The Princess Mirabai was the most devoted of Lord Krishna's bhakts. When she was but a child, princess of Kudki, a wandering ascetic had gifted her a doll of Lord Krishna that she grew increasingly fond of. Her mother, who passed away before it was time to get Mira married, encouraged her daughter's devotional tendencies. When the sweet and innocent Mira witnessed a wedding procession and asked her mother who her husband would be, she was good-humouredly told that Lord Krishna is her husband already. Not once did the princess swerve in her wife-like devotion to Him, despite the trials she faced once she got married in the earthly sense of the term. This abstract oil painting, finished in the gentlest pastels, captures her in the zenith of her ritual devotion.
Mirabai's marriage to Prince Bhoj Raj of Chittor had societally elevated her. The princess is clearly depicted at a point in her marital life, her brocaded trosseau in bridal colours and ample, chunky jewellery completing her solah shringar. Yet, her composure of countenance is distinctly childlike and the jewels - especially the thick necklace and the elaborate maangtika - seem to be sitting heavy on her tender skin. It was widely known that her husband and mother-in-law did not take too well to her reverence of Lord Krishna, insisting in vain that she worship their kuldevi instead. However, her faith proved invincible. Just as in this painting, she would retreat into her quarters to perform her ritual worship through music and dance.
The heavy bridal bangles do not weigh down her wrists as she strums the ektara and draws music from wooden cymbals the shape of infinity. She sits before her murti with her torso inclined towards Him, unable to meet His eyes out of bashfulness that becomes a wife. The steps of her resplendent, cushioned altar are strewn generously with flowers she had probably handpicked herself. She has offered to Him a plateful of juicy Indian fruits and strewn Him a garland. A studded kalash stands next to the plate, containing a consecrated fluid such as milk or water, and a small woven pooja basket overflowing with more fresh flowers. Two lamps flank her Lord's altar, and an additional goblet of dias has been placed at His feet. A small bell, embedded with the same pink and green jewels as the rest of her ritual implements, and a pristine conch constitute the rest of her devotional aids. The artist has conveyed the message that Mirabai's devotion to Him is infinite, rendering her one of the finest mystics of the North Indian bhakti cult.
The idol she uses to project her Lord is lavishly dressed and garlanded. The reds and greens of His outfit set off to perfection the freshly garlanded flowers she has placed over and above His miniscule gold ornaments. A lovely red turban clothes His head, set with elaborate gold plumes embossed with jewels matching the colour of His attire. Note how fluid His dark curls, and lifelike the eyes of a murti within a painting! The image of the Lord that the artist has suffused in the background stands for Miraba's keen perception of His essence. The iconography is replete with flawless skin and dense curls giving off a youthful vigour, a slender bejewelled flute, and an intricate ornamental headpiece topped off with the regal feathers of a peacock. His living presence is depicted against the typically Rajasthani backdrop of Mirabai's sasuraal (marital home), the palace of Chittor with its awe-inspiring jharoka, typically tiled floors, and plush chandelier dangling from high ceilings.
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