As is the cult of Vaishnava images in the South Indian art tradition, this image of Krishna, with Vishnu-like towering, styled and lavishly ornamented crown, the mark of Vaishnava ‘tilaka’ on the forehead, Vaijayanti of fresh Parijat flowers trailing down the thighs, lavish ornamentation, the posture that reveals great majesty, stately formalism and a stoical demeanour on the face, has been modeled like Vishnu. The position of his legs in this statue, though close to ‘tri-bhang’, does not reveal such romantic beauty as it otherwise does in his ‘tri-bhang’ iconography. The figure of Radha too reveals the formalism of the South Indian icons of Lakshmi, Vishnu’s consort, not the cowherd maiden Radha’s emotional fervour. Lavish bejeweling apart, Radha’s icons are not known to carry a lotus : the essence of Lakshmi’s iconography, as Radha’s image is doing in this statue. The rays-like radiating discs, symbolic of halos, behind the heads of Radha and Krishna, are not a regular feature of their iconography except when such images are conceived strictly on votive lines.
Outstanding in plasticity, modeling, proportionate anatomy, art-merit and aestheticism, the two images have been cast with identical iconography : elongated faces with angularly receding chins moderately sized downwards cast eyes with triply folded eyebrows, sharp straight noses, small but slightly raised lips, unbound hair thickly falling on both shoulders and backs, necks with folds, fine long fingers and tall figures. With sensuously modeled breasts, subdued belly and broad hips Radha represents the absolute womanhood. None of the twin images reveals any kind of sensuousness or even amour. The statue is for certain rendered for sanctum and thus abounds in great divine aura and transcendental quality. As ordains the great treatise 'Chitra-sutra' in the 'Vishnudharmottara Purana', the two images so powerfully define the represented deities that, when meditated on, they spontaneously re-emerge in the mind and then the ties with the material are severed and there remains only the deities’ intrinsic realization. Again, as prescribes ‘Chitra-sutra’, 'Swarupa' : representing absolute aesthetic beauty, the essential condition of a fully evolved image, is what defines the two images. Perfect as they are, they charge the ambience – within and without, with the same divinity with which the two images abound.
The twin-statue has been installed on a wide podium elevated with lotus rising. Just behind the two figures there perches a large peacock so closely associated with Krishna. It is said that, when six years of age, with his ‘sakhas’ – playmates, Krishna was in the forest welcoming the first monsoon showers; suddenly a peacock engaged in ecstatic dance passed across him. Deeply fascinated by the beauty of its feathers Krishna wished that he had a few of them for cresting his headdress. Suddenly the bird stopped dancing and shed its feathers. Delighted Krishna picked one and crowned his head with it. This gave to Krishna’s image a timeless attribute. The graphic manifestation of the sacred syllable AUM on the extreme back comprises the backdrop for the images of Krishna and Radha. The sound of creation that manifests as the visible universe AUM, as the Mandukya Upanishad has it, represents with its three phonemes beginning, duration and dissolution of the universe to which are associated Brahma, Vishnu and Shiva. Thus, the statue represents not only that Krishna and Radha pervade the three aspects of universe but also the unity of the Great Trinity.
This description by Prof. P.C. Jain and Dr. Daljeet. Prof. Jain specializes on the aesthetics of literature and is the author of numerous books on Indian art and culture. Dr. Daljeet is the curator of the Miniature Painting Gallery, National Museum, New Delhi. They have both collaborated together on a number of books.