The following study describes the forms of Ganesa/Ganapati occurring in the Vidyarnavatantra (=VT), a large compilation on mantrasastra attributed to Vidyaranya Yati. This text gives the iconographic peculiarities, mantras, and yantras of the special forms of Ganesa as well as instructions for the ritual application of the mantras. The information gathered from this text has been compared with descriptions found in other Tantras and works on iconography. I have also tried to include references to visual representations of such forms as far as they agree with the description in the VT. In 1986 I undertook two trips to South India, where I examined photographs of Ganesa sculptures kept in the archives of the Institute francais d'indologie, Pondicherry, and visited many important temples to photograph the sculptures. In the same year I consulted the photo archives of the American Institute of Indian Studies, Ramnagar-Varanasi, and visited museums in North India, such as Mathura, Gwalior, and Khajuraho to obtain further material. However, identification of the sculptures presents many problems as the attributes are not always clear and the sculptures are often mutilated. Very few specimens agree with the descriptions provided in the VT.
Although the number of publications dealing with Ganesa is not insignificant, the Tantric aspect of this deity has not been investigated and a study from this point of view is necessary. Ganesa is also worshipped in South-East Asia, Nepal, Tibet, and Japan, but only material from India has been included here for comparison.
For valuable suggestions I am indebted to Prof. K.S. Arjunwadkar and Dr. R. P. Goswami, Pune. I wish to thank Charles Pain, Berkeley, for improving my English; the staff members of the Bhandarkar Oriental Research Institute, Pune and the Institute francais d'indologie, Pondicherry, and particularly Dr. N.R. Bhatt, for their cooperation; Dr. S.S. Janaki, Madras, for providing some information in connection with Muthusvami Diksita's compositions; the staff members of the Government oriental Manuscripts Library, Madras, for providing a transcript of a chapter of the prayogasara; and the University Manuscript Library, Trivandrum, for allowing me to consult a manuscript of the Yantrasara. Finally, I wish to thank the Indian Council of Historical Research, Delhi, for supporting my research with a grant.
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