Lakshmi who was with him felt insulted, particularly by the conduct of Vishnu who instead of punishing the sage was apologetic. She hence abandoned him and Vaikuntha, his seat. Unable to live without her Vishnu also left Vaikuntha and in her search reached Tirumala hill of the Eastern Ghats in the South. After ages of repentance and yearning, one day he realised Lakshmi sprouting within him like a lotus and thus the two were re-united. Now Vishnu had Lakshmi in him but she was independent of him. This form of Lakshmi, often named Padmavati, was Vishnu’s spiritual realisation, within but as much beyond him.
The statue represents the four-armed Lakshmi carrying in each of her upper hands a lotus. Her lower hands are held in abhaya and varada, gestures granting fearlessness and redemption. This form is in exact adherence to Lakshmi’s classical iconography, which the abundance of lotuses characterizes. Not merely the lotuses in hands, she has a large lotus as her seat and the pedestal that houses this lotus seat too comprises conventionalised lotus motifs. Such abundance of lotuses or lotus-motifs distinguishes her form from that in prevalence in north. Lakshmi in her every manifestation bestows prosperity, growth and abundance but her form with abundance of lotuses is dually auspicious for lotus, symbolising creativity, multiplication and purity, multiplies the divinity of the goddess.
The statue of the goddess is unique in its modeling, plasticity, anatomical proportion and aesthetic beauty. A rounded face charged with divine aura, eyes looking straight at the viewer, sharp features, narrow waist, a well-defined anatomy and her seating posture reveal great beauty of form. She is clad just in an antariya and stana-patta but their grace and lustre is rare. The ornaments that she is putting on are a few but their elegance is unsurpassed. Though broadly a sanctum image, it is as great a masterpiece of woodcraft. The divine aura that the image enshrines is not born of its sectarian links, but of the unique emotionality and mystic quality that its face breathes. The image inspires the sacredness of a sanctum and classicism of an ancient art.
This description by Prof. P.C. Jain and Dr. Daljeet. Prof. Jain specializes on the aesthetics of literature and is the author of numerous books on Indian art and culture. Dr. Daljeet is the curator of the Miniature Painting Gallery, National Museum, New Delhi. They have both collaborated together on a number of books.
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