Exhibitions/ Art Object

"The Nightmare Dream of a King: The Fearsome Aftermath of the Battle of Kurukshetra," Folio from the unfinished "Small Guler" Bhagavata Purana (The Ancient Story of God)

Manaku (active ca. 1725–60)
Object Name:
Illustrated manuscript, folio
ca. 1740
Attributed to India, Guler, Punjab Hills
Opaque watercolor, gold and silver on paper
Page: H. 8 9/16 in. (21.7 cm) W. 12 3/4 in. (32.4 cm) Painting: H. 6 15/16 in. (17.6 cm) W. 11 3/16 in. (28.4 cm)
Credit Line:
Promised Gift of the Kronos Collections, 2015
Not on view
This painting illustrates a scene described in Book One of the Bhagavata Purana. After
the fearsome battle that concludes the war between the Pandavas and the Kauravas, King
Yudhisthira cries out “Shame on me. I have caused to be slain young boys, Brahmanas,
kinsmen, friends, uncles, brothers and the preceptors. My horrible and despicable sin on
account of this will not be fully expatiated even after suffering ten thousand years of hell­fire.” (1)
The tangle of victims, the dead and wounded horses, elephants, chariots, and soldiers,
some dressed in chain mail and others dressed in striped coats, all besmirched with splashes of
blood and arrayed beneath a shower of flying arrows, fills the entire foreground of this harrowing
depiction of the aftermath of Yudhisthira’s battle. The tapestry weave of figures and animals in
the foreground space unfolds against a solid orange background below a narrow strip of white
and blue sky. The shallow space, brightly colored background, and flattened figures with their
sinuous yet firm outlines are characteristic of the earlier work painted by the master artist
For discussion of the artist, see cat. no. 74. For another other work by the same artist,
see cat. no. 67. That drawing is from the same important series as the present work: the so-
called ‘Small Guler Bhagavata Purana’ Series.
. (1) J.M. Sanyal, translator, The Srimad­Bhagavatam, New Delhi, 1970, vol. I, pg. 33.
Inscription: Inscribed on the verso in Sanskrit written in black ink in devanagari script: several lines of text
Terence McInerney 1990

The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "Divine Pleasures: Painting from India's Rajput Courts - The Kronos Collection," June 13, 2016–September 11, 2016.