Exhibitions/ Art Object

Chaitanya Dances in Ecstasy

Object Name:
Single work
Date:
ca. 1750
Geography:
Attributed to India, Kishangarh, Rajsathan
Medium:
Opaque watercolor on paper
Classification:
Codices
Credit Line:
Promised Gift of the Kronos Collections, 2015
Not on view
Chaitanya was an early sixteenth century Indian saint from Bengal. He is venerated by
followers of the Gaudiya sect of Vaishnavism, who revere him as an East Indian incarnation of
the god Krishna, an earthly representative of the god Vishnu. “(Chaitanya) was one of the
holy men who developed the practice of bhakti, personal devotion to God of so emotional a
character as to be akin to conjugal love.” [Stuart Cary Welch, Indian Drawings and Painted
Sketches (New York: The Asia Society, 1976), pg. 122}
In this thinly painted work, Chaitanya is dancing in a puddle of his own tears. He is the
focus of a circle of ecstatic devotees, some with musical instruments, who have joined his
thumping dance. This circle includes five of his followers who later became either bhakti saints
or theologians. These five were responsible for systematizing and popularizing Chaitanya’s
message throughout India; their names are neatly inscribed on the surface of this picture in
Hindi.
A brush drawing of the same subject in the National Museum, New Delhi, (Welch, op. cit.
no. 69) was the obvious model for this work. Inasmuch as the former court of Kishangarh was a
major center of worship of Krishna (or of Chaitanya, his incarnation), it is not surprising this
picture was made there.
Inscription: Inscribed on the surface of the painting in Rajasthani written in devanagari script, identifying certain figures: Sri Mahaprabhuji [Chaitanya], Sivananda, Sri[?] Rupa Gusain,
___, Murari Guptaji, Haridas Thakur, Mukunda, Srinivasa, Nityanandaprabhu and ___ pandit
Ramesh Kapoor 1999

The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "Divine Pleasures: Painting from India's Rajput Courts - The Kronos Collection," June 13, 2016–September 11, 2016.