The painting illustrates a passage from the Gita Govinda, a 12th-century dramatic, lyrical poem, expressed as a cycle of songs. The poem tells of the love of the god Krishna and the mortal Radha. After one night of blissful union, Krishna resumes his love-play with milkmaidens. Radha becomes mad with jealousy, pride, and longing and spurns him. He realizes the quality and intensity of her love.

In the passage illustrated, a friend helps the lovers to reconcile. The friend speaks to Krishna of Radha's pitiful condition, her conflicted emotions, and her overriding passion. He listens and gestures as if to say: "But I am here longing for her as well."


Her body bristling with longing, Her breath sucking in words of confusion, Her voice cracking in deep cold fearŅ Obsessed by intense thoughts of passion, Radha sinks in a sea of erotic mood, Clinging to you in her meditation, cheat!

She ornaments her limbs,
When a leaf quivers or a feather falls,
Suspecting your coming,
She spreads out the bed
And waits long in meditation.
Making her bed of ornaments and fantasies,
She evokes a hundred details of you
In her own graceful play.
But the frail girl will not survive
Tonight without you.

"Indolent Krishna" is the sixth part of the Gita Govinda
Trans. Barbara Stoller Miller

Radha pines
Rajasthan, Bikaner
Opaque watercolor and gold on paper, 1685
7 7/16 in. x 5 1/4 in. (18.9 cm x 13.3 cm)

Edwin Binney 3rd Collection