Large Size Kamalasana – Lotus Seated Saraswati
2.84 ft X 2.2 ft X 1.5 ft
A unique blend of two iconographic traditions of her image, this brassstatue represents four-armed Saraswati, the goddess of learning,literature, arts, music and creative faculties of mind. Except as inthe Rig-Veda where she is perceived as Vak, meaning ‘the spoken’ orthat which emits from throat, that the Vedic literature interprets asthe ‘mantra-shakti’ : inherent power of the ‘mantra’ or sacredsyllable, or except as in early texts where as Mahasaraswati she hasbeen perceived also as the goddess of the battlefield, Saraswati nowfor centuries represents the creative aspect of cosmos and isworshipped primarily as the goddess of learning who sharpens intellectand enables it learn faster and the utmost. Obviously, a goddess withVedic origin in popular worship till right today, Saraswati : theimage and scriptural perception, as also the other components of herimage : appearance, mount, attributes etc., has undergone a series ofchanges and now her image, especially her attributes and the style andcharacter of her seat, has wide range of variations.In this image, too, there merge two of the major traditions, one,related to lotus as her seat, an essential element of her iconographicperception and the main thrust of her image under this tradition, andthe other, ‘vina’ being one of the attributes she carried in hands andplayed on, believed to emit a melody that filled with nectar the pot,symbolic of mind. Under this other tradition, she is often‘Hansaroorha’ : mounting a goose. The texts perceiving in lotus themain essence of her image laud her as ‘Asina kamala karairjjapabatimpadmadhyam pustabam bivrana', that is, the goddess is seated on alotus and carries in her four hands 'japamala', two lotuses in two ofthem, and a manuscript in the fourth. The artist of this metal-casthas borrowed from this tradition the lotus seat and in two of the fourhands, ‘japamala’ – rosary, and ‘pustaka’ – book. The two lotuses inher other two hands have been alternated with a ‘vina’, an element ofthe other tradition under which she blesses her devotees :‘Vidyaveenamratam’, that is, with the nectar of learning that sheproduces as melodies born of her lyre. Thus a blend of two traditions, this representation of Saraswati isKamalasana : the lotus-seated and has been conceived as carrying the'japamala' and a manuscript, but the artist has preferred alternatingthe two lotuses, scheduled to be carried in other two hands, with‘vina’, an attribute from the other domain, instead of repeating thelotuses which as the seat of the goddess already has a mightypresence. It is his obvious and well considered effort to multiply theaura of the image. She has been cast as playing on 'vina', suggestiveof its emitting the melody filling the ‘pot’ with the ‘nectar’ : thatis, the mind with transcendental delight. In subsequent iconographicperceptions, as different Puranas made, goddess Saraswati has beenattributed different other seats and mounts ranging from peacock,swan, ram to lion but among them lotus ever had the status of herclassic ‘asana’ – seat, and always had greater significance. Heraccepted position as Brahma’s consort, most Puranas prescribe for hersome of the same attributes as Brahma’s, ‘japamala’ and ‘pustaka’ inparticular, the same as she is carrying in this image. In Brahma’siconography lotus has a different kind of significance. The Brahma’semergence after the Great Deluge from Vishnu’s navel riding a lotus isa unanimously accepted position in Puranas. Obviously, Saraswati, hisconsort, has also been conceived as lotus-seated like him.In its casting skill, adherence to texts and art-merit this brassstatue has the look of a medieval masterpiece. In its sensitivetreatment of the figure’s iconography and anatomy : elongated eyesshut as absorbed in the melody that her ‘vina’ is producing, prominenteye-lashes, sharp nose, small cute lips, receding chin, heavy neck,temptingly protruding breasts with nipples artistically framed withina circular ring, long arms, well defined fingers, bottle-neck likenarrow belly-part, tall legs suggestive of the figure’s length thestatue rises to the same art-level as the art of Chola and Pala bronzecasting. In its iconography, figure’s length and other dimensions,style of adornment, especially the large towering crown the statuepursues the South Indian art models. The statue is unique in itsemotional bearing reflecting on the face of the figure, in revealingon lips a gentle smile, in gesticulating fingers that seem to weave amelody on the strings of the instrument and in portraying her vigorousperpetual youth bursting out from the glow of her face and risingbreasts. Except what her ornaments have concealed her figure above herwaist is left unclad.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.