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Painting Description:

In this painting we see Rādhā with Nanda and his son, Kṛṣṇa The painting is based on the līlā described in the Brahma-vaivarta Purāṇa, canto four. The following is a summary excerpt.

One day, taking infant Kṛṣṇa with him, Nanda tended the cows in a banyan grove of Vṛndāvana forest, holding infant Kṛṣṇa to his chest. Seeing the cloud-covered sky, darkened forest, howling winds, ferocious thunder, great rainstorm, wildly shaking trees, and falling branches, Nanda said, “How can I go home now and leave the calves behind? If I do not go home, what will become of my boy?” Seeing Rādhā as a youthful forest goddess, illuminating the ten directions with a splendor greater than ten million suns, suddenly come to that secluded place, Nanda said to her, “O beautiful one, now you may take my son and enjoy with him as you like. When your desires are all fulfilled, you will return him to me.” After speaking these words, he fearfully gave the crying infant to her. She accepted him with a sweet and happy smile.
She held infant Kṛṣṇa to her heart’s content, embracing him for a long time with both arms. She remembered the circle of the rāsa dance. Then Rādhā suddenly saw a palace with a hundred jewel domes. Seeing this, the goddess Rādhā happily entered it. There she saw [infant Kṛṣṇa, in his form as] the handsome, youthfully fully grown, and dark Supreme Personality of Godhead, who was anointed with sandal paste and was splendid and playful. He said, “O Rādhā, O girl with the beautiful face, I love you more than anyone. You are identical with me. We are not different. When you do not stand by my side, the people call me Kṛṣṇa. When you do stand by my side the people call me splendid Kṛṣṇa (Śrī Kṛṣṇa).”
At that moment the demigod Brahmā came to that palace, carrying a garland and a kamaṇḍalu in his hands, and his four faces gently smiling. Brahmā first approached Śrī Kṛṣṇa, bowing down and offering prayers. Then he bowed his head before the lotus feet of Śrī Rādhā, the mother of all. With great respect he washed her feet with water from his kamaṇḍalu and then dried them with his hair. Folding his hands, he spoke many prayers.
Sitting between them, Brahmā ignited a sacred fire and, meditating on Lord Kṛṣṇa, properly offered oblations. He had Rādhā circumambulate Kṛṣṇa seven times and then circumambulate the fire. He had Kṛṣṇa take Rādhā’s hand and recite seven Vedic mantras. Then grandfather Brahmā, the knower of the Vedas, placed Rādhā’s hand on Kṛṣṇa’s chest and Kṛṣṇa’s hand on Rādhā’s back and had Rādhā recite the Vedic mantras. Brahmā then had Rādhā place a knee-length parijāta garland around Kṛṣṇa’s neck and had Kṛṣṇa place a beautiful garland around Rādhā’s neck. As if he were the father and she were his daughter, Brahmā gave Rādhā to Kṛṣṇa. The demigods showered pārijāta flowers, the Gandharvas sang, and the Apsarās danced. After the demigods left, Rādhā and Kṛṣṇa enjoyed loving pastimes.
After some time, Lord Kṛṣṇa abandoned the form of her youthful lover and became an infant again. Rādhā placed the infant Kṛṣṇa on her lap and gazed at the jewel palace, the flower garden, and the forest. Then, traveling as fast as the mind, she left the forest and arrived in half an eye blink at Nanda’s palace.
As she was about to give the infant to Yaśodā, Rādhā sweetly said, “I had to endure many difficulties on the path as I tried to carry this very big, hungry, crying child your husband gave to me in the cow-pasture. O Yaśodā, the sky was filled with clouds, it rained again and again, and the path was muddy and almost impassable. My clothes were ruined. It was very difficult to carry your child. O saintly Yaśodā, please take your boy, give him your breast, and make him happy. I have been gone from home for a long time. I must return at once.”
This līlā is also alluded to in Prabodānanda Sarasvatī’s commentary to Gīta-govinda, Sāmoda-dāmodaraḥ, verse 1: “Nanda said, ‘O Rādha! Take this boy home. He is trembling. It is night. The sky is dense with rain clouds and the forest ground is dark because of the tamāla trees.’ The private pastimes of Rādhā and Mādhava, who leave the forest on Nanda’s order, exist eternally on the bank of the Yamunā with its paths, groves and trees.”