Images of deities convey oneness of creation

 Images of deities convey oneness of creation

Photo credit: Benoy K Behl

Benoy K Behl

This is a time when we are reminded of the deep inter-connectedness of all that there is around us. Ancient traditions have always worshipped the harmony and fruitfulness of Nature.

Did you know that Lakshmi is the earliest deity seen in Buddhist stupa railings? This is Gajalakshmi, Sanchi, 2nd c. BCE. She is also seen in the Buddhist Bharhut Stupa railings and in later Hindu and Jaina art. She is still deeply revered by Buddhists in Japan.

The first deity of Indic art with a formalised iconography is Gajalakshmi, Lakshmi being bathed by elephants who lovingly pour water upon her. As with earlier yakshis, Lakshmi is a deity of fruitfulness and abundance of the natural order (in today’s world, abundance has been translated into monetary wealth!).

This early image very beautifully conveys the oneness of creation. The treatment and large depiction of the lotuses shows the warmth of the artist’s touch.


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