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


The Burmese are professedly Buddhist and follow the Pali canon of the Southern school. Buddhism was introduced in Burma 10 the later half of the 11th century. However, Hinduism appears to have already penetrated into Burma long before Buddhism. This is evident from innumerable images of Saiva and Vaisnava gods and goddesses which have so far been found in that country. There is abundant evidence--epigraphical and otherwise-to show the existence of a considerable number of Hindus, particularly Brahmins, in Burma as priests, astrologers, architects, etc., who probably occupied positions of influence and responsibility. This perhaps took place in the 5th-6th centuries A.D. during the time of the Imperial Gupta rulers. It were these people who introduced and carried with them images of various deities of the Hindu pantheon.

A good number of Ganesa images have so far been found III lower Burma, for in upper Burma Mahayana Buddhism held sway. Ganesa being the god who removed obstacles and granted success in any undertaking, his images were carried by merchants and traders who went out of India in order to achieve success in trade and commerce beyond the seas. Their journey was extremely hazardous and full of dangers. It is, therefore, very natural that they carried with them small portable statues of Ganesa. Professor Ray rightly observes that, "Ganesa found popular favour mainly with the commercial section of the population."14 In Burma, especially in the deltaic regions of lower Burma, Indian immigrants settled in large numbers. In this region, which was their commercial stronghold, a number of small images of Ganesa have been found. They are modest in size, crude in execution and are devoid of any artistic merit. They were probably carried from place to place by merchants and traders as they travelled far and wide in the country.

There are two interesting images of Ganesa in the Rangoon Museum. Both are small in size and are carved in low relief. One of them shows the god seated in padmasana and six armed. The attributes in his hands are not clearly visible. The upper left appears to be holding a discus (cakra) and a noose (pasa) while the two lower hands hold the bi/va fruit and the trunk respectively. Both the images betray poor workmanship