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


Thailand (popularly known as Siam) came into contact with India at a very early period. The stylistic evidence shows the influence of the Amaravati school on Siamese art in the early centuries of the Christian era. Later still, the Gupta, Pallava and Pal a elements are noticeable in Siamese art. It appears that the southern part of Thailand came first into contact with India. It was easier for Indian traders to push further eastward from lower Burma into Thailand. This should explain the strong Burmese Hindu influence on the Mon art during 6th-8th century A.D.

The Mons were devout Hindus. Notwithstanding the fact that the Thais adhered to Buddhism later, Ganesa was popular among them all. Several statues of the god have been found. Among these those of the Ayuthian period are noteworthy. The early art of Ayuthia (Ayodhya) betrays strong Indian influence. This is borne out by a fine bronze statue which represents the god seated on a cushion in the maharajalila pose with his trunk curved towards left. Under his uplifted right leg is his vahana, the rat. He wears a knee-reaching lower garment and a sacred thread of snake (naga-yano-pavita). His bangles and armlets are simple rings (valayas) whereas the jewelled karanda-mukuta is noteworthy.

He has four hands, the arrangement of which, according to Getty, is rather unusual and unique.18 From the shoulder to the elbow there is one arm, but at the elbow the arm branches into two. Of the two upper hands, the left holds a noose (pasa) while the attribute in the right is not clearly seen. The lower right holds a broken tusk and the lower left rests on the thigh. However, the god is shown with both the tusks intact. This lapse of iconographical details may be due to the ignorance of the Ayuthian artist.

In the famous Hindu temple at Bangkok, there is an interesting bronze statue of Ganesa. He is shown with his legs superposed. He wears a naga-yajnopavlta. In his right hand is to be seen the broken tusk while in the left is a manuscript. This can be taken, with a reasonable amount of certainly, to be the representation of Ganesa as a scribe (lekhaka) for the sage Vyasa who is traditionally supposed to have dictated the whole Mahabharata to Ganesa. This is not unlikely in view of the fact that the great epic had already reached as far as Cambodia by 6th century. It may also suggest Ganesa's association with knowledge (jnana).