Tuesday, April 03, 2007

The Bhagavata Purana

Bhagavata scroll - 17th century

Bhāgavatam - silk/paper scroll

Indian Purana scroll - Bhāgavatam

scroll about Krishna and Vishnu

17th century scroll - Bhāgavatam

silk and paper Indian scroll

Indian Hindu scroll from 17th century

Sacred Bhāgavatam scroll

Bhagavata Purana depicted in silk and paper scroll

Hindu deities from Bhagavata Purana

Bhagavata Purana illuminated scroll from 1600s

Text and miniatures from Bhagavata Purana

Text/deity figures from sacred Hindu Bhagavata Purana

Hindu religious figures from 17th century illuminated manuscript

Deities from Hindu religion - Bhagavata Purana

Bhagavata Purana - sacred 17th century Hindu religious manuscript

The vast and exceedingly complex body of work that constitute the Hindu scriptures consists, in the most simplistic terms, of the ancient Vedas (rituals, mantras, hymns); the Upanishads (spiritual interpretation of the Vedas); the post-Vedic literature (including such epics as the Ramayana and the Mahabharata); the Bhagavad Gita or Divine Song (a kind of practical guide to life); and the Puranas (mythological tales about the origins of the world, culture and deities).

The Bhagavata Purana concerns itself with the exploits of the Hindu god Vishnu in his various incarnations (avatars), and particularly as Krishna. It records a dialogue between a King who has 7 days left to live and a Saint who agrees to teach the King about the meaning of life. The purpose of the Bhagavata Purana is to enable a person to overcome the fear of death by the process of bhakti yoga - the spiritual practice of cultivating a loving devotion to the Supreme God-of-Gods.

The images above come from a 45 feet long, 17th century silk-paper illuminated scroll, which is obviously mounted in a wooden box. This sacred Bhagavata Purana scroll is hosted by the Rylands Library at the University of Manchester - it employs a LunaInsight browser arrangement [search on 'hinduism']. I've posted about 2/3 of the available images and the details above are all spliced screencaps - click on the images for larger versions.


Karla said...

I have rarely seen such a cheerful-looking depiction of disembowelment (then again, how many images of this have I seen? fortunately rather few), or for that matter dismemberment. I wonder whether reading the texts mentioned would prompt this sort of remarkable calm, or if I am just not ready for it in this lifetime... (have not been educated in bhakti yoga)

Note: I am glad to see that, as I might have expected, the word "simplistic" is used properly in this post. For some reason my students love to use this word when they really mean "simple," so I have developed an unfortunate pedantic obsession about its use. (It's much more fun when they're psychotic or on drugs and write about how the pyramids have clerestory windows in order to keep the light out.)

Ced said...

this blog is great !
eclectic, cultivé, rich, amazing, a kid of cabinet des curiosités. thank's for this great work.

MeganH said...

I've copied down the first image, with the intent of reproducing it one day - gorgeous!

Anonymous said...

How can Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam (Bhāgavata-Purāṇa) be a 'hindu' scripture when it was compiled over 4,000 years before the British invented 'hinduism'? The word 'hindu' does not appear anywhere in the Vedas; it is a Persian racial slur. The British wanted to undermine the spiritual basis of Vedic culture, so they lumped all the local religions together under the label of 'hinduism'. If you doubt this, Google 'British created hinduism.'

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