The earthly conduct of Lord Krishna, referred to as His ‘leela’, is a popular subject with Indian painters. The watercolour that you see on this page is a composite of twelve round-edged panels, the major one in the very centre depicting Him commanding a bunch of helpless milkmaids to His playful yet divine will.
In the company of His brother, Balarama, the young Vishnu-avatara wanders the wilderness of Vrindavan with their bovine friends. The all-powerful Lord vanquishes the wicked Kalia and dances in victory over its hood. He is the sweetheart of all the milkmaids of Vrindavan and the light of the lives of both Nanda-Yashoda va Devaki-Vasudeva. All these are depicted in the smaller panels in this composition.
The central one, however, reveals so much more. The Lord, having taken away their delicate bits of silk, now beckons the barely-dressed maidens with the music of His flute. Unable to step out of the bathwater in such pristine condition, the weight of their wet tresses trailing behind them, they stretch their golden arms towards Him only to be tormented to no end.
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