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Akrura's Mystic Vision of Krishna/Vishnu and Balarama/Adishesha

c. 1760-1765
Artist/maker unknown, Indian

The Hindu god Vishnu activates the cycle of existence by creating the universe. During each cycle, he intervenes in the perpetual struggle between devas (gods who uphold cosmic order) and asuras (anti-gods or demons who disrupt it) by incarnating in earthly forms called avatars.

The second of Vishnu’s avatars is the tortoise Kurma, seen in the painting on the left as the circle in the water that supports the pink mountain. Here, the devas and asuras together churn the ocean of milk in order to obtain the nectar of immortality, which will make them invincible.

The eighth and most perfect of Vishnu’s avatars is Krishna, depicted multiple times in the painting on the right as the blue-skinned figure. He is accompanied by his brother Balarama, who is the Endless Snake. See the sculpture on the left where Vishnu rests on this mythical snake. It is said that when the Endless Snake uncoils, time moves forward; when he recoils, the universe ceases to exist.


Object Details

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