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