8. Krishna as Nadu Gopala

8. Krishna as Nadu Gopala
Height: 10.6 cm
Nineteenth century
Catalogue number 8.
Accession number 88.374.

The worship of Krishna is of great importance to Vaishnavism in Bengal. The most intimate relationship that the devotee can attain with the deity is that of a lover, as Radha was to Krishna. Next in importance to that union is the love of a mother for her son, where the worshiper treats Krishna as if he were her son. In these human forms, the powerful god becomes accessible to the devotee. The mythology of Krishna further provides engaging stories about the various stages of his growing up that can have similar counterparts in the lives of his mortal worshipers.

These two brass images of Krishna depict aspects of the deity that are very popular for worship in the intimate setting of the home. Krishna, depicted as the divine flute player, probably held a silver flute in his hands. His body is shown moving to the music of his flute. As the infant, he is depicted crawling, with stolen sweetmeats clapsed in his hand. According to the Bengali version of the legend, the baby Krishna stole sweets from his mother's kitchen, rather than butter as elsewhere in India, and was caught as he crawled away.

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