A dancing Krishna

Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj Vastu Sangrahalaya has organised an exhibition, When Krishna Dances that showcases the Hindu deity, Krishna, as a performer or a dancer who is portrayed in both Indian Classical and Folk art

“Usually, Shiva is considered as the lord of dance, also known as Nataraj. But there are several mentions of Krishna as a dancing figure in our literature and art as well. And it is this concept of Natvar Krishna, the dancer and the actor that I wanted to explore through art in this exhibition,” explains Dr Harsha Dehejia, the curator of the exhibition, titled When Krishna Dances.

Bronze sculpture of Krishna
Bronze sculpture of Krishna

The concept of Natvar Krishna is seen in several stories and scenes from the life of the deity on earth, such as ones where the gopis or the female cow herders would dance with Krishna when he played tunes on his flute, (known as Krishna Leela) or when he performs the tandav on the hood of the mythical vicious snake Kaliya to remove him from the river Jamuna.

Chamba (Himachal Pradesh) Rumaal, late 19th century
Chamba (Himachal Pradesh) Rumaal, late 19th century

Dehejia, an expert in the field of ancient Indian culture — especially Krishna art — explains that Krishna is depicted in various forms of art in different regions all over India. For instance, Krishna is also depicted dancing to different ragas of Indian Classical music, such as Raga Vasanta to usher in the spring and Raga Malhar to welcome the rain.

Thus, the exhibition at CSMVS will showcase the depiction of the Hindu deity through more than 50 pieces of art, several of which come from Dehejia’s personal collection. “There are several references of Krishna Leelas and Kridas in a variety of art forms — be it bronze sculptures, painted cloth, leather paintings or even embroidery.” Outlining the vision behind this exhibition, he continues, “With this exhibition, I mainly wanted to explore classical Indian art but have also included pieces that are semi folk such as the Pichwai paintings (which are used as both a backdrop to an idol and worshipped on their own),” he explains.

Till: December 2014, 10.15 am to 6 pm
At: Krishna Gallery, CSMVS, Fort.
Call: 22844484

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