The Gods are Driven from Heaven
Inscribed in takri at the top:
devate svarge chadaa nhasii prithviiya kii aaye
‘The gods fled from the heavens and came down to the earth’
The sons of an artist named Pandit Seu, Manaku and his younger brother Nainsukh are the most famous artists of the Pahari region, also called the Punjab Hills. Their descendents continue the tradition of Pahari painting until the present day. This drawing comes from a very large, impressive series executed by Manaku with examples now found in many of the major museums around the world as well as in private collections. There are many paintings by Manaku of scenes in the first four books of the Bhagavata Purana. However, no drawings of scenes have come to light from the first four books, despite the fact there are many drawings of scenes from Books 5 to 9. Thus, it seems likely that they represent the early stage of what were intended to be finished paintings. In many ways these drawings are even more impressive than the paintings, giving us a true sense of the sensitive quality of the drawing itself. The drawing here has all the characteristics of Manaku’s draftsmanship, displaying remarkable panache.
The scene depicted here relates to a long section covering many chapters of Book 8 of the Bhagavata Purana that concerns the battles between the demons (called asuras or daityas) and the gods. After attaining great power through sacrifices and devotion to the great sage Bhrigu Bali, the king of the demons wrested the three worlds from the gods and drove them away from heaven. The mass of assorted monstrous demons on the left pushes the fleeing gods from their home. The gods will only regain heaven when Vishnu’s avatara, the dwarf Vamana, ultimately tricks Bali into giving the three worlds back to the gods.
Goswamy discusses this series on pp. 27-29 and illustrates dozens of other drawings from the series on pp. 222-263 and 451-94. A number of the illustrated drawings are related to the series of similar interactions between the gods and the demons. This is an impressive addition to that group.
The drawing also bears a stamp on the back which reads Kapoor Curios Jullundur [Jalandhar] City. The dealer Parshotam Ram Kapoor purchased many drawings from the Manaku/Nainsukh family in the 1950s.
Goswamy, B.N. in Manaku of Guler: The Life and Work of Another Great Indian Painter from a Small Hill State, Artibus Asiae Supplementum 52, New Delhi: Artibus Asiae Publishers with Niyogi Books, 2017.