Category Archives: Gopi

Raslila in art : celebration of divine love

         Raslila is a celebratory dance done in the form of a ras mandala by gopis along with Lord Krishna  Gopis are cowherd maidens who are smitten with Lord Krishna, Radha being the main among them.The Raslila is described in the Bhagavata-purana and Jayadeva’s Gita -Govinda. The word lila means play or act, whereas ras refers to emotion or essenceflavour/mood etc. It is difficult to find an exact synonym in the English language; raslila is a dance of  divine love.

       It is believed that one night, on hearing Krishna playing on his flute, all gopis of Vrindavan left their homes and joined him in a dance in the forest or grove where they danced through the night. Lord Krishna manifested himself in multiple form and each gopi believed that he was dancing with her. A unique circle is formed in the raslila called the ras-mandala. The Bhakti tradition followers believe that the earthly romantic love  between human beings is a dilute form and the intense love for Krishna felt by the gopis is like the soul searching for the ultimate , the God divine in the spiritual realm. The gopis are believed to be shadows of Lord Krishna’s own form.

     The Raslila is popular theme in many Indian dance forms like Kathak,Odissi,Manipuri and Bharatnatyam.

Krishna's Dance of Delight (Rasa Lila) LACMA M.75.66.jpg

Rasalila, Bundi,17th century, Rajasthan, LACMA,USA.

By Image:, Public Domain,

Brooklyn Museum - Rasa-lila (Drawing).jpg

Raslila, drawing, 19th century,Brooklyn Museum, USA.

By Anonymous (India) – Online Collection of Brooklyn Museum; Photo: Brooklyn Museum, 80.278.3_IMLS_PS4.jpg, Public Domain,

Raas Lila.jpg.jpg

Raslila,painting, probably 21st century.

By Raj441977 – Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0,



References :

  • Thomas, P/Epics, myths and legends of India, Bombay : D. B. Taraporevala and Sons.
  • Dehejia, Harsha.V/Radha: Gopi to Goddess,New Delhi :Niyogi Books,2014.



Posted by :

Soma Ghosh

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