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Krishna and the Gopis Exchange Roles
Page from a dispersed series of the Bhagavata Purana

Artist/maker unknown, Indian

Made in Gujarat, India, Asia
Probably made in Surat, Gujarat, India, Asia

c. 1720

Opaque watercolor and gold on paper

Image: 9 5/8 × 7 3/8 inches (24.4 × 18.7 cm) Sheet: 10 1/2 × 8 3/4 inches (26.7 × 22.2 cm)

Curatorial Department:
South Asian Art

Object Location:

Currently not on view

Accession Number:

Credit Line:
Gift of Mr. and Mrs. Lessing J. Rosenwald, 1959

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In the two scenes at the top of this page, Krishna dances for a seated gopi and a gopi dances for Krishna. In similarly mirror images at the bottom, Krishna honors a gopi who plays a vina (stringed instrument) and a gopi honors flute-playing Krishna. Although this scene is not described explicitly in the Bhagavata Purana, it is implied in Krishna's statement that real love must be reciprocal-and as devotees cherish a deity, so Krishna is devoted to his followers. Such playful interchanges of identity between Krishna and his lover became a favorite theme of later devotional poetry and imagery, where the gopi is usually specified as Radha.