Radha and Krishna Dressed
in Each Other's Clothes (Lilahava).


Radha and Krishna Dressed in Each Other's Clothes
Radha and Krishna Dressed in Each Other's Clothes


"Krishna once dressed Himself up exactly like Srimati Radharani, just to create fun among His friends. By seeing this dress, Krishna's friend Subala became very astonished." (Srila Rupa Goswami in The Nectar of Devotion)

"In order to get close to Srimati Radharani who is upset with Him, Damodara has dressed as a heavely Kinnari goddess, holding a beautiful gold and silver vina. The sakhis then ask the Kinnari goddess what is her name and if she can sing a song to cheer up Srimati Radhika. "She" says Her name is Shyam Sakhi, since "She's" blackish and sings a song that plunges the gopis into ectatic bliss. To reward Shyam Sakhi, Radharani is about to give her the jewel locket from Her own neck. Lalita notices that this "sakhi" is bent in three ways and points it out to Sri Radha. But seeing her beloved dressed up this funny way, She can no longer maintain her anger."

Radha and Krishna Dressed in Each Other's Clothes

(Radha and Krishna Dressed in Each Other's Clothes (Lilahava).
India, Punjab Hills, Kangra, 18th century. Opaque watercolor on paper.
Lent by the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, gift of Don and Corky Whitaker

(Image Information: India, Himachal Pradesh, Kangra. Title Radha and Krishna
Exchange Clothes. Date circa 1800. Museum Number M.80.232.4. Website: LACMA

Standing with a symmetrical landscape of yellow flowering creepers emerging from the greenery of trees, Radha, holding Krishna's flute, has donned her divine lover's peacock-feather crown and saffron-colored dhoti. Blue-complexioned Krishna, in turn, wears Radha's earrings, red skirt, blouse, and transparent shawl. Holding hands, the two gaze into one another's eyes.

This unique visual motif of the clothing exchange serves as a metaphor for Radha and Krishna's shared essence. Radha's and Krishna's donning of each other's garments signifies that the two are identical, as is suggested in this verse by an unknown poet.

She wears his peacock feather, he dons her lovely, delicate crown; She sports his yellow garment, he wraps himself in her beautiful sari How charming the very sight of it. . . The daughter of Vrsabhanu [Radha] turns [into] Nanda's son [Krishna], and Nanda's son, into Vrsabhanu's girl. (Translation Srivasta Goswami, The Divine Consort, 87)


Krishna beeing dressed up as a gopi

Krishna beeing dressed up as a gopi

This pastime is known as dan-lila or matuki-lila. These pastimes are re-enacted each year during the burhi-lila festival. In this pastime a boy playing Krishna stops another boy dressed as Radharani, who tries to walk by carrying a pot. Sankari means "narrow". This narrow passageway is between the village of Chiksoli (Citra) and the town of Varsana. The path becomes very narrow at this place, with the rock coming down sharply making a V. You have to be careful that you don't fall walking through here.

How To Get Here If you just came down the steps from the Larily Lal Temple, you make a right. You walk 80m and make another right. You follow the road around for about 200m. At this point the road turns left and bears to the right. You turn left and go 30m and make a right. The road goes through the village for 300m and then becomes a path for 700m. At this point you come to Sankari Kor. You can also have your taxi take you here. By taxi you come to the other side of Sankari Kor, near Mayur Kutir, in the village of Chiksoli.