Laxmi & Saraswati

Vidyasankar Sundaresan vsundaresan at HOTMAIL.COM
Mon Apr 12 21:37:11 UTC 1999

A rather late reply, but here it is anyway.

"Dr. Nupam Mahajan" <nupam at MED.UNC.EDU> had once asked,

>I have an ancient gold coin minted by great Gupta emperor, Kumargupta
>which depicts a goddess feeding a peacock. All the gupta emperors
>minted coins showing Laxmi sitting on lotus. But this coin seems
>to be totally different from rest of them. I have a feeling that
>Kumargupta tried to mint coins showing Saraswati instead Laxmi
>which many of the scholars simply considering `Laxmi feeding
>peacock'. The coin can be seen at

The generally prescribed vehicle of Sarasvati is the swan, not the
peacock. The Goddess seated on a peacock should be identified as
kaumArI, one of the mAtRkas. It may be significant that the coin was
minted by kumAragupta. But then, how tight is the identification of
the bird in the coin as a peacock? In the image, it seems to be a
long-necked bird, but are there other identifying marks to call it a


ps. Sometimes, kaumArI is also depicted as holding a Veena in her
hands, thereby coming to be identified, perhaps mistakenly, with
Sarasvati. Another Goddess who holds a Veena, but is not usually
identified with Sarasvati, is mAtangI. There is one famous verse
describing mAtanga-kanyA as 'mANikya-vINAm upalAlayantI'.

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