An eight-armed form and association of Lakshmi with such form is the essential perception of Lakshmi-Ganesha iconography, though Lakshmi’s presence in such Lakshmi-Ganesha icons is as a rule only symbolic, represented invariably as Riddhi and Siddhi, goddess Lakshmi’s versions in the iconography of Ganesha. A form almost rigidified, in Lakshmi-Ganesha iconography Riddhi and Siddhi, the source of success, prosperity and good crop, as also wisdom and achievement, are conceived as seated on the thighs of Ganapati flanking him on either side. In this statue the figure of Lord Ganesha has been conceived with eight arms but without the icons of Riddhi and Siddhi. However, the presence of Vaishnava elements, the great serpent Shesh and an abundance of lotuses, Lakshmi’s exclusive symbols, in particular, is quite conspicuous suggestive of the presence of Lakshmi-elements in the iconography of Ganesha. Unless the artist had thought of associating Lakshmi’s aspect with the form of Ganesha, he would not include with his image these Vaishnava elements too foreign to his form. Maybe, being cumbersome to carve in a wood-piece, as also focus-diluting, the artist alternated anthropomorphic images of Riddhi and Siddhi with Lakshmi’s other symbols, mainly the lotus.
The attributes that Lakshmi-Ganapati holds in his eight hands are usually a green parrot, pomegranate, sword, goad, noose, sprig of Kalpavriksha and water vessel and the eighth is held in ‘Varada’, though in this image, corresponding to the shift in subordinate icons, these attributes too have characteristically changed. He still carries goad and noose, a mango in place of pomegranate, and broken tusk, in place of sword, but in rest four, two on the right, and two on the left, the Holy Ganapati carries a lotus each. This magnitude of lotus is far greater. The Prabhavali’s outer ring, the bases and apexes of the columns supporting Prabhavali, the base-line, edges and other significant parts of the podium on which the Prabhavali has been raised, all comprise lotus motifs. Being Lakshmi’s symbolic presence, and representing fruition, fertility and all that Riddhi and Siddhi symbolised, the infusion of lotus in the iconography of this Ganapati image defines Lakshmi’s presence, and thus, this form of Ganesha as his form as Lakshmi Ganapati.
Lakshmi Ganapati is one of Lord Ganesha’s most worshipped forms, perhaps because Lakshmi pleases more readily when lauded with Ganapati, not with her consort Lord Vishnu. 'Shree Ganapate namah', 'salutations to Ganapati, whom Lakshmi precedes', is the most effective 'mantra' for invoking Ganesha. Lakshmi precedes Ganapati in the ‘mantra’ and reaches a person even before he invokes Ganesha. The Shesh-seated eight-armed image of Lord Ganesha has been installed on a multi-tiered lotus-podium. With his right leg suspending below, and the left, laid over the Great Serpent’s coil, Lord Ganesha is seated in ‘lalitasana’. He is holding in his hands elephant goad, noose, mango, broken tusk and lotuses in the remaining four. He is elegantly clad and ornamented. The tiny mouse, his mount, has been stationed below on the pedestal. The elephant god has been represented as seated on the coils of the Great Serpent Shesh. The Great Serpent has extended its five-hooded head over his image like a majestic canopy. The most colourfully and brilliantly conceived Prabhavali has atop an elaborate Kirtti-mukha motif.
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.