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Verses from the ‘Gita Govinda’

The Sanskrit devotional poem Gita Govinda (Song of the Cowherd) by Jayadeva is a cycle of 24 songs. These paintings are from a long series in which each illustrates a single verse.

The main characters are the god Krishna, the eighth avatar of Vishnu, and his lover, the mortal cowherdess Radha. Their recurrent separations and blissful reunions are metaphors for the separation of the soul and the Divine and their ultimate ecstasy in union.

A maharaja (probably the patron) and members of his family appear in many of the paintings as humbleworshipers of Vishnu.

Indian School, late 18th century

Folio from the Gita Govinda.

Indian School, late 18th century

Folio from the Gita Govinda.

Indian School, late 18th century

Folio from the Gita Govinda.

Indian School, late 18th century

Folio from the Gita Govinda.