Kaliya (Chromolithograph)

This is a depiction of Krishna dancing on the hoods of the serpent, Kaliya, in the water of the Yamuna river. The main figures are flanked by Kaliya’s wives seeking mercy.

The story. Kaliya and his family moved to the Yamuna to escape Garuda. Their presence in the river poisoned it. When Krishna and cowherds came to the Yamuna, some of the cowherds drank river water and died.  Krishna jumped into the water and danced on Kaliya’s hood. The above is the scene of Kaliya getting subdued and his wives begging for forgiveness. Kaliya’s sin being poisoning the waters of Yamuna. Krishna forgives Kaliya and sends him along with his family to an island where they will not harm others.

This is one of the stories where the coexistence with nature is emphasized and it follows the Hindu tradition of nurturing and worshipping nature.

The second point to note is how close the form of Krishna and Kaliya are matched between a bronze in my collection and in this lithograph depiction. Follow the body of Kaliya, I did and it surprised me.

Incidentally the wind musical instrument Krishan is holding in his lower right hand is Pungi, used by snake charmers in Indian subcontinent.

The chromolithograph is from Raja Ravi Varma Press. It may be dated tot he early part of the twentieth century. The chromolithographs is about 33 by 24 cm.


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