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Paintings > Hindu > Padmavati
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Stone Color on Paper
Nathdwara (Rajasthan) school
Artist Kailash Raj

6.5" x 8.5"
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Viewed 8241 times since 2nd Oct, 2008
This fine and excellent work of art represents Padmavati, a form of Lakshmi. As Vishnu is known and worshipped by the name of Venkateshvara, Shrinivasa or Balaji in the southern part of the country so is known and worshipped his spouse, Lakshmi by the name of Padmavati. According to the Bhragu legend in Padma Purana Lakshmi deserted Vishnu disgusted by his conduct consequential to Bhragu episode. She, however, manifested later as Padmavati and was Vishnu's consort when he assumed the form of Shrinivasa and decided to dwell under the earth near Tirumala. Lakshmi before assuming her Padmavati form was reconciled to Vishnu after she was convinced of his deep love for her. As the legend has it, Padmavati was Vishnu's spiritual realisation and not a physically manifested form. He contained her in his bosom, which symbolically meant within his heart, or as he spiritually realised her. The physically existing Lakshmi had already deserted him after the incident of Bhragu and never returned. It was Padmavati who lotus-like sprouted within and was Vishnu's spouse by realisation. Hence, when the legendary king discovered Shrinivasa from under the earth, the king was able to see only Vishnu and not Padmavati whom Vishnu pcontained within. The Venkateshvara temple thus enshrined Vishnu only as Shrinivasa or Venkateshvara. Padmavati was always there within him though only by spiritual realisation.

Padmavati is hence a deity by realisation. In artistic innovations hence she is often manifested, as here, in an iconographic form which corresponded with the iconography of Venkateshvara. This better suited an art medium and as greatly served a votive purpose. Couched within Vishnu's bosom she naturally had around her the same paraphernalia which Vishnu as Shrinivasa had around him. In this representation of Padmavati hence the artist has conceived her with the same 'prabhavali', flower-arch, lamps, motifs and other members which the Shrinivasa icon has around it. The flower-arch has been coupled with a garland of lotus flowers which symbolise her. This lotus garland is contained within the larger flower-arch which is Vishnu. Thus, she has been conceived as contained within the being of Vishnu. The artist has eliminated her feet obviously to suggest that she can not now desert him for she as his spiritual realisation is always his integral part and not an independent physical entity.

Padmavati, as conceived here, is a four armed deity. Two of her hands are in the 'mudra' of 'abhaya' and 'varada' and the other two hold in them lotuses that define her. She has both her ears concealed behind fish-like 'kundalas' and her neck behind multiple necklaces. The ends of arching garlands are made to tilt towards outer side and broaden, which is suggestive of the joy of union and all-inclusive female principle. Over her bosom she is wearing a garland which symbolises Vishnu, her spouse. It corresponds to Vishnu's icon who wears contrarily the lotus garland representing Padmavati, that is, Vishnu contains her in him and she contains Vishnu in her.

This description by Prof. P.C. Jain and Dr Daljeet. Prof. Jain specializes on the aesthetics of ancient Indian literature. Dr Daljeet is the chief curator of the Visual Arts Gallery at the National Museum of India, New Delhi. They have both collaborated on numerous books on Indian art and culture.

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