Somanathapura Keshava Temple: Venugopala – Krishna Playing the Flute

Venugopala - A form of Krishna carved on the outer wall of the Somanathapura Keshava Temple in Karnataka, India

Venugopala – A form of Krishna carved on the outer wall of the Somanathapura Keshava Temple

The image shows a sculpture of Venugopala, a form of Krishna portrayed as a divine flute player, carved on the outer wall of the south garbhagriha (inner sanctum). Note: 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.

This sculpture is a replica of the Venugopala idol in the south garbhagriha. This sculpture is carved out of Balapada Kallu (soft soapstone), whereas the Venugopala in the grabhagriha is carved out of Krishna Shile (black stone). The quality of craftsmanship of this sculpture is inferior compared to the one in the grabhagriha.

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.

Clad in a beautiful skirt-like dress, Venugopala is wearing stylish jewelry on different parts of 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.

Hanging across his chest from the left shoulder to the waist is a looped thread, known as Yajnopavita, a symbol common to carvings of Hindu gods and deities. It indicates that the person wearing it has mastered the Vedas and has to undergo a ritual (i.e., Upanayana ) before that person starts wearing it.

Check the Venugopala bracket figure at the Belur Chennakeshava Temple.

Related Images
Venugopala – A life-size statue standing in the south garbhagriha
Venugopala – A 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
Hoysala Temples:
Somanathapura Keshava Temple
Belur Chennakeshava Temple – Bracket Figures
Belur Chennakeshava Temple – Navaranga
Belur Chennakeshava Temple – Garbhagriha Outer Wall
Kappe Chennigaraya Shrine
Badami Chalukya Temples:
Badami, Cave – 1, Cave – 2, Cave – 3, Cave – 4
Durga Temple at Aihole
Vijayanagara Temples:
Hampi Virupaksha Temple Murals
Angkor Wat Temples:
Angkor Wat Temple, Angkor Wat Bas-Reliefs, Banteay Srei Temple in Cambodia

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