The Kedara Kalpa is a relatively little-known Shaiva text; and only slightly better known than it are the two dispersed series of paintings to which this study is devoted. But both raise questions that are at once elegant and deeply engaging. Ostensibly, they treat of a journey by five seekers who set out to reach the realm of the great god, Shiva – walking barefoot through icy mountains and deep ravines, frozen rivers and moon-like rocks, running on the way into temptations and dangers the like of which no man before them had encountered – and, in the end, succeed. But as one goes through the narrative, the text visualized with brilliance sometimes by members of a talented family of Pahari painters, one begins to wonder. Is this a parable of sorts? Or the description of a long, unending dream from which one never wakes? Or, one wakes up like those five seekers and then, at the very next moment, slips back into that real / unreal world again? Is there something that hides behind all that one sees? Is this journey real, or is it only in the mind?
It is for each reader to decide, the authors appear to say.