Vishnu with Lakshmi

Vishnu and lakshmi

“The handsome God is serene with one head and four arms

Behind his should be shown a lotus with attractive pericap

The earth in the form of a beautiful female should be portrayed between his feet”

   –  Vishnudharmatrapurana

It is Vishnu in Samabanga posture, standing straight, a form that is most common for him. Vishnu has four arms, the arms at the back hold Chakra and Shankha (Discuss and Conch). His lower right hand is in Abhaya (protection) mudra and the left hand is in Kati mudra or is is it supporting his Gada (mace).

A diminutive figure of a four-armed Goddess is sitting in Padmasana in between Vishnu’s feet. The back arms appear to be holding lotuses and the front hands are in Abhaya and Varada (protection and boon giving) mudra. It looks like the Goddess is  Lakshmi (wearing a breast band) rather than Bhu Devi.Vishnu lakshmi back

Unusual South Indian bronze on multiple counts. South Indian tradition is to show Lakshmi with Vishnu when only one consort is shown. According to the quote above, it should be Bhudevi. Another tradition is to show Goddesses with only two hands when they are shown with their male counterparts. Here the Goddess has four arms. Also, this is the first South Indian image I have seen with Goddess seated in front of Vishnu.

This may be from Karnataka region, as evidenced by spurning, Vishnu’s torso and Padmapeetha design.

The sculpture is about 8.5 cm in height and maybe from the 9th century.

Pratapaditya Pal’s book on The Elegant Image (page 49, fig 9) has an image of Vishnu with Bhudevi seated between his feet (Kashmir and 9th century). The quote above is as translated in that book.

T E Donaldson in his book on Siva Parvati and Allied images refers to a bronze image of Siva standing with a female squatting at his feet. (Page 211 Vol 1 and C-35 Vol II). He attributes that bronze to Eastern India and tenth century.

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