Gajendra Moksha

Unknown1750 AD - 1770 AD

National Museum - New Delhi

National Museum - New Delhi
New Delhi , India

This painting is based on the episode of the 8th Skandha from the Bhagavata Purana. It is said Indradyunma, a devotee of Vishnu was transformed into an elephant by the curse of sage Agastya. Indradyumna then sought forgiveness form sage. Redemption would be granted after lord Vishnu manifests on earth and pats the elephant on his back. The gandharva Huhu with a large number of apsaras once came to the lake adjacent to Mount Trikuta to indulge in amorous sports. This interrupted the austerities of sage Devala. He cursed Huhu and transformed him into a crocodile, sentencing him to live in the same lake.

Indradyumna reached the Mount Trikuta to drink water. He entered the lake where gandharva Huhu, now turned into the crocodile, caught his leg. A tug of war began.Indradyumna prayed to Vishnu for help. Vishnu emerged on the scene, killed the crocodile and saved the life of the elephant. The elephant was transformed back into Indradyumna and was redeemed from the cycle of birth and death attaining moksha.

There are a number of versions of this legend and each one has some variations.Here, the painter has reproduced it with a variation that best suited his medium. Instead of one elephant, he has painted a herd of elephants for balancing the space, but distinguishes Gajendra from the rest, by giving him the auspicious white colour. Garuda, the vehicle of Lord Vishnu has been painted with great prominence, primarily for two reasons, one to balance the space in the painting and the other, as Garuda was the state emblem of Kotah.

The use of bright colours, the expression of motion, agony and tumult, and Lord Vishnu’s emergence from the heavens are skilfully rendered. Beautiful lotus blossoms decorate the lake and the waters are shown by white swishes which add skilfully to the commotion caused by the struggle.


  • Title: Gajendra Moksha
  • Creator: Unknown
  • Date Created: 1750 AD - 1770 AD
  • Location: Kotah, India
  • Physical Dimensions: w235 x h355 mm (without cover)
  • Type: Painting
  • Rights: National Museum, Janpath, New Delhi
  • Style: Indian Paintings & Art
  • Place Part Of: India

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