Mumbiram’s iconic vision of Krishna – Part 1
Mumbiram's "Original Iconic Krishna", 1981

There is one vision of Krishna sitting alone near the water and playing upon his flute that has been seen very often by all those who have been around Mumbiram. The very first such image that was made in India can be traced back to 1981 when Mumbiram was clearing up the Mandai dwelling in Pune that lay uninhabited for over 8 years. The busy wholesale market had moved to Gultekdi. Downtown Mandai lay in a deserted but peaceful state.

Mumbiram stayed at the home of Professor Dandekar, the director of the Gokhle Institute of Politics and Economics, for a few months around December 1980.  Mrs. Dandekar knew Mumbiram’s mother when they were neighbors as young girls in Pune. Mumbiram had stretched a large canvas for a Forest Women painting that he wanted to make again. Mrs. Dandekar had quietly given Mumbiram the cash for that. The painting was not made before 1985 when Mumbiram was introduced to Dr. H.K.Sancheti the reputed orthopedic surgeon. Mumbiram also stretched another small canvas that would become this iconic work. This was a remake of sorts of a painting that Mumbiram had left in the Portland Krishna temple.

This turned out to be one of the first paintings Mumbiram made in the Mandai Studio. Several other versions of this iconic kind followed. Mumbiram has kept the first original oil painting with the Thakur tribals on the mountains near Pali Sudhagad in Raigad district. Several versions of this iconic Krishna painting exist in far corners of our planet. This vision clearly has been an overwhelming favorite with Krishna lovers.

Mumbiram’s school buddy Kamod Ghotankar had gotten another buddy named Chugh buy Mumbiram couple of more canvases. One became the drawing of Bhagavad Gita on the Digital Device. The other became the first drawing of Krishna with a Pulindi.

Mumbiram made fibreglass medium versions of the painting. Photos from the early 80’s show Mumbiram’s Pulindis worshipping Mumbiram’s iconic MuraliManohar.

Kusum and Vimal have witnessed Krishna in Mumbiram's cave
Navrangbai has decorated herself for Mumbiram's Krishna
Lakshmi feels protected with Mumbiram's Krishna
Pulindi Babita in Mumbi's cave

Mumbiram’s life and art resounds with references to amazing visions from the epics and scriptures. This iconic painting from Mumbiram’s vast and versatile repertoire invokes two very specific visions. One is from celebrated classical Sanskrit poet Bilvamangal. The other is from the Rasa Panchadhyayi selection from the 10th Canto of Vyasdeva’s Shrimad Bhagvatam. We remind ourselves that Mumbiram himself has translated the Rasa Panchadhyayi as Five Songs of Rasa. This is one of the volumes published by Distant Drummer publications and is considered to be a flagship of the Rasa Renaissance Movement that Mumbiram leads.

Mumbiram’s vision of Krishna that is seen in this his iconic vision is very similar to what is described in this verse in the Krishna Karnamritam:


वारम् वारम् वदनमरुता वेणुमापूरयन्तम्।

व्यत्यस्ताङ्घ्रिम् विकचकमलच्छायविस्तारिनेत्रम्

वन्दे बृन्दावनसुचरितम् नन्दगोपालसूनुम्॥ २५॥

“Krishna is sitting with his one leg crossed across the other. His wide beautiful eyes remind one of a full bloomed lotus while he is filling the flute with the wind from his lips. He is deftly opening and closing the holes of the flute with the tips of his beautiful fingers that seem to be emanating the rays of the early morning sun. All the activities of this son of cowherd chief Nanda are wonderful. I find them worshipable.“

Another description in the Yugala Geetam has a similar vision of Krishna. Here the Gopis are describing the beauty of Krishna to each other.

वामबाहुकृतवामकपोलो वल्गितभ्रुरधरार्पितवेणुम् ।

कोमलाङ्गुलिभिराश्रितमार्गं गोप्य ईरयति यत्र मुकुन्दः ॥ २॥

“Just remember Krishna playing upon his flute. He tilts his head sideways till his left cheek is touching his left shoulder. His eyebrows are curving exquisitely. He places the flute at his lips. Then with his graceful fingers he opens and closes the holes of the flute as he fills the ambience with his resounding melodies. That is Mukunda, the Bestower of Liberation, the one with a smile that reminds you of delicate white Kunda flowers that are placed one next to the other in a bewitching magical array. ll 2 ll”