The image of Krishna as Venugopala is a much familiar Hindu image. In this manifestation he stands with his legs crossed at the ankles, kissing out rhythmic melodies from the flute held at his lips. This icon has inspired generations of poets and artists who continue to create a rich plethora of images of extraordinary rhetorical and visual richness.
Some scholars speculate that the idea of a fluting Krishna derives from that of the lonely shepherd (go-pal) who plays his bamboo flute (venu) while tending his flock. While other cowherders of Vrindavana hold a shepherd's staff, Krishna's staff is also his flute. He, however, does not play upon it to indulge the cows, but to charm the gopis (cowherdesses). Metaphorically, he is, of course, the supreme being, the great soul (param-atma), into which the individual soul (jiva-atma) represented by the gopis, will merge, drawn by the enchanting music of his flute. He is thus the great ocean into which all rivers will eventually lose their individual identities.
In this sculpture, cast in the round, the benevolent, smiling Krishna wears a high curving crown, with a solar halo at the back framing his head. Two enormous kundalas (ear-rings) reach nearly down to his shoulders and a sumptuous amount of jewelry adorns the rest of his body. He also wears the sacred diagonal thread of the Brahmins and the clinging, decoratively incised dhoti extends up to the reverse of the statue. His body is slender and lissom, an embodiment of grace and sensuality, exemplified in the slim, almost feminine waist and the shapely, angular limbs.
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