It is really gratifying to record that Dr. B. N. Sharma has been working steadily in the field of Indian Art and has already established himself by his books on Revanta (1975) and Sadasiva (1976). He has now taken up the Iconography of Vainayaki, a theme on which there is not much literary or sculptural evidence. The endeavour to bring together all the available evidences cogently is a commendable performance. He has posed a problem and thrown a challenge. I am sure the book will be well received and stimulate further search and research.
Vainayaki or Ganesani, the Sakti of Vanayaka or Ganesa, is a comparatively less known goddess in Indian iconography. Even as the female energy of Vinayaka, one of the five major gods of the Hindu pantheon, her worship was not much popular in ancient India. It was probably due to the rise of the Ganapatya cult, Yogini worship and Tantricism that Vainayaki also came to be regarded as an important female deity during the early mediaeval period. Some Puranas and other scriptures mention Vainayaki in the list of the Yoginis and other goddess. Several Jaina and Buddhist literary works also enumerate interesting details about the goddess.
The well-known Chaunsatha-Yogini temples at Rikhian, Bheraghat, Hirapur and Ranipur-Jhariyal enshrine the images of Vainayaki along with other Yoginis. A few sculptures and bronzes discovered in various parts of India prove beyond doubt that she was also worshipped as a cult divinity by her devotees. Besides these, Vainayaki as a Buddhist Tantric goddess Ganapatihrdya has also been found represented in the Tantric paintings from Nepal.
An attempt has been made in the present monograph to bring together from different sources all the relevant material concerning Vainayaki in the light of the latest discoveries. It is hoped that the book will prove useful to all the students and researchers interested in the study of Vainayaki, the Yogini cult and Tantricism prevailing in India during the mediaeval period.
I am deeply indebted to Sri C. Sivaramanurti for his valuable suggestions. I am also greatly obliged to Dr. N. R. Banerjee, Director, National Museum, New Delhi, for his encouraging Foreword to this book.
I am grateful to Prof. Mary C. Lanius for sending me a colour slide of Vainayaki, still being worshipped at Sikar; I have reproduced it in the book. I am beholden to Prof. Gritli v. Mitterwallner for showing me a rare bronze image of Vainayaki from Kerala in Munich and later making its photographs available for publication.
My thanks are also due to Sri L. A. Narain, Dr. Chhaya Bhattacharyya, Km. Arundhoti Banerji, Sri Bal Krishna, Km. Pratibha Kalia, Sri Bhagwanji Chouble Sri Bhagwat Sahi and Sri Mohan Lal for their kind help in the preparation of the book and its illustrations. Sri N. Shah and Sri Ranjit Gupta have prepared several photographs, for which I am thankful to them.
I sincerely thank Sri Shakti Malik for publishing the book with care and zeal.
From the Jacket:
The present book deals with the iconography of Vainayaki or Ganesani, the Sakti or the female energy of Vinayaka Ganapati. All the relevant materials given in the Puranas and other religious and secular literature, besides the Jaina and Buddhist works, have been considered in preparing this monograph.
A number of sculptures, bronzes and paintings of Vainayaki, most of them unknown so far, have been briefly discussed for the first time, to show that the goddess occupied an important place both among the sixty-four Yogins and also as an independent cult divinity. This is a pioneer work on one of the most important aspects of Indian iconography.
The book contains forty illustrations. Fifteen appendices given in the end provide information about Vainayaki and also other Yogins. The book will prove useful to all those who are interested in the study of Indian iconography, Yogini cult and Tantricism.
About the Author:
Dr. B.N. Sharma, Keeper of the Archaeology Department in the National Museum, New Delhi, is the author of Social & Cultural History of Northern India (New Delhi, 1972), Iconography of Revanta (New Delhi, 1975), Iconography of Sadasiva (New Delhi, 1976), Festivals of India (New Delhi, 1978) and Jaina Pratimayen (New Delhi, 1979). He has also contributed numerous research papers to different Indian and foreign scholarly journals, on various aspects of Indology, particularly iconography and art.
Dr. Sharma has traveled extensively in India and abroad. In 1971, as the Curator of the India Pavilion, he had organized a special exhibition of 'Indian Art through the Ages' in the Man and His World exposition at Montreal.
In 1973 at the Invitation of the U.S. Department of State and American Association of Museums, he was deputed by the Government of India to represent the country at the International Conferences of Museologists held at Washington and other places and also to attend the Meeting of the American Association of Museums at Milwaukee.
In 1975, he was awarded a Fellowship by the J.D.R. 3rd Fund, New York, to study the collections of Indian art preserved in the museums of the U.S.A., Canada, Great Britain and other countries of Europe and Asia.
An Honorary Fellow of the Royal Asiatic Society of Great Britain and Ireland, London, he is the member of various academic bodies and is also associated with several universities.
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