This tiny image cast in bronze, a tougher alloy but softened to reveal a gold ornament’s precision, minuteness of details and overall sophistication, represents the eight-armed Ganapati endowed with a corpulent belly.In early texts like the Mudgal Purana this manifestation of the elephant god has been classified both as Mahodara – big bellied, and Lambodara – corpulent bellied. In the level of perfection that the image reveals there reflects rare skill that the craftsmen of Swamimalai matured over centuries through many generations of them and under many illustrious dynasties to include great Cholas and Pallavas. Anages old centre of bronze casting Swamimalai, a small town near Chennai in Tamil Nadu, is known for its rare distinction and technical maturity.Still pursuing the same standards of great bronze casting as ever Swamimalai truly represents the centuries old tradition of South Indian bronzes.This lustrous image of Lord Ganesha breathes a kind of classicism, divine auraas also beauty par excellence that a medium like bronze rarely yields.
Mahodara, the big bellied Ganapati who masters ‘moha’ – infatuation, is commemorated with the ‘mantra’ – mystic syllable, ‘AumMahodaraynamah’. It helps the commemorator in checking him from erring for worldly advantages that often trap him into many critical situations and in controlling ‘moha’ and developing resistance against greed and every kind of infatuation. Lambodara, a form with corpulent belly, curves ‘krodha’ – anger. Lambodara is commemorated with the ‘mantra’‘AumLambodaraynamah’. He helps in controlling anger and every weakness that anger promotes. Lambodara Ganapati and Mahodara Ganapati are almost the same and commemoration of one is also the commemoration of the other. Thus, Lambodara Ganapati who is also Mahodara keeps the commemorator away from infatuations and anger, the roots of many vices that make life miserable and disable man from utilizing his potentials.
Not a giver form Lambodara is the deity of those who believe in their own potentials and seek to accomplish their ends in their own efforts. Lambodara Ganapati protects them from pitfalls and keeps to right path making their journey to the goal smooth and obstacle free. As the Shashtras have it, in his prodigious belly Lambodara Ganapati contains all known and unknown universes, all galaxies, entire knowledge, time and every breadth and length and every dimension. A true representation of Lambodara this image presents his all-encompassing breadth synthesizing all prevalent streams. The son of Shiva and Parvati in this manifestation Ganapati is carrying in his normal right hand his father’s trident, and in the left, a ‘poorna-ghat’. Representing fertility and abundance ‘poorna-ghat’ is the symbolic representation of his mother.Besides his own mount, the tiny mouse cast along his right leg, he has his mother’s mount lion to ride, that is, he seeks in his father his power to protect all three worlds, and in his mother, his direction and path. However, he has alike respect for other streams. He not only carries Lord Vishnu’s ‘chakra’ – disc, mace and conch, the great serpent Shesh enshrines his ‘chhatra’ – halo or disc behind his face. Other attributes – sword, elephant goad and noose that he is carrying also relate to other streams.
The image of the elephant godhas been installed on a three-tiered pedestal comprising a two-tiered rectangular base– a tapered lower half and a plain thick moulding laid over it,and over it a large fully blown lotus with a plain top. The independently cast lion icon, his mother’s mount, has been soldered along an independent plaque on the back of the deity image. With his left foot inclining to make a forward move the eight-armed Ganapati has a straightened standing figure. The figure has exceptionally large belly overshadowing even his loincloth, girdle and the decorative central ‘pata’. The figure’s ears are relatively larger, and the face, a childlike tender, innocent and small. Though left inclining, as in ‘edampuri’ posture, his trunk is a bit straightened. He holds in it a ‘laddu’ – the ball-like sweet and a snake creeps over it and joins its knot. He is holding in his hands on the right side elephant goad, ‘chakra’, sword and trident, and on the left, noose, conch, mace and pot. Besides a large and lustrous halo and moderately sized headgear-cum-crown his figure has been lavishly bejeweled from head to feet.
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.