Robert Zydenbos zydenbos at FLEVOLAND.XS4ALL.NL
Wed Jun 30 01:14:44 UTC 1999

Replies to msg 29 Jun 99: indology at (Erik Sand)

 eIKD> In Pandharpur there is a temple of the goddess Padmavati.
 eIKD> The same is the
 eIKD> case near Tirupati. She seems, however, to be a somewhat
 eIKD> mysterious figure
 eIKD> and I have been able to come up with very little
 eIKD> literature about her.
 eIKD> Ghurye has a few lines about her in his book Gods and Men,
 eIKD> taking her,
 eIKD> along with Laksmi, to be a sakti of Visnu. Sontheimer also
 eIKD> has a passage
 eIKD> about her in his book on pastoral deities taking her to be
 eIKD> a tribal goddess
 eIKD> of the forest, and, finally, Shulman in his Tamil Temple
 eIKD> Myths deals with
 eIKD> her in connection with Tirupati. I will surely appreciate,
 eIKD> if anyone knows
 eIKD> of any more detailed treatment of this goddess?

Among the Jainas she is one of the most prominent yakshis or goddesses, and in southern India (particularly Karnataka) she is the one most adored. I have spoken about her in a lecture at the 33rd ICANAS, and this was later published in the proceedings of the congress: "The Jaina Goddess Padmavati." In: _Contacts Between Cultures: South Asia, volume 2_, ed. Koppedrayer, K.I. (Lewiston/Queenston/Lampeter (Canada): The Edwin Mellen Press, 1990), pp. 257-262. This article is considerably more detailed about Padmaavatii than the one page which I wrote in my article "Jaina Goddesses in Kannada Literature." In: _Studies in South Asian Devotional Literature: Research Papers 1988-1991_, ed. Entwistle, A.W. and F. Mallison, F. (Paris: Ecole francaise d'Extreme-Orient / New Delhi: Manohar), pp. 135-145.

Considering the prominence and ancientness of Padmaavatii as a divine  being among the Jainas and the non-prominence of the Vaishnava Padmaavatii, and considering that Andhra Pradesh and Maharashtra border on Karnataka, which for centuries has been a Jaina cultural stronghold (and still is, relatively speaking), it may be not too far-fetched to presume that we have here another case of how a non-brahminical divinity was absorbed into the brahminical pantheon. Cf. also what happened to .R.sabhanaatha in the Hindu puraa.nas, or how Baahubali (Gomma.te;svara) can be seen to occupy the place of the Buddha among the da;saavataaras, e.g. in the sculptures on the outside of the Vidyaa;sa:nkara temple in Sringeri.

There are several claims that Padmaavatii temples in southern India were brahminised into something else, e.g. the Mahaalak.smii temple in Kolhapur. Karnatakan Jainas claim that the same has happened with ;Saaradaa at Sringeri and the now somewhat notorious Yellamma at Saundatti.

Robert Zydenbos
zydenbos at

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