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


Legendary accounts show that India came into contact with Cambodia at quite an early period. Tradition tells us that about the early centuries of the Christian era a Brahmin by name Kaundinya journeyed to the coast of Cambodia and established a kingdom there. He Indianized the country completely, and the Chinese reports state: "They worship the Spirits of Heaven and make images of bronze. Those with two faces have four arms and those with four faces have eight arms")9 These are obvious references to Hindu gods and demonstrate how deep the Hindu influence had penetrated into Cambodia.

Cambodia is extremely rich in sculptural remains and there are innumerable images of Hindu, including Buddhist divinities. Just as in Burma and Thailand, in Cambodia too a number of Ganesa images have come to light. As already observed, the Mahabharata was known in Cambodia as early as the 6th century. It, therefore, seems likely that they knew Ganesa from an early period. This IS confirmed by the evidence from the inscriptions of Angkor Borei, dated 611 A.D., which records the grant of slaves to the temple which was dedicated to several deities of which one was Ganesa.20

The cult of Siva appears to have penetrated into Cambodia from Funan where Hindu religion was practised at an early date. Ganesa, therefore, very likely came along with Siva. There are several temples of Siva and Ganesa in Cambodia. In this connection it may be mentioned that Yasovarman I (889-910 A.D.) had erected an asrama at Neak Buos, an important religious centre which was founded by Jayavarman I. The asrama was dedicated to the Ganesa of Chandangiri. This has been referred to in an inscription of 9th century but found in the region of Kompong Thom.2! The 'Sandal Mountains' (Candanagiri) has been identified as the Chocung Prey near which, on a hill in the vicinity of Prah Pada, are the ruins of a temple that is believed to have been dedicated to Ganesa. This inscription is of great interest because it referes to Ganesa as an independant deity of local importance and emphasizes the tradition which followed him from India to Japan of being worshipped in connection with mountains.

One temple at Prasat Bak (lOth century) was apparently dedicated to the worship of Ganesa. Ganesa is also depicted in the scenes in Bung Meglea and his statues have also been discovered in the vicinity of Kuk Trapeang Kul temple. Several other loose sculptures have also been found from time to time. Ganesa is known as 'Prah Kenes' in Cambodia and his representations can be distinguished on account of certain characteristic features.