Ganapati in art : some depictions

      Ganapati is a revered deity and is worshipped by millions of Hindus across India. Known as remover of obstacles, Ganapati is offered puja at the beginning of any venture by Hindus.He is also called Ganesha, Ganaraya, Vinayaka,Vigneshwara among many other names.He is the God of intellect and wisdom. He became prominent as a deity in the 4th and 5th century. The scriptures dedicated to Ganapati are the Ganesha-purana, Mudgala-purana, Ganapati atharvashirsha, Brahmandapurana etc.

      Ganapati is the son of Lord Shiva and Parvati. His vehicle is the rat or mushaka. He is the Lord of the ganas; semi-divine beings who are a part of Lord Shiva’s retinue.

         Ganesha is the only deity with a elephant’s head.  Worshipped before every new beginning and placed along with Goddess Lakhsmi in shops and other establishments; Ganapati is also addressed before embarking on a journey. Many stories exist regarding the birth of Ganapati. According to the Matsya Purana, Lord Shiva used to arrive during the bathing time of his consort Parvati, which used to annoy her. In order to stop this she is believed to have taken the oils and other ointments along with the impurities from her body she formed it into a live boy-figure by sprinkling some water from the Ganges. She kept him to be her door keeper while she was bathing. Lord Shiva arrived and wanted entry. However he was denied the same and a quarrel ensued. He got angry and cut of the boy’s head. Parvati came out and was very upset. Lord Shiva asked his attendants to get the first head that they could find to bring back the boy to life. The first head happened to be an elephant’s which was fixed on the boy’s trunk and he came back to life. This appeased Parvati and her son became Ganesha or Ganapati, the elephant headed God.

The Holy Family, Shiva, Parvati, with their sons Ganesha and Karttikeya, National Museum, New Delhi.jpg

Pahari painting,1750, National Museum, New Delhi.

By Yann (talk) – Own work, Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=15675023

There is another mythological story regarding the birth of Ganesha. Goddess Parvati is believed to have worshipped Lord Vishnu for a son. Lord Vishnu himself came to her as a boy-child. All the Gods came to congratulate her and fixed their gaze on the child. Only God Shani did not look at the boy as he was cursed that anything he fixed his gaze upon would perish. However Parvati insisted and the moment Shani gazed upon the child, the child’s head flew off to Vaikunta. Parvati cursed Shani and was inconsolable. Lord Vishnu went in search of a head and came back with an elephant’s head. Parvati fixed it on the trunk of the child and Lord Brahma infused him with life.

    Another story as per the Varaha Purana, Lord Shiva himself produced Ganesha, on request of holy sages to produce a being to combat obstacles. From Lord Shiva’s countenance emerged a beautiful youth. Parvati got jealous of him and cursed him saying he will have a elephant’s head and a protruding belly. Lord Shiva blessed him saying he will be the leader of the ganas and everybody will worship him first on all occasions.

File:Ganesha - Stone - Circa 11th Century CE - Bihar - ACCN 3920 - Indian Museum - Kolkata 2015-09-26 3913.JPG

Ganesha, 11th century, Bihar.(Indian Museum,Kolkata)

Biswarup Ganguly [GFDL (http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html), CC BY 3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0), GFDL (http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html) or CC BY 3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons

 

File:13th century Ganesha statue.jpg

Ganesha sculpture,schist,13th century, Halebid, Karnataka

By Quadell (Self-published work by Quadell) [GFDL (http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html), CC-BY-SA-3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0/) or CC BY-SA 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons

 

Image result for ganesha image at ramappa temple

Ganesha,13th century, Ramappa Temple, Warangal, Telangana.

By Varshabhargavi (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons

          As per mythology, Parasurama came to visit Lord Shiva in Mount Kailash and was in a hurry. Ganesha did not allow him entry as Lord Shiva was sleeping. In the altercation , Parasurama cut off one of Ganesha’s tusks. Parvati came to curse Parasurama, but was stopped by Lord Brahma who assured her that her son would be worshipped by all Gods.

File:Ganapati at Ellora.JPG

Ganesha ,6th to 8th century , Ellora caves,Maharashtra.

By Chinmaya Panda (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons

 

File:Dancing Ganesha - Brass - Circa 18th Century CE - Odisha - ACCN 95-2 - Indian Museum - Kolkata 2015-09-26 3946.JPG

Dancing Ganesha in brass, 18th century, Odisha.(Indian Museum,Kolkata)

Biswarup Ganguly [GFDL (http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html), CC BY 3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0), GFDL (http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html) or CC BY 3.0

 

File:Ganesha, India, Tamil Nadu, early 20th century, wood.jpg

Ganesha in wood, early 20th century, Tamil Nadu.

By Haa900 (Own work) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons
(http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons

 

Uma-Maheshwara.jpg

A Shakta manuscript cover, watercolour,gold and silver on wood, 19th century, Nepal.

By Unknown – LACMA, Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=2466170

File:Eight-armed Ganesha - Patachitra - Tussore - Odisha - ACCN 2007-67 - Indian Museum - Kolkata 2015-09-26 3892.JPG

Ganesha, pattachitra, Indian Museum.

Biswarup Ganguly [GFDL (http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html), CC BY 3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0), GFDL (http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html) or CC BY 3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons

File:Ganesha Kangra miniature 18th century Dubost p51.jpg

Ganesha with Shiva-Parvati, Kangra miniature painting, 18th century, Allahabad Museum.

By Kangra miniature (Allahabad Museum, New Delhi.) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

File:Kalighat Ganesha in the lap of Parvati.jpg

Parvati with Ganesha, Kalighat Painting.

See page for author [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

File:Mask of Ganesha - Papier Mache - Koraput - ACCN 84-79 - Indian Museum - Kolkata 2015-09-26 3917.JPG

Papier mache mask of Ganesha, Koraput,Odisha.( Indian Museum,Kolkata)

Biswarup Ganguly [GFDL (http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html), CC BY 3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0), GFDL (http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html) or CC BY 3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons

Ganesha is believed to be the scribe of the epic Mahabharata. Sage Vedavyasa dictated the same to him which he wrote down.

     Ganesha’s consorts Siddhi And Buddhi came to him by a competition with his brother Kartikeya. Both were asked to circle the entire world in order to win the maidens’hand. While Kartikeya went off on his peacock, Ganesha simply quoted from sacred literature relating to geography that he had already done the tour.

    Lord Ganapati’s iconic representations are many. He is shown standing, seated, crawling, dancing or on his mother’s lap. Also he is seen with two to sixteen arms in different representations.

Four-armed Ganesha - Copper - Circa 16th Century CE - Himachal Pradesh - ACCN 2000-93 - Indian Museum - Kolkata 2015-09-26 3866.JPG

Standing Ganesha, 16th century, Himachal Pradesh.(Indian Museum, Kolkata)

By Biswarup Ganguly, CC BY 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=43831687

File:Ganesha ink.jpg

Ganesha in ink, early 19th century manuscript from Bhagavata Purana, Mysore,Karnataka.

See page for author [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

File:TibetianGanpati.jpg

Tibetan Ganesha, 15th century,Tibet.

By Redtigerxyz at en.wikipedia (Transferred from en.wikipedia) [Public domain], from Wikimedia Commons

Rajasthani manuscript of Mahabharata, 17th century, Ganesha with Vedavyasa as scribe of the epic.

By Indian, Rajasthani, – http://www.mfa.org/collections/object/ganesa-writing-the-mahabharat-dictated-by-vyasa-149627, Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=19435850

City Palace Udaipur Rajasthan.jpg

Lord Ganesha with attendants, 16th century,City Palace, Udaipur, Rajasthan.

By Onef9day – Own work, CC BY 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=11403892
AshtaSiddhi.jpg

Ganesha with ashtasiddhis , 19th century.

By Raja Ravi Varma – Original source of this well established Ravi Varma Picture is not stated by uploader, however copies available here [1][2], Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=1863327

 

References :

  • Thomas, P./Epics,myths and legends of India, Bombay : D. B. Taraporewala and Sons.
  • wikipedia.org

 

 

Posted by :

Soma Ghosh

 

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