I have in my meditative vision the goddess Padmavati. She reclines on the
Great Serpent Sheshnaga who has on each of the thousands of branches of his
hood a gem radiating into thousands of rays. The lap of the goddess is the
abode of the all-knowing Shiva.
Padmavati, meaning lotus-Iike, itself defines the Padmavati form of Devi,
which is essentially the manifestation of beauty. She is the giver of
eternal joy and immense prosperity and is an aspect of Mahalakshmi and as
such represents fertility and prosperity, and as Padmavati the beauty, she
has been conceived in scriptures with a creeper like delicate form, sun-Iike
radiating yet moon-like soothing. She reclines on the Great Serpent Shesh
whose hood with its thousand branches embedded with gems creates a rosary
type ring and shines like the Sun. She has Lord Shiva seated on her lap.
Padmavati has three eyes on her face and four hands which carry on them a
rosary, a pitcher, a lotus and a human skull. The Ocean is her abode. She is
adorned with rich jewels and costume.
The painting here is in exact pursuance of scriptural norms. Her figure
seems to radiate with the light emitting from the gems contained on the hood
of the Great Serpent. The all- knowing Shiva, the supreme manifestation of
wisdom, occupies the lap of Padmavati who is primordial female energy
incarnate. In Indian tradition Shiva, the wisdom, becomes an operative
potential principle only when grounded in and supplemented by energy, that
is, Devi, here in Padmavati form. Seemingly unrelated attributes of the Devi
have a coherent symbolism. Her rosary stands for divine attachment, pitcher
for abundance and the accomplishment of spiritual aspirations, skull for
renunciation and lotus for the glorious and all-embracing fullness of life.
The painting reveals an excellent workmanship executed with fine strokes of
brush and most delicate and soft colours. The waves of the ocean are
wonderfully rendered. The depiction is neat, distinct and balanced and
rendered with great effort and patience. The contours and curves of Shesh
and its coiled form have been led to a lively climax. The balanced colour
synthesis and exquisitely discovered forms characteristically define the
great merit of the painting.
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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