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THE WORSHIP OF MOUNT GOVARDHAN. Illustration to the Bhagavata Purana Kangra, c. 1790. J. K. Mody collection, Bombay
THE WORSHIP OF MOUNT GOVARDHAN


The present picture illustrates a daring episode in Krishna's life among the cowherds. Learning one day that they were about to do the annual worship of Indra, the Rain god, Krishna pleaded with them to abandon it and worship, instead, the hills and forests on which their livelihood directly depended. They accepted his advice and choosing Mount Govardhan as the greatest of the hills, they went with bands of musicians and spread their offerings at its foot. Krishna now commanded them to close their eyes, saying that the Mountain would manifest itself to them. When every eye was shut, Krishna himself took the form of a small figure and appeared sitting on the summit. At the same time he retained his ordinary identity as their friend and playmate. As the figure burst on their gaze, Krishna announced that the Mountain had revealed its presence and commanded the cowherds to revere it. The Mountain was accordingly worshipped, offerings were made and the cowherds went rejoicing home.
The picture is by the same artist who executed Plate 3 but represents his art at what is perhaps an even higher level of achievement.