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Rarely resorting to act Lord Ganesha accomplishes all by his mere presence for it is more often in his form, its twists, curves, angles and profiles, rather than in any of his acts that the real drama reveals. As attests the entire body of Ganesha-related myths – cult or doctrine, he hardly ever acted against demons or evil powers or ever wielded his authority with tough hands over his ‘ganas’. It is by his mere presence : auspicious, obstacle-removing, benign and all-accomplishing or with the mischief in his eyes meditating on how to grab ‘laddus’ lying around, not by an act, that he effected release of his devotees – his primary objective. Child Krishna played the ‘grown-up’, as when making love with ‘gopis’, by transforming his appearance from a child to a grown up; Lord Ganesha played both, the child and the grown-up, in the same body-frame. Here in this statue the child-like queerly looking Ganesha is the same Ekadanta, carrying goad, noose and ‘kamandala’ and wearing a towering crown, as when supporting Riddhi and Siddhi on his thighs, or in any other age-frame.
In the statue it is primarily in the parasol that Lord Ganesha is carrying that the real magic reveals. The beautifully conceived and carved parasol adds exotic beauty to his image. Not merely that parasol is a new element in the iconography of Ganesha, which, it might be argued, has been borrowed from the Vaishnava iconography of Vamana, Vishnu’s fifth incarnation, in whose iconography parasol begins appearing from around eighth century itself, in this statue of Lord Ganesha parasol has visibly altered his entire form. Under a parasol, which with its peripheral expanse horizontally stretches the viewing eye, the bearer’s figure appears to have shorter height than it actually has. It seems that Lord Vishnu might have carried a parasol for giving to his figure as Vamana a more dwarfish look and thereby delude Mahabali, the demon king. In the iconographic tradition the figure of Lord Ganesha has not been conceived as tall but his height in this statue is shorter than usual. His entire figure, legs and belly in particular, seems to have been squeezed. Neck and waist have almost disappeared. Interestingly, the pot-belly, usually quite large, is somewhat subdued, at least around the upper part and is collected over the waist.
The four-armed figure of Lord Ganesha has been installed on a formal two-tiered rectangular lotus pedestal. Besides his usual attributes, the goad and noose, the elephant god is carrying in his normal right hand a beautifully designed tiny parasol, and in the left, a ‘kamandala’ – water-pot with spout, an attribute more often associated with Brahma, and sometimes, Agni – the fire god. Besides, he holds a ‘laddu’ in the coil of his trunk. The parasol has been carried over a massive rod and has an elegantly carved finial like apex. His beautifully conceived towering crown and gorgeous halo, both with their circular dimensions, delightfully align with the parasol. The figure of Ganesha has been elegantly adorned with routine ornaments used in his iconography, though girdle on his waist and belly-band are of greater interest. The image has been conceived with a forward thrust.
This description by Prof. P.C. Jain and Dr. Daljeet. Prof. Jain specializes on the aesthetics of literature and is the author of numerous books on Indian art and culture. Dr. Daljeet is the curator of the Miniature Painting Gallery, National Museum, New Delhi. They have both collaborated together on a number of books.