Miniature copies of the Bhagavadgītā

The Bhagavadgītā was composed around two thousand years ago and is one of the central texts of Hinduism. Krishna teaches a warriror, Arjuna, about correct and incorrect action, and about renunciation, sacrifice and, finally – after a life of correct action – freedom from selfish human desires. This scroll of the Bhagavadgītā is part of an eighteenth-century fashion for copying certain Hindu sacred texts on to thin, burnished strips of paper – not to be read, but to be carried on one’s person as an amulet. The richness of the decoration suggests that it was commissioned by a wealthy patron. Heading the miniature text are six eight-lobed cartouches in a floral border showing the major Hindu deities: Gaṇeśa, Brahmā, Viṣṇu, Lakṣmī, Śiva, Durgā and Krishna.