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Commemoration of Lord Vishnu by his ‘Sahastra-nama’ – a thousand names, or conceiving Buddha’s form as the ‘Thousand Buddha’, are religious practices prevalent in India since early days. Bringing to mind the image by commemorating ‘Nama’ and thus seeking its multiplication, or constant presence in mind, is a bit difficult, while meditating on the image when it reels before the meditating eye, or multiplies formally, is easier, and hence, a more widely practiced mode of commemoration. Even the routine ‘darshana’ – seeing the deity image with faith in mind, enables it to retain the image for some time. But, if the eye has reeling before it multiple forms of the image, it shall more deeply root into the mind and remain in it for longer time or even constantly. A Ganapati-Patta with multiple Ganapati images multiplies auspiciousness and assures freedom from inauspicious and detriments.
Carved in deep relief with fine details as on an ivory piece, this gold like lustrous Ganapati-Patta enshrines in its three ‘vedikas’ – sections, three forms of Lord Ganesha. In some aspects all three figures are alike, while in others, they are not. All three images are four-armed carrying in them the same set of attributes : goad, noose, broken tusk and a fruit or a piece of sweet, have a trunk with length shorter than usual and with identical curve containing in it a ‘laddu’, similar style and size of ears, a moderately swelled belly, alike costumes and ornaments to include his towering crown, equally small eyes and similar facial features. However, the numbers of the faces that these images have are not uniform, and as varying are their seats, seating postures and body-gestures.
The image enshrining the ‘vedika’ on the top has three faces, an iconographic form known as ‘Trimukha-Ganapati, while the other two – in the middle and bottom ‘vedikas’, are single faced. The Ganapati figure enshrining the bottom ‘vedika’ has one of his consorts – Riddhi or Siddhi, seated on the left thigh and Ganapati has his lower left arm put around her waist in an effort to support her figure. Except a little of it, his upper arm is almost fully concealed behind her figure. The Ganapati figures in the central and top ‘vedikas’ are single and with all four arms explicitly delineated. The Ganapati image in the central ‘vedika’ rides the Ganapati’s mount mouse while those on the bottom and top are lotus-seated. Not a ‘prabhavali’ in the proper sense, the statue rises to it height along two parallel columns rising from a lotus base and topped by an elaborate Kirtti-mukha. Two similar Kirtti-mukhas have been used for joining the breadth between the two columns and creating thus independent ‘vedikas’ for three Ganapati icons.
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.