Lakshmi Narayana (A rarer form)

This is one of the rarest forms of Lakshminarayana, as in where Vishnu and his consort are depicted together. It is debatable as to whether this form should be called Lakshmi Narayana and we will come to that later.

Here the four-armed Vishnu is standing with Chakra (discuss) and Shankah (conch shell) in his rear hands. His front hands are cupped in front of him. Four-armed Lakshmi, identified by the lotuses in her rear hands and the breast band, is sitting in Padmasana in Vishnu’s cupped hands. Lakshmi’s front hands are holding a Kalasha and it possibly contains Amrita.

A remarkable composition, Vishnu holding Lakshmi in his cupped hands and Lakshmi holding a Kalasa in her cupped hands. A real delight.

This iconography is seen only in Kerala and in the nearby coastal areas. Statues (sitting and standing), exist in stone, wood and metal.

Thanks to Swanand and K Subodh Bhat, I have come across one other bronze, seated Vishnu, of similar iconography. That Murthy, Sri Vatsa Narayana Murthy, is in worship in Kavu Mutt in Kasargod. Please see the last entry in the blog.

The earliest Dhyana Sholaka for this form is dated to the sixteenth century. It is from Silparatna of Srikumara and the title of the shloka is Avahanti. An English translation is below.

“I bow to Vishnu of golden hue, standing on a red lotus, donning yellow silk, bearing the conch and the disc

Holding in the lower arm, Goddess Sri who keeps in her hands, A golden pot together with,a lotus red and Lily too

Normally Lakshmi Narayana refers to the form where Vishnu is seated with Lakshmi sitting on his left thigh. A rarer form is Vishnu and Lakshmi standing next to each other (Lakshmi Sahita – to borrow a name from Saivism). Even rarer is the combined figure of Lakhmi and Visnu, Vasudeva Kamalaja. This blog site has examples of the above three.

As this iconography is distinct from others, one of the scholars, Prof Preeta Nayar, has suggested Lakshmidhara Vishnu as the name (Meaning Vishnu holding/possessing Lakshmi).

This Vigraha is about 11.5 cm in height and it is from Kerala. It may be dated to the sixteenth century.

Note: This blog is based on the paper by Prof Preeta Nayar, “A rare sculpture of Narayana with a critical note on its terminology” Kala Vol XI 2004-05.

Note: The above paper suggests that S K Ramachandra Rao has identified this form as Dhanvantri. I checked Pratima Kosha by S K Ramachandra Rao Vol III page 159 and 161. In my view, the line drawing shows Vishnu holding Dhanvantri. The iconography is similar. Dhanvantri’s hands are holding Shanka and Chakra and not lotuses. I have reproduced one of the figures, page 159, for the readers’ benefit.


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