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Notes on the Geography of Peninsular India: Ajanta: Photo 94

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Well, what would scholars do without a good disagreement? This may be an illustration from the Visvantara or Vessantara Jataka (No. 547 in the Cambridge edition), in which case it shows Prince Visvantara, and his wife Princess Madri. It's a story of absolute generosity, with the prince giving everything away, including his wife and children. (They all reunite happily at the end, of course.) Alternatively it may illustrate the Udayin and Gupta story, where Udayin, son of a priest, is enjoying a last moment of pleasure with Gupta, a widow who was married to Udayin's friend. Udayin is about to renounce worldly pleasure, leaving Gupta to sit disconsolate in her garden. (See Dieter Schlingloff, Guide to Ajanta Paintings, Delhi, 1999, Volume 1, pp. 39-40). The servant at the right is taken from his dress to be Persian (more specifically, Sassanian), a nice reminder that Fifth Century India was not hermetically sealed off from the wider world.

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