In the Realm of Gods and Kings: Arts of India Selections from the Polsky Collections and The Metropolitan Museum of Art Asia Society
The Realm of Kings The Temple and Sacred Text Krishna Rama Devi Shiva Saints and Sadhus The Realm of Gods
Krishna steals the gopis' clothes
Krishna steals the gopis' clothes
Illustration to a dispersed Bhagavata Purana, Book x, ch. 22
Bikaner, Rajasthan; ca. 1600-10
Opaque watercolor with gold on paper
Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, Cynthia Hazen Polsky and Leon B. Polsky (MMA-2001.437)



Radha makes love to Krishna in the grove
Radha makes love to Krishna in the grove
Illustration to the Gita Govinda of Jayadeva
Kangra, Punjab Hills; late 18th century
Opaque watercolor on paper
Cynthia Hazen Polsky Collection (7040-IP)


Krishna (literally, black or dark blue) is the eighth and most widely venerated of all the incarnations of Vishnu. His mythology reveals several distinct strands, reflecting the early assimilation of different regional deities to his cult and a progressive development of his character. He appears as an adviser to the warrior hero Arjun in the Mahabharata epic (ca. 200 B.C.E.–200 C.E.) and as the cowherd lover in the tenth book of the Bhagavata Purana (ca. 900 C.E.). Along with the Bhagavata Purana, which chronicles the miraculous and mischievous life of Krishna, there are literary texts such as the Gita Govinda that celebrate Krishna as the ultimate cosmic lover. Illustrated pages from many of the well-known illustrated manuscripts are represented here. While Krishna is depicted quite infrequently in early Indian sculpture and architecture, he is the most beloved of all gods in later Indian painting traditions, beginning around 1500.