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Markandeya Discovers Krishna on the Peepal Leaf
The Deathless Sage Markandeya finds the baby Krishna-Vishnu
Wandering the Ocean of Being between two cycles of time, the sage finds the baby Krishna-Vishnu, who will reveal the secret of the cosmos

Artist/maker unknown, Indian

Made in Kangra, Himachal Pradesh, India, Asia

c. 1770-1780

Opaque watercolor and gold on paper

Image: 8 13/16 × 6 7/8 inches (22.4 × 17.5 cm) Sheet: 11 1/2 × 9 3/16 inches (29.2 × 23.3 cm)

Curatorial Department:
South Asian Art

Object Location:

Currently not on view

Accession Number:

Credit Line:
Purchased with the John T. Morris Fund, 1955

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The depiction of Markandeya's vision is one of the most potent and mystical images found in the painting of the Panjab Hills. This event is recounted in the Mahabharata epic, and in many other texts written about the great Hindu god Vishnu. The story relates how the deathless sage Markandeya wandered through the immense Night of Brahma, the interval between cycles of creation, when all was contained within the sleeping body of the god Vishnu. To discover the truth, Markandeya entered the cosmic ocean of existence and swam there for countless time. Finally he saw a light emanating from the radiant body of a child floating on the sprig of a banyan tree. The child showed Markandeya the secrets of creation, explaining that he was Vishnu, father of the universe, giver of life who brought forth creation and took it back into himself.