The Pallava’s Lakshmi

Lakshmi, her imagery and the way we tell stories about her are  India’s way of communicating ideas about wealth, good fortune and prosperity.

Now close your eyes and try to bring up the topmost mental image you have of Lakshmi. In these days of internet conveyed pop-culture, its probably something like this:


Perhaps your Lakshmi wears a green sari, that’s more common in some regions. Perhaps pink as the Chinese today make fibre images that way to match the pink lotus!

Most probably your Lakshmi is seated, as you don’t want wealth to walk away. But, sitting or standing, your Lakshmi is most probably on a lotus.

Perhaps your Lakshmi is South Indian and is shown carrying sugarcane. Perhaps  the Lakshmi you see carries different things in her hand, and is one of the Ashta Lakshmis………

All these are the subconscious ideas about wealth, prosperity and the basis of good fortune that we carry with us. And as its quite common to consider women as Lakshmis, we extend this thinking to women and wealth.

So come upon an image such as the one below, and a body is brought up short.

wealthymattersThis is a photo of a relief carved in the Varaha’s cave in Mahabalipuram by the Pallavas in the 7thC AD.

Then as now, Lakshmi wears a great deal of jewellery, sits on a lotus and is bathed by elephants…………

But these days would we really think these figures as prosperous? Or call them ugly for not having bellies that show a toned perfection? A sign of no investment in beauty treatments?

Can we really imagine a Lakshmi with so many body chains today ? Or would we find it necessary to asexualize Lakshmi ?

And when Lakshmi is a personification of nature itself via the female form,these days how do we really see fertility and fecundity of the Earth ,the basis of all wealth?



About Keerthika Singaravel

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