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Krishna and the Gopis Exchange Roles

c. 1720
Artist/maker unknown, Indian
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.

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