Miniature Painting



The symbolic art of Indian miniature paintings attempts to express a reality that lies beyond the confines of lines and pigments. Especially significant in this regard are the Ragamala miniature paintings that visually depict the emotional and perceptive concepts of the six principal Ragas of Indian classical music. In the context of Indian classical music, a ‘raga’ is a melodic mode, which literally means 'to color and convey a mood or emotion'. Raga Dipaka is one of these primary Indian ragas.

Raga Dipaka literally means the ‘song of the earthen lamp’. This Raga represents heat, energy, life force, sun and light. It is said to have caused such intense excitement that it burnt the body of the performer. As per the legends, once Emperor Akbar asked one of his famous ‘Navaratnas’ (Nine Court Jewels) - Tan Sen - to give a performance of Dipaka raga. Tan Sen sang the Dipaka sitting in the waters of the Yamuna, and as the notes rose in pitch, it is said that the water began to boil. Tan Sen became unconscious.

His body was so burnt by the intensity of the raga that he could not wear clothes and wandered about naked in the heat of the summer, till a young girl, also an expert musician, came to his aid. She sang the Megha Mallara Raga that brought forth pouring rains and cooled Tan Sen’s body.

This raga is vibrantly represented in the Ragamala paintings. Dipaka raga is generally depicted as a festive diwali scene, or a lamp in a niche or a lamp illuminating a pair of lovers. Sometimes it is also depicted as holy men around a sacrificial fire. The heat, the energy and the brimming force are aptly portrayed by the Ragamala miniature paintings.

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