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This statue is one of the most accomplished examples of Ganesha’s image not merely formally because of its fine execution, technical maturity and sensitive treatment of the subject but also in its mysticism, benignity and power to effect greater good. Infusion of dance into his figure and inclusion of the images of Lakshmi and Saraswati impart to the image of Ganesha rare distinction. Dance is not a mere body posture and certainly not in relation to Ganesha’s images; dance, the essence of Lord Ganesha, infused into his being adds great dimensional breadth to his image not merely by dramatizing it but also by accelerating the pace of his benevolence and kindling his inherent energies to effect greater auspiciousness and benignity. Dance multiplies pace and movement and correspondingly multiplies the volume of Ganesha’s bliss and good that he imparts. He dances to pervade the entire cosmos and thus his benevolence reaches its every part.
The form of Lord Ganesha with Lakshmi is one of his early thirty-two classical forms identified as Lakshmi Ganapati. However, this classical form of Lakshmi Ganapati is a different manifestation of Lord Ganesha. In this classical form Lakshmi is symbolically represented by either, or by both, of Riddhi and Siddhi, and represented as seated on his thigh/thighs they appear as components of the iconography of Lord Ganesha, not independent of him as are the images of Lakshmi and Saraswati in this wood-piece. Assimilation of the images of Lakshmi, representing abundance, accomplishment, prosperity and fertility, and Saraswati, representing wisdom, literature, art, music, culture and creativity, carved independent of Ganapati though along him, not only makes this wood-statue of Lord Ganesha as his most accomplished form but has also dually mystic dimensions. The Ganapati cult, giving a little edge over Lakshmi, acclaims that Lakshmi better effects accomplishment and bestows prosperity and abundance when Ganesha keeps her path detriments-free, that is, she would not be so effective if Lord Ganesha did not exert his influence. Those on the other side say that with Lakshmi being with him Lord Ganesha’s benevolence, benignity and all his goodness are by themselves multiplied.
The classical tradition of Ganesha does not allude to a twin-form of Ganesha and Saraswati, though in recent days, say for about a century or two, this image-form emerged with same thrust as Lakshmi-Ganesha form, and as the images of Lakshmi and Ganesha are worshipped together on the festival of Diwali, the images of Ganesha and Saraswati are worshipped jointly on Vasanta-panchami. Those giving priority to Ganesha assert that Saraswati’s worship would not yield fruits if Ganesha is not worshipped before. Hence, a child’s first day of schooling begins with the worship of Ganesha, and Saraswati only follows. The significance of Ganesha in context to Saraswati is deeper other way also. She represents softer and more delicate aspects : art, literature, music, culture’s other avenues, and entire creativity. These aspects, delicate as they are, are hardly detriment-resistant. Even an ordinary disturbance or obstacle distracts the mind from it. Hence, unless Ganesha keeps obstacles away, Saraswati might hardly function.
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.