Article: Padmāvatī

Contributed by Nalini Balbir

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Padmāvatī on the cover of a booklet of hymns and worship rituals dedicated to her. The Vijayavallabha Smārak temple complex near Delhi contains a Śvetāmbara shrine to the goddess Padmāvatī, the brainchild of Sādhvī Mr̥gāvatī, and was inaugurated in 1984.

Booklet of Padmāvatī worship
Image by Nalini Balbir © Nalini Balbir

This south Indian emphasis does not mean that shrines or temples to Padmāvatī are not found anywhere else. They are increasingly built everywhere in India and beyond.

One contemporary example is the Padmāvatī shrine in the larger Śvetāmbara complex of the Vijayavallabha Smārak temple in Karnal, about 20 kilometres from Delhi. Sādhvī Mr̥gāvatījī had the idea for the building project, which gained the blessing of the Tapā-gaccha leader Vijayendradinna-sūri. The temple housing the cult image was inaugurated in May 1984.

The motivation behind the temple's construction is to discourage lay Jains from going to fakirs and non-Jain gods and goddesses in the hope of fulfilling their wishes. Instead, it is said that Padmāvatī can guarantee all types of success and remove all kinds of obstacles for devotees following the right path. This is because she has marvellous powers and is the attendant of Pārśvanātha or Lord Pārśva (Jain 1984: 5).


The 'anointing ceremony' – ābhiṣeka – of an image of the goddess Padmāvatī. Lay people in Melbourne, Australia, perform the ceremony with their noses and mouths covered so they do not accidentally pollute the idol of this popular goddess

Image of Padmāvatī being anointed
Image by hedonia – Ruchi © CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

Paying due homage to Padmāvatī is usually performed using the standard rituals of Jain worship. However, the story of the Digambara monk who worshipped Padmāvatī with the aim of preventing Muslims entering the king’s capital shows how ordinary Jain worship may be supplemented or replaced by other practices. These may be quite standard Jain practices, such as meditation, or less orthodox rites, such as making sacrifices to fire.

Even so it is important to emphasise that physical and moral purity are crucial to guarantee the success of the rituals. Moral purity implies following proper Jain conduct.

Tantric rituals

Padmāvatī is often worshipped the Tantric way. Jain Tantric worship aims to control other people or counter evil influences and involves performing rituals to placate the aggressive side of the deity's nature, encouraging the divinity to behave benevolently. If not worshipped correctly, the vengeful deity may cause harm.

The main source to this effect is a kalpa text, which sets out rituals and yantras for efficient, successful worship. The Digambara monk Malliṣeṇa wrote the Bhairava-Padmāvatī-kalpaManual of Rituals to the Fierce Padmāvatī – in 1057 CE in Karnatak. This work in Sanskrit verse has a commentary by a writer called Bandhuṣeṇa, about whom hardly anything is known (Jhavery 1944; Nawab 1937/1996).

This kalpa is divided into ten chapters (see Jhavery 1944: 295–299 for a summary).

Chapters of the Bhairava-Padmāvatī-kalpa

Chapter number

Number of verses




Moral qualities required from the practitioner, who is called:

  • ‘the one who wants to reach success’ – sādhaka
  • ‘the one who is versed in mantras’ – mantrī



Rites for the protection of the practitioner and:

  • his purification – ātma-śuddhi
  • purification of the five elements of the body – bhūta-śuddhi
  • placing the tips of the fingers and palm of the right hand on various parts of the body while reciting mantras – nyāsa
  • meditation
  • the method of working out whether a particular mantra is favourable to the practitioner



Method for achieving the ‘six acts’, here listed as:

  1. pacification – śānti
  2. causing enmity – dveṣa
  3. subjugation and gaining control over another person – vaśīkr̥ta
  4. stopping control of another person – bandha
  5. attracting women – strīṛākṛṣṭi
  6. halting other people's actions – stambhana.

The mode of worship of the deity with the relevant yantra is described.



Description of 12 yantras used to meet various aims



Yantras for achieving immobilisation – stambhana – which results in ‘paralysing persons and their activities and passing successfully through various ordeals’ (Jhavery 1944: 297)



Yantras and mantras for fascinating women



Yantras and mantras used to control others and make them do as the practitioner wishes



Mantras for divination using various objects, such as gazing into a mirror, lamp-flame, sword, water or a thumb to which soot and oil are applied



Medicinal herbs and powders to control women or other people and make them do what the practitioner wishes



Science for controlling and catching snakes or treating people who have been bitten – garuḍa-vidyā or garuḍa-tantra

The number of hymns or kalpas dedicated to this goddess is almost infinite. A good collection of Sanskrit texts is found in the appendices to Nawab 1937/1996. Analysis on pages 307 to 316 in Jhavery 1944 gives insight into the different modes of Padmāvatī's worship.

There are many more such texts in Hindi, Gujarati, Tamil and Kannara. They are available in all forms, for example in low-cost booklets found in local shops and temples (see Jain 1984 for instance) in India.

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