A Bengali proverb: two watersnakes swallowing fish and frog

Based on sayings attributed to the Bengali Vaishnava poet on his sahaja (controlled passion) cult. According to A.K. Coomaraswamy the implied meaning is: “It is harder to escape from debauchery once you have taken to it than it is for a fish to escape alive from the mouth of a snake”. The colourings of the water-snake, fish and frog may have significance in the type of breed they are suppose to be. The water-snake is usually bright yellow and brown with large black spots, the fish is usually pink and blue with brown fins. The snake could be Enhyris enhydris, quiet and timid in disposition, but a feeder on fish; or Natris piscator, an excellent swimmer living in ponds, vicious and a feeder on both fish and frogs.

Watercolour and graphite on paper


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