A murti like this seemingly emerges from the walls of an ancient South Indian temple. It is a solid, wooden sculpture depicting the Lord Gopala in the company of His best friend and devotee, the cow. In fact, the name Gopala is a portmanteau of the words ‘go’, which means cow, and ‘pala’, which means guardian. Lord Krishna, the cowherd of Vrindavan, is the guardian-companion of this most sacred pashu (animal).
With a flute betwixt His fingers, the Lord stands in the tribhanga stance. His body is jutting out laterally (‘bhanga’) at three (‘tri’) junctures, which makes for a strikingly familiar and aesthetic silhouette. From the composure of His handsome, youthful countenance, He seems to be quite into the music emanating from His flute. Overwhelmed by the music, the innocent bovine licks the sole of His upturned foot.
In the posterior hands of the chaturbhujadhari (four-armed) deity are the conch and the discus of Lord Vishnu, of whom Krishna is an avatara (earthly incarnation). From the halo to the crown on His head, down to the intricate shringar on His person, the level of detail introduced into each aspect of this sculpture is proof of the artisan’s adherence to the craftsmanship and the aesthetics of yore.
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