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Lord Vishnu with Lakshmi in Kshirasagara, the Ocean of Milk

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Lord Vishnu with Lakshmi in Kshirasagara, the Ocean of Milk
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In the sacred ocean of milk, situated in Vaikuntha Loka (Abode of Lord Shri Vishnu), Vishnu and Lakshmi are postured on a blissful and fully bloomed pink lotus placed on the multi headed large whitish snake, Sheshnaag, who serves Lordships in the form of a bed. Sheshnaag’s multi tongues symbolizes that while having a darshan of his presiding deities, he is chanting their holy names as a way of expressing his devotion towards them. Here Shri Vishnu is in his majestic chaturbhuja rupa and Shri Lakshmi ji in the Dwibhuja (two handed form).

Shri Lakshmi Devi resides on Shri Hari’s left lap and wears a ravishing red lehenga which consists of zari work all over in a horizontal pattern. She has adorned a delightful green chola with a stunning pink chunri over her head which is looking gorgeous and the golden border of the lehenga adds an alluring effect to the dress. The Goddess wears graceful maang tika of pearl and two pearl necklaces slightly covered by the chunri. The stone work on the chola’s sleeve’s golden border and the gold bangles in the hands having a pearl work on the top symbolizes that Devi Ji wants to provide pleasure to her husband and want to see her lover happy from her shringar. She has fair and whitish complexion which is winsome. Her hairs are gently managed which is an appealing feature.

As the scriptures mention, ‘Alankar Priya Vishnu’ (Vishnu appreciates shringar) , we can see that lord wears a beautiful piece of pearl necklace along with other gold and stone ornaments on chest, gold bangles and pearl bands in all of the four hands. Holding the alluring ayudhas (Conch, chakra, gada and lotus ) in the divine hands, Shri Narayana is looking attractive and handsome. His personality’s most pleasing feature is his blue complexion which is very unique and mesmerizing just like a bloomed lotus. He wears a royal golden crown decorated with pretty bundle of peacock feathers which draws everyone’s attention towards the madhurya form of the lord. His hairs are looking fabulous which makes him look very cute.

Hence, as an overview the painting is truly a Kangra idiom of Pahari art revealing the secrets of the appearances and forms of the supreme personality of Godhead which makes a person easily understand the various lila’s of Bhagavan.

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Item Code: HJ72
Water Color on Paper
Artist: Navneet Parikh
11.5 inches X 15.5 inches
This great masterpiece of Indian art, rendered using the late eighteenth century Kangra idiom of Pahari art, the globally venerated art style, known for its exotic simplicity, soft and subdued colour-tones, perfect modeling and graceful figures, emotionally charged faces, and sensitive treatment of theme, represents the four-armed blue-bodied Vishnu seated along with Lakshmi, his consort, on a large lotus laid over the coils of the Great Serpent Shesh. In mythical tradition, lotus is Lakshmi’s seat, while the Great Serpent Shesh, Vishnu’s. The artist has innovated a new seat-form by blending the two traditions. This blend of traditions goes farther. Lord Vishnu’s crown has been crested with a row of peacock feathers, something typical to Lord Krishna, Vishnu’s incarnation, but not Vishnu himself.

The Great Serpent has extended its multi-hooded head over the divine couple like an umbrella, a characteristic feature of Vaishnava iconography, an early example of which is seen in the fifth-sixth century Dashavatara temple at Deogarh, in Lalitpur district, Uttar Pradesh, a known Gupta temple site. Like the outcrop of a marble rock Shesh provides Lord Vishnu and his consort not merely with a canopy-like projection or platform-like elevation but also a back-rest or back-wall. The Great Serpent has its seat over the waves of Kshirasagara, the mythical ocean of milk, the Vishnu’s abode. Identically to the colour of milk the body colour of the Great Serpent has also changed as milk-like white.

The blue-bodied Vishnu is wearing his usual pitambara – yellow lower garment, and customary jewellery including the white garland of Parijata flowers and the known Vaishnava ear-ornaments. Typical of Kangra style his face has been conceived with sharp features and fish-eyes. He has on his forehead a Vaishnava ‘tilaka’ and sandal-paste marks on arms, breast and neck. He is carrying in his hands his usual attributes : conch and lotus in right hands, and disc and mace, in the left. Lakshmi, a coy maiden in an attitude to cover her face, is engaged in collecting the end of her ‘odhani’ – upper wear. She is seated on his left. Far from the stately grandeur as is usually created around her Lakshmi she has been painted as a simple village damsel in average, though graceful costume and minimum jewellery – some bangles, a necklace and a pendent on forehead in parting of hair. Her sharp features, fish-eyes, fine long fingers and slim body endow her figure with divine beauty.

In Indian thought Lord Vishnu is one of the Great Trinity - Brahma, Vishnu and Shiva who represent Creation, Sustenance and Dissolution, the only manifest form of God. The 'Puranic' literature weaves around Lord Vishnu great magnificence, spiritual aura and the cult of incarnation. The number of his incarnations varies from ten to over a thousand or even more. However, the cult of his ten incarnations is universally acknowledged. The Rig-Veda acclaims him as the god who spanned the cosmos in three strides. Devi Bhagavata acclaims Vishnu to be the earliest to emerge after the Great Deluge and recommence creation. Vishnu fought a thousand battles against 'asuras', and killed demons like Hayagriva, Madhu and Kaitabha, Andhaka, Vritrasura, Nemi, Sumali, Malyavan and many others. Vishnu creates and sustains and his consort Lakshmi or Shri brings riches, fertility and benefaction and helps sustain Vishnu’ creation.

This description by Prof. P.C. Jain and Dr. Daljeet. Prof. Jain specializes on the aesthetics of literature and is the author of numerous books on Indian art and culture. Dr. Daljeet is the curator of the Miniature Painting Gallery, National Museum, New Delhi. They have both collaborated together on a number of books.

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