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Though the Shiva’s son and a deity in Shaivite line, Ganesha is not linked to dissolution – primary cosmic function of his father; he rather renders the process of creation detriments free and helps sustain it by his sheer benevolence and auspices without directly operative against any, good or evil. Thus, Lord Ganesha is far more but essentially the deity who sustains and protects by his mere presence. Whatever the weapons in hands, four or any number of them, wisdom is the main tool of Lord Ganesha by which he operates and which he infuses into his devotees. Hence, it is not strange that both, Lakshmi : the goddess representing sustenance, and Saraswati : the goddess of wisdom, are alike associated with Parvati’s son, the valiant Ganesha.
In its simple portrayal the wood panel illustrates this essence of Lord Ganesha. Of his abundant iconographic forms the carver has used three, all four-armed, carrying alike in them goad, noose, broken tusk and a piece of sweet, all, pot-belled, wearing identical crowns, ornaments, belly-bands and antariyas except their colours, golden for the central figure and green for those on sides, and the same gesture of arms and an identical seating posture, but the dimensional breadth of the representation is immense and as far goes its symbolism.
The presiding form of Lord Ganesha, one enshrining the axis of the defined space, symbolic of the known cosmos, is lotus-seated Ganapati. Lotus being the manifest form of Lakshmi, this form of Ganesha represents his Lakshmi-Ganapati manifestation. Ganesha representing benevolence, auspiciousness and freedom from detriments and inauspicious, and Lakshmi, prosperity, abundance, fertility and beauteous, Lakshmi-Ganesha is thus the most potent instrument of sustenance. Flanking the central deity on the left is the lion-riding form of Ganesha. The mount of Durga, in her all manifestations, Parvati and others, lion represents the avenging goddess and the nurturing mother Durga. This form of Ganesha represents him as the valiant protector and destroyer of the wicked, another aspect of sustaining the creation and maintaining cosmic balance. The form on the right of the centre is the Ganapati’s own mouse-riding form. As the mouse pierces all material layers in between and reaches its target, wisdom, with its deep penetrating insight resolves the mysteries facing it. As Saraswati is the wisdom’s presiding goddess, this form of Ganesha is ‘Saraswati-Ganesha’.
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.