Home || Site Map
From the Director's Desk
Museum Publications
Museum Services
About Chandigarh
Plan Your Trip

Schist Stone, c 2nd century A.D.
Skarah Dheri, Gandhara

Click to enlarge

Hariti was originally a demoness having five hundred sons. She was in the habit of killing and eating children of the city of Rajagriha. Gautama Buddha converted her to normal motherly behaviour and made her the caretaker of all the children of the world. Thus she became the mother goddess in Buddhism. Her male consort is Panchika. Usually Hariti and Panchika are shown together in art, along with some figures of children. However, a few individual images of either of them are also found in Gandhara Art. In the collection of the Museum, there is a unique image of Hariti with some children around. This image is inscribed with a date in an unspecified era. This image has not only some interesting stylistic and aesthetic features, but it also bears historical importance in the determination of the stylistic sequence in the evolution of Gandhara Art. Hariti, as also Panchika, represent the concept, upheld prominently in Buddhism, that sin should be despised, and not the sinner. Moreover, they together symbolise the tenderness of parental care that sustains the children, the core of any culture, through the ages.

Inscription in Kharoshti script
English Translation of the Kharoshti Inscription

The icon of Hariti bears an inscription of two lines engraved on the stone left unsculpted on the right (proper left) of the lower part of the standing figure of Hariti. It is written in the Kharoshti script and in North-western Prakrit.


  1. Vash[e] eka-navati du-satima'e Ashadasa masasa divas(e) 20[+] 1 [? +] 1 (?)
  2. sogapakho dasame bharadu
    sharamitha rakhana'e

"In the year two hundredth ninety one, on the day 22 of the month of Ashadha. Let the tenth carry up to (a) bright fortnight. I remember [Hariti] for the protection of this".

Apparently the donor of the image of Hariti, entreated the protectress of children for the delivery of his/her or someone else's child in a bright fortnight during the tenth month of pregnancy (i.e. after the full period of pregnancy). It was perhaps believed that a child born in a fair fortnight would be of fair or bright complexion. The donor also solicited for safety of the pregnancy. This interpretation is in complete agreement with a custom current in Gandhara, following which "the common folk" used to "offer sacrifices to obtain children from her" (i.e. Hariti ).

If the date has been correctly read as "the year 291" (vash(e) ekanavatidusatimae) and attributed to the so-called Old Saka Era of c.170 B.C., the resultant date is c. A.D. 121.
(Dr. B.N. Mukherjee)

Padmavati, the Jaina goddess
Stone, c.12th century A.D., Sholapur
Click to enlarge

Goddess is seated with her right foot placed on the left. In her upper and lower right hands, there are mace (gada) and conch (shankha). The intact upper left hand has staff with floriated upper portion. The attribute in broken left hand cannot be ascertained. Goddess wears lavish ornaments. The garland and conical crown set with jewels deserve mention. The halo has projecting spikes. There is snakehood on top of the crown of the goddess.
(Dr. D.C. Bhattacharyya)

Sikandar Nama ‘Rumal' - Detail
Pashmina fabric, embroidered with wool, dated 1852 A.D., Jammu.
Click to enlarge
The translation of embroidered inscription in Persian at the center surrounded by a circle reads thus “ this gulnari rumal is submitted to that fountain of all favours and generosity, Maharaja Gulab Singhji, by (the humble) Sayyad Joo(?), rafugar, resident of the chakla of Jammu in the land of Kashmir on the 15th of the month of Jeth of the samvat year 1909/ AD 1852, corresponding to the 6th of the month of Sha’ban of the year (AH)1268”.
This pictorial shawl, filled all over with figures and animated scenes of battle, seems to take for its inspiration characters from the Shahnama in the middle part around the circle. However, placed within tall arches and corners are scenes from the life of Sikandar (Alexander) from his birth to his death.
(Dr. B.N. Goswamy)

From a Laur Chanda series
Month of Pusa, Gouache on paper,
3rd quarter of the 16th century A.D.
Click to enlarge

The poem "Laur Chanda" was composed by Mulla Daud in 14th century A.D. It is a love story of Laurik (hero) and Chanda (heroine) and recounts the tribulations both had to undergo before their final union.

There are 10 folios of Laur Chanda in the possession of the Government Museum and Art Gallery, Chandigarh. These folios have illustration on one side and verse of 8 or 10 lines in Persian script on the other side.

The folio shows the month of Pusa (December-January). The painting is divided into registers. At the top right corner is shown Mulla Daud reading the poem from a manuscript placed on a book stand. The artist has paid special attention to the representation of textiles, costumes, upholstery and architectural features. The work falls in the kuladhar group, a name given to the group of paintings where the men are shown wearing a projecting skull cap.

From the Gita Govinda set
The poet Jayadeva bows to Vishnu, Gouache on paper
Pahari, dated 1730 A. D.
Click to enlarge

In the Gita Govinda , the celebration of love of Radha and Krishna in all its frank passion is prefaced by Jayadeva with an elaborate, eloquent homage to the true nature of Krishna , who is none other than Vishnu, primal and cosmic man. He celebrates all ten incarnate forms assumed by Vishnu in wonderfully compact verses that capture the essence of each occasion on which Vishnu-Krishna decided to descend to earth.

i. The very picture of devotion, bare-bodied, head bowed, legs crossed and hands folded, Jayadeva stands at left, with the implements of worship placed before the lotus-seat of Vishnu who sits there, blessing the poet.

c. 15th-16th century A.D., Nepal
Click here to enlarge

Manjushri is the Buddhist God of learning (the male counterpart of Goddess Saraswati). Manjushri is a mythico-historical person who was deified for his technical knowledge and wisdom. In Buddhist pantheon, he is the most venerated Bodhisattva because of his instant response to whosoever requires knowledge and wisdom. Usually in his image, he is shown with a book in his right hand and the Nagakesara flower, the symbol of astute insight of mundane and divine quest for knowledge.

Commemorative Thangka for Bhimaratha rite
Temple banner, c 18th century, Tibet
Click here to enlarge

This was probably painted in Tashilumpo monastery for Newari patron from Nepal. It became common practice from 17th century onwards for Newari merchants trading with Tibet to visit this monastery and commission paintings which they took back home. Thus while style of such works followed Tibetan formula notably both in figures and in landscape and in architectural elements; donors at bottom and scene of consecration follows Nepalese tradition. Many of those export style Thangkas are inscribed and all of them mention Tashilumpo as place where they were painted.

This was commissioned to perform commemorative Bhimratha rite which was popular among Buddhist Newar. It was performed by an individual or married couple when either partner reached age of 70 years, 7 months, 7 days. This is obviously senility rite for it is believed that performing it one is absolved of all moral responsibility for one’s actions from that moment until death. Person in whose honour the ceremony is performed is usually portrayed at bottom of painting riding in chariot in procession of much mirth and fanfare. Subject matter of such paintings consists of large stupa in middle, Ushnisha in dome surrounded by various Gods and Goddesses both awesome and benign.

The mounts in some Thangkas were painted with designs imitating imperial Chinese brocade which was often used to mount Tibetan Thangkas executed for such important monasteries as Tashilumpo. Since such brocades were available only for use only in these monasteries, they were not available for Newari merchants, hence close imitation.

Satish Gujral
Fate bound, Oil on canvas,
Click here to enlarge
The trauma caused by the partition of 1947 when millions were uprooted was the dominant theme of Satish Gujral's paintings between 1947 and 1950. It was clear that he was using a pictorial means to give vent to the pent up feelings of anguish and despair. 'Fate bound' belongs to the partition series group of paintings. It shows three sari-clad women almost veiled from head to foot with the folds of the sari. The work is in expressionistic mode reflecting the tragedy which Gujral had to go through.


This site designed and developed by the Government Museum and Art Gallery, Chandigarh, India.