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Veda Vyasa (?). A Vernacular version of the Tenth Book of the Bhagavata Purana. Manuscript.


Punjab (probably), Samvat 1825 (= 1768-69). 23 x 15 cm. The original painted clothcovers over cardboard preserved but partly at edges covered with a later rebinding in persian style in brown leather with flap. Covers and flap preserved but detached from spine. The 6 painted miniatures on frontcover are in rather bad shape (depicting Krishna in many colours and with gold). 6 miniatures on inside froncover are in better shape, many colours with gold (Krishna and a Guru ?). Backcover with 2 large miniatures in rather bad shape, multicoloured (a Guru and Visnu ?). On inside backcover 6 miniatures, multicoloured and with gold (probably depicting local dignitaries, perhaps royals with text on 4). Native polished paper 22,8 x 15 cm. Text in black ink within triple framed borders in orange, red and black (17 x 10 cm.). 15 lines of text per page in Gurmukhi script and Indian vernacular and seems to be written in one hand. Stitching occasionally loose and broken. Some folios frayed in margins. 2 flyleaves (blank, but framed with coloured borders on both sides). FF 493 of text, numbered 1-493 (493 recto: colophon - verso blank) + 1 unnumb. leaf (recto blank, text on verso where the date Samvat 1825 is given, stating that the finishing of the manuscript took place 1768-69). At end one leaf blank with borders, but torn. The manuscript appears to be complete.
The 87 fine miniatures in the text, Pahari style of the Punjab Hills, probably a rough form of Basohli or Jammu, are well preserved, all under small original tissue-guards and they are labourously painted in blue, white, green, red, purple and gold. A few of the miniatures are floral but most depicts the feats of Krishna.
Miniature sizes: 7 miniatures (8-5 x 4-6 cm.) - 4 full-page miniatures (17 x10 cm.) - 58 half-page miniatures - 13 miniatures in 1/3-page - 3 miniatures in 1/4-page. - 2 miniatures (5 x 4 cm.). ¶ An extremely scarce, large, early and profusely illustrated Indian manuscript.
The tenth book, dedicated to Krishna, is responsible for the widespread popularity of the Bhagavata Purana. Book Ten includes the most enduring images and stories of Krishna: the mischievous child who steals butter; the God as a child who holds the entire universe within himself; the boy who can slay demons and move an entire mountain with one finger; the cowherd who is the love of all the gopis, making them leave all their duties to follow him.

The tenth book is by far the lengthiest, taking up almost one quarter of the entire Bhagavata. While the Mahabharata and the Bhagavad Gita show Krishna in various roles as teacher and diplomat, book 10 shows Krishna simply engaging in lila, or divine and intimate play with his devotees. It presents this intimate relationship with God as the highest goal of human existence
The Bhagavata is widely recognized as the best known and most influential of the Puranas, and is sometimes referred to as the "Fifth Veda" along with itihasa and other puranas. It is unique in Indian religious literature; for its emphasis on the practice of bhakti, compared to the more theoretical bhakti of the Bhagavad Gita; for its redefining of dharma; and for the extent of its description of God in a human-like form. It is also the source for many of the popular stories of Krishna's childhood told for centuries in the Indian subcontinent. The intense and personal bhakti described in the Bhagavata is directed toward Krishna as Vishnu in human form. The tenth book (or canto) of the Bhagavata is dedicated to Krishna, takes up about one quarter of the entire Bhagavata. It includes the most comprehensive collection of stories about the life of Krishna, showing him in all the stages and conditions of human life. It also includes instruction in the practice of bhakti, an analysis of bhakti, and descriptions of the different types of bhakti. Many Vaishnavas consider Srimad Bhagvatam to be non-different from Krishna and to be the literary form of Krishna.


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