Bhakti devotional literature describes the personal and intimate relationship between devotee and god in terms of romantic love—specifically that of Radha for Krishna. Radha is identified in several traditions as Krishna’s favorite among the cow-herding women of Mathura, and represents the most ardent lover. She stands out from the rest of his devoted admirers because of her all-encompassing, intense, and secret love for the god, and her willingness to defy all social conventions for the sake of union with Krishna.
In this painting, we see a haloed Krishna in one of his iconic forms as the mesmerizing, flute-playing divine hero, who with his music captures the attention of all—women, animals, birds, even the rivers and clouds. Radha gazes adoringly at him. Other scenes from Krishna’s life are shown in the background, including his dance (rasalila) with the cow-herder women, among whom Radha is singled out by a halo and her place closest to Krishna.
(Object label from Worshiping Women: Power and Devotion in Indian Painting.)