that which hangs at the back (Piche) is the art form that originated from the
Pushti Marga tradition or Vallabha Sampradaya of Vallabhacharya, centered on
the worship of Srinath Ji of Nathdwara. A Pichwai painting acts as the
adornment of the shrine of Srinath Ji as well as a spiritual visual tool, which
with its scenes, colors, and the icon of Srinath Ji in this center, becomes a
part of the larger experience of performing a ritual, standing inside the
Sanctorum. The themes of a Pichwai painting include 24 annual festive occasions
of the Pushtimargis and 8 daily ritual performances (Darshana) of Srinath Ji.
In this Pichwai of Srinath Ji, the celebration of Annakutotsava, in the memory
of lifting the mount Govardhana is depicted.
The form of
Srinath Ji in this Pichwai is “Sapta Swarooopa”- seven (sapta) swaroopa (own
forms) gracing the sanctum of the shrine on the canvas. The dark-blue-hued body
of Krishna is ornamented with rich jewelry, crown, and peacock feathers, and
his left hand raised in a distinctive manner hints at the lifting of the mount
Govardhana. The mountain holds a revered spot in the traditions of the
Pushtimargis because the icon of Srinath Ji was discovered on it. It is also
exalted as Annakuta or the mountain of foodgrain, celebrating and remembering
the nourishment Govardhana provided to the residents of Brija. In this Srinath
Ji Pichwai, the mountain of foodgrain is represented by baskets of leaves full
of grains and curds placed in front of the icon of Srinath Ji in a structure of
a mound. Behind Srinath Ji, exquisite decorations with the Tree of Life motif
remind us of the Meenakari work of Indian palaces. On each side of the shrine
stand two priests known as Gosain or Goswami Ji who for generations have been
sworn servants and devotees of Srinath Ji.
of Srinath Ji here is a narration of the coming together of the powerful seven
forms of Srinath Ji in the pious land of Nathdwara. Rich in colors and endowed
with masterful details and finish, this Pichwai is a comprehensive shrine on
canvas and condensation of the celebration of the benevolence of Srinath Ji,
who protected Brija-kshetra (area) from the fury of Indra.
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