Why ‘Krishna and his Gopis’ a popular theme in Indian Paintings?

Do you have a ‘Krishna and his Gopis’ theme painting at your workspace or your living room? What made you select one in the first place? The “Krishna and his Gopis” theme have been one of the most popular themes for artists and painters over the years. First, let us understand that Gopi is a Sanskrit word for 'cow-herd girl'. In Hinduism particularly the name ‘Gopi’ (also ‘gopika’) is used generally to refer to a cow herding girl or a group of cow herding girls popular within Vaishnava Theology for their great Bhakti or unconditional love and devotion to Lord Krishna, as the Bhagavata Purana and several other Puranic texts tell us. Among the group, gopi Radha or Radhika is held in high reverence and esteem in almost all Hindu traditions, particularly within Gaudiya Vaishnavism.

 

There are 108 Gopis of Vrindavan in total. But the Krisha Charit gives us a different figure -16000. Gopis are usually divided into three groups: Gopi friends who age same as that of Krishna, gopi’s messengers and maid servants. The most exalted is the first group, followed by the maidservants and gopi’s messengers. The following eight gopis are regarded as the most pious of Krishna’s devotees after Srimati Radharani:

  • Lalita (gopi) Sakhi
  • Vishakha Sakhi
  • Campakalata Sakhi
  • Citra Sakhi
  • Tungavidya Sakhi
  • Indulekha Sakhi
  • Rangadevi Sakhi
  • Sudevi Sakhi

The Hindu Vaishnava theology has it that that gopis are said to embody Suddha-bhakti which is often described as the ‘the supreme form of unbounded love for God' (Krishna). The Gopi’s spontaneous and steadfast devotion occupies a prominent place in the later chapters of the Bhagavata Purana, within Krishna's Vrindavan pleasures and also described at great length in the stories of sage Uddhava.