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All five forms of Lord Ganesh have been carved broadly with identical features of anatomy and iconography, and with the same set of attributes and similar posture barring a few deviations as the first figure from the right, and the last, are in standing posture while other three are seated, or the trunk-ends of the third and the fourth figures are ‘valampuri’, as the pose of the trunk turned to right is known in the classical tradition, while those of the other three are turned to left, a more usual posture known as edampuri. The standing images are in a semi-dance mode, though while the one on the extreme right has its left leg lifted in the posture of dance, that on the extreme left, its right leg.
Lotus-seats, the other three images are installed on, are exactly identical but the sitting postures of the images reveal a few variations. The image in the centre, with its right leg hung below on the foot of the pedestal, and the left, horizontally as in yogasana, has exact ‘lalitasana’ posture, while the image on its right is only partially in ‘lalitasana’. As in ‘lalitasana’, it has its right leg suspending below, but its left is laid over the seat like a bolster supporting on it one of its left arms. The sitting posture of the image on the left of the centre is a blend of both postures. Its left leg is laid horizontally on the seat as in yogasana, while the right, raised like a bolster supporting on it one of its right arms. All icons are four-armed, in Ekadanta form, pot-bellied and are endowed with ‘tri-netra’ – third eye. Broken tusk, goad and noose are the attributes that all images commonly carry. It is only in the fourth hand that the attributes change. The first, third and fourth seem to be carrying an object that looks like mango fruit while the hands of the second and the fifth images are held in ‘abhaya’.
The basic image form in this carving is Ekadanta manifestation of Lord Ganesh. Ekadanta Ganapati is usually a four-armed form of Ganesh carrying essentially his broken tusk in his normal right hand and is pot-bellied, as here in these images. Ekadanta is one of his main and initial eight classical forms enumerated in the Mudgala Purana, an early text devoted primarily to Ganesh. With these eight manifestations Lord Ganesh prevails over eight human weaknesses, namely, ‘moda’ – arrogance, ‘abhimana’ – pride, ‘matsarya’ – jealousy, ‘moha’ – infatuation, ‘lobha’ – greed, ‘krodha’ – anger, ‘kama’ – lust, and ‘mamata’ – possessiveness as also ego. In his Ekadanta form he prevails over ‘moda’, the arrogance that breeds non-acceptance of the world one is destined to live in and thus breeds disharmony. Ekadanta Ganapati vanquishes this arrogance and makes life harmonious.
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.