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Krishna on a Banyan Leaf

Devangana Desai (Author)

I am happy to say that this is the first book written on the subject of Vatapatrashayi. The interlude between the Dissolution and the Recreation of the Universe is a silent moment when the whole cosmos is at rest. It is the moment before the 'big bang' or the start of 'time'. Lord Vishnu sleeps like a spider that has drawn the thread back into itself. In the form of a child, he rests on a leaf floating in the ocean after completing the miraculous act of swallowing the Universe for its safe keeping. Only sage Markandeya, who has the boon of immortality, lives roaming endlessly in the universe inside the body of Vishnu. There have been some articles written on this theme of the Divine Child reclining on the banyan leaf. An important article on the myth was written by Adalbert J Gail, "Krsna on the banyan leaf (vatapatra-sayana)" in 2014, in Pandanus 14, Nature in Literature, Art, Myth and Ritual, Vol. 8.i. I have published three articles on the subject: (1) "The Lord on the Leaf", in the Felictation Volume to Prof. B. N. Goswamy, in 2014; (2) "Vatapatrasayi: Lord of the Banyan Leaf in Temple Sculpture" in Prasadanidhi, Papers Presented to Professor M.A. Dhaky, in 2016; and (3) "Sage Markandeya and the Divine Child in the 17th century Illustrated Manuscripts" in the Research Journal of the Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj Vastu Sangrahalaya (CSMVS), No. 2, 2017. The leitmotif of this book of Bala-Mukunda or Krishna as a child, lying on a banyan leaf, leads me to happy memories. Even as a child I used to be guided by my parents to recite the well known stuti: kararavindena padaravindam mukharavinde.. .. .. .. .., for my morning prayers. In the thirties, my uncle Dharamdas Kothari commissioned at Nathdvara a painting of the child Krishna reclining on a banyan leaf and the sage Markandeya praying to the divinity (Fig. IV.18). The painting used to hang on the wall of our Worli house in Mumbai. My sister Malti liked it and later took it to her room. I used to admire this painting. After Malti's death in 1985, I brought it to my home and since then seeing it daily. It has inspired me to work on this subject of Vatapatrashayi. I have collected material on it since some years. Now it has taken the form of this monograph. It is befitting that I dedicate this monograph with deep affection to the memory of my uncle, Dharamdas Kothari, and of my sister, Malti Kothari.

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About the author

Devangana Desai

Dr. Devangana Desai was born in 1937 in Bombay. An academic training both in Philosophy and Sociology roused in her a keen interest in the Sociology of Art and Religion. Her Ph.D. dissertation submitted in 1970 to the University of Bombay forms the basis of the present book. She has to her credit a large number of papers on Ancient Indian Terracottas, Temple Art and Architecture, and Ramayana scenes in Indian sculpture. Dr. Desai was awarded the Silver Medal of the Asiatic Society of Bombay (1977) for her contribution to oriental research. She received the Homi Bhabha Fellowship in 1978-1980 and worked on “Narration in Indian Sculpture (upto AD 1300)”. She has participated in several national and international seminars of Art History including the “Discourses on Siva” Symposium convened by the University of Pennsylvania at Philadelphia in 1981, and the “Destiny of Man” Seminar held during the Festival of India in Britain in 1982. She was awarded the prestigious Dadabhai Naoroji Memorial Prize in 1983 for her research in Indian Art. Dr. Desai is the Editor of the Journal of the Asiatic Society of Bombay and Chairman of the Museum Society of Bombay.

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Bibliographic information

Title Krishna on a Banyan Leaf
Format Hardcover
Date published: 31.12.2019
Edition 1st ed.
Language: English
isbn 9788173056284
length 101p., Through out Color and b/w Illustrations; 9.00 X 9.00cm.