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Krishna subduing the serpent Kaliya

This Pahari painting in Mandi style is based on an episode described in the great Indian scripture, The Bhagavata Purana. It celebrates Krishna’s subjugation of Kaliya, a serpent, whose venom was so powerful that it polluted the water of the river Kalindi (Yamuna) and rendered it unfit for use. Even the birds that flew over the river fell dead. In order to vanquish the serpent, Krishna jumps into the river and engages the serpent in a terrible fight at the end of which Krishna stands on the numerous hoods of the serpent and dances till its body is shattered. The wives of Kaliya try to placate Krishna by singing hymns and offering floral garlands, at which Krishna spares Kaliya’s life but banishes him from the Yamuna. 

This miniature painting from Mandi, India, dated around A.D. 1800 appears to be the work of the Kangra artist Sajnu and is an impressive example of Pahari art.