The Death of the Demoness Putana: Folio from a Bhagavata Purana Series

Date: ca. 1610

Culture: Western India, Bikaner, Rajasthan

Medium: Opaque watercolor and ink paper

Dimensions: Image: 6 5/8 × 9 5/8 in. (16.8 × 24.4 cm)
Sheet: 9 5/8 × 11 7/8 in. (24.4 × 30.2 cm)

Classification: Paintings

Credit Line: Cynthia Hazen Polsky and Leon B. Polsky Fund, 2002

Accession Number: 2002.176


This painting depicts a famous scene from the many childhood exploits of Krishna, a much-loved avatar of Vishnu. The infant Krishna, while in the protective care of pastoral foster parents, encountered numerous dangers sent by the evil king Kamsa. In this scene, a demon, disguised as a wet nurse, is sent to kill Krishna with her poisonous milk. Krishna discovers her intention and suckles her until she expires. Krishna’s half-brother Balarama and their mothers look on in astonishment. This is one of many stories that portray Krishna as the destroyer of evil.