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Krishna's Rasa Lila or dance with the gopis

The theme of this Pahari Indian painting in the Basohli idiom, Rasa Lila, or Krishna’s dance with the gopis, is based on the narration in the great Indian scripture, the Bhagavata Purana. Hearing melodious sound of the flute played by Krishna, the gopis leave their homes and husbands to meet Krishna, on an autumnal night. Though he asks them to return to their homes, he relents when they plead to be with him and wanders with them on the banks of the river Yamuna.

Krishna indulges in amorous sports with them and dances his famous dance known as ‘Rasa’, in which all of them stand in a circle holding hands and Krishna appears between every two of the maidens, thus making each gopi think that he was dancing with her alone. It was a magical night, lit by the silvery light of the moon, redolent with the heady fragrance of flowers, and with the gods appearing in their vehicles to shower flowers on them.At the end of the dance, Krishna and the gopis enter the river Yamuna and indulge in various water sports.

This painting belongs to the Bhagavata series which is the work of a Mankot artist in the Basohli idiom. This miniature painting from India is a captivating example of Pahari art.