Exhibitions/ Art Object

Krishna Subduing Kaliya, the Snake Demon: Folio from a Bhagavata Purana Series

First generation after Manaku and Nainsukh
ca. 1785
Northern India, Garwhal, Himachal Pradesh
Opaque watercolor and ink on paper
8 x 10 1/2 in. (20.3 x 26.7 cm)
Credit Line:
Rogers Fund, 1927
Accession Number:
Not on view
In this celebrated scene vividly described in the Bhagavata Purana, Krishna battles Kaliya, a hundred-headed serpent (naga) who was poisoning the river Yamuna. At first, Krishna was ensnared in the demon’s mighty coils, but he sprang free by summoning the power of the universe and trapping the snake beneath his foot. The snake submitted to Krishna’s supreme powers and the river was purified. Kaliya’s wives, seen here with serpent bodies, pleaded with Krishna to show mercy to their husband, which he granted. The dramatic composition foregrounds the beauty and power of Krishna to restore order in the world of men.
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