Displayed at the Bharat Kala Bhavan Museum, Varanasi, this 18th-century Mewar-style painting depicts a verse from the Sur Sagar. The painting shows Yashoda, scolding a young Krishna in the upper half. The lower half shows Nanda pampering Krishna.

The Sur Sagar (Ocean of melody) is a lyrical poem composed in the 16th century, which details the childhood and coming of age of Krishna. From the first steps he took to the first words he uttered – all the incidents inspired the Sur Sagar. A translation by John Stratton Hawley reads:

Look towards the boy who is Nanda’s joy:
His body is fevered with heat as he peers from the corners of his eyes towards
your face.
Over and over he shudders with fear, some syllables escape his lips,
and the colour drains from its rightful place:
His pupils, ‘chakor’ birds that make the dark their home
Are faced with a moon that has entered some new house
They dart about like bumblebees buzzing inside a lotus
Filled at dawn with new nectar
And frightened at the sight of your stick, which so alarmed him
His eyes turn red, like blood.
Ah, Sur’s Lord is such a treasure of beauty – though a butter thief he may be.

Here is a question for you.

This quiz has been created by the Heritage Lab and the Bharat Kala Bhavan Museum, BHU.

Also read:

How Krishna was transformed from a tribal deity to a supreme god in the Puranic tradition