The lotus-seated, translucent and shining like the full moon during Spring season Bhakti Ganapati, the devotees’ most loved Lord whose pleasant look redeems one of all misfortunes and from the bonds of material world, is primarily the giver of good crops, sustains nature and breeds flowers. His images are hence conceived with flower garlands around his neck forming a part of his iconography. Though this marble figure has not been sculpted with flower-garlands on his neck, something practically difficult to realise in a tough medium like stone, the elephant god has been conceived, besides a lotus seat, as holding a pair of lotuses, perhaps a substitute for lotus-garland. More significantly, the entire figure itself glows like a lotus rising from waters’ depth. Interestingly, the sculptor has carved crawling on his seat on his right a snake and under his seat two tiny mice. Snakes as his ‘yajnopavit’, bellyband or used on his figure, and a mouse as his mount are common aspects of his iconography but carved independently like these seem to represent nature that Bhakti Ganapati sustains.
The image also assimilates elements of Tryakshara Ganapati, especially the sacred syllable AUM. Though AUM is not inscribed on the trunk of this four-armed image as it usually does, in the curls and contours of the sacred ‘tilaka’ mark and loops of his crown suspending on his forehead along with the ‘tilaka’, the three phonemes AUM manifesting beginning, duration and dissolution of the universe, to which are associated Brahma, Vishnu and Shiva, appropriately manifests. Apart, Tryakshara Ganapati is perceived as a form with rare benignity reflecting on his face. Tryakshara Ganapati is invariably represented as seated on a lotus in any of the ‘lalita-rupas’, ‘lalitasana’ or ‘utkut akasana’ as in this image. His images are conceived with large ears, ear-lobes reaching down his shoulders, and is conceived with a gold-like lustrous complexion radiating even in darkness. Ganapati is the Lord of auspices; however, the sacred syllable AUM : the Supreme Being’s graphic and phonetic manifestation, manifesting along his form the auspiciousness of his image is further multiplied.
Elevated over a beautifully conceived and carved lotus this marble image of Lord Ganapati reveals rare beauty, great magnificence and exceptional lustre. Besides two lotus buds carried in his upper right hand he is carrying in the upper left, a conch, the normal right is held in ‘abhaya’ and the normal left carries a ‘laddu’. The image has used little ornamentation and attains the highest level of magnificence in its medium marble and judiciously laid brilliant colours. He is wearing an elegant crown inlaid with multi-coloured precious stones. The sole ensemble that he is putting on is his ‘antariya’ with fine artistic pleats defined by colouring the chiseled courses. The lotus seat and the tiny lustrous bolster under his left thigh are two most beautiful components of the image.
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.