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Dancing Ganesha

11 December, 2007 (05:00) | medieval, sculpture, south asia | By: xensen

dancing ganesha from the State Archaeology Museum of IndiaHere’s an interesting dancing Ganesha for comparison with the one from the Asian Art Museum shown at right. Both works are from the tenth century. This one, now in the State Archaeology Museum of India, comes from Padhawal, Morena. The Ganeshas wear similar crowns, are surrounded by similar implements, and hold similar poses. The most obvious difference is in the positions of the legs. While the Asian Art Museum Ganesha leans at a jaunty sideways angle, this one is coiled in a complicated, dynamic pose, his weight more centered.

Ganesha is generally considered to be the son of Shiva and Parvati. There are several stories of how he got his elephant head. Most commonly, it is said that he was beheaded by Shiva, who then in remorse replaced his head with that of an elephant.

Despite his stocky form and big belly, Ganesha often dances. He is carefree and cheerful, yet he is also a patron of scholars and students. It is not difficult to image lively music inspiring this Ganesha to dance.



Comment from Ramana Rajgopaul
Time: December 14, 2007, 7:22 am

The full story is that Parvati was in her toilet and had left her son to see that no one disturbed her. When Shiva came he was refused admission and in anger Shiva beheaded his son and burnt the head with his third eye. When Parvati emerged and remonstrated Shiva he restored the life but, it was possible to do so only with the head of the first available living thing available which was an elephat.

Like Shiva, Ganesha’s dance is also Cosmic in nature. It will be interesting to read Fritzof Kapra on the similarities between the cosmic dance and particle physics.

A story in jest but to highlight Ganesha’s dancing prowess – Every year there is a Ganesha Festival most widely celebrated in India in general in the Western State of Maharashtra in particular. An idol of Ganesha is installed and elaborate worship is conducted for up to ten days at the end of which the idol is taken in procession accompanied by music and dancing devotees for immersion in the nearest body of water. This is done at the end of the rainy season.

The story is that a devotee is drowning in a flash flood and prays to Ganesha to rescue him. Ganesha duly lands up with a portable musice player, keeps it down on the ground, plays some music and starts to dance. The devotee asks him what is going on, instead of saving him Ganesha is dancing. Ganesha replies, that every year this is what you do to me before drowning me and I am just returning the compliment!

Comment from xensen
Time: December 14, 2007, 7:25 am

I love that!

Comment from Chris Miller
Time: December 27, 2007, 8:19 am

I’m so glad that I’ve been shown your site – and can’t wait to follow your postings throughout the coming year — being especially thrilled by side-by-side comparisons, like the one you offer here. (though larger jpgs would be much appreciated)
The Ganesha from the Brundage collection seems to be a much larger, more important work – perhaps more suitable for individual devotion — while the other seems more a charming architectural detail.

I’m also looking forward to seeing the contemporary-traditional Asian art that you’ve occasionally been showing. BTW – this Hindu sculptural tradition is still alive – but it’s been impossible for me to find on the internet.

Keep on posting !