This icon of Vishnu represents him as Narayana not because he has Lakshmi with him but because he has Lakshmi in him. Lotus is inseparably associated with Lakshmi. She is hence also invoked as Padmavati. In this representation out of four only three of Vishnu's hands are visible. His own role as protector has been symbolised in visual representation by his 'chakra' , the wheel and that of Lakshmi, or Shree by the lotus, which variedly appears in Vishnu's as well as Lakshmi's iconography. This Vishnu image carries no 'chakra' but instead a lotus in his fore-arm. He has his usual head-dress or crown but it is exceptionally flanked on sides by a couple of lotuses. This depicts that he prides in making his being the abode of Lakshmi. In this representation, as in a number of legends, Lakshmi pre-dominates this Lakshmi-Narayana form of Vishnu, for unless Lakshmi preceded, Vishnu would not be Lakshmi-Narayana.
The artist has meticulously worked for representing his Lakshmi and Narayana, Vishnu and his spouse, in their most accomplished deity-form. Lakshmi holds Vishnu in her clasp and sits on his thigh but far from being amorous it is a sublime posture. He placed behind the deities a massive and architecturally sculpted fire-arch which culminates on its apex into a lotus finial flanked on sides by two beautiful parrots. It bears a shrine's look and not only enhances artist's votive vision but also provides to the total representation a most appropriate aesthetic frame as well.
The lotus platform, which houses the deity images, has been cast like a 'vedika' consecrating the presiding deity in a sanctum. Except for a beak- like pointed and protruded nose and his large wings Garuda is in human form and symbolises man's devotion to the deities. It is a small brass-piece, but the artist has effected in it unique synthesis wherein the stylistic elements of Chola bronzes - precision, accuracy, finish, minuteness of details, sharp features and emotionally charged faces and the ornamentation and embellishment of Nepalese art, blend in full fusion.
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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