Guide to recognising paintings of ShriNathji



Here are some hints and tips on recognising chitrajis / sacred paintings of ShriNathji. 


* Most popular svraoop found in most vaishnav homes / seva are that of the Rajbhog darshan.  This is usually because -

Rajbhog darshan also has the advantage of having the maximum shringar, topped off with a thick flower garland. 

Typically, Rajbhog darshan has the Lord sporting lotus flowers & flute in the crook of his right hand and a walking stick / chadi for the gend (hockey like game) near his right hand. 

In addition, during Rajbhog, there is usually a chopat (ludo like board game), various khilonas (toys), paan-bida and a jariji on steps laid out in front of the Lord.  Sadly, many modern paintings omit the gend, chopat and khilonas. 


* Though the svaroops in Pushti Marg wear a wide range of clothes in the Rajput and Mughal styles, majority of the chitrajis sold are of the Lord wearing either the four pointed chakadar jama or the circular ghardar jama. 


* In the Summer Lord usually wears paradhani, adbandha, pichod and dhoti.  Usually, these are of light, pastel colours.  In the summer, the Lord only wears a few strings of pearls, light anklets, bracelets and a few rings.  Heavy shringar, with lots of gold would only make the summer heat more oppressive. 


* Majority of vaishnavs, when they see a chitraji of God / ShriNathji lightly dressed, they automatically assume this must be a chitraji of the “mangala” darshan, without realising that during the summer Gods of Pushti Marg dress lightly as a matter of fact.


* An actual chitraji of mangala would have the Lord wearing an adbandha, shawl or a quilted coat, depending on the season.  No jewellery is worn during mangala except a single necklace.  There would be no turban ornaments this early in the morning.  Most vaishnavs seem to prefer seeing the svaroops with lots of jewels and hence, a true mangala painting is rare.


* As vaishnavs prefer lots of jewels, and to make their painting seem “expensive”, painters often use more gold and diamante than would be actually used in the haveli. 


* Popular festivals depicted in chitrajis are the Maha-Rasa, Divali, Gopastami, Chappan-bhog and Jalebi uttsav.  Banglas, boats and flower festivals are also popular.


* Main difference between the chitraji of Chappan-bhog, Gopatami  and Diwali is the colour of Shri Nathji’s clothes.  For Chappan-bhog and Gopastami, its golden brocade.  For Diwali, its silver brocade.  Lord wears the Go-karna mukut, where the turban ends are flared out like the large ears of a cow for these festivals.  Jewels are worn from head to toe and usually a door-frame like rectangular ornamentation is added to the pithika, depicting cows.


* Lord’s choti is usually only worn on festive days.  Usually, it is shown swinging downwards on the Lord’s left, mirroring the scarf swinging upwards.  If the Lord is dressed as a bride-groom, the choti is swinging high above the Lord’s right shoulder.


* Lord wears a "sahero" when dressed as a bride-groom.  Traditional sahero would have rows of pearl hanging down.  But this would hide the face of Thakorji and would not be ideal.  So in a stroke genius design, the hanging veil of pearls is inverted and kept pointing upwards with stiff wires inserted in the pearls.  Wavy plait (choti) is shown swinging over the right shoulder.  Being a Hindu deity, Thakorji wears a dhoti to his wedding.  Being fashionable, he wears a chakadar jama on top.  Often the jama is kept open at the front to reveal the dhoti underneath. 


* Chitrajis of various “Ghatas” are popular.  Now a days, vaishnavs seem to like a singular colour scheme used in the ghatas.  Most popular are black (shyam), white, pink and yellow.  Being a winter shringar, during a ghata walls and ceilings of the inner sanctum are also covered in silk hangings of a singular colour.


* Thakorji only wears "moja", socks, during the winter months.  Hence any chitraji with moja must depict a darshan during the winter. 


* Chitraji's with Lord's feet pointing away, in opposite directions, must be pre 1850s.  After this time, the feet were painted pointing forward.  This does not mean the feet of the icon changed direction - this is just an artistic convention.


* Chitrajis depicting ShriNathji’s entire inner sanctum are rare now-a-days.  Older paintings used to depict the Tilkayat and the guruji of the vaishnav who had commissioned the chitraji.  This way they could have their God and Guru in the same chitraji.


© Bhagwat Shah



Return to the Festival index

Return to main courtyard of the Haveli