Gajalakshmi- Sri Lakshmi with Gaja or elephants is undoubtedly the most
pristine and popular image of the Hindu mother-goddess who controls the sphere
of abundance, victory, and opulence. Placed within a fine round wooden frame,
this Tanjore Gajalakshmi painting, embellished with pure 24 karat gold is a
majestic representation of the great mother-goddess.
This form of
Maa Lakshmi, exquisitely drawn by the skilled Tanjore artist using traditional
colors, is believed to be the bestower of heavenly wealth upon the king of gods
Indra, after her emergence from the depths of the Kshirsagara (primordial
ocean). Two pairs of elephants on each side- glorious animals connected to
Indra, the first among all the rulers and bringer of rains hail the mother goddess,
with whose adulations, gods, kings, and humans derive unending riches. Gaja-Lakshmi
thus is the tutelary goddess for anyone who wishes to acquire worldly luxuries
and is evoked in her dhyan-mantra as “Durgati-nashini”- the destroyer of misery.
Gaja-Lakshmi is presented in this mesmerizing Tanjore painting as a sovereign
ruler herself, placed inside a royal palace, on a throne, accompanied by two
ladies clad in ethnic clothing fanning the goddess. The roof of her throne is
decorated by peacocks, Kirtimukha (face of glory), and ashva-yali (mythical
composite animal with a body of ashva or horse and lion) on the pillars- all
motifs associated with royalty in Indian tradition.
The maker of
this Gaja-Lakshmi Tanjore artwork displays knowledge of early Vedic tradition,
especially of the “Sri Suktam”- a Vedic hymn dedicated to Sri (Lakshmi), where
the lotus is an element that is repeatedly connected with goddess Lakshmi. This
association of the mother-goddess with the blossom is expanded in this Tanjore
painting, where the lotus and lotus petal can be seen in the curtain above the
goddess, decoration of her throne, in her hands, and on her throne as a rug,
visible from under the pleats of her glistening golden sari.
celestial aura on her exquisite face which is beautifully supplemented by her
intricately designed ornaments, a richness of gold foil in decoration, and the
royal blue background of the Tanjore painting, Devi Gaja-Lakshmi brings to mind
the image of the primordial goddess, who is the object of worship for not only
the mortals but also for the great Hindu trinity- Brahma-Vishnu-Shiva.
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