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Obviously, the emphasis is aimed at defining the image as representing the elephant god’s Ekadanta manifestation. In early texts, like the Mudgala Purana, Ekadanta Ganapati has been alluded to as one of his initial eight forms with which the basic classicism of Ganapati imagery comes into being. These eight primary manifestations of Lord Ganesh were conceived as prevailing over eight weaknesses inherent to human nature. Subsequently, the number of such form was expanded into thirty-two but the significance of his Ekadanta form was never diluted. Under this classicism Ekadanta Ganapati is believed to defeat ‘moda’ – arrogance or ego that leads the mind to not accept what one has before him and thus creates disharmony with the world he is destined to live in. Ekadanta Ganapati vanquishes this arrogance, which makes life harmonious with one’s world.
Tradition reveres Ganapati as the supreme patron of knowledge and wisdom; however as Ekadanta he presides over literature, scriptural knowledge and script. His Ekadanta form-related myths are many; however, quite relevant among them is one related to writing the great epic Mahabharata. The Mahabharata-related myth contends that Ekadanta Ganapati was its scribe. As the tradition has it, gods assigned to sage Vyasa the responsibility of writing down the Great Epic. Sage Vyasa accepted it on condition that he was provided with a scribe who wrote down whatever he spoke uninterrupted. After all others failed, gods prayed Ganesh for accomplishing the job. Ganesh agreed but on a counter-condition. He asked that as he would write uninterrupted sage Vyasa would also dictate non-stop. It is said that in the course of writing his pen broke. To keep his words, Ganesh broke his right tusk and using it as pen continued writing and the great text was scribed. Perhaps thus, the precedence of Ganapati-worship over the worship of Saraswati, the goddess of learning, might have begun. The myth also provides the reason as to why, when a child was put into a school, an ivory pen was considered till recent past as the most auspicious tool to initiate learning.
A regular feature of the Ekadanta iconography, he has a four-armed form carrying essentially in the normal right hand his broken tusk as he has in this brass-cast. Varying a little from the iconographic tradition, in two of his other hands he is carrying a noose and an axe, both most artistically designed and cast. In the fourth, Ekadanta usually carries a rosary, the tool of meditation; contrarily, in this statue he is carrying a pot of jewels symbolic of riches but also the unexplored wisdom of which rosary is an effective tool. This form of Ganapati assimilates with his form also the attributes of Kshipra Ganapati and Uddanda Ganapati iconographies, at least the pot of precious jewels, an element used often with these other two forms. Essentially a votive image, the seat the image enshrines has consecrated on it a ‘purna-ghata’, and has on its other corner the Great Lord’s mount mouse blowing a trumpet in the mood of festivity.
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.