A special exhibition of miniature paintings of the Jaipar School of Rajasthan is being curated from the collection of Salar Jung Museum during the auspicious festival of Navratri. The 49 paintings depict the scenes from Devi - Mahatmya or Durga-Saptasati, popularly known as Candi (a sacred text which is a part of the Markandeya Purana of which the cantos from LXXXI to XCIII or the Devi Mahatmya).
About the paintings
The three aspects of the Divine mother depicted in the text are Mahakali (Chapter-I), Mahalakshmi (chapter II to IX) and Mahasaraswati (chapter V to XIII). The whole of this is a long episodical and independent narrative of the actions of the Goddess Durga. The Devi-Mahatmya is a clean interpolation in which the real speaker is a (Rishi / Sage) named Medha.
The Devi-Mahatmya must have originated in some place dedicated to the goddess in her terrible form. The poem has now become an important text of the worshippers of Kali through out Northern India, and in Bengal, the Devi-Mahatmya is chanted on sacred occasions especially during the Navaratri, and on performance of the Chandi-Yajna.
The goddess whom the poem glorifies is formed by the combination of the powers of all the gods, and she is called Mahatmaya, Candika, Ambika Bhadrakali and Mahakali. She is generally identified in the hymns with Siva’s consort as Durga, Gauri, Sivaduti and Mahakali. The Godess Kali is also called Camunda. Candika from whose forehead she sprang, named her so because she had killed two great demons Canda and Munda. Both Siva and his consort in their most terrible form were worshipped at Mandhata. The Nardada valley was specially connected with demond legends, Mandhata with such associations would in all probability be the birth place of this poem.
The poem can be attributed to 5th or 6th century A.D. The paintings clearly reveal episodes from the poem and refer to the characters too. The text in Devanagiri script on the margins of the paintings is under study.
An attempt has been made to give a simple understanding of the episodes to help the visitors in appreciating the paintings.
The exhibition will be kept open to the public till October 31 at the Abbas Yar Jung gallery, Western Block, Salar Jung Museum.