A notable finding from Bharhut, an ancient Buddhist site is a medallion with a goddess standing on a lotus sprouting out of an earthen pot, while elephants sprinkle water on her. This piece has been identified as Gaja Lakshmi because of the presence of distinguishable features such as lotuses, elephants, water, earthen pots. All these symbolize fertility, a trait closely associated with Sri or Lakshmi, a goddess worshipped by major Indian cults for her ability to grant the boon of prosperity.
Here is a handcrafted wall hanging, consisting of the earliest known, conventional features of Sri yet due to its definite finish, it appears avant-garde. Sri-Lakshmi sits in padmasana or the lotus pose, holding lotus buds, sitting on a gigantic, fully bloomed lotus, in a body of water, which probably alludes to her abode, the Ksheer Sagar or the Ocean of Milk. Elephants flanking her are considered the embodiment of rain-filled clouds in texts, while Lakshmi herself is considered the personification of Earth. Be it the closed lotus buds and the open lotus flower representing different stages of evolution or the cloud and earth reference, every element brings Sri-Lakshmi’s prowess when it comes to nurturing life forces. The golden, brown, and silver hues in brass successfully call attention to these marvelous components.
While Lakshmi in temples usually stands alongside her husband, Lord Vishnu, or in the trinity with Ganesh and Saraswati, pieces like this remind us of the independent spheres that mother goddesses hold and the meaning of the faith associated with them.
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