Indian and Himalayan Art
Krishna and the Gopis Exchange Roles
Probably made in Surat, Gujarat, India, Asia
Artist/maker unknown, India
Opaque watercolor and gold on paper
Currently not on view
1959-93-62Gift of Mr. and Mrs. Lessing J. Rosenwald, 1959
LabelIn 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.