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In widely accepted classification this form of the elephant god is classed as Tryakshara Ganapati. Broadly ‘tryakshara’, meaning three letters, is a form of Lord Ganesh that has associated with it the sacred syllable AUM; usually a form of his image which has AUM inscribed on its trunk. Experimenting with the form the artist has installed the Ganapati image in the body of the sacred syllable itself, which besides imparting to the entire composition a symbolic breadth serves also as the image’s frame and a fire-arch in a unique form. Tryakshara Ganapati is the Lord of the sacred syllable AUM, its form, sound and the aspects that the holy syllable manifests. Apart, texts perceive a Tryakshara Ganapati image as four-armed carrying in them elephant goad, noose, broken tusk and variably either a ‘laddu’ or a Kalpa-vraksha twig, and a ‘laddu’ in the trunk. He is gold-hued and has large flywhisk type ears. Usually an informal posture, Tryakshara Ganapati images are rendered either in ‘utkutasana’ or in ‘lalitasana’ usually on a lotus seat. As in his most forms, Tryakshara Ganapati has a left-inclining trunk.
A new experiment with Tryakshara Ganapati imagery, not having the sacred syllable AUM inscribed on the trunk, this image has been rendered as manifestly pervading the Tryakshara AUM, and thereby all spaces and time. The left-inclining trunk : ‘edampuri’ as this form of the trunk is known in the iconographic tradition of Lord Ganesh, is holding a ‘laddu’. In three of his four hands Lord Ganesh is carrying elephant goad, noose and broken tusk, and in the fourth, a ‘laddu’, not a ‘Kalpa-vraksha twig, a more regular form of the image. He has ears almost large like willowing baskets. Cast in brass but with extra-radiance of brass subdued with copper polish the image attains golden complexion. The image has been conceived as seated in ‘lalitasana’ on a two-tiered informal seat. The entire image, AUM and all, has been elevated on a mountain peak which dense vegetation and the deity’s mount mouse define.
The image has been cast with meditative eyes largely covered under wrinkled eye-lids, a straightened trunk twisting to right before moving to left. The image has been elegantly bejeweled using a temple-tower-like crown, laces around the neck, ornaments for arms, wrists, feet and waist besides a Naga-bandha – belly-band consisting of a serpent around belly. The body’s upper part does not have any costume, though an elegantly pleated ‘antariya’ adorned with laces of beads covers his body down to feet. The sacred syllable AUM has been designed in such manner that it balances the vertical character of the image by its horizontal form.
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.