Vasudeva Kamalaja (Orissa)

This Vigraha, Vasudeva Kamalaja, is a composite form of Vishnu (right side) and Lakshmi (left side). In Orissa the Vigraha is called ArdhaLakshminarayana. The Odisha name reminds one of Ardhanarishwar, a syncretic form of Shiva and Parvati. There is one more of this composite Vigraha, Vasudeva Kamalaja from Nepal, on this blog site.

The attributes are Chakra, Shankha, Gada and Padma on the right side (Vishnu’s attributes) and Kalasa , Darpana (mirror), Padma and Pustaka (manuscript) on the left side. We will get back to the left side attributes later and not all of them are normally associated with Lakshmi.

Other than the attributes, the male and female sides are differentiated by the breast on the left side, the differences in the earrings, wristbands Vs bangles and armlets Vs armbands.

The Pradakshina Chitra below shows the differences.

According to Pandit Siddharth (one of my go-to persons and associated with Puri Jaganath temple), in Puri Jaganath temple the Sayana Thakur (composite image of Lakshmi and Vishnu like the one on this blog) is used in the ‘going to bed’ ritual. The photo below is that Vigraha, courtesy Pandit Siddharth.

In addition to Puri Jaganath temple, such tradition is followed in the Satyabadi Gopal temple, Nayagarh Jagannath temple.

Regarding the attributes of Lakshmi, but for Padma (Lotus) other attributes are not associated with Lakshmi. Pustaka (manuscript) is associated with Saraswati, Kalasa with River Goddess and Darpana (mirror) with Parvati/Gauri. In my view, the combination of the attributes is meant to show a superior form of Goddess and the left side may represent Mahalakshmi, the supreme Goddess.

The Vigraha is about 16.5 cm in height and it is from Odisha. It probably dates prior to the eighteenth century.

Note: It is interesting to note Dr Pratapaditya Pal (among his other achievements he was the first one to document this composite form), mentions in his book Hindu Religion and Iconology (1981) “no image portraying Vasudeva Kamalaja has yet been found in Eastern India but the form is popular in Nepal, Kashmir and Himachal Pradesh“.

The vigraha, subject of this blog, and the practices in Puri Jaganath temple obviously predate 1981. Despite that, the information was not available to a scholar like Dr. Pal when he wrote the above book. The ready availability of the information now is a reflection of the power of Internet, the social media and the willingness of the temple authorities (Read priests) to share information. Changing times.

Sharing my passion

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