milk maidens of Brij and Vrindavan in the Vaishnava-Hindu philosophy are
venerated as the most beloved companions and devotees of Shri Krishna. They represent
shuddha or pure love for the lord that brings them close to him, where they
ultimately fuse with the celestial presence of Krishna, becoming one with him.
Their unbounded and pure love for Krishna cannot be understood through the
narrow parameters of worldly morality. The relationship Gopis shared with
Krishna was beyond any rules of time, space, or conduct- to highlight this idea, the esoteric Hindu philosophy, and art uses various curious
narrative devices. One such is the episode of Krishna bathing with the Gopis in
the river Yamuna.
The river Yamuna represented through light grey wavy strokes in this watercolour is herself one of the lovers of Krishna. She is believed to extend her love for the dark-skinned incarnation of Lord Vishnu to all those who take a dip in her waters. The act is supposed to cleanse the soul of all sins and intensify its love for Krishna. Thus, the Yamuna as the setting of this Lila or play of Krishna seems like a fitting choice. The four gopis that surround Krishna look beautiful as they adoringly gaze at him. Krishna gently touches Gopi’s chin, while embracing another one. Bathing- an act that requires taking off one’s clothes signifies the act of standing bare in front of God. Only the soul that is ready to give up everything the world has to offer and accept the omnipresent gaze of the Lord can be liberated and reach Golok, (the adobe of Krishna) an honour bestowed by Krishna on his Gopis.
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