In the form of a map, this shrine hanging presents important moments in Krishna’s life. He appears as an infant, a playful child, a flirtatious young man and a protective hero. The places shown are major pilgrimage destinations for the Vallabha Hindu sect. Such paintings are displayed during the annual Vraja pilgrimage festival. Devotees unable to travel can attain religious merit by viewing the images and taking a mental rather than physical journey.
Krishna was born to oppose his uncle, the demon-king Kamsa. He survived infancy by living incognito in a cow-herding village. In the cluster of buildings near the painting’s centre, divine newborn Krishna appears before his parents. Below, Krishna’s father carries his son across the river, protected by a serpent and tiger.
Text © National Gallery of Australia, Canberra 2011
From: Asian gallery extended display label