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The Hindu deities Krishna and Satyabhama riding Garuda
Place of Origin: India, Rajasthan state, former kingdom of Bundi
Date: approx. 1760
Materials: Opaque watercolors on paper
Dimensions: H. 8 5/8 in x W. 6 in, H. 22.1 cm x W. 15.1 cm
Credit Line: Gift of Mr. and Mrs. George Hopper Fitch
Department: South Asian Art
Collection: Painting
Object Number: B84D3
On Display: No

Description

Label:

Here Krishna rides the splendid Garuda, frequently described as king of the birds. The two share qualities of immense strength, courage, and wisdom. Garuda is depicted as part eagle and part man and is shown with Vishnu in many forms. Krishna, being an incarnation of Vishnu, is also seen riding Garuda.

Many Hindu gods and goddesses have a vehicle (vahana), an animal that serves the deity as a mount. These animals, mighty beings in their own right, possess qualities shared in some ways by their corresponding gods. For example, Shiva rides the bull Nandi, a symbol of the god's masculine power and sexuality. Shiva, the greatest of all ascetics, also rides the bull in the sense of controlling that unbridled energy. Certain half-animal gods, such as the elephant-headed Ganesha, also have animal vehicles. Ganesha is revered as the remover of obstacles, and similarly, his rat companion has the ability and nimbleness of wit to get through any hindrance.


More Information

Additional Label:

The goddess here riding with Krishna on his mount (the splendid Garuda, a part-eagle/part-man mythical being), is Krishna’s second wife Satyabhama, mentioned in the Bhagavata Purana (stories associated with Vishnu). Considered in some traditions to be an incarnation of the earth goddess Bhu Devi and described as a jewel among women for her beauty and virtuousness, Satyabhama helped Krishna defeat a powerful demon named Naraka.

It is often not easy to determine the identity of a specific goddess if there are no particular distinguishing attributes. On seeing a blue-skinned god with a female companion, one could expect the figures to be Vishnu and Lakshmi or Rama and Sita (Radha would not appear on Garuda because she is Krishna’s human beloved and not a goddess). In such cases, one needs to return to textual sources. Numerous stories about the gods are recounted in different bodies of religious literature, and in the Bhagavata Purana we find the story about Krishna and Satyabhama riding on Garuda.

(Object label from Worshiping Women: Power and Devotion in Indian Painting.)


Label:

Here Krishna rides the splendid Garuda, frequently described as king of the birds. The two share qualities of immense strength, courage, and wisdom. Garuda is depicted as part eagle and part man and is shown with Vishnu in many forms. Krishna, being an incarnation of Vishnu, is also seen riding Garuda.

Many Hindu gods and goddesses have a vehicle (vahana), an animal that serves the deity as a mount. These animals, mighty beings in their own right, possess qualities shared in some ways by their corresponding gods. For example, Shiva rides the bull Nandi, a symbol of the god's masculine power and sexuality. Shiva, the greatest of all ascetics, also rides the bull in the sense of controlling that unbridled energy. Certain half-animal gods, such as the elephant-headed Ganesha, also have animal vehicles. Ganesha is revered as the remover of obstacles, and similarly, his rat companion has the ability and nimbleness of wit to get through any hindrance.


Expanded Label:

The goddess here riding with Krishna on his mount (the splendid Garuda, a part-eagle/part-man mythical being), is Krishna’s second wife Satyabhama, mentioned in the Bhagavata Purana (stories associated with Vishnu). Considered in some traditions to be an incarnation of the earth goddess Bhu Devi and described as a jewel among women for her beauty and virtuousness, Satyabhama helped Krishna defeat a powerful demon named Naraka.

It is often not easy to determine the identity of a specific goddess if there are no particular distinguishing attributes. On seeing a blue-skinned god with a female companion, one could expect the figures to be Vishnu and Lakshmi or Rama and Sita (Radha would not appear on Garuda because she is Krishna’s human beloved and not a goddess). In such cases, one needs to return to textual sources. Numerous stories about the gods are recounted in different bodies of religious literature, and in the Bhagavata Purana we find the story about Krishna and Satyabhama riding on Garuda.

(Object label from Worshiping Women: Power and Devotion in Indian Painting.)