Ragini Gujari Manifesting as Khandita Nayika (Also Known as Ragini Deepika)

Ragini Gujari Manifesting as Khandita Nayika (Also Known as Ragini Deepika)

Item Code: HJ94
Water Color on Paper
Artist: Kailash Raj
6 inches X 8 inches
This brilliant miniature, representing an elegantly clad youthful self-absorbed maiden with lustrous beauty seated on a carpet laid over the terrace outside her palace pavilion playing on vina – a stringed musical instrument, is a great masterpiece rendered using a blend of Rajasthani and Pahari styles of medieval Indian art. This feminine icon is classified under two different classical conventions of Indian literature and music, subsequently transformed also in art, one, the ‘Nayika-bheda’ – classification of maidens, or heroines, in love, and the other, the ‘Ragamala’ – garland of ‘ragas’, a ‘raga’ being a set of discipline to be adhered to when singing or performing on an instrument pursuing norms of Indian classical music. Under the ‘Nayika-bheda’ convention the maiden is identified as the ‘khandita-nayika’, the heroine who being separated from her lover has her love broken, and under the ‘Ragamala’ convention, as the visual manifestation of the Ragini Gujari, though rendered with a little variation.

Ragini Gujari is usually perceived as the ‘ragini’ of dales and meadows which by its pathetic notes allures nature, gazelles, and in some cases a peacock, in particular, and they gather around the vina-playing figure manifesting the ‘Ragini’. This representation portrays in the figure’s facial demeanour and self absorption the Ragini Gujari’s emotional bearing with far greater thrust, though not a meadow with a river around, it prefers a palace-pavilion, a beautifully tiled terrace and a carpet with a huge bolster laid over as its stage for the enactment of the drama. In the court-painters’ visualisation of Ragini Gujari, such as in Uniara court-paintings or in that of Sahibdin, the early seventeenth century’s known painter of Mewar, such royal transformation – addition of a golden throne, palace pavilion, bed of flowers, and more, was not unusual.

Alluded to in the sixth century text ‘Brahdesi’ the Ragini Gujari is one of the earliest and the primitive modes of producing music. Ragini Gujari, named after Gurjar, often corrupted as Gujar, a ruling and exceptionally cultured tribe of early India that initially ruled from Kanauj and when ousted from there shifted to Gujarat and ruled from there as Gurjar-Pratiharas, seems to have been a mode of singing characteristic to this tribe and assimilated later into Indian classical system as one of its classified modes. Originally a tribe but highly cultured leading the land to great artistic heights, Gurjars might have been using a mode of singing that had a tribe’s freshness and nature’s spirit as also the touch of royalty with which it made its way into India’s classical system.

The fourth consort of Raga Dipaka, the melody of love, the fieriest of all emotions, Gujari is also the Ragini of love representing ‘vipralambha’ – separation, one of the love’s two aspects. When monsoons have covered the sky and the intensity of pain of separation is the most intense, Ragini Gujari, produced on a lyre, or sung, with low-pitch notes, the ‘ra’, ‘ga’, ‘ma’, ‘dha’, ‘ni’, ‘sa’ in the early part of the day, is the best vehicle for transporting the pain from within to without and to relieve one’s mind. For symbolising the Ragini’s association with Raga Dipaka the artist has painted a lamp motif before the vina-playing figure.

This description by Prof. P.C. Jain and Dr. Daljeet. Prof. Jain specializes on the aesthetics of literature and is the author of numerous books on Indian art and culture. Dr. Daljeet is the curator of the Miniature Painting Gallery, National Museum, New Delhi. They have both collaborated together on a number of books.

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