This excellent brass image, unique in lustre as cast of gold mixed with copper, divine aura, precise details, elegance, technical perfection, and strangely anatomical balance – something rarely achievable in Ganapati iconography, represents Lord Ganesha in his manifestation as Vijay Ganapati. Vijay Ganapati is one of his thirty-two forms enumerated in early texts, the Maudgalya Purana being the main and the earliest. The image is the reminiscent of early tradition of Indian bronzes that Chola dynasty in South, and Pala, in east, had led to its apex. The victorious lord Vijay Ganapati bestows success in whatever his devotees undertake or seek to accomplish. Innovative and in deviation from set iconographic norms, the image of Lord Ganesha has been rendered with some of the features different from what are prescribed in the Ganesha’s iconographic tradition. He has been represented as seated on a peacock, though peacock is not his regular mount. As prescribed, Vijay Ganapati has mouse, his regular mount, to ride or to seat on. Here mouse seems to have been relieved for a recess. Similarly, in his normal left hand Vijay Ganapati carries a mango which here in this form has been alternated by a large ‘laddu’, the sweet he as much loved.
The artist has made a slight change also in his sitting posture. With his left leg straightened horizontally along the bird’s back Vijay Ganapati is represented as seated in ‘lalitasana’. Here, though his right leg is laid down as in ‘lalitasana’, he has his left leg partially lifted as in ‘utkut akasana’. Instead of carefree posture of ease as ‘lalitasana’ is, this form of Ganesha, that as Vijay Ganapati assures his devotees’ obstruction-free journey to a goal, has been conceived as in readiness to rush to contain an impending obstacle or attend a devotee’s crisis. Though conceived to strengthen the statue’s sustainability, the artist has added under the belly of the bird a beautifully fluted and coiled element that with pillar-like posted leg of the bird looks like a mythical lion with elaborate mane and whiskers. Though the peacock has alternated Ganesha’s regular mount, for containing its discontentment the mouse has also been attributed its due place along the bird as also a big ‘laddu’ for engaging it in eating. Stationed under the bird’s forepart the mouse, Ganesha’s regular mount, is busy in finishing the ‘laddu’ it has in its hands.
Though not red, as is the body-colour of the deity in his manifestation as Vijay Ganapati, the hue that the blend of gold and copper produces, similar to what this image has, is quite close to the complexion of Vijay Ganapati. The four-armed anatomy is the prescribed image form of Vijay Ganapati. In his upper hands Vijay Ganapati carries elephant goad and noose, and in the normal right, his broken tusk. In some innovations he holds his normal right hand in ‘abhay’. In this image besides holding this hand in ‘abhay’ he is also carrying in it his broken tusk, and also the lotus, though as its Tantrik symbol. In the normal left hand he is carrying a sweet ‘laddu’ alternating the delicious mango of his prescribed form. Thus in broad features the image has been rendered in exact adherence to the classical norms prescribed for the Vijay Ganapati form. Whatever the deviation, these could be also be just technical. If the mango had a role in what Ganesha accomplished as Vijay Ganapati, a seasonal fruit, it could not be its instrument for all times. A petty creature, the mouse could hardly hold the deity’s huge bulk and could not carry him into the sky. The peacock was, hence, a more appropriate mount for Vijay Ganapati.
Not his regular vehicle peacock had since Indus days great spiritual significance. It was considered to transport to heaven the soul of the dead. Many a funerary Indus pottery has painted on it the images of peacock bearing the figure of man in its abdomen. Shiva was a pre-Vedic divinity adopted in Vedic cult. A member of Shiva family Ganesha also emerges out of the popular tradition not confining to the land of Vedas. A god of auspiciousness Ganesha and peacock had alike roles and in popular tradition the two were associated with each other. Maybe, not encouraged by scriptures the tradition extinguished though could have continued to lurk in some recesses of public memory and, as in this image, sometimes finding expression. Maybe, for giving wider perspective to his image the artist opted 'Mayura' as Vijay Ganapati’s vehicle instead of mouse, though he did not completely do away with mouse and had its icon also as part of the image.
This decsription by Dr. Daljeet and Prof. P.C. Jain.
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