Lalbhai Dalpatbhai Museum
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New on Display at L.D. Museum - Kasturbhai Lalbhai Collection
January 31, 2016
New on Display at L.D. Museum - Kasturbhai Lalbhai Collection
We are delighted to announce the display of new Painting after conservation in the Kasturbhai Lalbhai Collection: Pushtimargi Bhitar ki Baithak (temple) at Gokul, Water Colour on Paper, Rajasthani School, 18th century A.D. (Inscribed: Shri Hari, Shri Gokul ki Veth.. (Baithak) Bhitar ki
According to K.K. Shastri's biography of Vallabhacharya, there were three baithaks in Gokul. It is a pleasant surprise to find that the second baithak was known as 'bhitar ki badi baithak', which nomenclature when tallied with the inscription on KLC.1840, corroborates that this painting represents the particular baithak at Gokul. This baithak was the venue of Vallabhacharya's katha recitation and also where he had his meals. A miracle was performed here by Vallabhacharya when the mahants of Vrindavan intended to test him. Once Shyamananda had been sent with a Saligram hidden in purse. Gokul was also the seat of Shri Gokulnathaji, one of the seven svarupas of Shrinathaji. Vithalnathaji had set up the worship of the seven icons at seven different places. We presume that the artist visualized the portrait of Vallabhacharya perhaps accepting the tradition set up by his predecessors. Although there is supposed to exist an early image of the pushtimargi founder, but in general he is not represented so frequently in the pictorial repertoire of the Vallabhacharya school of paintings. The religious teacher is depicted with a solemn expression while his hair are tied in a knot at the back of his head. He sports a thin moustache and whiskers. Here, it will be relevant to mention the pushtimargii belief that the authentic portrait of Vallabhacharya was delineated by Honhar, who was Shahjahan's court artist. He in turn could have based his likeness of Mahaprabhuji on the painting created by an Akbar period Hindu artist. The Kishangarh raja Rup Singh had obtained the portrait image from the Mughal Emperor who was impressed by the Rajput warrior's valour. This is the icon believed to be installed in the royal temple at Kishangarh. However, it is not possible to ascertain if the rather occasional depictions of Vallabhacharya's likeness are derived from this contemporary portrait. One scholar who has quoted the description of the painting from Pushtimargi text, at least it is clear that Vallabhacharya was of rather dark complexion, which is quite unlike how he is portrayed by the Nathadvara artists. In our painting which is under discussion, Vallabhacharya is rendered with dark complexion. Overall, it is interesting to observe how the artist of this folio wished to focus on the spiritual activities carried out in the interior space. For further details we welcome you all to observe the significant discovery in the context of its association with the Pushtimarga as so far such kind of painting has not come to light.
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Lalbhai Dalpatbhai Museum
Nr. Gujarat University, Navarangpura
Ahmedabad - 380009 Gujarat, INDIA
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