The quick-rewarding Kshipra Ganapati is usually a six-armed form carrying in one of them a twig of Kalpa-vraksha – the wish-fulfilling tree, not the features of this image. Besides, Kshipra Ganapati is red-hued. Though like Ekadanta Ganapati this image does not have the blue-body colour, symbolic of oceanic depth and thereby of immense knowledge that Ekadanta Ganapati manifests, the artist has revealed in this statue the knowledge aspect using the symbol of scripture that this form of Ganapati carries in its upper left hand substituting the blue body-colour which in a brass statue could not be normally realized. The gold-like lustrous body-colour that the artist has preferred for this image could be an element of either of, or both of, the sportive energetic Bal Ganapati or of all-accomplishing Siddha Ganapati; however, while most of the attributes among those that Lord Ganesha in his Bal Ganapati or Siddha Ganapati manifestations hold are eatables : mango, pomegranate, sugarcane, ‘modaka’ … and the broken tusk or scripture in no case, in this statue the broken tusk and the book have been more emphatically included. The broken tusk and the book essentially relate to his Ekadanta manifestation.
In his Ekadanta manifestation Lord Ganapati has his right tusk broken that in this statue with his face turned to right is not ascertainable. However, the broken tusk – full, not a symbolic motif-like, that he is carrying in his normal right is quite prominent and determines the Ekadanta character of the image. Ekadanta, one of the initial eight manifestations of Lord Ganesha conceived by early seers is contended to command ‘moda’ – arrogance, one of the eight human weaknesses or natures, other seven being ‘abhimana’ – pride, ‘matsarya’ – jealousy, ‘moha’ – infatuation, ‘lobha’ – greed, ‘krodha’ – anger, ‘kama’ – lust, and ‘mamata’ – possessiveness as also ego. Texts perceive arrogance as one of the most negative aspects of personality that breeds non-acceptance and thereby disharmony with the world. Lord Ganesha as Ekadanta vanquishes arrogance and makes life harmonious with the world, people around and with one’s environs. Mythically, Ekadanta promotes singleness of mind and eliminates distractions.
As has the myth, Lord Ganesha once removed one of his tusks, as he had no other weapons at hand, to punish the moon for ridiculing Lord Ganesha when seeing his belly burst and ‘laddus’ that he had eaten rolling out it laughed at him. As it happened seeing the serpent Vasuki Lord Ganesha’s mount mouse flung the Master and fled for life. Lord Ganesha fell down and his belly heavily loaded with ‘laddus’ burst and the ‘laddus’ rolled away. Also displeased with Vasuki for frightening his mount he caught hold of the serpent and to punish it tied it around the belly that also helped him secure his ‘laddus’ which he had collected back in it. One of the most salient features of Ganapati imagery, the ‘nag-bandha’ – a bellyband consisting of a serpent, that this image also comprises, is thus a more characteristic feature of his Ekadanta form. In regard to his single-tusked form there prevails yet another tradition, its emphasis being on the immenseness of his knowledge. When asked to compose the great epic Mahabharata, sage Vyasa, its author, agreed to do it on condition that its scribe would take from him non-stop dictation. This Lord Ganesha alone could do. However, when noting down, his pen broke. With no other option Lord Ganesha removed one of his tusks and continued writing uninterrupted.
The image of the elephant god has been installed on a two-tiered oval pedestal, the vine arabesque with stylized leaf-design defining the base, and a large lotus, its top. With the sole of the right foot fixed on the pedestal’s top, and left, laid flat, a sitting mode defined in classical iconography as ‘utkut-akasana’, Lord Ganesha is seated in full ease. The four-armed image has been conceived as carrying in its upper right hand a goad, more like a decorative motif : the attribute he dragged with the devotees’ minds to the right path, in upper left, a book symbolic of his immense knowledge, in normal right, his broken tusk, and in normal left, a bowl of ‘laddus’, the symbol of his boons and accomplishment. His face, trunk and head have been conceived as turned to right; however, the trunk’s knotted toe is turned to left – a more usual posture of his image defined in iconographic tradition as ‘edampuri’. He is putting on a splendid ‘antariya’ – lower wear, with its ends displayed beautifully on the front in the parting of the legs, and as rich a sash unfurling on his left. The figure has been dramatically gesticulated revealing pleasant geometry, especially the symmetrically moved upper hands. An exceptionally beautiful crown, it has been so conceived that even the elephant god’s ears appear to be its component. Gorgeous ornaments worn on the forehead, chest, wrists. arms, feet … apart, the nag-bandha – the serpent belly band consisting of a hooded serpent, obviously the serpent Vasuki, is the most pleasant feature of the image.
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.