Gajalakshmi standing

 

Gajalakshmi

Standing Gajalakshmi (Goddess of wealth, Lakshmi, with elephants) is one of the m enduring motif in Hinduism. Indian Museum, Calcutta has in its collection a medallion in which two elephants are pouring water over Lakshmi, dating from 1st century BC. There are examples dating to 3rd century BC.

Here Lakshmi is standing in samabhanga pose (with whole body straight).  This four armed Gajalakshmi with primary hands in varada and abhaya mudra, her upper hands holding lotuses that support two pairs of conjoined elephants emptying pots of water over her head. The conjoined elephants can be discerned from the closeup view, at the bottom of this blog, which shows four upturned pots. The elephants represent four directions.Gajalakshmi back

The elephants is said to have two related meanings.

First, they are equated to cloud by poets and showered the earth with rain wherever they went and make the land fertile. The flanking, showering elephants emphasize Lakshmi’s association with the fertility of crops. The grains are regarded as form of Lakshmi (Dhanya-Lakshmi).

Second, elephants suggest royal authority.  Here  their presence  performing  abhisekha may be interpreted, to bestow the qualities of fertility and royal authority on Lakshmi, herself the source of these very qualities.

This bronze is from Orissa. The feature of elephants being supported by Goddess as they stand on the lotuses held in her upper hand is not seen in Gajalakshmi images from other regions. Normally the elephants are on free standing lotuses or part of surround (torana). Interestingly, Kajuraho museum houses a free-standing Gajalakshmi stone sculpture where the lotuses held by her is supporting elephants. (Museum ac no 817). Kajuraho dates to 11th century. (Ref Indian Iconography A.L. Srivastava, 2011)

This images is about 17.5 cm in height and may date to 19th century or earlier. The wood base is a later addition.

Gajalakshmi closeup

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