthetic value of works of art. These chitravidyopadhyayas were well-versed in several branches of art. Encyclopedic knowledge of masters in architecture, sculpture and painting and other allied branches is gathered from several inscriptions. One of the best known among these is from Pattadakal, where the silpi from the southern region, specially invited by king Vikramaditya to build the Virupaksha temple, describes himself as an adept in every branch of art. A scribe, who was a contemporary of the Western Chalukya king, Vikramaditya VI, boasts of his skill in arranging beautiful letters in artistic form, entwining into them shapes of birds and animals. The queen who enters the chitrasala, as described in the Malavikagnimitra, intently gazes at the newly-painted pictures, representing the harem with its retinue; and this being the work of a master, and naturally compels her admiration. According to the Vidhasalabhanjika, the queen's nephew, occasionally dressed in feminine attire, is mistaken by painters (chitrakaras) to be a girl and represented thus almost life-like on the palace walls, causing the king to mistake him for a girl. Royal courts were frequented by numerous chitrakaras, as we gather from several references; and an interesting instance is that of a painter who prepared an exceedingly beautiful picture of a princess to demonstrate his skill in the royal court. The Kathasaritsagara mentions one Kumaradatta as a gifted painter at the court of king Prithvirupa of Pratishthana. The same text mentions another famous painter, Roladeva from Vidarbha. Sivasvamin, a respectable chitracharya, and an adept in painting is described as the lover of a courtesan in the Padataditaka. Painters frequently visited Vesavasas and had naive companions in natas, nartakas and vitas, vesyas and kuttanis. This indicates their social position, which was not very high, though their art was appreciated at the highest level. The high ideal of vinodastluma for art amongst the nagarakas was just the opposite in the case of the courtesan, who also learned art, neither as a professional nor as an amateur, but as one to brandish her proficiency in fine arts to attract suitors, and to flourish in her profession, as Damodaragupta portrays in his Kuttanimata. The morals of the silpi class of his time are the subject of Kshemendra's interesting lampoon.

Pashu kunjar composite elephant
The proficient artist, with hastochchaya or a good hand in producing pictures, still commanded respect for his distinction in his field. The dindins, inferior artists of mediocre taste, were in contrast to the chitracharyas, reputed for their hastochchaya. Usually employed to repair old pictures, carvings and flags, the dindins very nearly ruined them; it is no wonder that the Padataditaka considers them to be not very different from monkeys dindino hi namaite nativiprakrishta vanarebhyah. They are notorious for ruining pictures by touching them up and for darkening the original lustre of colours by dabbing with their brushes, alekhyam atmalipibhir gamayanti nasam saudheshu kurchalcamashimalam arpayanti.

Colours, prepared by the artist himself, as they occurred to his taste, were carried along with the brushes in boxes, satnudgakas, gourds, alabus, specially prepared for the purpose. Paintings on cloth were carefully preserved in silken covers, in which they were rolled and kept. A beautiful picture is given of the painter at work in the Mrichchhakatika, surrounded by a large number of colour pans, from which he would just take a little from each, to put it on the canvas, yo narnaham tatrabhavatas charudattasya riddhyahoratram prayatnasiddair uddamasurabhigandhibhir modakair eva asitabhyantarachatussalakadvara upavishto mallakasataparivrita chitrakara ivangulibhis sprishtva sprishtvapanayami. The artist was alert to recognise a good picture when he achieved it, and even while painting would nod his head in joyous approbation.

Bani thaniThis special trait of the painter has been noted by Valmiki, Harshavardhana, Sriharsha, Kshemendra, Hemachandra and others. Passages like vikshya yam bahu dhuvan siro jaravataki vidhirakalpi silpirat from the Naishadhiyacharita (XIII, 12) or yayau vilolayan maulim rupatisayavismitah in the Brihatkathamanjari (IX, 1121), or siramsi chalitani vismayavasad dhruvam vedhaso vidhyaya lalanam jagattrayalalamabhutainimam from the Ratnavali (Act II, 41) amply illustrate this.

This did not, however, mean any pride or self-appreciation. Painters in ancient India, as we know had the humility to invite and accept criticism. In fact, the Tilakamanjari refers to connoisseurs invited to appraise pictures tadasya kuru kalasastrakusalasya kausalikam and kumara asti kinchid darsanayogyarn atra chitra pate, udbhutotra pate kopi dosho va natimatram pratibhati.

It was always a great joy for the painter to fashion the pictures with his own hand, and he tried and did his best. His experimental sketches were known as hastalekhas. Such preliminary sketches are often mentioned in literature. The term varnaka connotes a final hastalekha, comparable to the determinant sketch mentioned by Ruskin.

Padmini Nayika
Passages in literature help us to understand various stages in painting a picture, such as the preparation of the ground, the drawing of the sketches, technically known as rekhapradana or chitrasutradana, almost measured out on the board, filling with colours, modelling through the three modes of vartanas and so forth. The final addition of touches to make the picture live is the chit ronmilana or the infusing of life into it. A well-known maxim is based on this chitronmilana. Kalidasa compares the charm of Parvati to a picture infused with life by unmilana, unmilotam tulikayeva chitram (Kumarasanibhava, I, 32). This is the final process of painting the eyes of the figure by the painter when all the rest is complete. Even today, this is a living tradition amongst the hereditary craftsmen in India and Ceylon, who observe this in a solemn ceremony.

Several references provide an interesting picture of the habits of artists. Kshemendra calls them kalachoras, thieves of time, since they usually delay their work though anxious to receive their wages in time. The artist, however, was ever aware of the superiority of his art, and when an occasion required it, he could rise equal to it and prove his worth. A special method was in vogue to challenge other painters in royal courts. A renowned painter, approaching the palace gate, would put up a flag aloft, with his challenge painted on it, asking anyone who accepted the challenge to pull it down. This was the prelude to a contest in the court, decision by the ruler, and honour to the victor.

Dhola maru the legendary lovers rajasthanThe Indian painter, like the sculptor, usually dedicated himself to his art. He made it an offering to the divine spirit and personally obscured himself. The result has been that most names of artists in India are lost in oblivion. In the Saundaryalahari, Sankara mentions even silpa as pujavidhana or a path of worship. How a picture is to be prepared in the orthodox mode is illustrated in the Vishnudharmottara, that requires the painter to sit devoted, facing east, and offer prayers before commencing his work.

The picture is believed always to reflect the mental and physical state of the chitrakara. The Visimudharmottara mentions anyachittata, or absentmindedness, as one of the causes that ruin the formation of a good picture. A common belief mentioned in the Viddhasalabhanjilca is that a picture generally reflects the merits of the artist even as a literary work does those of the poet in its excellence, evam etat, yato garishthagoshthishvapyevam, kila struyate yadrisas chit rakaras tadrishe chit rakarmaruparekha, yadrishah kavis tadrise kavabandhachchhaya. The same is repeated in the Kavyamimamsa-sa yatsvabhavah kavistadrisarupam kavyam, yadrisakaras chitrakaras tadrisakaram asya chitramiti prayaso vadah.


Indian Religious Leaders Mirabai Story - On The Errand of Love

Posted by Art Of Legend India [dot] Com On 12:18 AM 0 comments


Shrouded in melancholy that day, the devotees watched with anxious eyes the parting of their beloved, the soul that gave them joy and blessed them with the sight of the Lord, now going with a divine message to meet the Lord from whom she had been living apart for so long. Born in the race of the Rajaputas, whose women boasted of the custom of `Jauhara' and who had for their ideal unshaken fidelity to their husbands, she showed to the world that she would stand by the behests of her husband, implicitly obeying them, however terrible the consequences might be. This she felt was the ideal of a wife in Hindu society, and she wished to be no exception to it. Prompted by the idea of obeying the mandates of the Rana, whose ignorance and hauteur were responsible for such a hasty and foolish order, the servant for, so does every Hindu wife delight to call herself made her way towards the river, which was to become holy by the last embraces of the Lord's devotee who had come to offer her holy frame to it. And, as she started on the pilgrimage, she bent low to her cherished idol, pressed it to her bosom, then individually caressed her companions, that had shared the joys and pangs of the nightlong vigils, waiting for the coming of the Divine Bridegroom, and borne ungrudgingly the ridicule of their masters. For the last time she sang those beautiful songs that had brought solace to many a bruised soul and pacified many a broken heart the very songs that have been sung by many a pilgrim on the path that leads Home. The meeting over, the farewell approached, after which the pilgrim started. This time the beloved idol lay not in a temple made of brick and clay, not within the structure that could be the boast of human agency, but in the temple of the heart, on a safe pedestal which the great Architect had prepared for Himself. Thus she started, with all her thoughts fixed on one object, that object being none else than the Lord Himself.

Religious Leader MirabaiToday the world's scaffold was again to be smeared by the sacred blood of the great devotee of the Lord. The martyr's tomb was again to be erected on the soil of this ungrateful world. The world's ingratitude was again to be painted on the canvas of the Universe. The lessons of their forefathers' sins were again to be taught to their descendants. Her tormentors the blind knaves did not realize that they were in sheer ignorance perpetrating once again the heinous crime those centuries before had been enacted by their brethren on a different stage and in a different clime on the Son of God.

The world seems to rejoice in such devilish acts of her sons. It seems to grow fat on the blood spilled of such pure souls, else how to account for these inquisitions and tortures that mark the advent of every holy saint! These are the murderers who wish to stifle the spirit that seeks to emerge forth from below the covers of dirt and mud that it has taken over itself by ages' sleep, by drowning itself in the quagmire of sensuality. Little do these people realize that these manifestations of divine love in Bhaktas are not the expressions of a maniac, but are the dramas enacted by His own children on the unholy stage of the earth to purge it of its sins and serve as object-lessons to the many yearning devotees that pray to the Master for help. Their acts are not the hallucinations of a madman, but they are the vital sparks of eternal flame for ever ablaze. It is a queer tragedy of human life that the two the Lord and the Satan should exist side by side in the same castle. But it is a stern reality. Reality must play in the lap of unreality. The servant, however rebellious, has by years of devotion to the Lord earned for himself the boon that he should be permitted to carry on his work of mischief unbridled amongst the impostors. But when he exceeds the limits prescribed, the Lord Himself comes to the rescue.

Mirabai Waiting krishna
In this burning ghat there is a temple, and therein sits my Lord. For what else should one call this world where the choicest jewels in man love, beauty, chastity, dignity and fortitude lie smothered at the hands of these fiends in the shape of hatred, anger, desire and pride. But there is the solace that, when untold misery becomes rampant, He comes:

 "Whenever there is decay of righteousness, 0 Bharata, and there is exaltation of unrighteousness, then I myself come forth."

 "For the protection of the good, for the destruction of evil-doers, for the sake of firmly establishing righteousness, I manifest myself from age to age."

Mira bai
The mischief of Satan is proverbial. Here it appeared in the form of wrath in the Rana, who

denounced the beloved Mira and gave her the peremptory mandate "drown thyself in the river and never henceforth show me they face." How patiently she bore the verdict! Fully did she follow the divine lovers' practice to show forbearance under torture for the sake of their Beloved to a degree unsurpassed in human history? Complete surrender of the body and extreme recklessness about it and laying it down at the altar of love is considered as the highest form of sacrifice in the world. But the Lord's devotee has yet a higher ideal.

MiraHe considers the sacrifice of the body as the lowest order of offering, the devotee can make to the Lord. The standard with which the actions of the two are to be judged is, therefore, different. In the sphere of the world it is apparent that the beloved must be convinced that the lover has genuine affection for her, while she on her part must display rank carelessness in respect of her body and abhorrence for the rules of society. If such tests are applied in the base worldly love, what finer tests must not an aspirant in the region of divine love volunteer himself for; what fiery ordeal must he not pass through; what agonies must he not patiently bear before he can cross the threshold and get entrance into the portals of that more sublime region where love reigns supreme and the pleasures of which place know no surfeiting by excess. No mathematical calculation can give its idea; no formula can explain it. From her youth Mira- had been equipping herself for this region. She had experienced that the meeting had drawn closer; and as she wended her course towards the river, a beautiful smile played on her lips, and with the same old melody she sang old songs in her characteristic joyous tune, but this time with a greater vigour, as she was conscious that she had been freed from the physical bondage. In her ecstatic mood she would jump high in the air and cry out "Govinda, Govinda, Govinda," and sometimes she would weep and repeat "Govinda, Govinda, and Govinda." Thus she reached the river wherein she was to drown herself in compliance with her husband's wishes. There she stood on the banks of the river, a statue in meditation, resplendent in its virginity, enrapturing in its dignity and shining in its glory. All the elements seemed to stand in awe, while the bosom of the river heaved visibly, none could say why whether in joy at the thought of her receiving a celestial being into her lap, or in sorrow at the ingratitude of the world, at its subjecting such a fair creature to physical pain. Mirã stood in a contemplative mood, thinking of the distant regions. It was now evening and the sun shed its last rays to kiss the feet of the universal beloved and then went low, not to rise again for the day. In an instant the conch and bells started their music in the temple in the distance. At their sound Mira was reminded of her hour of worship. The thought of sitting for devotion irresistibly came into her mind. She looked for a seat, and at once felt that the best place was the lap of the Lord Himself. There was no time to waste. With all the vigour at her command, she prepared to jump into the river, and, as the feet were just about to leave the ground, a hand from behind grasped her. Mira looked behind and whom else would she see but her beloved ri Krsna, who stood smiling at her in His proverbially childish fashion. Mira fainted. She had found the lap of the Lord, as she had desired, wherein to pray, as the evening had approached and the hour of prayer had come.

Mira opened her eyes. The Lord smiled and said, "Your life with your mortal husband is over. Now you are mine. Go now and henceforward seek Me in My kingdom in the bowers of Vraja and in the lanes of Brindaban. A final clasp: a last embrace: now I go. Watch how I fly!"

Writer - Bankey Behari

Indian Painting - Art Galleries

Posted by Art Of Legend India [dot] Com On 11:40 PM 0 comments

Rajasthani PaintingArt Galleries

In art-minded India, it is difficult to find even the smallest utensil without some decorative element in it, or a piece of cloth without some beautiful design at least on the border, or a wall in a house without some decorative figures, or the floor without some patterns thereon. Even pots and vessels have some decoration in colour or pattern worked on them in low relief. Art in some form or other cannot be missed in everyday life even in the remotest corners of villages. While even animals like cows and calves, horses and elephants are decorated to fit into a scheme of colourful life radiating joy and beauty, art as a separate entity cannot be expected to be crystallised in isolation. Still, like the immanent spirit of God concentrated in temples, art galleries have been conceived and fostered in India from the earliest times to bring together art objects. These are known as the chitrasalas.

Indian Rajput PaintingEarly references to chitrasalas occur in the Ramayana and the Mahabharata. Three types of chitrasalas are known, those in the palace, the public art galleries and in private houses. To the first category belong the chitrasalas of the harem. Some princesses had their own bedrooms converted into chitrasalas or had chitrasalas as an annexe to their sleeping apartments. These are the sayanachitrasalas. This is accounted for by the fact that looking at an auspicious object on waking up was considered a good omen. Bathing apartments also had picture galleries, abhishekachitrasalikas, adjoining them.

Private chitrasalas, particularly those in the houses of courtesans, were very gorgeous. This was the place of the activities of vitas, dandy, dhurtas, rake and chetas, sycophant, vesyas, courtesan, and vesyakantukas, erotomaniac, a veritable treasure-house of all fine arts. Pictures representing sringara, hasya and santa alone were allowed in private houses, including the king's residence, while in temples and other public and dance halls and the public apartments of the royal palace, all types of pictures could be shown. It is thus clear that these galleries displayed the greatest variety. The preference, however, in all painting was for auspicious themes, mangalyalekhya.

Indian Painting
The galleries, well arranged, were known as vithis, a word for conveying aptly the connotation of 'gallery'. The word vithis used by Bhavabhuti to suggest the long and spacious halls composing the galleries, and the word vimanapankti used by Bana for describing the mansions, composing the picture galleries, suggest the type of buildings that housed the pictures. The text of the Naradasilpa gives a description of the building composing the chitrasalas. It is to be shaped as a vimana, with a small gopura in front, provided with sikizara-kalasas, etc., with windows at intervals for the long galleries. Ornamental doorways, deco-rated balconies, verandahs, massive pillars supporting the main structure, are all architectural details of the chitrasala gathered from references to it in general literature.

Indian Religious PaintingThe Naradasilpa prefers the chitrasala to be located at a junction of four roads, opposite a temple or royal palace, or in the centre of the king's highway; it could be drum-shaped or circular in plan, and have a verandah, a small hall, a main central hall and side halls with stairs leading to the upper storey. It would be supported by 16, 20 or 32 pillars, have several windows, an ornamental canopy, several square terraces near entrances, and stairs sideways leading to several halls, provided with seats for visitors to rest. The roof should have a Sikhara and a kalasa to make the structure look like a vimana. Chandeliers and mirrors are suggested for illuminating the halls. The main building is provided with a small gopura.

Different varieties of paintings of devas, Gandharvas, kinnaras and so forth are to be exhibited in the galleries. These should show mighty heroes and various other noble themes, all well drawn, in proper proportions, coloured attractively, and decorated with jewels, all in gold.

Gujratan Woman
There is frequent mention in literature of the themes of the pictorial material in the galleries. Scenes from the Ramayana are mentioned by Bhavabhuti, Kalidasa and others. Damayanti's life, similarly portrayed, is described by Sriharsha. Contemporary life is also portrayed as in the pictures in the Malavikagnimitra and the Vidhasalabhanjika. The Naishadha-charita specially describes at some length sringara pictures in art galleries. The love of sages and their amours with celestial damsels, as also similar loving dalliance of Indra, are themes for exquisite pictures in the imperial palace of Nala. Pictures of Kamadeva had a special place in the bedroom though they were painted in other places too. It should have been a principal theme in the chit rasalas of the harem as well as the sayanachitrasalas. Bana mentions nagas, devas, asuras, yakshas, kinnaras and garudas as prominently represented in the murals. He also refers to lovely designs of creepers and decorative foliage. In the Navasahasankacharita, hunting scenes are mentioned in the picture-gallery and these can be understood in the context of general gay scenes like jalakrida, panagoshthi, rasalila, etc. The motifs of animals and birds occur freely as favorites subjects with Indian painters.

When we consider the themes that have survived in painting like miniatures representing the Ramayana, Nalacharita, Bhagavata, contemporary court scenes and paintings portraying lovers, sringara cheshtas and the seasons, iconographic pictures and designs of decorative motifs, and animal and bird studies, all of the Mughal, Pahari and Rajasthani schools, which are comparatively recent, this continuous tradition of a hoary past becomes very clear. From general literature we know several interesting facts about chit rasalas. There were stationary ones located at a fixed spot, and those on wheels, which could be moved from one place to another, as mobile museums or travelling art galleries. The chit rasalas were perfumed to spread a fine aroma in the interior. The galleries were open in the evenings for enabling visitors to spend their time pleasantly there. This was also a place of diversion for lovers. In the sarad season the chitrasalas had a rush of visitors, and as it is well known that it is this part of the year in India which is the most pleasant, it is quite justified. Though the chit rasalas were repositories of art treasures, the other apartments of buildings were not bereft of decoration. Schools and libraries had paintings of Sarasvati. Vidyamandiras had paintings of Yamaloka. Even the sutika griha or the apartments for child-birth had pleasant pictures. The natyasala was another beautiful hall profusely decorated with pictures. But it is the chitrasala that was a perennial source of all the beauty that art could provide. The importance of the chitragriha as a vinodasthana and a kalasthana was fully realised. Naturally, with its own educative values, it had an important place in the life of a nagaraka.

Writer - C.Sivaramamurti

Childhood and Marriage of Mirabai

Posted by Art Of Legend India [dot] Com On 4:49 AM 0 comments

Childhood and Marriage

I got up from my reverie and, with tears in my eyes, entreated my mother once again to recite the tale of this saint and she began:

Born in Samvat 1557 in far-off Marwar, in the village Kurkhi, this princess of Chitor, forsaking the pomp and glory of the palaces, started IN THE QUEST OF THE FLUTE-PLAYER barefooted, to tread the path that led to the Abode of Eternal Bliss. In the forehead of the little child shone the signs of future greatness, as she rose up startled by the sound of the marriage procession that passed below the palace of her father, Rao Ratan Singh, and peeping through the barred windows of the balcony and seeing the child-bridegroom dressed artistically, this baby of five cried out "Mother, and where is my bridegroom?" The mother smiled at the innocence of the child. She seemed to have read in her broad forehead the future greatness of her simple babe and replied (pointing to the little lovely idol of Lord Krsna that stood in the temple and was so much loved by the child), "Giradhara Gopala is thy bridegroom." Since then Gopala became a subject of special fascination to her. All her discourses were about this beautiful image. All her time was spent in bathing and dressing it. She worshipped it. She slept with it on a deerskin. She danced about it. She sang to it lovely songs. Its joys were her joys, and, when a slight ray of gloom was witnessed by her on its bright forehead, that would make her weep for hours, till she again saw a clear smile on the face that would captivate her heart. To everybody it became known that this mad girl seemed to read the expression of this idol, and to hold conversation with the seemingly mute Krsna.

Painting of MirabaiThus passed some years in patiently wooing her Beloved. From her childhood, therefore, she could know of no other love but that for her dear This could not be tolerated by the conservative, custom-ridden family, which like others would permit no such display of fancy and would scoff at those paroxysms of devotion, and sneer at the flow of tears. In their eyes these visionary dreams had no place in the practical life of the household. They mocked at it, as they saw things from a different angle. They soon thought of a way to take the maniac out of her madness for the Lord and relieve her of the divine intoxication. Therefore messengers were dispatched and great pains taken to find out a husband suitable for the princess. The fateful day arrived when her daily worship was disturbed by the music of the drum, by feastings, feedings, and a variety of ceremonies; for, this was the bridal procession that had arrived at Ratan Singh's palace. Mira was married to the heir of the mighty State of Chitor the cynosure of all Rajapata eyes and a terror to the conquering Moghuls. The husband was the valiant Bhojaraja, the eldest son of Rana Samga, whose name is writ large for all time to come in the annals of Rajasthan as the solitary figure that would own allegiance to nobody, but would rather experience all the hardships of life and would walk bare-footed on the burning sands of Rajaputana, with his hungry princes at his side and the midday sun overhead, and would patiently watch even the last particle of loaf, prepared from the bark of a tree, being snatched away from the hands of the famished children. But he would not budge an inch from the traditions of the Rajaputas, who could never recognize Muslim suzerainty. It is these people that bore the banner of Rajaputa chivalry. It was this blood that ran in the veins of the family into which Mira BIT was married. The son, Bhojaraja, the husband of this little saint, had inherited all the martial qualities of his ancestors. Any general would be proud of the physical appearance he bore, the valiant qualities he possessed. The blood of these Rajaputas has been the pride of India. But martial qualities have no place in the sphere of love, where humility is the ideal, and the lowly alone can attain to the highest pedestal. Vanity has no place there and pride is an outcast. How could this marriage then prove to be a happy one! But blessed is Mira who left no stone unturned to please her husband and see that his mandates were obeyed. She tried to give him no occasion for offence. She stood out a sublime figure of a devoted wife, an ideal that could be the boast of any Hindu lady. But in her love for Lord Krsna she could accept no compromise.

Mirabai With Krishna
To her that was supreme over all duties spiritual, moral or temporal. There she stood adamant in her virgin glory, guarding her rights with meticulous care. Beyond what was necessary, she recognized no vagaries in life. After finishing her household work, she would feel that all the time was the Lord's, and then she would go to her temple where sat the joy of her heart, the little image of Lord Krsna and start in the company of one or two devotees the nightlong ecstatic dances before her Lord and sing songs to Him. In her ecstatic moments, witnessing this exuberance of the heart and complete effacement of the self, the Lord would Himself appear. The little lovely idol that sat mute would get up, clasp His devotee to the bosom, play the melodious tunes on the flute to her, and hold long discourses. This was Mira's joy. This was Mira's life. Mira was born for it. This was what Mira could not give up. But this frantic display of self-surrender and utter recklessness of form and formalities greatly irritated the mother-in-law and other ladies of her husband's family. The mother-in-law, after giving her the usual lectures on the code of married life, and telling her that the discharge of domestic duties alone could lead to domestic happiness as conceived by the worldly-minded, told the innocent bride to bow to the family idol of Durga, the image of Gaud, the goddess of Sakti. But the young consort was too imbued with love for her dear Krsna to think of any other love. With tears in her eyes, in abject humility she fell at the feet of the lady and through sobs broke out.

Mirabai Painting"Mother, this head has already been dedicated to the lotus-feet of  Giradhara Gopala. Forgive, mother, it can bow before no other god or goddess now. Mother, do not press me anymore. Your threats and coaxings leave me unmoved." The mother found the daughter-in-law adamantine in her resolve. Though in her heart of hearts she blessed the girl for her pious determination and fearless love for the Lord, yet, to keep up appearances and follow the trodden track of social rules she admonished the bride. This had no salutary effect on Mira. Then came the turn of Uda, the sister of Bhojaraja, to come and plead with her sister-in-law to give up her obstinacy and yield. Yield this is a horrible term to the devotees of the Lord. The strong reply that the little Mirã gave to her sister's scurrilous and offensive remarks soon aroused the wrath of Uda. She and her companions started a regular conspiracy against her to take her to task for her obstinacy and began to defame her. They went to Bhojaraja and told him that his wife held discourses with her paramours at dead of night in the temple. That they had themselves witnessed this tete-a-tete going on every night. That the Prince could convince himself by watching it for himself. That it was a matter for shame for the family and brought a great slur upon the fair name of Chitor that the wife of the heir-apparent should carry on such liaisons. The anger of the Prince knew no bounds, blood rushed to his cheeks, and, with a sword in his hand, he hurried into the apartments of his newly wedded wife to kill her and stop all these scandals. Mira fortunately was not in the room. The Prince was rushing like a maniac when some kinder soul came and pacified him, told him not to lose himself so soon, but should first satisfy himself of the truth of it, lest he may have cause to repent later on. He accepted the advice. He abandoned the idea for the time being and anxiously waited for the fateful hour of the night when he was to be called in to witness the love-scene.

Krishna and Mirabai
At dead of night the girls came to call the Prince, and provoked him by saying, "Shame on the family whose ladies carry on such love-intrigues. Go now and satisfy yourself of the daily nocturnal movements of your wife, who pretends to be a great lover of the Lord and who, in spite of the repeated requests of mother, would not bow to the goddess Sakti." The Prince rushed to the temple unable to control his passion any longer and there he found Mira fully absorbed in making her confessions of love to her Divine Beloved and making complete surrenders. Before Mira could finish her sentences he broke open the door and rushed towards her; but he was completely stunned when he saw no one else but Mira seated in an ecstatic mood, completely unperturbed by the entrance of the intruder and absorbed in conversing with the little idol that stood before her. But the eyes of the Prince could not discern the Lord behind the mask that He wore, screened as they were by the veil of Maya. He saw nothing else but the Idol. He caught hold of Mira and asked her with whom she was conversing. Mira, strong in the strength of her Beloved smiled, looked up to him and said, "See for yourself." He cried, "Show me thy lover. I am athirst for his blood." Pointing to the little image in the front, she said, "There He sits; shatter Him to pieces, if you can; there is the Eternal One who has always been stealing the butter of the Gopis in Vraja, sometimes stealing their clothes as they went down to bathe. But more than all He has stolen my heart and gives it not back. But I do not complain of it; for, therein lies my solace. See how He smiles at His mischief! No, He again assumes the old grim face. Beloved! smile once more as You smiled of yore ! Ah no, He feels I have given myself up to the Prince. No dear, no. Wait. Oh wait. Why are You parting so early? Pray, wait … (and Mira fainted away)." This was a queer experience for the prince, who hurried away. The other girls who had followed him stood aghast, and began to see things in a different light altogether. It was an unusual experience to them. Uda ran to kiss her sister-in-law the fainted Mira; but she was deterred from within; for, it was she who was partly responsible for the accusations against this goddess of piety in human form. The girls could not read the mind of the Prince as he left the place.

Henceforward the Prince felt that his wife had gone mad, and so he did not for some time trouble himself with the affair. But the world saw this through the eyes of scandal, and rumour went round that Mira had started mixing freely with the Sadhus, and various were the motives assigned to the act by dame rumour. But Mira was careless of these ignoble talks that were the topic of the day; unaffected she would go on singing her old song:—
  "Now none else but Him can I claim
                     as my own.
I forsook my father and my mother and
                  all those that were dear to me.
 In the company of the Sadhus I
 sacrificed my world and my modesty.
 I rushed to meet a saint when one
                                      Crossed my path
With tears I nourished the everlasting,
                                            Creeper of love.
In my search I met the deliverers-
The Saint and the Holy name.
 Thenceforward the Name within and the
 Saint overhead have lighted my path
To the Lord, the servant Mirã has
                              Consigned herself.   
What cares she for the rumours that be
                           Current all round.!”  

She continued to mix freely with the Sadhus. The Prince, seeing her resolve as adamantine as ever, gave up his militant attitude, and got a temple especially constructed for her to carry on her devotional practices.

The news of the devotion of Mira for Krsna spread far and wide, so much so that the Emperor Akabara and his chief musician Tanasena were seized with the desire of seeing the wife of the heir-apparent of Mewar, whose songs, it was rumoured, were so full of genuine devotion for the Lord that He Himself appeared. They strongly yearned to hear the songs sung by Mira herself. But, fearing their lives were not secure in case they went in state, they disguised themselves as mendicants, and started incognito for Chitor. After a long journey, at last, they came to the temple of Mira, where her Idol sat mute and glorious, and bowed before the seat where Mira sat in devotion before her Lord. The new arrivals were transfixed at seeing the delicate, innocent and smiling face of the child of God, which seemed to welcome the new entrants and to shower her blessings upon them. Akabara would have rushed to prostrate himself at the feet of the devotee and disclosed his disguise; but he was kept back by Tanasena, who told him it would mean death to them if strict secrecy was not maintained about their identity. The Emperor then sat silently. As the devotees sat round Mira, she started singing her songs. When the moment arrived, she jumped up and started her ecstatic dances. The scene was so much enlivened that for the time being everyone forgot himself and saw divine shafts of light shooting forth from the idol and encircling Mira in a halo. Fragrance spread throughout. Some lost their consciousness, seeing Mira at the height of her emotions fall flat on the ground, absorbed in divine consciousness. When Mira recovered and wanted to go away after the day's prayers were over, Akabara rose from his seat and, with folded hands, approached Mira and entreated her to accept a little present of a necklace. Mira refused, saying that a servant of the Lord needs nothing and asks from nobody except the Lord Himself. But the Emperor humbly insisted, saying that it was an offering made at the lotus feet of the Lord Krsna, whose image stood before him, and that she should not refuse it. The name of Krsna this was the strongest and the weakest point in Mira made her thoughtful. When the thing came in the name of the Lord, she could say nothing but accept it. The necklace therefore lay at the feet of the idol. The Emperor, however, left the place with a heavy heart, steeped in reverence and love for the Lord. It was a great experience for the Emperor, and such occurrences were responsible for the tolerant nature and liberal views of the great Moghul. He was a great success in uniting the various factions; but, whatever the theologians may say, he failed in the domain of religion and spirituality. The reason is clear. He sought to reap by the sickle of knowledge the fruits of Devotion and wanted to experience with his intellect the divine thrills which are the very life of a lover of God. No such experiences and interpretations could lighten his path. He remained the Emperor, no doubt, of the green fertile fields of India that yielded fodder to the animals and nurtured the drosser element in man, the body. He could not reign over the human heart; for its king sits on a subtler seat and obtains that position as the result of a different kind of training, which is the outcome of years of penance, not the penance of body but that of desires. When humility becomes enthroned in the heart, then alone the goal is reached.

Mirabai Handing Bowl of PoisonWhen the news spread that the strangers of yesterday were the Emperor Akabara and his musician, Tanasena, and that the Emperor touched the feet of the blessed Mira, Prince Bhojaraja could not restrain himself any longer. Burning with anger, the words shot forth from his mouth like fire : "Could a Muslim dare approach a Rajaputa lady, even to make an offering and leave the soil of Rajaputana safe ! Fie on Rajaputas, who heard the news and did not take revenge!" The Rana could not thenceforth tolerate her living in a separate temple. He was determined to remove her from the world. He therefore went to Mira and severely reprimanded her for having permitted a Muslim to enter the temple. "Drown thyself in some river", he exclaimed, "and henceforth never show thy face to the world. Thou hast brought the greatest blot on the fair name of Rajaputana by allowing a Moghul to touch thy feet. Thou canst not deny the truth of it; for lo! there is the proof of it the necklace."

Sufficient for the day was the tragedy thereof. The mischief was done. Rajasthan was to lose her glory forever. The only divine being in it started on her pilgrimage of Love to the distant regions where diviner elements reigned, and for which holy mission the Creator had sent her a messenger. With the mandate of her lord she started, like a pilgrim bound on the errand of Love, which needed the sacrifice of her life.

Writer - Bankey Behari

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