The story of Krishna, and the many-hooded serpent demon Kaliya

The following is a short extract from the great stories of our Lord Krishna (कृष्ण) which caught my eyes for a very long time while reading an online book. Perhaps , Thats the “mahima” of our Lord Krishna !! I am sharing today the story of Krishna, and the many-hooded serpent demon Kaliya, which is very well known. I tried to make the scene using some bright colors. I began with the pencil Sketch. That’s the first pic I took.

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Kaliya (कालिय) was the name of a poisonous Naga living in the Yamuna River, in Vrindavan. The water of the Yamuna for four leagues all around him boiled and bubbled with poison. This created a great problem for the residents of Vrindavan and their cows. No bird or beast could go near, and only one solitary Kadamba tree grew on the river bank. The proper home of Kāliya was Ramanaka Dwipa, but he had been driven away from there by fear of Garuda, Garuda had been cursed by a yogi dwelling at Vrindavan so that he could not come to Vrindavan without meeting his death. Therefore Kāliya chose Vrindavan as his residence, knowing it was the only place where Garuda could not come.

Krishna means ‘All attractive’. A person is attractive if He possesses unlimited beauty, knowledge, strength, fame, riches or renunciation. Krishna is often depicted in murtis as black, and is generally shown in paintings with blue skin. The lotus-eyed, dark skinned Krishna is the complete and perfect understanding of God. He was tackling a poisonous serpent with a hundred and ten hoods and yet so calm and poise. I took special care in drawing Krishna’s body, eyes and posture. That’s my depiction progress so far :

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Once Krishna and herdboys were playing ball, and while playing Krishna climbed up the Kadamba tree and hung over the river bank, the ball fell into the river and Krishna jumped after it. This enraged the hideous monster Kaliya & he rose up with his hundred and ten hoods vomiting poison and coiled around Krishna’s body. But then Krishna soon was reminded of His divine powers and exercising His powers He uncoiled Himself from the serpent and forthwith climbed up the hoods of Kaliya and assumed the weight of the whole universe. The pressure of Krishna’s feet crushed the towering pride of the myriad-hooded monster. When the heels of Krishna strike the hoods, some break off and then got replaced by new ones. All this while Krishna keeps playing his sweet flute. Kaliya lowered his hoods and vomited blood. But the Dance of Krishna did not cease. Snake Kaliya with its numerous hoods symbolizes the numerous desires we have. When one desire gets fulfilled, another arises, like the new hoods of Kaliya. The hoods keep breaking and forming, but Krishna is unperturbed. He keeps playing His flute, denoting the power of discrimination, of wisdom, of the focus on the bliss of Self. Kaliya was found tottering towards death when his wives came out of the river and with palms joined in prayer begged Krishna to spare the life of their husband.

I usually read the complete story before attempting to make it. However, I have heard of this tale quite a few times as it is a famous one. I had in my mind a complete picture of what I was going to draw. It took me 3 Hrs to complete the sketch. I was ready with the Black and White look of my sketch. It was gorgeous !!! k6

The prayers of the wives of Kaliya who had faith in Krishna moved the Son of Nanda to have mercy on Kaliya. Krishna now desisted from His terrific Dance on condition that Kaliya was to quit the river at once and to betake himself to his original home in the island of Ramanaka. Krishna assured Kaliya that after seeing the marks where He had touched Kaliya’s head with His lotus feet, Garuda will not disturb Kaliya, as Garuda would respect the print of Krishna’s Feet on hoods of Kaliya. The water of the River was now rendered immune from all poison and became as sweet as it was before the advent of Kaliya. Kāliya, recognizing the greatness of Krishna, surrendered and promised he would not come to Vrindavan again and would not harass anybody. So Krishna pardoned him and then let him go free to leave the river and go to Ramanaka Dwipa.

Finally, I tried some digital combinations and then used acrylics to color but I guess I am bad at coloring , so sharing the digital one 😉

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The Making of Kali Maa

Today, I am going to share the the making of my Kali Maa.

Kali Ma, called the “Dark Mother,” is the Hindu goddess of creation, preservation, and destruction. The pictorial representation of Mother Kali , at first glance, is strange and bizarre to the eyes and minds of westerners. She is the most misunderstood Goddess. I will perhaps share her story in my next Kali Maa post may be in Madhubani style. So, I started my sketch by deciding the layout and the form of art to make this. I choose the line art initially with a mix of Kalamkari. I have recently tried my hands on kalamkari and I am liking what I have drawn. Kalamkari literally means, Kalam – pen and kari – work, i.e., art work done using a pen. Vegetable dyes are used to color the designs applied on cloth. The art is popular in several parts of South India. I am of course not doing it the traditional way.

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When I say Kalamkari, I mean their style of making figures, their style has such round and fuller bodies with beautiful eyed faces. I am also fascinated with the single toned shades of colors they use. I read about it and found that the color pattern used in kalamkari is unique and follows different themes. This is one of the main features of kalamkari art. Women figures are always depicted using yellow colour, Gods in blue, and demons in red and green. The backgrounds are generally red with motifs of lotus. However, Kali Ma has a black complexion. Maa’s black complexion means that she is inscrutable and cannot be known by wordly people full of ignorance. Darkness stands for ignorance. I choose a blue black color for her complexion and then picked a very dark grey for the background. By the way, I am using Sharpie to do the outlines and using an acid free Carson for watercolor sheet with acrylic colors.

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I took some pictures of the outlined drawing also. It in itself is a complete line art of Kali Maa. So far I was very happy with the way it was coming up. I started adding the colors. Usually the God figures made in Kalamkari are very loving and poise. Kali Maa is represented with perhaps the fiercest features amongst all the world’s deities. Kali Maa’s fierce form is strewed with some awesome symbols. Her three eyes represent the sun, moon, and fire, with which she is able to observe the three modes of time: past, present and future. This attribute is also the origin of the name Kali, which is the feminine form of ‘Kala’, the Sanskrit term for Time. Her white teeth show her inner purity, and her red lolling tongue indicates her omnivorous nature.

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Maa Kali wears a garland of skulls and skirt of dismembered arms because the ego arises out of identification with the body. In truth we are beings of spirit and not flesh. It symbolizes that she is completely beyond name and form, completely beyond the illusory effects of maya (false consciousness). Her nudity is said to represent totally illumined consciousness, unaffected by maya. Her sword is the destroyer of false consciousness and the eight bonds that bind us. I knew a few of the symbolization of Kali Maa and read about the rest before starting to make her. I finally chose a shade of yellow/mustard and green for the background and see how beautiful it turned out to be !!!

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I just didnt like how the skulls came out to be. Is it looking out of character ??