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Akrura's Mystic Vision of Krishna/Vishnu and Balarama/Adishesha
Akrura’s Mystic Vision
Page from a dispersed series of the Bhagavata Purana (10:39)

Artist/maker unknown, Indian

Made in Basohli, Jammu and Kashmir, India, Asia

c. 1760-1765

Opaque watercolor with gold on paper

Image: 9 3/8 × 13 1/2 inches (23.8 × 34.3 cm) Sheet: 11 3/4 × 16 3/16 inches (29.8 × 41.1 cm)

Curatorial Department:
South Asian Art

Object Location:

Currently not on view

Accession Number:

Credit Line:
Stella Kramrisch Collection, 1994

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The tenth book of the major Hindu text the Bhagavata Purana tells of the life and deeds of Krishna, an earthly incarnation of the god Vishnu. This painting shows the deceitful nobleman Akrura experiencing a mystic vision of Krishna as the cosmic deity. At upper left, Akrura invites Krishna to a celebration that is in reality a trap. At right, Krishna and his brother Balarama travel to the festivities by chariot. Along the way Akrura stops to take a ritual bath in a river. Each time Akrura immerses himself, he experiences a mystic vision. First he sees the divine brothers sitting together underwater (lower right), although he knows they are actually seated in the chariot. In his final vision (lower left), he perceives the four-armed Vishnu (Krishna) resting on the eternal serpent Adishesha, here portrayed as Balarama. The importance of the serpent in this scene cannot be overlooked; it is said that when Adishesha uncoils, time moves forward; when he recoils, the universe ceases to exist.