Undoubtedly, the theme of this miniature is Lakshmi coupled with the powers of Vishnu his power to impart abhaya, protection, and to multiply. The left half of this icon consists of Lakshmi or Shri, and the right half of Vishnu. Except for the absence of breast on the right side, a larger eye, and bluish complexion, the anatomy and the modeling of the two parts is almost identical, and inclines more towards feminineness. In costumes, adornment and attributes the distinction is more pronounced. The right half has half Vaishnava tilaka; a sash on the shoulder, instead of a blouse; armlets and bracelets, instead of bangles; pitambara, yellow garment, instead of the red of the left; and the mace. Characteristically, the lower right hand is imparting abhaya, and the mace behind it supports this divine gesture; the lower left hand is held in varada, and the gold and silver coins flowing from it reaffirm it. Upper hands on both sides hold identical lotuses; halo, crown, locks of hair and garlands, too, are identical, except the necklace, which on the right side consists of gold, while on the left, of precious jewels. Sitting posture on the two sides is also significant. The position of the left leg reveals ease, while that on the left, readiness.
In all other things, including background, the theme centres on Lakshmi or Shri, or rather Gaja Lakshmi, the dually auspicious deity. Two white elephants flanking her on both sides and bathing her with milk are a characteristic feature of Gaja Lakshmi. Lakshmi is also the fertility incarnate, which the sugarcanes growing in the background affirm. A pot in front of Lakshmi is another element of her iconography, which an elegantly modeled lotus leaf substitutes here. The cubic graphics, with sixteen cubes each, and numbers aggregating to thirty-four counted from any side, is another feature of her auspices. This Gaja Lakshmi form emerged in Indian sculptural art around the Gupta period. The upper northeast chamber of Kuwwat-ul-Islam Mosque at Qut'b complex, New Delhi, has a Gaja Lakshmi sculpture in late Gupta style. The sculpture is part of some ancient temple the material of which was re-used in constructing the Mosque.
The artist, by combining with Lakshmi Vishnu's aspect, which imparted abhaya and multiplied any virtue or boon, created an absolutely different and far more auspicious image of the goddess of prosperity, riches, success and fertility, thinking, perhaps, it shall dually bless a house than did the auspicious image of Lakshmi.
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.