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Elephant in Indian Art and Mythology

Elephant in Indian Art and Mythology


Item Code: IML04

by S.K.Gupta

Hard Cover (Edition: 1983)

Abhinav Publications

Language: English
Size: 11" x 9"
Weight of the Book:
Price: $27.50   Shipping Free
Viewed times since 15th Oct, 2009


From the Jacket

The present monograph seeks to record the place and development of elephant symbol in the mythology and the art of India over a period of 5000 years. It is amazing as to how strikingly a unity in diversity in most Indian religions is displayed through this symbol. Elephant form has been used as a common denominator in the folk as well as the religious cults but having different impact.

The wide spectrum of Indian culture contains various colours of different intensity. Different kinds of people, races, languages, religions and traditions made Indian culture vital and colourful. The Elephant rotates with every colour of the spectrum. How the animal impressed the people through the ages is sought to be explained by the author along with all the myths and stories associated with it. As a divine member elephant was supposed to have come into existence out of the sea on the occasion of churning of the ocean (Samudramanthana) as Airavata the milk white elephant. On the folk level a cult developed around it. Jataka stories refer to elephant pillars and statues and tradition of performing Hastisutra and Hastimangala-elephant festival. Beside as a folk divinity it also penetrated in Buddhist and Jain mythologies.

It is the inner vitality of Indian culture which has been the result of intimate connection between nature and human inspiration. That is why, Indian religion, art and literature are rooted in the natural environment. Ganesa the elephant god is the best example of the oneness of nature and human factors as reflected in the realm of art and literature. Ganesa is only one of the aspects of the multidimensional personality of the elephant which embodies the various hues and colours of the Indian culture tradition.

Thus, Dr Gupta herein offers a detailed statement regarding the historical development of elephant symbol in Indian myth and art. This must be counted as a unique effort in understanding the symbolism of Indian culture through elephant symbol.

About the Author

Dr S. K. Gupta was born in 1939 at Hapur where he received his early education. He took his M. A. degree in ancient History, Archaeology and Culture from the University of Gorakhpur in 1962 and Ph.D. degree from the University of Rajasthan on A Critical Study of Indian Art Motifs. He started his career from Banaras Hindu University where he worked for few years in the Department of Art and Architecture as a Lecturer. He joined the Department of History and Indian Culture in the University of Rajasthan as Assistant Professor in 1968.

Dr Gupta is a man of history with a background of science, knowledge of three languages (Hindi, English and Sanskrit), practical training in photography, art and field work. He has visited all the important temple sites of India in general and of Rajasthan in particular. At present he is working on a project-'Jain Temple Architecture of Rajasthan'.

Dr Gupta has contributed a number of research papers on different aspects of History, Art and Archaeology in various research journals. His book Origins of Buddhist Art is under print. He is Assistant Edition of the series History and Culture of India which is being edited by Dr S. R. Goyal and is proposed to be completed in 36 volumes in Hindi language.


List of Figures
List of Plates
Airavata: The Ocean-Born Elephant
Hastimangala: The Elephant Festival
Elephant: Symbol of Fertility
Elephant as Devotee of Vishnu
White Elephant as Gautama the Buddha
Bodhisattva as Elephant
The Elephant
Ganesa: The Elephant-Headed God
Elephant in history
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Customer Comments

  • What does the elephant represent in the India culture?
    - gina
    25th Apr 2012
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