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KRISHNA AT A SPRING FESTIVAL. Vasanta Ragini. One of a series of Ragmala paintings on paper Rajasthani school: early eighteenth century. British Museum
KRISHNA AT A SPRING FESTIVAL


Here Krishna is represented as the divine lover sporting with the milkmaids, whose chief is Radha, in the groves of Brindaban beside the Jumna. Music (singing to the accompaniment of the drum (khol), tambourine, cymbals) has always played an important part in the cult of Krishna since the time of Chaitanya. On the right a girl holds a syringe used for spraying saffron at the holi feast in the spring. The larger vessels would contain this liquid. Above is Radha's pavilion, a typical Rajput building, the surface whitened with powdered limestone, in which her bed (charpoy) is prominently displayed.
In the Ragmala scenes the hero and heroine are usually represented in the form of Krishna and Radha, and the culmination is naturally reached with Vasanta Ragini typifying the spring melody. The cult of Krishna-Radha becomes, at its highest level, 'the mystical symbol of the mutual longing of God and the human soul’.
Others of this series are in the Fogg Museum, Harvard, and have been dated by Coomaraswamy as early seventeenth century: it may be suggested however that the strong colouring and vigorous action are rather typical of Southern Rajputana than of a necessarily early date. A stylistic parallel may be found in one of the few dated documents, a Jain Vijnaptipatra (letter of invitation) of 1725 painted at Sirohi near Mount Abu.
Although the scene represented is at night, in the top left corner of the painting is the sun and a similar human-faced sun occurs in all the other known paintings of this series. May it not therefore be taken to be the famous emblem of the Rajas of Udaipur, the senior line of the Rajputs of'solar race' ? Such an identification can at present only be tentative.