Gajalakshmi on an elephant

Gajalakshmi on elephant

Four armed Lakshmi is sitting on her vahana elephant. Back arms are holding lotus and elephants standing on the lotus are pouring water on Lakshmi from the upturned Kalasa held in their trunks. The front arms have lost the details. For more information on Gajalakshmi please refer to this blog.  Here Gajalakshmi is seated on a rectangular pedestal in padmasana and the pedestal is supported by her vahana, elephant. Prabhavali frames Gajalakshmi and the elephants.

This looks to have been a part of a larger sculpture, going by the projections on the sides of prabhavali. The sculpture is solid cast but is thin, possibly from region/time where/when metal was scarce.Gajalakshmi elephant back

The ritual wear has given the sculpture smooth surface and deep patina. So far I have not come across Gajalakshmi on her vahana. But this is an accepted and possibly sought after representation. One relevant example is the religious processions in Tirupathi, where the presiding goddess Padmavati dressed as Gajalakshmi, one of her avatars, is taken in procession on elephant vahana.

Back of the sculpture is not worked on, except for Sirachakra and lines denoting ornaments and garments. It is quite likely this piece is from North India.

No guesses as to the age, but this is possibly one of the oldest pieces in my collection. The bronze is about 8.5 cm in height.

This is a rare piece and to quote A L  Srivastava, Indian Iconography, page 98.  “It is to be noted here that the only literary reference of Sri Lakshmi riding an elephant is found in the Skandapurana, the only silpa treatise ordaining Lakshmi to be made with elephant below her seat is the Silpa-prakasa and the only archaeological or sculptural evidence of this form of the goddess is met with at Tryambakesvara”.

The sculpture referenced above shows elephant by her side and not as her vahana with Lakshmi sitting on the elephant, as in the subject of this blog.


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