We have been living in the London Borough of Harrow for over thirty years now. This painting we have got of Padmavati Devi is now with us for over 25 years. The primary Jain pantheon has 24 Tirthankaras starting with Lord Rishabh Dev and ending with Lord Mahavira.
Each Tirthankara has a divine male and female attendant called Yaksh and Yakshini. The 23rd Tirthankara, Lord Parshvanath,has a Yaksh called Dharanendra and a Yakshini called Padmavati Devi. Padmavati Devi is considered a live deity. It is said that a worshipper who has problems and approaches Padmavati Mata, his prayers are invariably answered. This is one reason why in India the highest number of temples dedicated to Lord Parshvanath and Padmavati Devi are represented.
I must now give a little background of how this painting of Padmavati Devi came into our family's possession. My brother, during the early 70s, was in Mumbai, India and this is where he met late Satavdhani Pandit Shree Dhirajlal Tokershi Shah. In 1981 Panditji's 75th birthday was celebrated in Mumbai by the Jain community. In the summer of 1981 Satavdhani Pandit Dhirajlal Tokershi Shah with his wife Champaben came to London as the guests of our family. A function was held in his honour at Bharatiya Vidya Bhavan in Kensington. During this time, Panditji brought the original painting of Padmavati Devi together with that of Lord Parshvanath and this is a reproduction from that painting.
During his life Panditji wrote many books on Jainism and in the last century became one of the most charismatic exponents of Padmavati Devi. Through his aradhna, that is intense and dedicated prayers, Pantiji had the drashan of Padma Rathi Devi. He therefore commissioned an artist to paint under his supervision the portrait of Padmavati Devi. In the painting you can see Padmavati Devi seated in padmasana posture on a lotus flower in the middle of a lake. From her back rises a serpent with five hooded canopy above a crown. On top of the crown is an effigy of Lord Parsvanath. In the middle of her eyebrows is a third eye for extra sensory powers. If you look at the two right hands of Padmavati Devi, the top right hand she is holding a noose called pasa and at the bottom hand she is conferring aboon gesture, it is called a varadamudra. On the top left hand she is holding a weapon calledankusa and the bottom of the left hand she is holding a fruit. She is wearing earrings on both the ears, there are rings on both the top hands, she has got two necklaces and an ornamental waist band. Each of the four corners of the painting is a bij mantra called hreem. This mantra is very much connected with Lord Parsvanath. This painting is called Raktapadmavati, rakta meaning red and this is one of the popular images used for religious ceremonies. There are about twenty different variations of Padmavati Devi.
In my opinion, through my own personal worship of Mahadevi Padmavati Mata, this painting holds power, that is shakti, and tranquility, that is shanti, in equal measure.
FREE TALK: The second in a series of screenings programmed by our Exhibition Road artist in residence Jamie Jenkinson, this screening looks at the relationship between movement and colour in artist film and video.