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Krishna Tales-Urdu

A67) Krishna tales

Illuminated manuscript on paper written in Urdu language and elegant n_a_s_t_a_l_iq__calligraphy, coming from Kashmir, to be dated most likely at the late XVIII or beginning of XIX century.

This huge text is composed by 496 pages, lavishly embellished by 186 beautiful miniatures with plentiful use of gold, silver and vivid polychromy as well, in the typical kashmiri painting style.

The average page dimensions are of mm. ca. 204/206 x 116/118, while text panel's dimensions swing between mm. ca. 144/151 x 84/88. The frontispiece folium, though, decorated by a rich multicoloured rug-shaped s_a_r_l_a_w_h, shows, along with some both human and divine illuminated figures, a somewhat wider bigger panel: mm. 175 x 91.Starting from page 3, the manuscript's outer margins are filled with another text, both in black and red ink, written in Persian language. This latter text is neither a translation into Persian nor a Persian comment on the Urdu text, but a different text instead, having nothing to do with the main one. The manuscript is written in black ink, except for the most important termes, the section titles of the Persian text and the technical terms of hindu poetry, s_ak_hT_and ca_w_p_ai, that are marked in red ink. Binding with blind tooled and gold decorations, restored.

The manuscript, albeit complete and provided with a short colophon, does not disclose any valuable informations about its history, such as the title of the work, date and place of composition, scribe's or customer's name(s) or any other data. Totally absent are bequest or ownership statements as well.

The heading inscribed in the title block just below the unwan-like upper part of the sarlawh in the frontispiece folium says: A_u_m_,__S_(_i_)_r_i_G_a_n_e_say_a__n_a_m_a_h_, which means 0_m, g_l_o_r_y a_n_d s_a_l_u_t_e_ t_o__ t_h_e D_i_v_i_n_e_ _G_a_ne_sa_!_, introductory greeting that was commonplace in letters, manuscripts or even trivial documents within hindu cultural environment.

The Urdu manuscript text undoubtedly deals with the sacred deeds of the young god Krsna (Krishna, lit.: "the Black skinned" in sanskrit language: that is why the god is to be seen invariably depicted as a handsome youth with blue or violet complexion, more rarely utterly black). Krishna is the most famous a_v_a_t_ar_a__(lit.: "descent": "personification") of one of the three most important hindu deities: Visnu. As a mighty hero of the hindu epic, Krsna's life is praised since his childhood and education: in many miniatures he is to be seen as a small child, and the narration of this manuscript handles some of the god-hero's most renowned deeds.

Some example:

- miniature n. 70 (p. 117 r.) shows Krsna lifting the G_o_v_a_r_d_h_a_n_a_ _hill;

- miniature 76 (p. 131 |.): the god is playing his flute, named V_e_nu_g_o_p_al_a_, in front of an enjoyable assembly of g_op_is (sacred young shepherdesses);

- miniature 79 (p. 143 r.): Krsna is happily dancing along with the g_op_Ts_;

- miniature 85 (p. 160 r.) he kills the horse-demon named Kesi;

- miniature 89 (p. 170 I.) Krsna hugs his mortal brother Balarama while they're attending the milking of the holy cow;

- miniature 116 (p. 268 r.) Krsna is facing a warrior wielding a huge scimitar,

and so on.

Within the virtually infinite iconographic set concerning the god Krsna, he is depicted from time to time as a toddler sparkling with divine power and wisdom (what was previously  known to his human parents, Vasudeva e Devaki); as a divine cow shepherd, guardian of the Vrmdavana rural community along with his brother Balarama; as a carefree flute-player in joyful love with the beautiful g_op_is_; as a cultural hero, setting villages and communities free from natural damages like monsters, as is the case of the killing of serpent Kaliya, that polluted the pure waters of the holy river Yamuna with its poisoning drool, or even divine threats, as in the case of the Govardhana hill miracle. On the other hand, many a miniature represent the black god notably as a crowned prince and as a skilled politician, painted while is working out some truce or arbitration between two opposite large, powerful clans of cousins that went at war: the mighty families of the Pandavas and the Kauravas, whose Via Stradelli Guelfi 2 - 40064 Ozzano dell’Emilia (Bo) tel 0516511029 - giuseppe.solmi@tin.it -

P.1.02077441208

bloody clashes (the so-called battle of Kuruksetra) will end up to become the main narrative topic of the most famous and significant Sanskrit epic poem: the

M_ah_a_b_h_ar_a_t_a_.