Ganesa Beyond The Indian Frontiers

Introduction of Ganesa Beyond The Indian Frontiers
Introduction of Religio-Cultural Emissaries From India

Introduction of Ganesa Beyond The Indian Frontiers


There are quite a few images of Ganesa which can be ascribed to the Gupta period but they are supposed to be rather doubtful specimens. There are, however, some images in Afghanistan which have recently come to light. Of these, one was found some years ago at Gardez and was subsequently removed to Kabul where it is now worshipped by the Hindu residents of Kabul in Dargah Pir Rattan Nath near the Pamir Cinema. The sculpture is a typical product of the Indo-Afghan school. " ... It is made of inferior marble and is about 60 cms. high and 35 cms. broad bearing on its pedestal an inscription in two lines" which records that "This great and beautiful Maha- Vinayaka was consecreted by the renowned Shahi King, the illustrious Shahi Khingala, who was Parama-bhattaraka Maha-rajadhiraja in the eighth year (of his reign), in the maha-Jyestha masa. sukla- paksha. trayodasi, Visakha nakshtra and Simha lagna." On the basis of the palaeography of their record, it can he assigned to the early 6th century.2 However. we do not know anything about this king Khingala. But it is interesting to note in this connection that Kalhana. in his Rajatarangini records that a very ancient king named Narendraditya also bore the name of Khinkhila.3 But Narendraditya of Kashmir who bore this peculiar title was a late king and cannot be identified with Khingala, who, as the record explicitly states was a Shahi king. He was an early king as attested by Aurel Stein and in that case may be identified as the issuer of those coins bearing the legend Khinga or Khingi on them.

On stylistic grounds also the image can be dated to the end of 5th and the beginning of 6th century. It depicts the god standing in the alidha pose, his hands, legs and the chest are muscular suggesting a strong Hellenistic influence. The trunk, which is broken, was turned to the left while the broken tusk is clearly indicated on the left. A close-fitting coronet on the head, a necklet (kanthi) fitting close in the neck are all noteworthy as in the Gupta sculptures of Sarnath. The ears have been camouflaged into foliage and this has mislead earlier visitors into thinking that they were wings. The god had originally four hands, all of which are unfortunately broken. His yajnopavita is a snake with which he is said to have secured his belly full of modakas when, according to the story, the moon laughed at him from. the sky. His undergarment is a short dhoti (ardhoruka) on Which designs like lion's head (kirti-mukha), lotus buds and tasselled fringe of swallow's tail occur while the torso the belly, the naga-yajnopavita, the urdhvamedhra and various designs on his undergarment, all suggest that the inspiration is from Magadha. However, the anatomy of the figure, with an emphasis on muscular hands and legs, is c1ear]y suggestive of the lingering Hellenistic influence.

Another interesting marble image of Ganesa is reported from Afghanistan. It was found at Sakar Dhar (Shankar Dhar), ten miles north of Kabul, from where are reported very interesting images of Surya and Siva.4 It represents a standing Ganesa wearing an undergarment (antariya) which is characterised by the acanthus motif. What is remarkable is that the stem of the acanthus is intended to show Ganesa as urdhvamedhra, for the acanthus design appearing to hang on it. The bulging belly is not, however, of huge proportions that Ganesa is usually associated with. He wears a naga-yajnoopavita with the knot simulating the snake's head. The chest is muscular as is common in Gandharan sculptures.