The image of Krishna as Venugopala is a much familiar Hindu image. In this manifestation he stands with his legs crossed at the ankles, kissing out rhythmic melodies from the flute held at his lips. This icon has inspired generations of poets and artists who continue to create a rich plethora of images of extraordinary rhetorical and visual richness.
Some scholars speculate that the idea of a fluting Krishna derives from that of the lonely shepherd (go-pal) who plays his bamboo flute (venu) while tending his flock. While other cowherders of Vrindavana hold a shepherd's staff, Krishna's staff is also his flute. He, however, does not play upon it to indulge the cows, but to charm the gopis (cowherdesses). Metaphorically, he is, of course, the supreme being, the great soul (param-atma), into which the individual soul (jiva-atma) represented by the gopis, will merge, drawn by the enchanting music of his flute. He is thus the great ocean into which all rivers will eventually lose their individual identities.
Of Related Interest: