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Damodarji II, Tilakayat of Nathdwara temple in martial pose riding a horse. Nathdwara, circa mid-19th century. Opaque watercolour with silver (tin) and gold on wasli. 31 x 23.4cm
Damodarji II (1797-1826) Tilakayat (chief goswami or gosain: descendant of Vallabhacharya and master of the cattle/senses) of the Pushti Marg (Path of Grace) sect founded by Valabhacharya in the 15th century and closely linked with the temple town of Nathdwara. Damodarji II a.k.a. Dauji had his own private army and is a celebrated figure in Nathdwara's history . His spiritual reputation was gained by his creating and organising highly elaborate seva (ritual service to the deity) including in 1821 the Duhera Manoratha which in effect created a religious festival running throughout the entire year. Also a man of influence amongst the royal courts of the region, James Tod in his 'The Annals and Antiquities of Rajasthan', Vol. 1, 1899, pp. 572-3 noted that in demonstration of defence of the faith and also the riches in the temple town he would tour the region on horseback as head of a 400 strong mounted army. During this he would carry a spear - whereas here he is shown raising a sword - in imitation of Krishna's martial prowess in certain aspects of his mythology. For an equestrian portrait of Damodarji II with spear see Amit Ambarlal, 'Krishna as Shrinathji: Rajasthani paintings from Nathdwara', 1995, p.65.
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Above: silver (tin) and gilt detail reflecting light
Images and text © Indian Miniature Paintings Ltd