Overview for The Great Mysore Bhāgavata: Complete Study of a Manuscript from the Binney Collection in The San Diego Museum of Art
This book from Mysore, stands out, not only because of the splendour of its illustrations but also because it engages with that great and sacred text, the Bhagāvata Purāna, in a manner that is completely different from almost anything else that one sees.
There are leaps of imagination here that take one’s breath away, and the episodes picked up by its great but unnamed illustrators are explored in dense, brilliant detail. At each step the painters seem to have been aware of the importance of the text itself. For the Purāna they were engaging with has a very special place in the heart of devotees, there being the belief that the Bhagāvata ‘is equal in status to the Veda’.
The scope of the volume is restricted to the second half of the Tenth Book of the Purāna . Here the city of Dwarka is founded, a fierce contest with the bear king Jambavana is fought; the Khandava forest is burnt down, the great fortress of Narakasura is vanquished, the city of Hastinapura is dragged to the waters, great pilgrimages are undertaken, hordes of enslaved princes are freed, Shishupala is slain, Jarasandha is riven. Wide-eyed, one sees wonders piling upon majestic wonders.
B. N. Goswamy (Author)
B.N. Goswamy, a distinguished art historian, is Professor Emeritus of Art History at Panjab University, Chandigarh. His work covers a wide range of subjects, and is regarded, especially in the area of Indian painting, as having influenced most thinking. He has been the recipient of many honours, including the Jawaharlal Nehru Fellowship, the Rietberg Award for Outstanding Research in Art History, the JDR III Fellowship, the Mellon Senior Fellowship and, from the President of India, Padma Shri (1998) and Padma Bhushan (2008). Apart from Panjab University, Professor Goswamy has taught, as Visiting Professor, in major universities across the world, and has been responsible for significant exhibitions of Indian art at international venues, including Paris, San Francisco, Zurich, New Delhi, San Diego, and New York. He is the author of over twenty-five books on Indian art and culture, including Pahari Painting: The Family as the Basis of Style (1968); Painters at the Sikh Court: A Study Based on Twenty Documents (1975); A Place Apart: Paintings from Kutch (1983); The Essence of Indian Art (1986); Wonders of a Golden Age: Painting at the Courts of the Great Mughals (1987); Pahari Masters: Court Painters of Northern India (with E. Fischer, 1992); Indian Costumes in the Calico Museum of Textiles (1993); Nainsukh of Guler: A great Indian Painter from a small Hill State (1997); Domains of Wonder: Selected Masterworks of Indian Painting (with C. Smith, 2005); and, more recently, The Spirit of Indian Painting: Close Encounters with 100 Great Works (2014, 2016) and Pahari Paintings: The Horst Metzger Collection in the Museum Rietberg (with E. Fischer, 2018).