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Visually the structure appears to be two-storeyed, the elephant god occupying the upper : the ‘prabhavali’ proper, and a devotee couple, the ground, its base. However, this is symbolically the geography – the plan layout of a temple. While the ‘prabhavali’ part that the deity enshrines represents the sanctum sanctorum, or the shrine proper, its base unit, where the devotee couple stands, its ante-chamber, ‘mandapa’, foreyard, or the space for devotees. In a wooden plaque like this with little thickness and hardly any scope for carving depth perspective it is in its verticality alone that the horizontal dimensions can be discovered. Structurally the upper chamber, sanctum, ‘prabhavali’ proper, or whatever, is carried over an elegantly carved massive half pillar raised in the centre of the base unit and a pillar on either edge along the figures of the devotee couple carrying head-loads that raise their figure-height right to the ceiling level and thus support the upper chamber that the deity enshrines on their heads. The structure’s main base consists of a three tiered base moulding carved mainly with conventionalised lotus motifs.
The statue carved with exceptionally fine details represents Lord Ganesh in his manifestation as Vijay Ganapati, one of his thirty-two classical forms as enshrine various Puranic texts right since eighth century, the Mudgala Purana being the foremost. The Mudgala Purana not only classifies his forms but also specify main features of each form’s physiognomy and overall image. Strangely, the image of Lord Ganesha has been most experimented with and thousands are his forms in prevalence; however, a larger number of them seem to have been conceived by blending/synthesizing one or more of these forms. A contemporary work, this statue too is a blend of such classical iconography. Besides its four-armed form carrying in them exactly the same attributes, riding his mount mouse and seated in ‘utkut akasana’ as the Mudgala Purana prescribes for Vijay Ganapati, the image has been conceived with same level of beauty, divine aura, vigour and gold-like lustre as the texts prescribe for Vijay Ganapati.
Vijay Ganapati is one of the most accomplished forms of Lord Ganesha. He is the Lord of victory who bestows success and every kind of bliss. One of his most powerful manifestations this image of Vijay Ganapati assimilates also his three other forms equally powerful and effective, namely, Ekadanta, one tusked, suggestive of single-mindedness and utmost sacrifice, sacrificing even his body-part for accomplishing his devotee’s prayer, Vakratunda, one with curved trunk and firm hold, and Lambodara, pot-bellied, containing oceans of knowledge and riches. Where there is Ekadanta no duality exists; meditating on him leads to one-pointed mind and to singleness of object. With his long curved trunk he explores womb of the earth, unfathomable depth of oceans, and inaccessible regions of the sky. All that he explores are contained in his pot-belly and he showers it on his devotees. These aspects multiply the auspicious nature of the image many times.
This description by Prof. P.C. Jain and Dr Daljeet. Prof. Jain specializes on the aesthetics of ancient Indian literature. Dr Daljeet is the chief curator of the Visual Arts Gallery at the National Museum of India, New Delhi. They have both collaborated on numerous books on Indian art and culture.