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Exactly as is the proposition in the Puranas, the four-armed image of Lord Ganapati is carrying in the upper two hands an elephant goad and a noose, and in the lower, his ‘bhagna-danta’ – broken tusk, and a ripe mango as lustrous as cast of gold. Apart, the lustrous elephant god carried a ‘laddu’, his weakness, in his trunk. Though texts also allowed variations, under initial parameters Tryakshara Ganapati was perceived as seated on a majestic high throne consisting of lotuses. In this wood-statue this feature has been further magnified. Here the two-tiered lotus throne has been installed on an elaborated lotus base giving it extra elevation. Tryakshara Ganapati is conceived as seated in absolute ease in an informal sitting position, which in the statue has been perceived as ‘lalitasana’, a sitting posture that not only displayed the sitter in complete ease and great comfort but also revealed rare beauty of form. More significantly, as conceived Puranas, this image of Tryakshara Ganapati is possessed of floppy ears, as large as trailed down the shoulders, serving both, with their extra large size, as flywhisks, and with their AUM-like shape, compensated for the absence of the holy ‘tri-akshara’.
Tryakshara Ganapati, one of Lord Ganesha’s initial thirty-two manifestations as elaborated in early texts, is one of his most highly worshipped votive forms. It stands for greater good and is the most auspicious of his all forms for in Tryakshara Ganapati the elephant god’s auspiciousness is mathematically doubled. Syllable AUM, in whichever form, even symbolically as in this image, is the most sacred sound being as much auspicious in the ritual tradition as Lord Ganesha. Obviously, when it is added to his divine image Tryakshara Ganapati’s divinity and auspiciousness is by itself doubled. As is this brilliant image, Tryakshara Ganapati is a simpler form but endowed with great spiritual aura and symbolic breadth. His image has been conceived as pervading all directions, all cosmic regions below by his downwards stretching right leg reaching the earth, all spaces from left to right, that is, from horizon to horizon, by his left leg stretched horizontally from left to right, all spaces above by his towering crown and every part of it by his presence. Tradition assigns to Tryakshara Ganapati immense auspices and acclaims that his presence showers endless blessings from all sides.
As is the standard format, Tryakshara Ganapati’s lustre does not confine merely to his body-colour or divine aura but extends to his elaborate ornaments and brilliant ensemble. He is wearing just an ‘antariya’ but its scarlet dye and tiny ripples-like surging pleats are so exotic and beautiful. The girdle that supports it is little visible but the green belly-band just a little above it affords it delightful contrast and frames it beautifully. Sash is less prominent but its ends unfurling on either side gives to ‘antariya’ extra breadth. Ornaments are not many but very selective and all beautifully conceived adorning the figure from head to feet. A richly conceived decorative ornament composed of beaded lace and a course of broad phalis trailing from his left shoulder down to his thigh and a moderately tall but most elegantly conceived and crafted crown along with a green ring framing it, perhaps the partially visible halo, impart to the image rare aesthetic beauty.
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.