Modern & Contemporary South Asian Art

Modern & Contemporary South Asian Art

View full screen - View 1 of Lot 87. Narak.

Property from an Important Indian Collection

Ganesh Pyne


Auction Closed

October 26, 03:08 PM GMT


30,000 - 50,000 GBP

Lot Details


Property from an Important Indian Collection

Ganesh Pyne

1937 - 2013


Charcoal and crayon on paper

Signed and dated in Bengali lower right

51.5 x 61 cm. (20 ¼ x 24 in.)

Executed in 2010

Acquired directly from the artist

This work depicts a scene from the Mahabharata. According to the tale, the Pandava brothers emerged victorious in the cataclysmic battle of Kurukshetra, securing the victory of dharma or righteousness, but at huge cost to themselves, their kin and their extended clan. After their victory, they ruled the kingdom of Hastinapura for over 36 years before retiring to the forest to prepare for their end. When it was time, the eldest Pandava – Yudhishthira, also known as Dharmaraja or the Righteous King – told his brothers that since every action they took in their lives was in service of righteousness, there could be no doubt about their assured place in heaven. And so the group began climbing a mountain whose peak was believed to be the gateway to heaven. On the way, one by one the brothers and their wife Draupadi perished, until only Yudhishthira was left. When he did reach the abode of the celestials alone, he was astonished to discover that his archrivals the Kauravas, vanquished in the bloody battle of Kurukshetra for their sins, were in heaven, whilst his own brothers who fought to uphold righteousness were not. Upon inquiring after them and their wife Draupadi, it was revealed to Yudhishthira that they were in hell. When an incredulous Yudhishthira asked why, he was told that they had been unable to overcome personal vices during their lives – pride, vanity, insecurity, greed – and therefore were languishing in hell to face the consequences of those failings and related outcomes. This story is brilliantly portrayed here by Pyne, with Yudhishthira standing remorsefully with folded palms in the netherworld and learning the complex nature of karma, a valuable lesson for him and a stark reminder to us in our lives. This is the kind of ‘twist in the tale’ that Pyne loved to explore in his art.