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Krishna Meets the Gopis at Night

c. 1760-1765
Artist/maker unknown, Indian

The Bhagavata Purana dwells at length on the god Krishna's love-play with the gopis (cowherdesses) in the village of Vrindavan, where he grew up. Each gopi wants Krishna as her own, a potent metaphor for the human soul's pursuit of union with God. In this painting, Krishna meets some of the gopis by the riverbank at night. The verse on the back of the painting, translated below, describes the scene perfectly:

Upon the shoulder of one gopi Krishna placed his arm, whose natural blue lotus fragrance was mixed with that of the sandalwood pulp anointing it. As the gopi relished that fragrance, her bodily hair stood on end in jubilation, and she kissed his arm.

-Translation by Mandavi Mehta

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