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Simha Ganapati, as the epithet means, is the form in which lion is essentially associated with the iconography of Lord Ganesha. The lion icon sometimes alternates mouse, the usual mount of Lord Ganesha, as his mount, though in some cases the lion’s presence is just symbolical. In such symbolic manifestations of Simha Ganapati the Great Lord is seen carrying just a mini lion icon in one of his his hands. Besides auspiciousness and supreme wisdom that Lord Ganesha represents in his all manifest forms, his Simha Ganapati form, strength, formidability and fearlessness being the attributes of lion, assures victories and success and generates a feeling of confidence in adversities of all kinds.
Symbolically as well as in theological tradition the lion’s links with Lord Ganrsh are inherent and quite intimate. Lion that stands for strength, formidability and fearlessness is the vehicle of Parvati, his mother, the primordial cosmic energy believed to have eliminated on one hand evil forces, and on the other, to have enlivened enertness and lifeless matter. Lion, her vehicle and thus her constant companion in her battles against evil, is the instrument of victories, perpetuation of good and elimination of evil. Not merely that the sportive Ganesha delighted in taking away and riding his parents’ mounts, Lord’s Shiva’s bull and Parvati’s lion, as is narrated in various myths, he also assimilated symbolically their attributes into his being, the lion’s strength, formidability and dauntlessness, and the bull’s inherent nature to always move ahead. Simha Ganapati is his manifestation in which the Great God synthesises with auspiciousness and supreme wisdom strength, formidability and fearlessness and emerges as the supreme divine tool to lead to victories and success in all walks of life.
In deviation from the usual Simha Ganapati form which perceives the deity as seated on the lion, more often in ’lalitasana’ – one leg laid horizontally on the lion’s back, and the other, suspending to the ground, and sometimes in semi-’yogasana’, this wood-statue represents him as standing on the lion’s back, perhaps for emphasising his readiness to charge on his devotees’ adversities and foes. Simha Ganapati is essentially multi-armed usually having eight arms, though in this statue the image is just six-armed, the form of Kshipra Prasad Ganapati. A pot of jewels and a 'Kalpavriksha' sprig, the more usual attributes of Simha Ganapati iconography, are missing or alternated with a beaded bracelet and banana bud and fruit in this representation. This statue carries instead in upper right and left hands lotus and noose, the symbols of purity and self restraint, in middle right and left hands, banana-bud and banana fruits, the symbol of auspicious beginning and perpetuation of auspiciousness, and in lower right and left hands, a beaded bracelet and a mace, the symbols of riches and might. The lower right hand also has a serpent rising from it. The serpent symbolises long life and life’s perpetuation. Pure wood colour of the statue corresponds to white body colour which texts prescribe as the body colour of Simha Ganapati.
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.