It is an intricately sculpted bronze, a superior hallmark of the workmanship of the South. Lord Vishnu, the presiding deity over the preservation of existence, is seated in lalitasana on a four-legged throne. His wife, Devi Lakshmi, is sitting on His lap. She is the presiding deity over wealth and resources; and, as such, She is indispensable to Him. One hand He raises in blessing, while the other He puts around Her waist. She holds a lotus-bud in one hand; the other She rests gently on Her lap. The language of their bodies, their composite stance, is one of calm and stability. In other words, this sculpture would exude a world of sattvaguna wherever it is installed.
Suggestions of the Hoysala style are to be found in the legs of the throne shaped like a lion’s paw and the network of vine down the frontal midline; the shringar of Lord Vishnu and Devi Lakshmi, and the aureole that stems from the backs of the lions that flank the Vishnu-Lakshmi ensemble. The simple yet elegant aureole, with its multiple curves, completes the beauty of the sculpture.
In a private chamber within their home in Vrindavan, where there is only a tiny window to let in a modest quantum of light. Built into the grey mud walls of the background is a column of shelves from floor to ceiling, a common feature in the rural homes of the subcontinent. The same are lined with the family’s choicest chests and utensils. The mother and child are in the foreground: out of an old velvet-lined sandook (chest) she pulls out the finest jewels in her possession and bedecks her little baby with them.
Note the sharp contrast between the vivid colours of the foreground and the matte grey background. Fresh jasmines hold the mother’s bun in place; gold and pearls adorn her neck and ears and nose. A pale purple-coloured saree and glimmering gold bangles. There is the signature peacock plume in Lord Gopala’s black hair and streams of pearls in His hair and around His neck. With His delicate infantine hands He clutches at a necklace of gold and rubies.
Maa Saraswati is the goddess of knowledge and the consort of Brahma, the creator. She is the dawn goddess whose cosmic rays dispel the darkness of ignorance. This wooden Saraswati sculpture is an effective work of art, highlighting the carver’s unique aesthetic sense and professional skills that enhance the charmness and delicacy of goddess Saraswati. This sculpture is moulded with the highest quality teak wood from South India that makes it a supremely durable and long lasting piece maintaining the smoothness, gloss and sharp formations of the goddesses’ iconography. As you zoom in to the image, you can’t stop yourself from applauding the blended vertical pattern in light brown and dark brown shades.
Goddess Saraswati sculpture is shown here as sitting on a high raised lotus pedestal in lalitasana posture, holding her extremely carved Veena, as symbolic of Saraswati being the goddess of art, two of her hands hold a pen and the book of Vedas respectively, highlighting goddess Saraswati’s inclination towards knowledge and wisdom, right posterior hand holds the rosary. This Hindu deity is considered to be the most beautiful of all and her innate delicacy and graciousness is accurately carved through the features of her face; Jeweled lavishly in multiple royal pendant necklace, long earrings along with matching bracelets, anklets and a nath.
Goddess Saraswati is adorned in a flamboyant ankle length dhoti beatified with a floral border and a complementing floral blouse that fits gracefully on her chest. Saraswati is always accompanied with Hamsa (swan), which is her auspicious vahana, hence she is also named as Hamsavahini; one sits near her legs, carved extravagantly and one other on the right side of her designer crown. This Saraswati sculpture is glorified with a multiple layered crown, chiseled precisely in gracious flower pattern.
This bitone ensemble has been made by folk artisans from Puri. It is a fine example of pattachitra, ‘patta’ being the local word for the organic canvas on which the image (chitra) is drawn. A skilfully done composite of Shivaleela, each panel is painted with superb precision and attention to detail. Note how one episode of the Lord’s divine playfulness (leela) is distinguished from the other by petal-like curves and lines filled in with minimalistic floral motifs.
Each panel of this composite work of art is good enough for an independent composition, albeit a miniature one. To the top left is the gracious Lord Adinath, father of the knowledge of yoga. In the same row and down the right side are panels that depict Him in togetherness with His wife, Devi Parvati. In one, they are on the back of Nandi. In the inner panels He is shown to triumph over demons and enemies of adharma. More of Devi Parvati is to be found in the laterally arranged panels, in one of which to the left She is seated in the poorna-padmasana.
Ashtalakshmi are a group of eight manifestations of Hindu goddess Lakshmi. She presides over the eight sources of wealth which are, prosperity, fertility, good fortune, good health, knowledge, strength, progeny and power. Each of the goddess Lakshmi’s miniature eight forms- Adi Lakshmi (Primeval and an ancient form of Lakshmi), Dhana Lakshmi (Goddess of wealth), Dhanya Lakshmi (goddess of agricultural wealth), Gaja Lakshmi (giver of animal wealth), Santana Lakshmi (goddess of bestowing offspring), Veera Lakshmi (goddess who bestows valour during battles), Vijaya Lakshmi (giver of victory) and Vidya Lakshmi (goddess of bestower of knowledge of arts and sciences), are sculpted with great care in lustrous brass.
The jet-black wooden case is built specially for these Ashtalakshmi set in a stylized, organized and a unique pattern of three layers with the additional beauty of an auspicious diya kept on the bottom layer in centre and two bells hanging at the top, visualizing it as a complete miniature temple. It is framed and put together with the sculptor’s unmatched skills that can be discovered only in the orient.
The ruling deities of paraloka (otherworldly realm of existence) are seated on a green velvet couch. He is chaturbhujadhari (possessed of four arms) with the damroo and the trishoola in the posterior hands, while She is dvibhujadhari (two-armed) and holds up a lotus in one hand. This is in keeping with their traditional iconographies. In stark contrast to His austere appearance, dressed as He is in a tigerskin loincoth and rudrakshas aplenty, Her red silks and jewels are symbolic of their otherworldly glory.
The graceful Nandi kneels on the other side of the altar (the two bhaktas are making eye contact with each other). The richly carved wooden pillars of the temple hold up a glamorous set of domes. The flower laden canopy grazes its zenith. Snow-coated peaks into the distance, and miles upon miles of verdure. It is almost as if the temple has sprung up on the spot as if by magic, just so that the Lord may consecrate the brothers’ efforts.
A compact, handheld sculpture. Devi Mariamman is seated in lalitasana in the mouth of a lotus. She is the chaturbhujadharini, the one possessed of (‘dharini’) four (‘chatur’) arms (‘bhuja’). In Her hands She holds a lotus (posterior right), a conch (posterior left), a long and slender weapon indicative of Her wrathful streak (anterior right), and a bowl (anterior left). From the navel downwards She is clad in a silken dhoti, while a world of shringar graces the youthful, maternal curves of Her upper body. Her attire is a signature element of the iconography of the South.
In addition to the same, other signature elements of Southern workmanship are the angular face set with sharp, handsome features; a tall, tapering crown; and the Kirtimukham aureole that stems straight from the pedestal. A ferocious snake raises its five conjoined hoods above Her crown, another expression of the wrathful streak of Devi Mariamman.
It depicts Lord Krishna, a favourite subject of the Vaishnavite South. He is seated in lalitasana, the dangling limb having gone off the frame, as He plays on the flute. The pale sage green colour of His complexion is imbued with texture, the lines of each limb and curve defined by a pronounced obsidian shade. The bright marigold hue of His silken dhoti sets off the unusual colour. The gaze of those large, irresistibly beautiful eyes is directed to the left, perhaps taking in the form of a dancing milkmaid or a devotee at the receiving end of His succour.
The crown on Lord Krishna’s head is an ornate number. It rests on His head and shoulders, its deep metallic gold colour interspersed with white flowers and silver trims. At its zenith is a clutch of three peacock feathers, integral to the iconography. From the curvaceous lines and colour palette of the composition to the subject in question, the work of art that you see on this page draws heavily from the Kerala mural tradition.
Akshar Purushottam is a Brahma-Parabrahma philosophy that establishes worshiping god along with his Gunatit sadhu; this set of spiritual beliefs is based on the teachings of Swaminarayan. These brass sculptures are carved in precise details and formations such that it creates a shining channel through which the heart of the devotee is attracted and flows through it. As you gaze at these faces you can feel the presence of Lord and the feeling of recognition of divinity. These being sculpted in brass is an additional feature to their beauty and spirituality as brass is known for its grasping quality; it grasps the divine spirit and enhances spiritual vibrations towards these shining idols.
Both the idols stand on lavishly carved inverted lotus pedestals and hold a lotus bud each in their right hands and left hands are in blessing mudra. The one on the left is Sahajanand Swami or Swaminarayan who was a yogi and ascetic whose teachings brought a revival of Hindu practices of dharma, ahinsa and brahmacharya. He is garbed in an exclusive frock and a loose pleated dhoti that beautifully veils his body, a stole that hangs on his hands and a densely chiseled crown topped with a feather like broch along with a garland of flowers and royal jewels. He was also given the name Nilkantha Varni when he left his house at an early age and mastered the Astanga yoga (eight fold yoga) along with the correct understanding of the four primary schools of philosophy.
The idol on the right is Gunatitanand Swami, who was a prominent paramhansa of Swaminarayan Sampradaya and was ordained by Swaminarayan himself. He was accepted as the first spiritual successor of Swaminarayan sanstha; garbed in a robe of beautiful loose pleats that has its ends hung from his hands, a beautifully striped turban and a long flower garland.
The realistic facial expressions, urdhva pundra tilak and the carefully incised charming floral and ethnic carvings on Swaminarayan’s dress reflects the sculptor’s painstaking time and professional skills to create these smooth and shining masterpieces. We are selling these statues in a pair for the customer to have a complete insight into Akshar Purushottam Darshan.
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