This magnificent image cast in brass and anodized for giving copper’s effect, represents Lord Ganesha, a manifestation blending his two classical image-forms, Ekadanta and Lambodara, both being two of his earliest classified eight forms conceived by early seers for prevailing over eight human weaknesses or natures, namely, ‘moda’ – arrogance, ‘abhimana’ – pride, ‘matsarya’ – jealousy, ‘moha’ – infatuation, ‘lobha’ – greed, ‘krodha’ – anger, ‘kama’ – lust, and ‘mamata’ – possessiveness as also ego. Two of these eight forms, ‘Mahodara’, one with big belly, and ‘Lambodara’, one with corpulent belly, relate to the dimensions of his belly and command two most common aspects of human nature, ‘moha’ and ‘krodha’ respectively.
The Puranas perceived arrogance that Lord Ganesha in his Ekadanta
manifestation commands as the aspect of personality that breeds
non-acceptance and thereby disharmony with the world and thus with
oneself for one is not only destined to live in it but is himself the
world, its microcosmic form. Hence, arrogance does not target so much
beyond as within oneself. Lord Ganesha as Ekadanta vanquishes
arrogance and breeds and nourishes harmony with the world around, the
people and the environs. Mythically, Ekadanta eliminates diversions
and promotes singleness of mind and symbolises utmost sacrifice to
help the righteous as also to punish the wicked. A single tusked form
apart, almost a universal feature of his iconography occurring
invariably in most of his images, the moon-related myth gave to his
image also another most salient feature, the ‘nag-bandha’ – a
bellyband consisting of a serpent, mythically the serpent Vasuki.
While punishing moon for its arrogance he also punished Vasuki by
tying it around his belly for frightening his mount mouse that
throwing him away ran for life.
In every form Lord Ganesha is the custodian of knowledge and promoter
of learning; however, as Ekadanta his role as the patron of literature
is outstanding. As one of the traditions in regard to his single tusk
form has it, it was for scribing the great epic Mahabharata that he
had removed one of his tusks. After great persuasion sage Vyasa agreed
to compose the great epic but on condition that he would dictate it
nonstop and wanted someone who recorded it uninterrupted. Lord Ganesha
agreed but when taking dictation his pen broke. Pressed under the
condition he removed one his tusks and noted with it the rest of the
epic. The myth affords the rationale not only as to why the worship of
Ganesh precedes the worship of Saraswati, the goddess of learning,
when a child begins schooling, but also as to why, till recent times
before the use of ivory was legally banned for minimizing cruelty
against the innocent animal, an ivory pen was considered as the most
prestigious tool of learning.
Dually auspicious and effective, the image, conceived with a huge
pot-like belly, combines along with his Ekadanta form his Lambodara
and Mahodara manifestations that vanquish infatuation and anger, the
two most injurious weaknesses in human nature. Manifesting either as
Lambodara or Mahodara – the forms with extra large belly, Lord Ganesha
is believed to contain all the universes within it, unfathomable
knowledge and all stores of riches. Highly auspicious and delightfully
modeled, both forms bless the devotee with natural wisdom, great
common sense, ability to face every crisis, and with abundant riches.
Except a variation or two in the attributes that the two forms carry,
the two images are almost identical, being four-armed, carrying in
normal right hand the broken tusk, ‘modak’ in one of the other hands
and a pot in the knotted trunk, and a large pot belly often tied with
a serpent comprising a bellyband, alike characteristic of both forms.
In other two hands, Ekadanta carries rosary and battle-axe, and
Lambodara, noose and goad. The pot : ‘purna-ghata’ is symbolic of
accomplishment which the great Lord makes possible. In both
manifestations the figure of Lord Ganesha is voluminous cast with bold
but highly balanced forms. Hence, ‘utkut akasana’, as this brass-image
has, is the best suited sitting mode for these forms. Installed on a
three-tiered high pedestal consisting of an octagonal base moulding
adorned with lotus forms, a plain narrower one in the middle, and
another, as large as the base moulding, on the top, the figure of Lord
Ganesha has its thighs straightened as if to support the belly’s
volume and bulk on them. In both manifestations the figure of the
elephant god has an average height and is adorned with few ornaments,
a modest crown and often just a loincloth.
This description by Prof. P.C. Jain and Dr Daljeet. Prof. Jain specializes on the aesthetics of ancient Indian literature. Dr Daljeet is the chief curator of the Visual Arts Gallery at the National Museum of India, New Delhi. They have both collaborated on numerous books on Indian art and culture.
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