Padmavati, The Jaina Goddess

Padmavati is one of the most important Jain goddesses among both Digambaras and Svetambaras. She is the yakṣi or female attendant deity of the 23rd Jina, Parsvanatha or Lord Parsva and is worshipped all over India. As a sasana-devata or ‘deity of the teaching’, she is believed to help protect and spread the message of her Jina. She is partly linked to wealth and thus remains the focus of individual worship among the Jain community. Also, as a goddess, Padmavati is a soul subject to the cycle of birth and can intervene in human affairs, unlike Jinas, who are liberated, perfect souls, completely detached from everyday human experience1.  Padmavati is frequently linked to the snake, the emblem of her Jina, Parsva, and is believed to possess power to cure snake bites.

Goddess Padmavati from 12th century AD
Goddess Padmavati from 12th century AD

This figure(above) of goddess Padmavati from 12th century AD is shown seated with her right foot placed on the left. In her upper and lower right hands there are the mace (gada) and the conch (shankha) respectively. The intact upper left hand has a staff with floriated upper portion. The attribute in the broken left hand cannot be ascertained. The Goddess wears lavish ornaments, of which long garland and conical crown set with jewels deserve special mention. The halo has projecting spikes. There is the presence of snake hood on the top of the crown of the goddess. This hood consists of five snakes. The sculpture is an excellent example of the medieval sculpture of the 12th century A.D.2

(Collection: Government Museum and Art Gallery, Chandigarh)


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  2. Government Museum and Art Gallery, Chandigarh