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Sita, and Lakshman; and fig. 2, from the same place, trampling on the Rakshasa, who attempted to stopv his progress in conveying the medicinal plant for the cure of Lakshman.
. This sea-born goddess of beauty and prosperity, the consort, or sacti of Vishnu, was obtained by him at the churning of the sea. She is painted yellow, sitting on the lotus or water-lily, and holding in her hand, sometimes the kamala or lotus, at others, the shell or club of Vishnu. At her birth she was so beautiful that all the gods became enamoured of her; but Vishnu at length obtained her. She is considered as the Hindu Ceres, or goddess of abundance.
Lakshmi has various names :—among which are Sri or Sris, the goddess of prosperity; Pedma or Kamala, from the lotus or nymphoea being sacred to her; Rembha, the sea-born goddess; Varahi (as the energy of Vishnu in the Varaha avatar); Ada Maya, the mother of the world; N arayana, Vidgnani, Kaumali, &c. (which see.)
This goddess was the daughter of Bhrigu; but, in consequence of the curse of Durvasa (an incarnation of Siva) upon Indra, she abandoned the three worlds, and concealed herself in the sea of milk, so that the earth no longer enjoyed the blessings of abundance and prosperity. To recover her, the gods churned the milky ocean, as related in the Karma avatar. After some labour, and having thereby obtained the moon (which Siva instantly seized and placed in the middle of his forehead, where it still shines) and some other things, Sri, as Rembha, the sea-born goddess (the Venus Aphrodites" of the Greeks), was produced, seated on her sacred lotus, and resplendent as a blazing sun. Thus was abundance and prosperity again restored to the three worlds ; at which the gods expressed their satisfaction in a very becoming and celestial manner, by dancing, singing, splendid decorations, and other similar signs of heavenly rejoicing. Siva, who will be hereafter shown to be somewhat of a libertine among the Hindu divinities, wished to possess her; but as he had already stuck the Lunar
crescent in his forehead, Vishnu urged his claim to, and obtained for his share this ocean gem of beauty and prosperity.
The festivals in honour of Lakshmi are held in the months Bhadra, Aswinu, Karteku, Poushu, and Choitru. The ceremonies are performed before a corn-measure filled with rice in the husk, which is decorated with a garland of flowers, shells, &c. No sanguinary sacrifices are offered.
The chewing of the cud by the cow arose from a curse of Lakshmi, that her mouth should be always in a state of uncleanliness, in consequence of a falsehood told by the animal to the goddess.
Fig. 6, plate 4, represents Lakshmi standing on a lotus pedestal. In one of her hands is the kamala or lotus; the other is held up in a forbidding attitude. In fig. 2, plate 7, she appears as Varahi in the third avatar, having four heads (one a bear’s), and eight arms holding various weapons. In several of the other plates she is represented, either in company with Vishnu, or as his sacti in his different avatars. In fig. 2, plate 23, she is seen with Parvati and Suraswati, emblematical of the three sacred streams of the Gunga, Yamuna, and Suraswati.
THE Destroyer, is represented under various forms. He is usually painted of a white or silver colour, with a third eye, and the crescent (which he obtained at the churning of the ocean) in the middle of his forehead. Sometimes he is described with one head, and at others with five : sometimes armed with various instruments of destruction; at others riding on the bull, N andi, with Parvati on his knee; and again, at others, as a mendicant with inflamed eyes and besotted countenance, soliciting alms from Anna Purna, a form of Parvati. He is also represented under the appearance of Kal, or Time, the destroyer of all things.
Fig. 1, plate 14, taken from an antique sculpture in basalt, represents him standing between four attendants, armed with the trisula or trident in one hand, and having an antelope in another; the third is held up in a forbidding attitude, and the fourth is displayed in the act of solicitation. His head-dress is richly ornamented. He is standing beneath an arch enriched with emblematical figures, animals, and arabesques of elegant design and beautiful workmanship. On the plinth are the bull, N andi, and various other figures and animals. Fig. 2, from a cast in the same plate, is (Panch Mukhti) Siva with five heads; the fifth, or upper head, surmounted by a hooded snake. His hands are as in fig. 1. Fig. 3, from the temple of Rama, is Siva as Kal, or Time, the destroyer of all things. In his hands are the damara or small drum, the cup to receive the blood of the slain, two human heads, and the club.
Fig. 1, plate 15, is Siva as Mahadeo, “or the supreme god,” from a