Selections from the Bhagavad Gita and Mahabharata

Accession number: 
MS M.1183
Selections from the Bhagavad Gita and Mahabharata
India, probably Kashmir, ca. 1850.
Contemporary green cloth binding with quarter brown corners.
251 folios (1 column, 6 lines), : paper, handmade ; 145 x 90 mm.
Purchased by Gladys E. Cook in Calcutta, 1961; bequeathed to her nephew, Robert G. Calkins, who gave it to the Morgan Library, 2013.

Bhagavad Gītā and selections from the Mahābhārata.
13 lines of text with notation in red and black ink.
Decoration: 15 text pages with decorated borders.
Unidentified ownership stamp inside.
5 full-page miniatures: 1v, Arjuna, holding a bow, arrows and a scepter, is seated with Vishnu in a chariot drawn by two white horses; 139v, Vishnu lies afloat on the waters of immortality, his head shaded by a manifold of cobra heads, his feet massaged by his consort, the goddess Lakshmi. A small representation of the four-headed Brahma is seated on a lotus growing out of his navel; 174v, Bhisma lies dying on a bed of arrows while Krishna stands before him, holding a conch shell, scepter, and lotus blossom. Arjuna stands behind Brahma, bow drawn; 200v, A young courtier listens repectfully to the discourse of a nobleman, to the left of whom stands an attendant with a fly wisk; 215v, Vishnu and Garuda respond to the prayers of Gajendra,the elephant-king, whose leg is held by a crocodile. The four-armed god (Vishnu) with his mount shown as a bird-headed, winged human, stands before the trapped animal who offers lotus blossoms with his trunk.
In nineteenth-century Kashmir it was possible for scribes to buy sets of miniatures with Hindu subject matter in the bazaar which could be inserted in a manuscript in suitable places. These illustrations thus do not have text on the verso sides, and if the pictures have decorated borders they would not ususlly match ones on text pages.
The manuscript is similar in style, date, and iconography to a Baghavadgītā in the William S. Glazier Collection (MS G.70), for which see Barbara Schmitz, Islamic and Indian Manuscripts and Paintings in the Pierpont Morgan Library, New York, 1997, no. 60, pp. 206-208, fig. 270. The last four miniatures in the Calkins manuscript appear in the same sequence as in the more profusely illustrated Glazier manuscript. The borders of the text pages (a continous vine scroll with inter-border of orange and purple rosettes) do not match the borders of the miniatures.

devanāgarī in black red, and gold