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


Much has been said about the elephant-headed dwarf (gana) which has been carved among the row of ganas sculptured on the Kantaka Cettinga stupa, near Mihintale which was uncovered in the course of excavations in 1934-35. The figure has been taken to represent the proto-Ganesa in the same way as Coomaraswamy is inclined to look upon the similar elephant-headed gana carved on one of the Amaravati railings in Andhra Pradesh. If, however, we accept the identification of these figures as representing proto-Ganesa, we can reasonably expect the evolution of Ganesa in the Buddhist pantheon which, however, is not borne out by the available evidence. The figures only represent ganas supporting the superstructure and we are reminded of the description of Raval,1a's palace in the epic which describes it as being supported by caryatids.12 Moreover the Mahabharata mentions that one of the Maha-parsadas of Siva was elephantheaded.13 The Buddhists, probably, borrowed the idea of the ganas from the epics and very naturally the elephant-headed gana also came to be represented in Buddhist friezes of the early centuries of the Christian era.

A fine image of Ganesa is sculptured on a pillar in a Siva temple at Polonnaruva. It is carved in a niche crowned by a kirti-mukha. The god is seated and has four hands of which the lower left holds modaka. In the temple of Subrahmaniam at Katargama, about 150 miles from Colombo, Ganesa occupies an independent position. He is worshipped even by Christians and Muslims.