Somanathapura Keshava Temple: South Garbhagriha – Venugopala

Venugopala - Sculpture of Krishna playing the flute standing inside the south garbhagriha of the Somanathapura Keshava Temple in Karnataka, India

Venugopala -Sculpture of Krishna playing the flute standing inside the south garbhagriha

Venugopala – Krishna Playing the Flute
The Somanathapura Keshava Temple has three garbhagrihas (inner sanctums). Standing inside the south garbhagriha on the star-shaped platform is an exquisitely carved life-size statue of Venugopala, a form of Krishna portrayed as a divine flute player. Venu means flute, and Gopala means the protector of cows.

Krishna is the eighth avatar of Vishnu. Check the Dashavatara painting on the Hampi Virupaksha Temple Murals for a list and description of all the ten avatars of Vishnu.

As you can see from the image, Venugopala is standing gracefully with his legs crossed. He has elegantly bent his well-proportioned body to allow him to raise his hands to position the flute (which is partly broken) perfectly at the mouth level.

Venugopala is wearing a beautiful skirt-like dress and jewelry all over his body. He is wearing bracelets and arm rings on his hands, anklets on his legs, a beautiful necklace around his neck, and an udiyana (waist chain) around his waist. There is a looped thread, known as yajnopavita, hanging across the chest from the left shoulder to the waist. It is a symbol indicating the person wearing it has mastered Vedas and undergone the upanayana ceremony and is worn by gods and deities.

Venugopala is standing on a star-shaped platform. Carved at the center is a relief depicting kneeling Garuda, Vishnu’s vehicle. Surrounding him are cows and gopikas (cow herding girls who are associates of Krishna) listening to his music.

Related Images
Keshava – Idol in the west garbhagriha
Janardhana – Idol in the north garbhagriha
Venugopala – Sculptural relief carved on the outer wall of the south garbhagriha
Venugopala – A bracket figure mounted just below the eaves of the Belur Chennakeshava Temple

Related Pages
Somanathapura Keshava Temple – A Masterpiece of Hoysala Temple Art
Belur Chennakeshava Temple
Bracket Figures
Garbhagriha Outer Wall
Kappe Chennigaraya Shrine

Copyright © 2019 – 2020 by Lawrence Rodrigues. All rights reserved.

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