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Page from a Dispersed Bhagavata Purana Series

Asian Art

Like the adjacent painting, this page depicts the god Krishna’s early life in the idyllic countryside. Here, we see the effects of Krishna’s enchanting flute playing. An accompanying text reads: “. . . In the heavens, the gods listen to his music; on earth, the ascetics offering worship listen as well. Women engaged in casual conversation, mingled with laughter, forget everything and are frozen like a painted picture . . . .” The image captures the elements of the verse and arranges them in tidy registers around the fluting Krishna, with gods riding on boatlike vessels above, ascetics seated to the right, and women in conversation at the left. Such compartmentalization is often used in early Central Indian painting to depict multiple spaces or scenes on a single flat surface.
MEDIUM Opaque watercolor on paper
DATES ca. 1680
DIMENSIONS 9 1/8 x 14 in. (23.2 x 35.6 cm) Other: 8 1/4 x 13 7/8in. (21 x 35.2cm)  (show scale)
INSCRIPTIONS Verso, in Braja in black ink in Devanagari script: Shri Krishna took the herd of cows to the forest. There the Beloved one played his flute while the boys of Vraja [Vrindavana] listened (1). Praise be to the crowned god standing in a delicate three-fold posture, immersing everyone's ears in his divine music and everyone's eyes in his unparalleled grace (2). The scene of the Hari's delicate fingers playing the flute steals everyone's minds (3). In the heavens, the gods listen to his music; on earth, the ascetics offering worship listen as well. The women engaged in casual conversation, mingled with laughter, forgot everything and became frozen like a painted image (4). Along the banks of the river Yamuna, cows, oxen, deer, and peacocks stopped to listen to the flute (5). Listening to the flute, even the forest dwellers mistook the moving water and the immobile stone as static and dynamic, respectively (6). Seeing the son of Nanda [Nandalala Krishna] decorated with tilaka, tulasi, and the garland of wild flowers, the inebriated swarms of bees and flocks of watercranes, birds, and swans surrounded him (8). Listening to his tunes, Shiva, Shakra [Indra], and Brahma [Vidhi] lost their senses. Maidens of noble families, returning home, forgot the direction (8). Such was the state of the maidens of Vraja, and the merits of Hari rai [Shri Krishna] have been recited. This page of this chapter is complete with the recitals of the merits of the Lord (9). Page 60. Chapter 34. (Translation: S. Mitra).
CREDIT LINE Gift of Dr. and Mrs. Robert Walzer
MUSEUM LOCATION This item is not on view
CAPTION Indian. Page from a Dispersed Bhagavata Purana Series, ca. 1680. Opaque watercolor on paper, 9 1/8 x 14 in. (23.2 x 35.6 cm). Brooklyn Museum, Gift of Dr. and Mrs. Robert Walzer, 84.206.2 (Photo: Brooklyn Museum, 84.206.2_PS2.jpg)
IMAGE overall, 84.206.2_PS2.jpg. Brooklyn Museum photograph, 2009
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RIGHTS STATEMENT No known copyright restrictions
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