You are on page 1of 3

Ganesha Author(s): Ananda Coomaraswamy Source: Bulletin of the Museum of Fine Arts, Vol. 26, No. 154 (Apr.

, 1928), pp. 30-31 Published by: Museum of Fine Arts, Boston Stable URL: . Accessed: 20/10/2011 10:27
Your use of the JSTOR archive indicates your acceptance of the Terms & Conditions of Use, available at . JSTOR is a not-for-profit service that helps scholars, researchers, and students discover, use, and build upon a wide range of content in a trusted digital archive. We use information technology and tools to increase productivity and facilitate new forms of scholarship. For more information about JSTOR, please contact

Museum of Fine Arts, Boston is collaborating with JSTOR to digitize, preserve and extend access to Bulletin of the Museum of Fine Arts.

XXVI, 30


Vyasa (seen in the upperleft) worshipped Brahma

elephantof the familiar names arecommon the required as a shipped Ganesa,the latterundertook worshipped headedIndiandeity popularly of luck, andregularly invoked work and is seen in the lower left-hand comer god,bringer guardian at the inception writingat Vyasa'sdictation. Gaiiesa's reputation of Obstacles" as the " Remover of another as a patronof lettersseemsto be due to the fact suchas theworship of anyundertaking, to Siva's of a book,taking a joumey, etc. that the word gana, besidesits reference deity,themaking designation of earlylists He is the son of Siva and Parvati;the late hosts,is also the technical for his birth and aspect or collectionsof related words,and in this sense account legends Pauranik of the ganas is calledGanapati to themostgenerally Brahmaas master in various ways. According (A itareya Brahmana, 1, 2 1), a designation here his head havingbeen cut off, acceptedversion, and having no referenceto the the gods to bringthe head of the purelydescriptive Siva ordered deity. firstlivingbeing they shouldmeet with in the laterGanapatias an individual as "Chief of the gaias" Gaiiesa's designation and thoughthis provedto be quarter, northem that of a class. Graduallyhe its head wasmade is thus originally elephant, thatof a one-tusked to life in this emergesas an individual. His name, it is true, restored use of and Vighnesvara whenceis derived another of his names, does not occurin any Yaksa lists,but his appearfashion, ance plainlyshows that he is of the Yaksa strain; the one-tusked. Ekadanta, that he is a this is most evidently shown by his big belly, various namesindicate Ganesa's i. e. of the whence he is known as Lambodarah,etc.' chiefof the Viniyakasand Gar;ias, too, he fills the place of Kubera and otherspirits. Functionally, hostsof Siva's Bhutas,goblins " Lordof Obstacles," he putsdiffi- (the Regent of the North) and Maiibhadra (a As Vighnesa, cultiesin the way of the enemiesof the gods, chief of the Yaksa hosts), both of whom are of merchants and guilds. As a Buddhist on behalfof the gods patrons difficulties and removes Kubera is known as of a mild deity of luck and prosperity followers. or of their Though themselves Ganesabelongsto the Jambhala. Gai)esa has two wives, Siddhi and and friendly disposition, thanto thatof the higher Buddhi," Success" and " Intelligence." rather stock of Yak4as As we have remarked, the figure of Gainesa or demon (cf. his divinity Devas; he is a popular and not appears suddenly rarely in the Gupta " withthe SevenMothers ") who closeconnection beforethe period, for exampleat Deogarh and Bhumara.2 does not appearin the iconography Indianoriginnow in in the literatureThe fine exampleof northern noras an individual period, Gupta belongsto thistype. Here 1, 271 ff. He is the Museumcollection beforethe Yd]fiavalkyasmrti, the deity is seated,embracing with one of his four intheMahcTbharata asanindividual notmentioned chiefof hands his Sakti, who is seated on his left thigh. Siva is styledGanesa, (where,however, a late In other hands he holds an axe (paras'u), the but a popular the Ganas), legendforming tusk,and a lotusbud, while with his trunk thatVyasa,theauthor, missing to the text asserts addition he is sweetmeatsfrom a bowl held by the taking himself of the epic, finding or rather "compiler," as they Sakti. His "vehicle," the rat or mouse, is not as quickly downthe verses to write unable whosent seen, but may have been engraved on the now called uponBrahma, cameintohismind, of the pedestal. About the waist Gaiiesa;and he, with his fourhands,undertookabradedsurface like the axe, is suggestive is a of the snake, which, as twomen could. This legend as much to write with Siva. In the upper right in the seventeenth century Rajput deity's association is illustrated the text explains that corneris a small seated figureof Brahma; there herereproduced; painting
"See Rao, Elements of Indian iconography, I. pp. 35 ff; Sastri, H. K., South Indian gods and goddesses; Arbman, Rudra, pp. 215 ff; Winternitz. Ganesa in the Mahabharata, J. R. A. S., 1898; Keith, A. B., Indian mythology, p. 181; Enthoven, R. E., Bombay folklore, p 87.

G ANESA, Gainapati, Vighnesvara(seen on the upper right); then he thoughtof Vinayaka, Gai)esa,and Gariesacame (center); havingwor-

on the left. may have been a figureof Vivwu Although the form appears for the first time in the Gupta period,it is possibleto independently tracethe type somewhatearlier. As the Lord of Gaias is himselfa Gana, it is not surprising to find shortalreadyat Amaravatian elephant-headed, staturedtype amongstthe garland-bearing figures of one of the Amaravati copings. These garland called Yaksas,but it would bearersare generally to call themGanas. Beyond be equally appropriate thisthe iconographic type cannotbe followed; but thereis no doubtthat both the conception and the form of the deity are productsof the popular imagination -certainly not of Vedic origin.
Goelterwell, kunst,1, 1924.

"Cf. Scherman,L., Dickbauchlypenin der indisch-oslaslatischen

Ganesha and Vyasa

2Mem.A. S. I., No. 16, PI. XV.


XXVI, 31

Ganesa wit/ha Sakti David P. Kimball Fund

Late Gupta