Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj Vastu Sangrahalaya

Vishnu as Narayana

Illustration to Vishnu Purana

Pahari, Kangra

c. 1790 CE

Acc No 92.25

The painting narrates an episode from Vishnu Purana, establishing Krishna as an incarnation of Vishnu. According to the story, there was a time when the earth was overburdened with demons. One amongst them was demon Kalnemi who was reborn as Kansa, the king of Mathura. The earth, then taking the form of a cow went to the gods. All of them, including Brahma and Indra then went to Vishnu for help. Vishnu assured the gods that he will descend on earth once again and destroy the demons.

The painting depicts Vishnu and Lakshmi seated on the coils of polycephalous Ananta in the midst of Kshirasagara. Four-faced Brahma along with Indra and other gods are standing in the right corner with a white cow representing the earth. The milky ocean is depicted by aquatic animals floating on the waves. The green grassy area around the ocean suggests the earth.

This theme was mainly popular with the Pahari painters.