Battle between Krishna’s Brother Balarama and Jarasandha, from a History of the Lord (Bhagavata Purana) manuscript Artist: Unknown

ca. 1760–65

Asian Art

The Bhagavata Purana, "The Ancient Story of God," a chronicle of Vishnu, was a major subject of Indian miniature painting. Books 10 and 11, which describe the career on earth of Vishnu's eighth incarnation, Krishna, were frequently illustrated. This large illustration comes from such a series created in the Punjab Hills state of Basohli during the third quarter of the eighteenth century. It depicts a battle between Balarama, Krishna's older brother, and Jarasandha that took place after Krishna had abducted his future principal wife, Rukmini, on her wedding day. The opposing sides face each other while arrows fly across the intervening space. In the poses of the figures and in the attention to detail the image shows a close relationship to the Mughal style of painting practiced in Guler, another of the Punjab Hills states. The Mughal style ultimately eclipsed the earlier Basohli style.


Ink, opaque watercolor, and gold on paper


without mounting: 10 11/16 × 14 13/16 in. (27.2 × 37.6 cm)
sheet: 11 13/16 × 15 15/16 in. (30 × 40.5 cm)
with mounting: 18 3/16 × 21 7/16 in. (46.2 × 54.5 cm)
image: 11 × 15 in. (27.9 × 38.1 cm)
framed: 16 × 22 in. (40.64 × 55.88 cm)

Credit Line

The Vera M. and John D. MacDonald, B.A. 1927, Collection, Gift of Mrs. John D. MacDonald

Accession Number



Rajput States (14th - 19th century)


Note: This electronic record was created from historic documentation that does not necessarily reflect the Yale University Art Gallery’s complete or current knowledge about the object. Review and updating of records is ongoing.



Vera M. MacDonald and John D. MacDonald, Boston, Mass., by 2001; given to the Yale University Art Gallery, New Haven, Conn., 2001
  • Art for Yale: Collecting for a New Century, exh. cat. (New Haven, Conn.: Yale University Art Gallery, 2007), 170, pl. 153
Object copyright
Additional information

Object/Work type

histories (visual works), human figures (visual works)




Illustration from the Bhagavata Purana Book 10 Chapter 54 Verse 1- 5:\r\n1. Sri Suka said: "Saying this, armed and very angry, they all mounted their conveyances with bows in hand and set off in pursuit, surrounded by their armies.\r\n2. The leaders of the Yadava army saw them rushing forward, O king, and stood facing them, making a twanging sound with their bows.\r\n3. From horseback, from the shoulders of elephants, and from the seats of chariots, the experts in weaponry released torrents of arrows, like clouds releasing water on mountains.\r\n4. The beautiful waisted Rukmini saw the army of her lord hidden by showers of arrows. With eyes full of fear, she looked bashfully at Krsna's face. \r\n5. Bhagavan Krsna laughed and said: "Do not fear, beautiful-eyed one. This force on your side will soon destroy the enemy force."\r\n\r\n--translated by Edwin F. Bryant , "Krishna: The Beautiful Legend of God: Srimad Bhagavata Purana Book X."\r\n\r\nSanskrit text in devanagari in black and red; two lines of Takri script on back.

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