The Demon Hiranyaksha Departs the Demon Palace: Folio from a Bhagavata Purana Series

The demon-king Hiranyakashipu’s intense hostility toward Vishnu has its origins in an early episode in the Bhagavata Purana, which relates how the demon-king’s brother Hiranyaksha brutalized Mother Earth at the time of creation and attempted to drown her in the cosmic ocean. Vishnu was summoned to rescue her from the Great Flood, which he did by assuming his boar avatar, Varaha, slaying the demon, and lifting Mother Earth from the depths of the ocean to safety. Hiranyakashipu’s hatred for Vishnu ultimately led to his own death at the hands of Vishnu’s avatar Narasimha, as seen elsewhere in this exhibition. In this painting, we see Hiranyaksha departing from his palace to attack Mother Earth, who is unprotected during Vishnu’s cosmic sleep.

Opaque watercolor, ink and gold on paper


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Metropolitan Museum of Art

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