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November 07, 2017


Krishna/Arjun, God/Man, Eternity/Time, Painting/Song: Reading Some Miniature Paintings about The Gita from Mewar (1680-1698), to be delivered by The Eminent Literary Scholar, Prof. Alok Bhalla.

On Thursday, November 23rd, 2017 - Time: 5:30 p.m. Venue: Lecture Hall, Lalbhai Dalpatbhai Museum, Lalbhai Dalpatbhai Institute of Indology Campus, Nr. Gujarat University, Ahmedabad

This talk is a critical reading of selected Gita miniatures from a collection of 570 paintings from Mewar. These miniature paintings are unprecedented in Indian art history. This set of folios itself is part of about 5500 illustrations of the Mahabharata painted in 1680-94 and commissioned by Rana Jai Singh. The artist was, perhaps, Allah Baksh. The Mewari translation of each verse is by Pandit Kisandas. The paintings of the Mahabharata are horizontal indicating the story's movement from a mythic beginning to a cataclysmic end. The Gita paintings are vertical (size 37/24 cm). The Gita does not offer a linear argument which moves logically towards a conclusion, but is a visionary break in the Mahabharata's narrative of time, change and suffering. For the artist every shloka is a unique revelation requiring its own visual image. He has no scholarly compulsion to isolate one verse as the Gita's 'essence' offering an unambiguous answer to Arjuna's fundamental question: How should we live?

Prof. Alok Bhalla, former Professor of English at Central Institute of English and Foreign Languages, Hyderabad. He is a scholar, translator and poet. His publications include The Cartographers of Hell: Essay on the Gothic Novel and the Social History of England (1991); The Politics of Atrocity and Lust: The Vampire Tale and the Social History of England in the 19th Century (1991), Stories about the Partition of India (4 volumes), Partition Dialogues: Memories of a Lost Home (2006); The place of Translation in a Literary Habitat (2003).

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Nr. Gujarat University, Navarangpura
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