Pahari Paintings of an Ancient Romance: The Love Story of Usha-Aniruddha
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Short DescriptionsThe book exhibits paintings which depict an ancient love story of India involving Krishna’s grandson Aniruddha and Banasura’s daughter Usha. Depiction of Garuda’s narration of the story to Krishna, Balarama and Pradyumna during their battle with Banasura, and the Pahari kalam of painter Ranjha create lyrical romantic scenes and gory battles with equal ease.
Among ancient love stories of India, that of Usha-Aniruddha has a pride of place. Being a part of various Puranas such as the Harivamsha, Bhagavata and Vishnu Puranas it acquires a sacrality and legitimacy. We are privy to the interaction of all the three gods, namely Vishnu, Shiva and Brahma. The highlight of the story is the romantic involvement of Krishsa’s grandson Aniruddha and Banasura’s daughter Usha. Between scenes of a pitched battle between Banasura and Krishna, where a mighty demon and his army battle with Krishna, Balarama and Pradyumna and interspersed with long conversations with Garuda, the narrative takes us to tender scenes of romance as well as a bird’s-eye view of Shonitpur and Dvaraka. The Puranic narrative is brought alive by the graceful Pahari kalam of Ranjha, son of Nainsukh, who renders the story with finesse and precision and creates lyrical romantic scenes and gory battles with equal ease. The book brings together for the first time the entire series from the Bhuri Singh Museum of Chamba in Himachal Pradesh but also features folios from other museums and private collections as well as a critical look at the painter and the patron of this series. The book is a visual treat.