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Folio from a Bhagavata Purana with text to canto 10 chapter 14: In Vrindavan the boys Krishna and Balarama undertake the duties of gopas (cowherds), leaving the village to tend cattle along with family and friends. To the reverse the cantos written in Bundelkhandi dialect. Datia, circa 1790-1800. Opaque watercolour with gold on wasli. 30.6 x 38.3cm (max).
Reverse with seal from royal library of Maharaja of Datia
In canto 10 Brahma praises Krishna. Continuous narrative is used to show Krishna and the gopas as well as Shukracharya and King Parikshit in a number of scenes. In both compartments at top centre are Shukracharya and Parikshit. Shukracharya spends a week reciting the text to King Parikshit, who gains salvation by listening to the story. At top left are gopis (female cowherds). The inscription says that they are looking towards Krishna as the female deer looks towards her child. Below is an inscription naming his friends but referring to Krishna as Bhagwan (God), telling us they are heading to the forest. At bottom centre we see the gopas once more. Krishna's brother Balabhadra (i.e. Balarama) is identified by inscription, he is with Krishna and the gopas. The inscription near Krishna refers to him saying to Balarama that he has seen the peacock dancing so now he will dance like the peacock. The chapter tells us that the peacock began dancing in joy having seen Krishna. This interaction represents the chapter's description of Vrindavan's forests, pastures and all their inhabitants from human to insect simultaneously reacting in the same joyfully intoxicated manner to the boy-god's presence.
With thanks to the kindness and generosity of Narmada Upadhyaya for translating inscriptions and providing commentary to the text; also Manish Patel for translating text and annotating the image reproduced with his permission below.
Scroll down the page for image with translated inscriptions.
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Above: gilt detail reflecting light
Images and text © Peter Blohm