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Footnote:

 

I had the most intense, amazing conversation last night. Like we weren't really talking, it was more akin to dancing with words. It was heated, and it was passionate, honest, and it flowed from us like water. Our sentences would cross and intermingle, jump off the apex of one into depths the next would pick up. It is the greatest feeling to be truly understood.

 

I don't think anyone else can see me but you.

Existence is a series of footnotes to a vast, obscure, unfinished masterpiece.

[Vladimir Nabokov]

 

texture courtesy www.flickr.com/photos/texturetime/

NESA dance concert "Footnotes" 2006

NESA dance concert "Footnotes" 2006

NESA dance concert "Footnotes" 2006

This week's Macro Mondays entry - topic being, Photography Gear & Equipment. Hope it is the start of a great week for everyone, by the way...:thumbsup:

:camera:

Expect to see some pretty impressive kit, but few will have the slick colours and sleek lines of a Formula One racing car, such as Lady Bo's colourful weapon of photographic choice, the Nikon Coolpix L820.

:camera:

Obviously, I'd love to play with the Big Boys and dabble with one of those all-singing, all-dancing top-end Canon DSLRs. But that would first take a lottery win. I'm thrilled, though, with the results of my treasured G16.

:camera:

Footnote: Ironically, after waxing lyrical about colours and sleek lines of an F1 car, I noticed Flickr's automatic tags - "car" and "windshield." At least, we agree on that, Flickr.. Left them for amusement ... :blush:

NESA dance concert "Footnotes" 2006

NESA dance concert "Footnotes" 2006

MAGNETISM

   

The idea is simple and, like its central element, forcefully attractive. Ahmed Mater gives a twist to a magnet and sets in motion tens of thousands of particles of iron, a multitude of tiny satellites that forms a single swirling nimbus. Even if we have not taken part in it, we have all seen images of the Hajj, the great annual pilgrimage of Muslims to Mecca. Ahmed's black cuboid magnet is a small simulacrum of the black-draped Ka'bah, the 'Cube', that central element of the Meccan rites. His circumambulating whirl of metallic filings mirrors in miniature the concentric tawaf of the pilgrims, their sevenfold circling of the Ka'bah.

   

Al-Bayt al-'Atiq, the Ancient House, to give the Ka'bah another of its names, is ancient – indeed archetypal - in more than one way. The cube is the primary building-block, and the most basic form of a built structure. And the Cube, the Ka'bah, is also Bayt Allah, the House of the One God: it was built by Abraham, the first monotheist, or in some accounts by the first man, Adam. Its site may be more ancient still: 'According to some traditions,' the thirteenth-century geographer Yaqut al-Hamawi wrote, 'the first thing God created on earth was the site of the Ka'bah. He then spread out the earth from beneath this place. Thus it is the navel of the earth and the mid-point of this lower world and the mother of villages.' The circumambulation of the pilgrims, Yaqut goes on to explain on the authority of earlier scholars, is the earthly equivalent of the angels' circling the heavenly throne of God, seeking His pleasure after they had incurred His wrath. To this day, and beyond, the Ka'bah is a focal point of atonement and expiation; in the Qur'anic phrase, 'a place of resort for mankind and a place of safety'.

   

Ahmed Mater's Magnetism, however, gives us more than simple simulacra of that Ancient House of God. His counterpoint of square and circle, whorl and cube, of black and white, light and dark, places the primal elements of form and tone in dynamic equipoise. And there is another dynamic and harmonious opposition implicit in both magnetism and pilgrimage – that of attraction and repulsion. The Ka'bah is magnet and centrifuge: going away, going back home, is the last rite of pilgrimage. There is, too, a lexical parallel: the Arabic word for 'to attract', jadhaba, can also on occasion signify its opposite, 'to repel'. ('In Arabic, everything means itself, its opposite, and a camel,' somebody once said; not to be taken literally, of course, although the number of self-contradictory entries in the dictionary is surprising.) And yet all this inbuilt contrariness is not so strange: 'Without contraries,' as William Blake explained, 'there is no progression. Attraction and repulsion . . . are necessary to human existence.'

   

But Ahmed Mater's magnets and that larger, Meccan lodestone of pilgrimage can also draw us to things beyond the scale of human existence, and in two directions at once – out to the macrocosmic, and in to the subatomic. In the swirl of Ahmed's magnetized particles and the orbitings of the Mecca pilgrims are intimations of the whirl of planets, the gyre of galaxies. Hayy ibn Yaqzan, fictional brainchild of the twelfth-century Andalusian philosopher Ibn Tufayl (and perhaps both a spiritual precursor of the Mevlevi 'whirling dervishes' and a literary ancestor of Robinson Crusoe), made this latent link between terrestrial and celestial tawaf explicit. Looking skyward from the island on which he had been marooned as an infant and had grown to the age of reason, he observed the heavenly bodies - and then began to imitate their orbital motions, 'sometimes walking or running a great many times round about his House or some Stone,' in Simon Ockley's translation of 1708, 'at other times turning himself round so often that he was dizzy.' (In a footnote Ockley, a Cambridgeshire clergyman, thought all this 'extreamly ridiculous'; his Arabic was clearly better than his metaphysics.) And, to pursue the other, inward path, into the microcosm, might not a Hayy ibn Yaqzan born into the age of particle physics find himself equally inspired by the motion of electrons? Magnetism, gravity, attraction-repulsion are necessary not just to human existence, but to the very being of the cosmos; they are what make worlds both large and small go round. Some commentators, like the literary Elizabethan Sir John Davies, have given these forces another name, more poetic but no less apt:

   

Kind nature first doth cause all things to love;

Love makes them dance, and in just order move.

   

Love is what sets in motion the Mevlevi, whirling in his perfect white corolla of skirts, and the circling planet, and the circumambulating pilgrim, and the subatomic tawaf of the atom that makes it all possible.

   

Perhaps then this is the conclusion to which Ahmed Mater's Magnetism draws us: that there is a dynamic unity running through creation; that in all things the Creator – 'the ordainer of order and mysticall Mathematicks,' as Dr Thomas Browne (like Dr Ahmed Mater, a creative physician-metaphysician) called Him – has set in balance the forces of pull and push and light and dark, has circled the square, and given exquisite form to inchoate matter. That, at any rate, is my conclusion, and it is why Ahmed's works work for me; both these and the mystical anatomies of his Illuminations. Like good poetry, they speak on a modest and graspable scale of things that are too big or too small or too mysterious to comprehend with the naked mind.

   

And what of Ahmed Mater himself, giving a twist to the magnet: is there a touch of the demiurge in him - of the creator with a small c? Yes; and one cannot be an artist without that touch.

   

Look again, and you may also observe in him a touch of the majdhub – literally, 'one who has been attracted'. Here I mean it not in the debased sense it has taken on in many Arabic dialects, that of someone who is a little mad; but in the sense in which it is used in Islamic mystical texts, that of someone who has lost his personal consciousness in the knowledge of the Oneness of God.

   

Another way to translate it might be, 'magnetized by the divine'.

   

Tim Mackintosh-Smith

 

Sana'a, Yemen

 

Big On Black.

 

I may do a separate series inspired by songs, but I just didn't feel right finishing off this series without including Poe's album, Haunted.

 

After her father's death, Poe found some old recordings of her father, and was deeply affected by the sound of his voice...she created her second album, Haunted, as a sort of tribute and reckoning. She incorporates audio clips from her childhood. Her father's voice narrates some of the tracks.

 

She makes heavy reference to her brother's book House of Leaves, which is a literal labyrinthine journey on the page - it is about seven recessed stories, that tangle in and out through notes and footnotes, edits, coloured text, image plates, and even braille.

 

I deeply love the entire Haunted album - its one of the few albums that I absolutely insist should be heard as a whole. It really is a single emotional journey. I can recall, years ago, sitting in my dorm room, making Meredith sit down to listen to the entire CD. So it's strange now that she's gone to hear it again, and have it mean so much more. When I heard it before, I didn't really know what death meant. Aside from my grandmother when I was seven years old, Meredith was the first love who was really stolen from me. The album is about death, and life and anger and forgiveness. It's really deeply incredible. It's been my favourite CD for almost a decade now, and will probably always be close to my heart.

 

My image is inspired by the song, Five and a Half Minute Hallway. I've tried to find it on youtube but all I can find are user created "films" using it as background music.

 

In her brother's book, the hallway is a literal, growing space....The inside of the house is larger than the outside.....and the hallway grows and grows, pushing the family inside the house farther and farther from each other.

 

It seems like a good metaphor for my life lately. Sometimes the distance grows and grows, and no matter how hard you try to reach out, everything you need and want is just out of reach.

Ganesha, also spelled Ganesh, and also known as Ganapati and Vinayaka, is a widely worshipped deity in the Hindu pantheon. His image is found throughout India and Nepal. Hindu sects worship him regardless of affiliations. Devotion to Ganesha is widely diffused and extends to Jains, Buddhists, and beyond India.

 

Although he is known by many attributes, Ganesha's elephant head makes him easy to identify. Ganesha is widely revered as the remover of obstacles, the patron of arts and sciences and the deva of intellect and wisdom. As the god of beginnings, he is honoured at the start of rituals and ceremonies. Ganesha is also invoked as patron of letters and learning during writing sessions. Several texts relate mythological anecdotes associated with his birth and exploits and explain his distinct iconography.

 

Ganesha emerged as a distinct deity in the 4th and 5th centuries CE, during the Gupta Period, although he inherited traits from Vedic and pre-Vedic precursors. He was formally included among the five primary deities of Smartism (a Hindu denomination) in the 9th century. A sect of devotees called the Ganapatya arose, who identified Ganesha as the supreme deity. The principal scriptures dedicated to Ganesha are the Ganesha Purana, the Mudgala Purana, and the Ganapati Atharvashirsa.

 

ETYMOLOGY AND OTHER NAMES

Ganesha has been ascribed many other titles and epithets, including Ganapati and Vighneshvara. The Hindu title of respect Shri is often added before his name. One popular way Ganesha is worshipped is by chanting a Ganesha Sahasranama, a litany of "a thousand names of Ganesha". Each name in the sahasranama conveys a different meaning and symbolises a different aspect of Ganesha. At least two different versions of the Ganesha Sahasranama exist; one version is drawn from the Ganesha Purana, a Hindu scripture venerating Ganesha.

 

The name Ganesha is a Sanskrit compound, joining the words gana, meaning a group, multitude, or categorical system and isha, meaning lord or master. The word gaņa when associated with Ganesha is often taken to refer to the gaņas, a troop of semi-divine beings that form part of the retinue of Shiva. The term more generally means a category, class, community, association, or corporation. Some commentators interpret the name "Lord of the Gaņas" to mean "Lord of Hosts" or "Lord of created categories", such as the elements. Ganapati, a synonym for Ganesha, is a compound composed of gaṇa, meaning "group", and pati, meaning "ruler" or "lord". The Amarakosha, an early Sanskrit lexicon, lists eight synonyms of Ganesha : Vinayaka, Vighnarāja (equivalent to Vighnesha), Dvaimātura (one who has two mothers), Gaṇādhipa (equivalent to Ganapati and Ganesha), Ekadanta (one who has one tusk), Heramba, Lambodara (one who has a pot belly, or, literally, one who has a hanging belly), and Gajanana; having the face of an elephant).

 

Vinayaka is a common name for Ganesha that appears in the Purāṇas and in Buddhist Tantras. This name is reflected in the naming of the eight famous Ganesha temples in Maharashtra known as the Ashtavinayak (aṣṭavināyaka). The names Vighnesha and Vighneshvara (Lord of Obstacles) refers to his primary function in Hindu theology as the master and remover of obstacles (vighna).

 

A prominent name for Ganesha in the Tamil language is Pillai. A. K. Narain differentiates these terms by saying that pillai means a "child" while pillaiyar means a "noble child". He adds that the words pallu, pella, and pell in the Dravidian family of languages signify "tooth or tusk", also "elephant tooth or tusk". Anita Raina Thapan notes that the root word pille in the name Pillaiyar might have originally meant "the young of the elephant", because the Pali word pillaka means "a young elephant".

 

In the Burmese language, Ganesha is known as Maha Peinne, derived from Pali Mahā Wināyaka. The widespread name of Ganesha in Thailand is Phra Phikhanet or Phra Phikhanesuan, both of which are derived from Vara Vighnesha and Vara Vighneshvara respectively, whereas the name Khanet (from Ganesha) is rather rare.

 

In Sri Lanka, in the North-Central and North Western areas with predominantly Buddhist population, Ganesha is known as Aiyanayaka Deviyo, while in other Singhala Buddhist areas he is known as Gana deviyo.

 

ICONOGRAPHY

Ganesha is a popular figure in Indian art. Unlike those of some deities, representations of Ganesha show wide variations and distinct patterns changing over time. He may be portrayed standing, dancing, heroically taking action against demons, playing with his family as a boy, sitting down or on an elevated seat, or engaging in a range of contemporary situations.

 

Ganesha images were prevalent in many parts of India by the 6th century. The 13th century statue pictured is typical of Ganesha statuary from 900–1200, after Ganesha had been well-established as an independent deity with his own sect. This example features some of Ganesha's common iconographic elements. A virtually identical statue has been dated between 973–1200 by Paul Martin-Dubost, and another similar statue is dated c. 12th century by Pratapaditya Pal. Ganesha has the head of an elephant and a big belly. This statue has four arms, which is common in depictions of Ganesha. He holds his own broken tusk in his lower-right hand and holds a delicacy, which he samples with his trunk, in his lower-left hand. The motif of Ganesha turning his trunk sharply to his left to taste a sweet in his lower-left hand is a particularly archaic feature. A more primitive statue in one of the Ellora Caves with this general form has been dated to the 7th century. Details of the other hands are difficult to make out on the statue shown. In the standard configuration, Ganesha typically holds an axe or a goad in one upper arm and a pasha (noose) in the other upper arm.

 

The influence of this old constellation of iconographic elements can still be seen in contemporary representations of Ganesha. In one modern form, the only variation from these old elements is that the lower-right hand does not hold the broken tusk but is turned towards the viewer in a gesture of protection or fearlessness (abhaya mudra). The same combination of four arms and attributes occurs in statues of Ganesha dancing, which is a very popular theme.

 

COMMON ATTRIBUTES

Ganesha has been represented with the head of an elephant since the early stages of his appearance in Indian art. Puranic myths provide many explanations for how he got his elephant head. One of his popular forms, Heramba-Ganapati, has five elephant heads, and other less-common variations in the number of heads are known. While some texts say that Ganesha was born with an elephant head, he acquires the head later in most stories. The most recurrent motif in these stories is that Ganesha was created by Parvati using clay to protect her and Shiva beheaded him when Ganesha came between Shiva and Parvati. Shiva then replaced Ganesha's original head with that of an elephant. Details of the battle and where the replacement head came from vary from source to source. Another story says that Ganesha was created directly by Shiva's laughter. Because Shiva considered Ganesha too alluring, he gave him the head of an elephant and a protruding belly.

 

Ganesha's earliest name was Ekadanta (One Tusked), referring to his single whole tusk, the other being broken. Some of the earliest images of Ganesha show him holding his broken tusk. The importance of this distinctive feature is reflected in the Mudgala Purana, which states that the name of Ganesha's second incarnation is Ekadanta. Ganesha's protruding belly appears as a distinctive attribute in his earliest statuary, which dates to the Gupta period (4th to 6th centuries). This feature is so important that, according to the Mudgala Purana, two different incarnations of Ganesha use names based on it: Lambodara (Pot Belly, or, literally, Hanging Belly) and Mahodara (Great Belly). Both names are Sanskrit compounds describing his belly. The Brahmanda Purana says that Ganesha has the name Lambodara because all the universes (i.e., cosmic eggs) of the past, present, and future are present in him. The number of Ganesha's arms varies; his best-known forms have between two and sixteen arms. Many depictions of Ganesha feature four arms, which is mentioned in Puranic sources and codified as a standard form in some iconographic texts. His earliest images had two arms. Forms with 14 and 20 arms appeared in Central India during the 9th and the 10th centuries. The serpent is a common feature in Ganesha iconography and appears in many forms. According to the Ganesha Purana, Ganesha wrapped the serpent Vasuki around his neck. Other depictions of snakes include use as a sacred thread wrapped around the stomach as a belt, held in a hand, coiled at the ankles, or as a throne. Upon Ganesha's forehead may be a third eye or the Shaivite sectarian mark , which consists of three horizontal lines. The Ganesha Purana prescribes a tilaka mark as well as a crescent moon on the forehead. A distinct form of Ganesha called Bhalachandra includes that iconographic element. Ganesha is often described as red in color. Specific colors are associated with certain forms. Many examples of color associations with specific meditation forms are prescribed in the Sritattvanidhi, a treatise on Hindu iconography. For example, white is associated with his representations as Heramba-Ganapati and Rina-Mochana-Ganapati (Ganapati Who Releases from Bondage). Ekadanta-Ganapati is visualized as blue during meditation in that form.

 

VAHANAS

The earliest Ganesha images are without a vahana (mount/vehicle). Of the eight incarnations of Ganesha described in the Mudgala Purana, Ganesha uses a mouse (shrew) in five of them, a lion in his incarnation as Vakratunda, a peacock in his incarnation as Vikata, and Shesha, the divine serpent, in his incarnation as Vighnaraja. Mohotkata uses a lion, Mayūreśvara uses a peacock, Dhumraketu uses a horse, and Gajanana uses a mouse, in the four incarnations of Ganesha listed in the Ganesha Purana. Jain depictions of Ganesha show his vahana variously as a mouse, elephant, tortoise, ram, or peacock.

 

Ganesha is often shown riding on or attended by a mouse, shrew or rat. Martin-Dubost says that the rat began to appear as the principal vehicle in sculptures of Ganesha in central and western India during the 7th century; the rat was always placed close to his feet. The mouse as a mount first appears in written sources in the Matsya Purana and later in the Brahmananda Purana and Ganesha Purana, where Ganesha uses it as his vehicle in his last incarnation. The Ganapati Atharvashirsa includes a meditation verse on Ganesha that describes the mouse appearing on his flag. The names Mūṣakavāhana (mouse-mount) and Ākhuketana (rat-banner) appear in the Ganesha Sahasranama.

 

The mouse is interpreted in several ways. According to Grimes, "Many, if not most of those who interpret Gaṇapati's mouse, do so negatively; it symbolizes tamoguṇa as well as desire". Along these lines, Michael Wilcockson says it symbolizes those who wish to overcome desires and be less selfish. Krishan notes that the rat is destructive and a menace to crops. The Sanskrit word mūṣaka (mouse) is derived from the root mūṣ (stealing, robbing). It was essential to subdue the rat as a destructive pest, a type of vighna (impediment) that needed to be overcome. According to this theory, showing Ganesha as master of the rat demonstrates his function as Vigneshvara (Lord of Obstacles) and gives evidence of his possible role as a folk grāma-devatā (village deity) who later rose to greater prominence. Martin-Dubost notes a view that the rat is a symbol suggesting that Ganesha, like the rat, penetrates even the most secret places.

 

ASSOCIATIONS

 

OBSTACLES

Ganesha is Vighneshvara or Vighnaraja or Vighnaharta (Marathi), the Lord of Obstacles, both of a material and spiritual order. He is popularly worshipped as a remover of obstacles, though traditionally he also places obstacles in the path of those who need to be checked. Paul Courtright says that "his task in the divine scheme of things, his dharma, is to place and remove obstacles. It is his particular territory, the reason for his creation."

 

Krishan notes that some of Ganesha's names reflect shadings of multiple roles that have evolved over time. Dhavalikar ascribes the quick ascension of Ganesha in the Hindu pantheon, and the emergence of the Ganapatyas, to this shift in emphasis from vighnakartā (obstacle-creator) to vighnahartā (obstacle-averter). However, both functions continue to be vital to his character.

 

BUDDHI (KNOWLEDGE)

Ganesha is considered to be the Lord of letters and learning. In Sanskrit, the word buddhi is a feminine noun that is variously translated as intelligence, wisdom, or intellect. The concept of buddhi is closely associated with the personality of Ganesha, especially in the Puranic period, when many stories stress his cleverness and love of intelligence. One of Ganesha's names in the Ganesha Purana and the Ganesha Sahasranama is Buddhipriya. This name also appears in a list of 21 names at the end of the Ganesha Sahasranama that Ganesha says are especially important. The word priya can mean "fond of", and in a marital context it can mean "lover" or "husband", so the name may mean either "Fond of Intelligence" or "Buddhi's Husband".

 

AUM

Ganesha is identified with the Hindu mantra Aum, also spelled Om. The term oṃkārasvarūpa (Aum is his form), when identified with Ganesha, refers to the notion that he personifies the primal sound. The Ganapati Atharvashirsa attests to this association. Chinmayananda translates the relevant passage as follows:

 

(O Lord Ganapati!) You are (the Trinity) Brahma, Vishnu, and Mahesa. You are Indra. You are fire [Agni] and air [Vāyu]. You are the sun [Sūrya] and the moon [Chandrama]. You are Brahman. You are (the three worlds) Bhuloka [earth], Antariksha-loka [space], and Swargaloka [heaven]. You are Om. (That is to say, You are all this).

 

Some devotees see similarities between the shape of Ganesha's body in iconography and the shape of Aum in the Devanāgarī and Tamil scripts.

 

FIRST CHAKRA

According to Kundalini yoga, Ganesha resides in the first chakra, called Muladhara (mūlādhāra). Mula means "original, main"; adhara means "base, foundation". The muladhara chakra is the principle on which the manifestation or outward expansion of primordial Divine Force rests. This association is also attested to in the Ganapati Atharvashirsa. Courtright translates this passage as follows: "[O Ganesha,] You continually dwell in the sacral plexus at the base of the spine [mūlādhāra cakra]." Thus, Ganesha has a permanent abode in every being at the Muladhara. Ganesha holds, supports and guides all other chakras, thereby "governing the forces that propel the wheel of life".

 

FAMILY AND CONSORTS

Though Ganesha is popularly held to be the son of Shiva and Parvati, the Puranic myths give different versions about his birth. In some he was created by Parvati, in another he was created by Shiva and Parvati, in another he appeared mysteriously and was discovered by Shiva and Parvati or he was born from the elephant headed goddess Malini after she drank Parvati's bath water that had been thrown in the river.

 

The family includes his brother the war god Kartikeya, who is also called Subramanya, Skanda, Murugan and other names. Regional differences dictate the order of their births. In northern India, Skanda is generally said to be the elder, while in the south, Ganesha is considered the first born. In northern India, Skanda was an important martial deity from about 500 BCE to about 600 CE, when worship of him declined significantly in northern India. As Skanda fell, Ganesha rose. Several stories tell of sibling rivalry between the brothers and may reflect sectarian tensions.

 

Ganesha's marital status, the subject of considerable scholarly review, varies widely in mythological stories. One pattern of myths identifies Ganesha as an unmarried brahmacari. This view is common in southern India and parts of northern India. Another pattern associates him with the concepts of Buddhi (intellect), Siddhi (spiritual power), and Riddhi (prosperity); these qualities are sometimes personified as goddesses, said to be Ganesha's wives. He also may be shown with a single consort or a nameless servant (Sanskrit: daşi). Another pattern connects Ganesha with the goddess of culture and the arts, Sarasvati or Śarda (particularly in Maharashtra). He is also associated with the goddess of luck and prosperity, Lakshmi. Another pattern, mainly prevalent in the Bengal region, links Ganesha with the banana tree, Kala Bo.

 

The Shiva Purana says that Ganesha had begotten two sons: Kşema (prosperity) and Lābha (profit). In northern Indian variants of this story, the sons are often said to be Śubha (auspiciouness) and Lābha. The 1975 Hindi film Jai Santoshi Maa shows Ganesha married to Riddhi and Siddhi and having a daughter named Santoshi Ma, the goddess of satisfaction. This story has no Puranic basis, but Anita Raina Thapan and Lawrence Cohen cite Santoshi Ma's cult as evidence of Ganesha's continuing evolution as a popular deity.

 

WOSHIP AND FESTIVALS

Ganesha is worshipped on many religious and secular occasions; especially at the beginning of ventures such as buying a vehicle or starting a business. K.N. Somayaji says, "there can hardly be a [Hindu] home [in India] which does not house an idol of Ganapati. [..] Ganapati, being the most popular deity in India, is worshipped by almost all castes and in all parts of the country". Devotees believe that if Ganesha is propitiated, he grants success, prosperity and protection against adversity.

 

Ganesha is a non-sectarian deity, and Hindus of all denominations invoke him at the beginning of prayers, important undertakings, and religious ceremonies. Dancers and musicians, particularly in southern India, begin performances of arts such as the Bharatnatyam dance with a prayer to Ganesha. Mantras such as Om Shri Gaṇeshāya Namah (Om, salutation to the Illustrious Ganesha) are often used. One of the most famous mantras associated with Ganesha is Om Gaṃ Ganapataye Namah (Om, Gaṃ, Salutation to the Lord of Hosts).

 

Devotees offer Ganesha sweets such as modaka and small sweet balls (laddus). He is often shown carrying a bowl of sweets, called a modakapātra. Because of his identification with the color red, he is often worshipped with red sandalwood paste (raktacandana) or red flowers. Dūrvā grass (Cynodon dactylon) and other materials are also used in his worship.

 

Festivals associated with Ganesh are Ganesh Chaturthi or Vināyaka chaturthī in the śuklapakṣa (the fourth day of the waxing moon) in the month of bhādrapada (August/September) and the Gaṇeśa jayanti (Gaṇeśa's birthday) celebrated on the cathurthī of the śuklapakṣa (fourth day of the waxing moon) in the month of māgha (January/February)."

 

GANESH CHATURTI

An annual festival honours Ganesha for ten days, starting on Ganesha Chaturthi, which typically falls in late August or early September. The festival begins with people bringing in clay idols of Ganesha, symbolising Ganesha's visit. The festival culminates on the day of Ananta Chaturdashi, when idols (murtis) of Ganesha are immersed in the most convenient body of water. Some families have a tradition of immersion on the 2nd, 3rd, 5th, or 7th day. In 1893, Lokmanya Tilak transformed this annual Ganesha festival from private family celebrations into a grand public event. He did so "to bridge the gap between the Brahmins and the non-Brahmins and find an appropriate context in which to build a new grassroots unity between them" in his nationalistic strivings against the British in Maharashtra. Because of Ganesha's wide appeal as "the god for Everyman", Tilak chose him as a rallying point for Indian protest against British rule. Tilak was the first to install large public images of Ganesha in pavilions, and he established the practice of submerging all the public images on the tenth day. Today, Hindus across India celebrate the Ganapati festival with great fervour, though it is most popular in the state of Maharashtra. The festival also assumes huge proportions in Mumbai, Pune, and in the surrounding belt of Ashtavinayaka temples.

 

TEMPLES

In Hindu temples, Ganesha is depicted in various ways: as an acolyte or subordinate deity (pãrśva-devatã); as a deity related to the principal deity (parivāra-devatã); or as the principal deity of the temple (pradhāna), treated similarly as the highest gods of the Hindu pantheon. As the god of transitions, he is placed at the doorway of many Hindu temples to keep out the unworthy, which is analogous to his role as Parvati’s doorkeeper. In addition, several shrines are dedicated to Ganesha himself, of which the Ashtavinayak (lit. "eight Ganesha (shrines)") in Maharashtra are particularly well known. Located within a 100-kilometer radius of the city of Pune, each of these eight shrines celebrates a particular form of Ganapati, complete with its own lore and legend. The eight shrines are: Morgaon, Siddhatek, Pali, Mahad, Theur, Lenyadri, Ozar and Ranjangaon.

 

There are many other important Ganesha temples at the following locations: Wai in Maharashtra; Ujjain in Madhya Pradesh; Jodhpur, Nagaur and Raipur (Pali) in Rajasthan; Baidyanath in Bihar; Baroda, Dholaka, and Valsad in Gujarat and Dhundiraj Temple in Varanasi, Uttar Pradesh. Prominent Ganesha temples in southern India include the following: Kanipakam in Chittoor; the Jambukeśvara Temple at Tiruchirapalli; at Rameshvaram and Suchindram in Tamil Nadu; at Malliyur, Kottarakara, Pazhavangadi, Kasargod in Kerala, Hampi, and Idagunji in Karnataka; and Bhadrachalam in Andhra Pradesh.

 

T. A. Gopinatha notes, "Every village however small has its own image of Vighneśvara (Vigneshvara) with or without a temple to house it in. At entrances of villages and forts, below pīpaḹa (Sacred fig) trees [...], in a niche [...] in temples of Viṣṇu (Vishnu) as well as Śiva (Shiva) and also in separate shrines specially constructed in Śiva temples [...]; the figure of Vighneśvara is invariably seen." Ganesha temples have also been built outside of India, including southeast Asia, Nepal (including the four Vinayaka shrines in the Kathmandu valley), and in several western countries.

 

RISE TO PROMINENCE

 

FIRST APEARANCE

Ganesha appeared in his classic form as a clearly recognizable deity with well-defined iconographic attributes in the early 4th to 5th centuries. Shanti Lal Nagar says that the earliest known iconic image of Ganesha is in the niche of the Shiva temple at Bhumra, which has been dated to the Gupta period. His independent cult appeared by about the 10th century. Narain summarizes the controversy between devotees and academics regarding the development of Ganesha as follows:

 

What is inscrutable is the somewhat dramatic appearance of Gaņeśa on the historical scene. His antecedents are not clear. His wide acceptance and popularity, which transcend sectarian and territorial limits, are indeed amazing. On the one hand there is the pious belief of the orthodox devotees in Gaņeśa's Vedic origins and in the Purāṇic explanations contained in the confusing, but nonetheless interesting, mythology. On the other hand there are doubts about the existence of the idea and the icon of this deity" before the fourth to fifth century A.D. ... [I]n my opinion, indeed there is no convincing evidence of the existence of this divinity prior to the fifth century.

 

POSSIBLE INFLUENCES

Courtright reviews various speculative theories about the early history of Ganesha, including supposed tribal traditions and animal cults, and dismisses all of them in this way:

 

In the post 600 BC period there is evidence of people and places named after the animal. The motif appears on coins and sculptures.

 

Thapan's book on the development of Ganesha devotes a chapter to speculations about the role elephants had in early India but concludes that, "although by the second century CE the elephant-headed yakṣa form exists it cannot be presumed to represent Gaṇapati-Vināyaka. There is no evidence of a deity by this name having an elephant or elephant-headed form at this early stage. Gaṇapati-Vināyaka had yet to make his debut."

 

One theory of the origin of Ganesha is that he gradually came to prominence in connection with the four Vinayakas (Vināyakas). In Hindu mythology, the Vināyakas were a group of four troublesome demons who created obstacles and difficulties but who were easily propitiated. The name Vināyaka is a common name for Ganesha both in the Purāṇas and in Buddhist Tantras. Krishan is one of the academics who accepts this view, stating flatly of Ganesha, "He is a non-vedic god. His origin is to be traced to the four Vināyakas, evil spirits, of the Mānavagŗhyasūtra (7th–4th century BCE) who cause various types of evil and suffering". Depictions of elephant-headed human figures, which some identify with Ganesha, appear in Indian art and coinage as early as the 2nd century. According to Ellawala, the elephant-headed Ganesha as lord of the Ganas was known to the people of Sri Lanka in the early pre-Christian era.

 

A metal plate depiction of Ganesha had been discovered in 1993, in Iran, it dated back to 1,200 BCE. Another one was discovered much before, in Lorestan Province of Iran.

 

First Ganesha's terracotta images are from 1st century CE found in Ter, Pal, Verrapuram and Chandraketugarh. These figures are small, with elephant head, two arms, and chubby physique. The earliest Ganesha icons in stone were carved in Mathura during Kushan times (2nd-3rd centuries CE).

 

VEDIC AND EPIC LITERATURE

The title "Leader of the group" (Sanskrit: gaṇapati) occurs twice in the Rig Veda, but in neither case does it refer to the modern Ganesha. The term appears in RV 2.23.1 as a title for Brahmanaspati, according to commentators. While this verse doubtless refers to Brahmanaspati, it was later adopted for worship of Ganesha and is still used today. In rejecting any claim that this passage is evidence of Ganesha in the Rig Veda, Ludo Rocher says that it "clearly refers to Bṛhaspati—who is the deity of the hymn—and Bṛhaspati only". Equally clearly, the second passage (RV 10.112.9) refers to Indra, who is given the epithet 'gaṇapati', translated "Lord of the companies (of the Maruts)." However, Rocher notes that the more recent Ganapatya literature often quotes the Rigvedic verses to give Vedic respectability to Ganesha .

 

Two verses in texts belonging to Black Yajurveda, Maitrāyaṇīya Saṃhitā (2.9.1) and Taittirīya Āraṇyaka (10.1), appeal to a deity as "the tusked one" (Dantiḥ), "elephant-faced" (Hastimukha), and "with a curved trunk" (Vakratuņḍa). These names are suggestive of Ganesha, and the 14th century commentator Sayana explicitly establishes this identification. The description of Dantin, possessing a twisted trunk (vakratuṇḍa) and holding a corn-sheaf, a sugar cane, and a club, is so characteristic of the Puranic Ganapati that Heras says "we cannot resist to accept his full identification with this Vedic Dantin". However, Krishan considers these hymns to be post-Vedic additions. Thapan reports that these passages are "generally considered to have been interpolated". Dhavalikar says, "the references to the elephant-headed deity in the Maitrāyaṇī Saṃhitā have been proven to be very late interpolations, and thus are not very helpful for determining the early formation of the deity".

 

Ganesha does not appear in Indian epic literature that is dated to the Vedic period. A late interpolation to the epic poem Mahabharata says that the sage Vyasa (Vyāsa) asked Ganesha to serve as his scribe to transcribe the poem as he dictated it to him. Ganesha agreed but only on condition that Vyasa recite the poem uninterrupted, that is, without pausing. The sage agreed, but found that to get any rest he needed to recite very complex passages so Ganesha would have to ask for clarifications. The story is not accepted as part of the original text by the editors of the critical edition of the Mahabharata, in which the twenty-line story is relegated to a footnote in an appendix. The story of Ganesha acting as the scribe occurs in 37 of the 59 manuscripts consulted during preparation of the critical edition. Ganesha's association with mental agility and learning is one reason he is shown as scribe for Vyāsa's dictation of the Mahabharata in this interpolation. Richard L. Brown dates the story to the 8th century, and Moriz Winternitz concludes that it was known as early as c. 900, but it was not added to the Mahabharata some 150 years later. Winternitz also notes that a distinctive feature in South Indian manuscripts of the Mahabharata is their omission of this Ganesha legend. The term vināyaka is found in some recensions of the Śāntiparva and Anuśāsanaparva that are regarded as interpolations. A reference to Vighnakartṛīṇām ("Creator of Obstacles") in Vanaparva is also believed to be an interpolation and does not appear in the critical edition.

 

PURANIC PERIOD

Stories about Ganesha often occur in the Puranic corpus. Brown notes while the Puranas "defy precise chronological ordering", the more detailed narratives of Ganesha's life are in the late texts, c. 600–1300. Yuvraj Krishan says that the Puranic myths about the birth of Ganesha and how he acquired an elephant's head are in the later Puranas, which were composed from c. 600 onwards. He elaborates on the matter to say that references to Ganesha in the earlier Puranas, such as the Vayu and Brahmanda Puranas, are later interpolations made during the 7th to 10th centuries.

 

In his survey of Ganesha's rise to prominence in Sanskrit literature, Ludo Rocher notes that:

 

Above all, one cannot help being struck by the fact that the numerous stories surrounding Gaṇeśa concentrate on an unexpectedly limited number of incidents. These incidents are mainly three: his birth and parenthood, his elephant head, and his single tusk. Other incidents are touched on in the texts, but to a far lesser extent.

 

Ganesha's rise to prominence was codified in the 9th century, when he was formally included as one of the five primary deities of Smartism. The 9th-century philosopher Adi Shankara popularized the "worship of the five forms" (Panchayatana puja) system among orthodox Brahmins of the Smarta tradition. This worship practice invokes the five deities Ganesha, Vishnu, Shiva, Devi, and Surya. Adi Shankara instituted the tradition primarily to unite the principal deities of these five major sects on an equal status. This formalized the role of Ganesha as a complementary deity.

 

SCRIPTURES

Once Ganesha was accepted as one of the five principal deities of Brahmanism, some Brahmins (brāhmaṇas) chose to worship Ganesha as their principal deity. They developed the Ganapatya tradition, as seen in the Ganesha Purana and the Mudgala Purana.

 

The date of composition for the Ganesha Purana and the Mudgala Purana - and their dating relative to one another - has sparked academic debate. Both works were developed over time and contain age-layered strata. Anita Thapan reviews comments about dating and provides her own judgement. "It seems likely that the core of the Ganesha Purana appeared around the twelfth and thirteenth centuries", she says, "but was later interpolated." Lawrence W. Preston considers the most reasonable date for the Ganesha Purana to be between 1100 and 1400, which coincides with the apparent age of the sacred sites mentioned by the text.

 

R.C. Hazra suggests that the Mudgala Purana is older than the Ganesha Purana, which he dates between 1100 and 1400. However, Phyllis Granoff finds problems with this relative dating and concludes that the Mudgala Purana was the last of the philosophical texts concerned with Ganesha. She bases her reasoning on the fact that, among other internal evidence, the Mudgala Purana specifically mentions the Ganesha Purana as one of the four Puranas (the Brahma, the Brahmanda, the Ganesha, and the Mudgala Puranas) which deal at length with Ganesha. While the kernel of the text must be old, it was interpolated until the 17th and 18th centuries as the worship of Ganapati became more important in certain regions. Another highly regarded scripture, the Ganapati Atharvashirsa, was probably composed during the 16th or 17th centuries.

 

BEYOND INDIA AND HINDUISM

Commercial and cultural contacts extended India's influence in western and southeast Asia. Ganesha is one of a number of Hindu deities who reached foreign lands as a result.

 

Ganesha was particularly worshipped by traders and merchants, who went out of India for commercial ventures. From approximately the 10th century onwards, new networks of exchange developed including the formation of trade guilds and a resurgence of money circulation. During this time, Ganesha became the principal deity associated with traders. The earliest inscription invoking Ganesha before any other deity is associated with the merchant community.

 

Hindus migrated to Maritime Southeast Asia and took their culture, including Ganesha, with them. Statues of Ganesha are found throughout the region, often beside Shiva sanctuaries. The forms of Ganesha found in Hindu art of Java, Bali, and Borneo show specific regional influences. The spread of Hindu culture to southeast Asia established Ganesha in modified forms in Burma, Cambodia, and Thailand. In Indochina, Hinduism and Buddhism were practiced side by side, and mutual influences can be seen in the iconography of Ganesha in the region. In Thailand, Cambodia, and among the Hindu classes of the Chams in Vietnam, Ganesha was mainly thought of as a remover of obstacles. Today in Buddhist Thailand, Ganesha is regarded as a remover of obstacles, the god of success.

 

Before the arrival of Islam, Afghanistan had close cultural ties with India, and the adoration of both Hindu and Buddhist deities was practiced. Examples of sculptures from the 5th to the 7th centuries have survived, suggesting that the worship of Ganesha was then in vogue in the region.

 

Ganesha appears in Mahayana Buddhism, not only in the form of the Buddhist god Vināyaka, but also as a Hindu demon form with the same name. His image appears in Buddhist sculptures during the late Gupta period. As the Buddhist god Vināyaka, he is often shown dancing. This form, called Nṛtta Ganapati, was popular in northern India, later adopted in Nepal, and then in Tibet. In Nepal, the Hindu form of Ganesha, known as Heramba, is popular; he has five heads and rides a lion. Tibetan representations of Ganesha show ambivalent views of him. A Tibetan rendering of Ganapati is tshogs bdag. In one Tibetan form, he is shown being trodden under foot by Mahākāla, (Shiva) a popular Tibetan deity. Other depictions show him as the Destroyer of Obstacles, and sometimes dancing. Ganesha appears in China and Japan in forms that show distinct regional character. In northern China, the earliest known stone statue of Ganesha carries an inscription dated to 531. In Japan, where Ganesha is known as Kangiten, the Ganesha cult was first mentioned in 806.

 

The canonical literature of Jainism does not mention the worship of Ganesha. However, Ganesha is worshipped by most Jains, for whom he appears to have taken over certain functions of Kubera. Jain connections with the trading community support the idea that Jainism took up Ganesha worship as a result of commercial connections. The earliest known Jain Ganesha statue dates to about the 9th century. A 15th-century Jain text lists procedures for the installation of Ganapati images. Images of Ganesha appear in the Jain temples of Rajasthan and Gujarat.

 

WIKIPEDIA

NESA dance concert "Footnotes" 2006

Coloured and metalic inks, glow in dark paint, magnetised iron filings on Rough Watercolour Paper 600gsm

77.5cm by 57cm

Unsold.

 

After Edvard Munch's The Scream.

 

This cross section of a human cell. Struck my imagination in many ways. Horizontally the Cell looks like a gondola boat, Its interior parts are like a proud island city state! But from this vertical way up that Im displaying it to you at it makes me think of a 1930's Hollywood movies Starlet screaming with her face's skin sliced off. (Sorry!)

 

I present you with, The Screaming Cell.

 

This Biological Landscapes art series I created from my fascination with scale & fantasy to let me discover and enter new worlds of adventure in the macro diagrams and images of our organic living systems.

 

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Populating the Dark Matter

 

Space is beautiful, blissful foreverness, a mysterious garden at night yet to be explored.

 

But space is lonely, detached from humanity, from our earths emotion and life. Science jumps ahead, out into the deep and hard to ever touch theoretical infinite. Earths life and the living inner soul becomes redundant, progress leaves us as its wiggly awkward footnote!

 

I believe our own consciousness pilots our evolution, for better or worse!

 

This series I call Populating the Dark Matter because I want to mix my love of the perfect black and starlit jeweled infinite with the warmth and humanity of life on earth and its struggles, emotions and conditions. Space becomes for me a giant metaphorical gallery where I can exhibit and study life on earth!

 

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The magnetised iron filings are an element, the undefinable energy, the passion of bodies and souls engaged and revolving as mandala like totems of metaphor and symbolism populating the undiscovered gallery of our outer space heavens.

 

Magnetised Imagery is a way to portray the undefinable living energy of people, creatures, nature & all the physical forces of our universe.

 

My artistic process manipulates expressivly the physical reaction of iron powders by using various magnets & quickly sealing that result to create a permanent image in this medium.

 

This frozen magnetic dance seems to perform forever, freely moving & alive.

 

In creating this new medium to portray life, I am percieving living bodies as wilful energy behind skin masks of shape & circumstance.

 

A soul is being portrayed as hard to catch in its costumed outline of a body!

 

Echoing our ancient art. Where characters where brought into the world by the act of drawing them into the torch lit contours of our mind in the cave!

MAGNETISM

   

The idea is simple and, like its central element, forcefully attractive. Ahmed Mater gives a twist to a magnet and sets in motion tens of thousands of particles of iron, a multitude of tiny satellites that forms a single swirling nimbus. Even if we have not taken part in it, we have all seen images of the Hajj, the great annual pilgrimage of Muslims to Mecca. Ahmed's black cuboid magnet is a small simulacrum of the black-draped Ka'bah, the 'Cube', that central element of the Meccan rites. His circumambulating whirl of metallic filings mirrors in miniature the concentric tawaf of the pilgrims, their sevenfold circling of the Ka'bah.

   

Al-Bayt al-'Atiq, the Ancient House, to give the Ka'bah another of its names, is ancient – indeed archetypal - in more than one way. The cube is the primary building-block, and the most basic form of a built structure. And the Cube, the Ka'bah, is also Bayt Allah, the House of the One God: it was built by Abraham, the first monotheist, or in some accounts by the first man, Adam. Its site may be more ancient still: 'According to some traditions,' the thirteenth-century geographer Yaqut al-Hamawi wrote, 'the first thing God created on earth was the site of the Ka'bah. He then spread out the earth from beneath this place. Thus it is the navel of the earth and the mid-point of this lower world and the mother of villages.' The circumambulation of the pilgrims, Yaqut goes on to explain on the authority of earlier scholars, is the earthly equivalent of the angels' circling the heavenly throne of God, seeking His pleasure after they had incurred His wrath. To this day, and beyond, the Ka'bah is a focal point of atonement and expiation; in the Qur'anic phrase, 'a place of resort for mankind and a place of safety'.

   

Ahmed Mater's Magnetism, however, gives us more than simple simulacra of that Ancient House of God. His counterpoint of square and circle, whorl and cube, of black and white, light and dark, places the primal elements of form and tone in dynamic equipoise. And there is another dynamic and harmonious opposition implicit in both magnetism and pilgrimage – that of attraction and repulsion. The Ka'bah is magnet and centrifuge: going away, going back home, is the last rite of pilgrimage. There is, too, a lexical parallel: the Arabic word for 'to attract', jadhaba, can also on occasion signify its opposite, 'to repel'. ('In Arabic, everything means itself, its opposite, and a camel,' somebody once said; not to be taken literally, of course, although the number of self-contradictory entries in the dictionary is surprising.) And yet all this inbuilt contrariness is not so strange: 'Without contraries,' as William Blake explained, 'there is no progression. Attraction and repulsion . . . are necessary to human existence.'

   

But Ahmed Mater's magnets and that larger, Meccan lodestone of pilgrimage can also draw us to things beyond the scale of human existence, and in two directions at once – out to the macrocosmic, and in to the subatomic. In the swirl of Ahmed's magnetized particles and the orbitings of the Mecca pilgrims are intimations of the whirl of planets, the gyre of galaxies. Hayy ibn Yaqzan, fictional brainchild of the twelfth-century Andalusian philosopher Ibn Tufayl (and perhaps both a spiritual precursor of the Mevlevi 'whirling dervishes' and a literary ancestor of Robinson Crusoe), made this latent link between terrestrial and celestial tawaf explicit. Looking skyward from the island on which he had been marooned as an infant and had grown to the age of reason, he observed the heavenly bodies - and then began to imitate their orbital motions, 'sometimes walking or running a great many times round about his House or some Stone,' in Simon Ockley's translation of 1708, 'at other times turning himself round so often that he was dizzy.' (In a footnote Ockley, a Cambridgeshire clergyman, thought all this 'extreamly ridiculous'; his Arabic was clearly better than his metaphysics.) And, to pursue the other, inward path, into the microcosm, might not a Hayy ibn Yaqzan born into the age of particle physics find himself equally inspired by the motion of electrons? Magnetism, gravity, attraction-repulsion are necessary not just to human existence, but to the very being of the cosmos; they are what make worlds both large and small go round. Some commentators, like the literary Elizabethan Sir John Davies, have given these forces another name, more poetic but no less apt:

   

Kind nature first doth cause all things to love;

Love makes them dance, and in just order move.

   

Love is what sets in motion the Mevlevi, whirling in his perfect white corolla of skirts, and the circling planet, and the circumambulating pilgrim, and the subatomic tawaf of the atom that makes it all possible.

   

Perhaps then this is the conclusion to which Ahmed Mater's Magnetism draws us: that there is a dynamic unity running through creation; that in all things the Creator – 'the ordainer of order and mysticall Mathematicks,' as Dr Thomas Browne (like Dr Ahmed Mater, a creative physician-metaphysician) called Him – has set in balance the forces of pull and push and light and dark, has circled the square, and given exquisite form to inchoate matter. That, at any rate, is my conclusion, and it is why Ahmed's works work for me; both these and the mystical anatomies of his Illuminations. Like good poetry, they speak on a modest and graspable scale of things that are too big or too small or too mysterious to comprehend with the naked mind.

   

And what of Ahmed Mater himself, giving a twist to the magnet: is there a touch of the demiurge in him - of the creator with a small c? Yes; and one cannot be an artist without that touch.

   

Look again, and you may also observe in him a touch of the majdhub – literally, 'one who has been attracted'. Here I mean it not in the debased sense it has taken on in many Arabic dialects, that of someone who is a little mad; but in the sense in which it is used in Islamic mystical texts, that of someone who has lost his personal consciousness in the knowledge of the Oneness of God.

   

Another way to translate it might be, 'magnetized by the divine'.

   

Tim Mackintosh-Smith

 

Sana'a, Yemen

 

Thiswritelife.wordpress.com

 

The Borgia Apartments are not just a footnote in papal history, but an opulent group of six rooms located in the Borgia Tower inside the Vatican.

 

Sealed off after the death of Alexander VI, Rodrigo Borgia, (1431-1503) by Pope Pius III due to its association with the despised Borgia family; the art itself cannot be denied; the vivid colors of red and blue tempt the fingertips to touch, the scenery overwhelms the senses, all colliding in the mind of the admirer.

 

Depictions of the Sybils, early Saints, the Resurrection and the Magi fill the vaulted walls, the detail exquisite. The arched ceilings are intricately frescoed and the floors once covered with rare Moorish tiles, a few pieces still evident. Chambers that oversaw plans of war, marriages of dynasties, and even murder may be empty of furnishings, but the remaining art portrays the opulence and power of the time. These six rooms lay hidden in the Vatican for three hundred years preserving frescos created at the command of Alexander VI for the private apartments of the Borgia pope.

 

In 1492 Pinturicchio was employed by Pope Alexander VI to decorate a recently completed suite of rooms in the Vatican. The rooms are now part of the Vatican library and five of the suites retain a series of frescos.

 

The upper part of the walls and vaults were not only painted, but further enriched with delicate stucco work in relief, and are a masterpiece of design. The paintings used themes from medieval encyclopedias adding an eschatological layer of meaning and celebrating the supposedly divine origins of the Borgias.

 

Pinturicchio worked in these rooms with an army of apprentices without interruption until 1498. No contract is in evidence, the only record of his work is the payment; another line entered in the Vatican account books.

 

The private living rooms of the Pope at that time were the Hall of Mysteries, the Hall of the Saints and the Hall of the Liberal Arts, besides the two withdrawing rooms.

 

Imagination furnishes the empty chambers with all the choice objects they once contained.

 

The priceless majolica, the gold and silver vessels, the brocaded hangings, the ivory carvings – an ideal background for the scenes of love and revelry once lived here. The strum of music, the laughter and wit, boisterous merriment, muted conferences, the whispered plotting, the ghastly treacheries, the dying groans. In the Hall of the Sibyls, the second husband of Lucrezia, Alfonso of Aragon, was murdered. In the adjoining suite, the Pope himself died in agony. What other deeds of darkness, despair and triumphant villainy have these chaste and innocent conceptions of Pintoricchio looked down upon? Fascinations of fleurs du mal.

 

---

 

Reds Italy:

 

The Vatican's Appartamento Borgia (Borgia Apartments) were the private chambers of Borgia Pope Alexander VI, frescoed by early Renaissance master Pinturicchio.

 

The Borgia Apartments, downstairs from the Raphael Rooms, were painted by Pinturicchio and occupied by the infamous Spanish Borgia pope Alexander VI (you know: that devilish guy played by Jeremy Irons in the Borgias TV series).

 

This apartment suite was closed off by Julius II—who refused to live in rooms sullied by his venal predecessor—and its frescoes covered with black crepe.

 

Things remained that way for 386 years, until the apartments were reopened in 1889 to serve as display rooms for the Vatican's collection of (frankly bland, for the most part) modern religious art.

 

More importantly, when they reopened in 1889, the Vatican also finally uncovered the walls and ceilings to unveil the rich frescoes, painted by Pinturicchio with wacky early-Renaissance Umbrian fantasy.

 

Pinturicchio's frescoes in the Borgia apartments

 

A co-pupil of Raphael’s under master Perugino, Pinturicchio had a penchant for embedding fake jewels and things like metal saddle studs in his frescoes rather than painting these details in for an intriguing effect—call it Renassiance 3D.

 

While Pinturrichio's art is not necessarily at its top form in these rooms, they're worth a run-through.

 

The frescoes have been (finally) getting restored over the past several years, and the cleaning revealed something amazing: the first European depiction of Native Americans.

 

In the scene of The Risen Christ (a.k.a. The Ressurection)—just above the casket and to the left of the head of the long-haired man in red robes gazing up at Jesus—is a tiny scene of naked men in feathered headresses dancing around a pole. One even appears to be styling a mohawk hairdo.

 

What makes this even more remarkable is that these frescoes were finished by 1494—just two years after Columbus made landfall in the Caribbean and a mere 18 months or so after he returned from that voyage and handed over his journals to Ferdinand and Isabella of Spain.

This room, much larger than the previous ones and therefore reserved for use on public occasions such as official banquets, audiences and consistories, is located in the medieval wing of the Apostolic Palace built by Nicholas III (1277-1280). The name of the room most likely derives from this function, rather than from the series of pontiffs painted by Giotto and mentioned in the Lives, which according to Vasari occupied the lunettes corresponding to the Latin inscriptions still present: Stephen II, Adrian I, Leo III, Sergius II, Leo IV, Urban II, Nicholas III, Gregory XI, Boniface IX, and Martin V.

The original ceiling with wooden beams collapsed in 1500 following a violent storm, vividly described in the diary of the master of ceremonies, Johannes Burckhard; the pope was overcome by the rubble, leading even to the announcement of his death, but was instead protected by one of the beams and remained miraculously unharmed.

The flat cover was substituted by a false vault, decorated at the time of Leo X (1513-1521) with frescoes and stucco by the pupils of Raffaello Perin del Vaga and Giovanni da Udine: at the centre there is the coat of arms of the patron, surrounded by dancing angels, while the other sections include grotesques, the twelve signs of the zodiac, the constellations and the seven planets known at the time.

 

Thiswritelife.wordpress.com

 

The Borgia Apartments are not just a footnote in papal history, but an opulent group of six rooms located in the Borgia Tower inside the Vatican.

 

Sealed off after the death of Alexander VI, Rodrigo Borgia, (1431-1503) by Pope Pius III due to its association with the despised Borgia family; the art itself cannot be denied; the vivid colors of red and blue tempt the fingertips to touch, the scenery overwhelms the senses, all colliding in the mind of the admirer.

It is funny (but not ha-ha funny) how many leaves I've been seeing that have already changed color and/or dried up and fallen to the ground. I'm guessing it could be a combination of how hot it has been and a lack of rain. And speaking of, I shudder to think how thirsty my yard has been this past week. Because of my upcoming (this afternoon!) anual (Housing Authority) house inspection, I've had to concentrate all my time on the inside of the house. And if anyone ever tries to tell you that being an old fart doesn't suck, at least when it comes to heavy work, they are feeding you a load of crap! Jobs I used to get done in a couple of hours now take me a couple of days to complete. But I'm all done now, ready for the visit... and grateful that it will be over with again, until this time next year.

 

For all my 61 years, music has been a vital part of my very existence. For the most part, I am a kick-ass classic rock kinda girl... although, more and more I am also into "alternative" music. But, when it is all said and done, Willie is my most beloved artist of all time...

 

This is a long one... over eight minutes, but well worth the listen... if you have the time...

www.youtube.com/watch?v=EFg434UJWiE&feature=related

 

As a footnote, it is raining right now. Yes!!! Think I'm going to go sit outside and enjoy it for a little while, and then I've got to get to bed, early tonight, so that I can get back up in time for my visit...

 

Hope you all have a wonderful day/week!

 

NESA dance concert "Footnotes" 2006

Tundra hiking. All those white spots are snowflakes. Arctic weather - snow, wind, rain and sun all in a few hours. Layered clothing required. :-)

 

Tundra is a weird thing. Since decay is so slow motion in the arctic, you get these plate-sized towers of moss that are about one to two feet in height. These mossy towers (called tussocks) form a honeycomb, with melting pools of water in between (think stagnant - think "Alaskan mosquito"). Step on a tussock and it will promptly collapse like a sponge and will toss you over into 1. a water hole - lucky you, or 2. into another tussock, twisting your foot and making you do the drunken sailor dance. We all quickly learned to step over the tussocks and step down into the pools of water. Imagine walking on a mine-field. Now imagine hiking on a mine field. Now imagine hiking on a mine field made up of ancient volcanos. Presto - tundra hiking..

 

Lest you get too nonchalant, there is the occasional willow "tree"/ bush patch to trip you up and keep you off your toes. I was obliquely and repeatedly discouraged from hiking into any large patch of willows to look for birds, or to commit other acts of nature ("inconvenient", "to be avoided if one can", "a difficult hike", "a pain"). Only later did I discover that this was because it was a terrible way to surprise grizzly bear mothers and their cubs, who favored larger willow patches for their camouflage. I suppose being killed and eaten would be inconvenient. I'd attempt a closeup shot first tho..

 

And yet nature always has something interesting around the bend. Plants emerging from the snow, uncommon bristle-thighed curlews morphing into whimbrels (dang!), and surprise, surprise - this young lady, letting us know that we have strayed into her nesting territory.

 

Footnote: I just read Arthur Morris' description of the "bristle-thighed curlew" hike - he did three miles (we did five). His description:

 

The only North American breeding site for Bristle-thighed Curlew is atop the ridge at Coffee Dome at mile 72 on the Kougarok Road. I can tell you from personal experience that the hike, which is often described as walking on bowling balls on top of bedsprings, is a killer. Four of us walked more than three miles up and down this soft, tussock-covered tundra ridge, all with tripod-mounted 600mm f/4L IS lenses. We saw no sign of the bird at all and several of us wound up somewhat crippled for a week or more.

This is the place where John Lennon first met Paul McCartney...and the rest,as they say,is history.

 

The first meeting of John Lennon and Paul McCartney took place at St. Peter’s Church Hall on the evening of Saturday, 6 July 1957. McCartney was introduced to Lennon and the other members of The Quarrymen skiffle group while they took a break between the two sets they played at the church dance. The historic meeting was brief, but long enough for the Quarrymen to be sufficiently impressed to later ask McCartney to join the group.

 

The churchyard at St. Peter's contains the grave of Eleanor Rigby, which, in at least one version of the story, is where the name came from for the 1966 Beatles song.

 

Also in the churchyard is the grave of Lennon’s uncle, George Toogood Smith. After the breakdown of his parents' marriage when he was five, Lennon lived in the area with his Uncle George and Aunt Mimi. Whilst Aunt Mimi was a regular member of the congregation, Lennon’s visits to church were less frequent, but he was a member of the youth group and sang occasionally in the choir at weddings.Wikipedia.

 

Footnote: it has since been claimed that John and Paul were on "nodding terms" before this meeting...unconfirmed,but quite likely..they did live quite close together,either side of Calderstones Park....however,the importance of Paul impressing Quarrymen leader John,with his playing of "Twenty-flight rock" and "Be-bop-a-lula" on this day,was crucial to the invite to young Paul to join the group....in my opinion,the depiction of this meeting in "Nowhere Boy" is very believable...Beatles fans (and John fans)...check that fab movie out!

 

youtu.be/xHlbnjP8Wl4

Thiswritelife.wordpress.com

 

The Borgia Apartments are not just a footnote in papal history, but an opulent group of six rooms located in the Borgia Tower inside the Vatican.

 

Sealed off after the death of Alexander VI, Rodrigo Borgia, (1431-1503) by Pope Pius III due to its association with the despised Borgia family; the art itself cannot be denied; the vivid colors of red and blue tempt the fingertips to touch, the scenery overwhelms the senses, all colliding in the mind of the admirer.

 

Depictions of the Sybils, early Saints, the Resurrection and the Magi fill the vaulted walls, the detail exquisite. The arched ceilings are intricately frescoed and the floors once covered with rare Moorish tiles, a few pieces still evident. Chambers that oversaw plans of war, marriages of dynasties, and even murder may be empty of furnishings, but the remaining art portrays the opulence and power of the time. These six rooms lay hidden in the Vatican for three hundred years preserving frescos created at the command of Alexander VI for the private apartments of the Borgia pope.

 

In 1492 Pinturicchio was employed by Pope Alexander VI to decorate a recently completed suite of rooms in the Vatican. The rooms are now part of the Vatican library and five of the suites retain a series of frescos.

 

The upper part of the walls and vaults were not only painted, but further enriched with delicate stucco work in relief, and are a masterpiece of design. The paintings used themes from medieval encyclopedias adding an eschatological layer of meaning and celebrating the supposedly divine origins of the Borgias.

 

Pinturicchio worked in these rooms with an army of apprentices without interruption until 1498. No contract is in evidence, the only record of his work is the payment; another line entered in the Vatican account books.

 

The private living rooms of the Pope at that time were the Hall of Mysteries, the Hall of the Saints and the Hall of the Liberal Arts, besides the two withdrawing rooms.

 

Imagination furnishes the empty chambers with all the choice objects they once contained.

 

The priceless majolica, the gold and silver vessels, the brocaded hangings, the ivory carvings – an ideal background for the scenes of love and revelry once lived here. The strum of music, the laughter and wit, boisterous merriment, muted conferences, the whispered plotting, the ghastly treacheries, the dying groans. In the Hall of the Sibyls, the second husband of Lucrezia, Alfonso of Aragon, was murdered. In the adjoining suite, the Pope himself died in agony. What other deeds of darkness, despair and triumphant villainy have these chaste and innocent conceptions of Pintoricchio looked down upon? Fascinations of fleurs du mal.

 

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Reds Italy:

 

The Vatican's Appartamento Borgia (Borgia Apartments) were the private chambers of Borgia Pope Alexander VI, frescoed by early Renaissance master Pinturicchio.

 

The Borgia Apartments, downstairs from the Raphael Rooms, were painted by Pinturicchio and occupied by the infamous Spanish Borgia pope Alexander VI (you know: that devilish guy played by Jeremy Irons in the Borgias TV series).

 

This apartment suite was closed off by Julius II—who refused to live in rooms sullied by his venal predecessor—and its frescoes covered with black crepe.

 

Things remained that way for 386 years, until the apartments were reopened in 1889 to serve as display rooms for the Vatican's collection of (frankly bland, for the most part) modern religious art.

 

More importantly, when they reopened in 1889, the Vatican also finally uncovered the walls and ceilings to unveil the rich frescoes, painted by Pinturicchio with wacky early-Renaissance Umbrian fantasy.

 

Pinturicchio's frescoes in the Borgia apartments

 

A co-pupil of Raphael’s under master Perugino, Pinturicchio had a penchant for embedding fake jewels and things like metal saddle studs in his frescoes rather than painting these details in for an intriguing effect—call it Renassiance 3D.

 

While Pinturrichio's art is not necessarily at its top form in these rooms, they're worth a run-through.

 

The frescoes have been (finally) getting restored over the past several years, and the cleaning revealed something amazing: the first European depiction of Native Americans.

 

In the scene of The Risen Christ (a.k.a. The Ressurection)—just above the casket and to the left of the head of the long-haired man in red robes gazing up at Jesus—is a tiny scene of naked men in feathered headresses dancing around a pole. One even appears to be styling a mohawk hairdo.

 

What makes this even more remarkable is that these frescoes were finished by 1494—just two years after Columbus made landfall in the Caribbean and a mere 18 months or so after he returned from that voyage and handed over his journals to Ferdinand and Isabella of Spain.

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Macrame queens in the afternoon

And I'm in tune, or did I speak too soon?

Punch drunk on somebody's joke

What happened to the time?

A footnote in your dance of days

In my mind that record still plays

Still wonder what the fuck it says

And hoping there is time...

 

I will show you everything--

I'll be your crystal baller

 

Third Eye Blind, "Crystal Baller"

Song of the day

Many thanks to Jesseca Bellemare and loraa444 for their generous testimonials.

Do kindly check out their amazing work.

The male of this Eristalis hoverfly courts the female by hovering over her as she rests on a flower head. These two are Eristalis interruptus.

Footnote:

I have been trying to shoot this courtship scene for five summers, so I am very pleased to have captured it at last!

NESA dance concert "Footnotes" 2006

NESA dance concert "Footnotes" 2006

Ganesha, also spelled Ganesh, and also known as Ganapati and Vinayaka, is a widely worshipped deity in the Hindu pantheon. His image is found throughout India and Nepal. Hindu sects worship him regardless of affiliations. Devotion to Ganesha is widely diffused and extends to Jains, Buddhists, and beyond India.

 

Although he is known by many attributes, Ganesha's elephant head makes him easy to identify. Ganesha is widely revered as the remover of obstacles, the patron of arts and sciences and the deva of intellect and wisdom. As the god of beginnings, he is honoured at the start of rituals and ceremonies. Ganesha is also invoked as patron of letters and learning during writing sessions. Several texts relate mythological anecdotes associated with his birth and exploits and explain his distinct iconography.

 

Ganesha emerged as a distinct deity in the 4th and 5th centuries CE, during the Gupta Period, although he inherited traits from Vedic and pre-Vedic precursors. He was formally included among the five primary deities of Smartism (a Hindu denomination) in the 9th century. A sect of devotees called the Ganapatya arose, who identified Ganesha as the supreme deity. The principal scriptures dedicated to Ganesha are the Ganesha Purana, the Mudgala Purana, and the Ganapati Atharvashirsa.

 

ETYMOLOGY AND OTHER NAMES

Ganesha has been ascribed many other titles and epithets, including Ganapati and Vighneshvara. The Hindu title of respect Shri is often added before his name. One popular way Ganesha is worshipped is by chanting a Ganesha Sahasranama, a litany of "a thousand names of Ganesha". Each name in the sahasranama conveys a different meaning and symbolises a different aspect of Ganesha. At least two different versions of the Ganesha Sahasranama exist; one version is drawn from the Ganesha Purana, a Hindu scripture venerating Ganesha.

 

The name Ganesha is a Sanskrit compound, joining the words gana, meaning a group, multitude, or categorical system and isha, meaning lord or master. The word gaņa when associated with Ganesha is often taken to refer to the gaņas, a troop of semi-divine beings that form part of the retinue of Shiva. The term more generally means a category, class, community, association, or corporation. Some commentators interpret the name "Lord of the Gaņas" to mean "Lord of Hosts" or "Lord of created categories", such as the elements. Ganapati, a synonym for Ganesha, is a compound composed of gaṇa, meaning "group", and pati, meaning "ruler" or "lord". The Amarakosha, an early Sanskrit lexicon, lists eight synonyms of Ganesha : Vinayaka, Vighnarāja (equivalent to Vighnesha), Dvaimātura (one who has two mothers), Gaṇādhipa (equivalent to Ganapati and Ganesha), Ekadanta (one who has one tusk), Heramba, Lambodara (one who has a pot belly, or, literally, one who has a hanging belly), and Gajanana; having the face of an elephant).

 

Vinayaka is a common name for Ganesha that appears in the Purāṇas and in Buddhist Tantras. This name is reflected in the naming of the eight famous Ganesha temples in Maharashtra known as the Ashtavinayak (aṣṭavināyaka). The names Vighnesha and Vighneshvara (Lord of Obstacles) refers to his primary function in Hindu theology as the master and remover of obstacles (vighna).

 

A prominent name for Ganesha in the Tamil language is Pillai. A. K. Narain differentiates these terms by saying that pillai means a "child" while pillaiyar means a "noble child". He adds that the words pallu, pella, and pell in the Dravidian family of languages signify "tooth or tusk", also "elephant tooth or tusk". Anita Raina Thapan notes that the root word pille in the name Pillaiyar might have originally meant "the young of the elephant", because the Pali word pillaka means "a young elephant".

 

In the Burmese language, Ganesha is known as Maha Peinne, derived from Pali Mahā Wināyaka. The widespread name of Ganesha in Thailand is Phra Phikhanet or Phra Phikhanesuan, both of which are derived from Vara Vighnesha and Vara Vighneshvara respectively, whereas the name Khanet (from Ganesha) is rather rare.

 

In Sri Lanka, in the North-Central and North Western areas with predominantly Buddhist population, Ganesha is known as Aiyanayaka Deviyo, while in other Singhala Buddhist areas he is known as Gana deviyo.

 

ICONOGRAPHY

Ganesha is a popular figure in Indian art. Unlike those of some deities, representations of Ganesha show wide variations and distinct patterns changing over time. He may be portrayed standing, dancing, heroically taking action against demons, playing with his family as a boy, sitting down or on an elevated seat, or engaging in a range of contemporary situations.

 

Ganesha images were prevalent in many parts of India by the 6th century. The 13th century statue pictured is typical of Ganesha statuary from 900–1200, after Ganesha had been well-established as an independent deity with his own sect. This example features some of Ganesha's common iconographic elements. A virtually identical statue has been dated between 973–1200 by Paul Martin-Dubost, and another similar statue is dated c. 12th century by Pratapaditya Pal. Ganesha has the head of an elephant and a big belly. This statue has four arms, which is common in depictions of Ganesha. He holds his own broken tusk in his lower-right hand and holds a delicacy, which he samples with his trunk, in his lower-left hand. The motif of Ganesha turning his trunk sharply to his left to taste a sweet in his lower-left hand is a particularly archaic feature. A more primitive statue in one of the Ellora Caves with this general form has been dated to the 7th century. Details of the other hands are difficult to make out on the statue shown. In the standard configuration, Ganesha typically holds an axe or a goad in one upper arm and a pasha (noose) in the other upper arm.

 

The influence of this old constellation of iconographic elements can still be seen in contemporary representations of Ganesha. In one modern form, the only variation from these old elements is that the lower-right hand does not hold the broken tusk but is turned towards the viewer in a gesture of protection or fearlessness (abhaya mudra). The same combination of four arms and attributes occurs in statues of Ganesha dancing, which is a very popular theme.

 

COMMON ATTRIBUTES

Ganesha has been represented with the head of an elephant since the early stages of his appearance in Indian art. Puranic myths provide many explanations for how he got his elephant head. One of his popular forms, Heramba-Ganapati, has five elephant heads, and other less-common variations in the number of heads are known. While some texts say that Ganesha was born with an elephant head, he acquires the head later in most stories. The most recurrent motif in these stories is that Ganesha was created by Parvati using clay to protect her and Shiva beheaded him when Ganesha came between Shiva and Parvati. Shiva then replaced Ganesha's original head with that of an elephant. Details of the battle and where the replacement head came from vary from source to source. Another story says that Ganesha was created directly by Shiva's laughter. Because Shiva considered Ganesha too alluring, he gave him the head of an elephant and a protruding belly.

 

Ganesha's earliest name was Ekadanta (One Tusked), referring to his single whole tusk, the other being broken. Some of the earliest images of Ganesha show him holding his broken tusk. The importance of this distinctive feature is reflected in the Mudgala Purana, which states that the name of Ganesha's second incarnation is Ekadanta. Ganesha's protruding belly appears as a distinctive attribute in his earliest statuary, which dates to the Gupta period (4th to 6th centuries). This feature is so important that, according to the Mudgala Purana, two different incarnations of Ganesha use names based on it: Lambodara (Pot Belly, or, literally, Hanging Belly) and Mahodara (Great Belly). Both names are Sanskrit compounds describing his belly. The Brahmanda Purana says that Ganesha has the name Lambodara because all the universes (i.e., cosmic eggs) of the past, present, and future are present in him. The number of Ganesha's arms varies; his best-known forms have between two and sixteen arms. Many depictions of Ganesha feature four arms, which is mentioned in Puranic sources and codified as a standard form in some iconographic texts. His earliest images had two arms. Forms with 14 and 20 arms appeared in Central India during the 9th and the 10th centuries. The serpent is a common feature in Ganesha iconography and appears in many forms. According to the Ganesha Purana, Ganesha wrapped the serpent Vasuki around his neck. Other depictions of snakes include use as a sacred thread wrapped around the stomach as a belt, held in a hand, coiled at the ankles, or as a throne. Upon Ganesha's forehead may be a third eye or the Shaivite sectarian mark , which consists of three horizontal lines. The Ganesha Purana prescribes a tilaka mark as well as a crescent moon on the forehead. A distinct form of Ganesha called Bhalachandra includes that iconographic element. Ganesha is often described as red in color. Specific colors are associated with certain forms. Many examples of color associations with specific meditation forms are prescribed in the Sritattvanidhi, a treatise on Hindu iconography. For example, white is associated with his representations as Heramba-Ganapati and Rina-Mochana-Ganapati (Ganapati Who Releases from Bondage). Ekadanta-Ganapati is visualized as blue during meditation in that form.

 

VAHANAS

The earliest Ganesha images are without a vahana (mount/vehicle). Of the eight incarnations of Ganesha described in the Mudgala Purana, Ganesha uses a mouse (shrew) in five of them, a lion in his incarnation as Vakratunda, a peacock in his incarnation as Vikata, and Shesha, the divine serpent, in his incarnation as Vighnaraja. Mohotkata uses a lion, Mayūreśvara uses a peacock, Dhumraketu uses a horse, and Gajanana uses a mouse, in the four incarnations of Ganesha listed in the Ganesha Purana. Jain depictions of Ganesha show his vahana variously as a mouse, elephant, tortoise, ram, or peacock.

 

Ganesha is often shown riding on or attended by a mouse, shrew or rat. Martin-Dubost says that the rat began to appear as the principal vehicle in sculptures of Ganesha in central and western India during the 7th century; the rat was always placed close to his feet. The mouse as a mount first appears in written sources in the Matsya Purana and later in the Brahmananda Purana and Ganesha Purana, where Ganesha uses it as his vehicle in his last incarnation. The Ganapati Atharvashirsa includes a meditation verse on Ganesha that describes the mouse appearing on his flag. The names Mūṣakavāhana (mouse-mount) and Ākhuketana (rat-banner) appear in the Ganesha Sahasranama.

 

The mouse is interpreted in several ways. According to Grimes, "Many, if not most of those who interpret Gaṇapati's mouse, do so negatively; it symbolizes tamoguṇa as well as desire". Along these lines, Michael Wilcockson says it symbolizes those who wish to overcome desires and be less selfish. Krishan notes that the rat is destructive and a menace to crops. The Sanskrit word mūṣaka (mouse) is derived from the root mūṣ (stealing, robbing). It was essential to subdue the rat as a destructive pest, a type of vighna (impediment) that needed to be overcome. According to this theory, showing Ganesha as master of the rat demonstrates his function as Vigneshvara (Lord of Obstacles) and gives evidence of his possible role as a folk grāma-devatā (village deity) who later rose to greater prominence. Martin-Dubost notes a view that the rat is a symbol suggesting that Ganesha, like the rat, penetrates even the most secret places.

 

ASSOCIATIONS

 

OBSTACLES

Ganesha is Vighneshvara or Vighnaraja or Vighnaharta (Marathi), the Lord of Obstacles, both of a material and spiritual order. He is popularly worshipped as a remover of obstacles, though traditionally he also places obstacles in the path of those who need to be checked. Paul Courtright says that "his task in the divine scheme of things, his dharma, is to place and remove obstacles. It is his particular territory, the reason for his creation."

 

Krishan notes that some of Ganesha's names reflect shadings of multiple roles that have evolved over time. Dhavalikar ascribes the quick ascension of Ganesha in the Hindu pantheon, and the emergence of the Ganapatyas, to this shift in emphasis from vighnakartā (obstacle-creator) to vighnahartā (obstacle-averter). However, both functions continue to be vital to his character.

 

BUDDHI (KNOWLEDGE)

Ganesha is considered to be the Lord of letters and learning. In Sanskrit, the word buddhi is a feminine noun that is variously translated as intelligence, wisdom, or intellect. The concept of buddhi is closely associated with the personality of Ganesha, especially in the Puranic period, when many stories stress his cleverness and love of intelligence. One of Ganesha's names in the Ganesha Purana and the Ganesha Sahasranama is Buddhipriya. This name also appears in a list of 21 names at the end of the Ganesha Sahasranama that Ganesha says are especially important. The word priya can mean "fond of", and in a marital context it can mean "lover" or "husband", so the name may mean either "Fond of Intelligence" or "Buddhi's Husband".

 

AUM

Ganesha is identified with the Hindu mantra Aum, also spelled Om. The term oṃkārasvarūpa (Aum is his form), when identified with Ganesha, refers to the notion that he personifies the primal sound. The Ganapati Atharvashirsa attests to this association. Chinmayananda translates the relevant passage as follows:

 

(O Lord Ganapati!) You are (the Trinity) Brahma, Vishnu, and Mahesa. You are Indra. You are fire [Agni] and air [Vāyu]. You are the sun [Sūrya] and the moon [Chandrama]. You are Brahman. You are (the three worlds) Bhuloka [earth], Antariksha-loka [space], and Swargaloka [heaven]. You are Om. (That is to say, You are all this).

 

Some devotees see similarities between the shape of Ganesha's body in iconography and the shape of Aum in the Devanāgarī and Tamil scripts.

 

FIRST CHAKRA

According to Kundalini yoga, Ganesha resides in the first chakra, called Muladhara (mūlādhāra). Mula means "original, main"; adhara means "base, foundation". The muladhara chakra is the principle on which the manifestation or outward expansion of primordial Divine Force rests. This association is also attested to in the Ganapati Atharvashirsa. Courtright translates this passage as follows: "[O Ganesha,] You continually dwell in the sacral plexus at the base of the spine [mūlādhāra cakra]." Thus, Ganesha has a permanent abode in every being at the Muladhara. Ganesha holds, supports and guides all other chakras, thereby "governing the forces that propel the wheel of life".

 

FAMILY AND CONSORTS

Though Ganesha is popularly held to be the son of Shiva and Parvati, the Puranic myths give different versions about his birth. In some he was created by Parvati, in another he was created by Shiva and Parvati, in another he appeared mysteriously and was discovered by Shiva and Parvati or he was born from the elephant headed goddess Malini after she drank Parvati's bath water that had been thrown in the river.

 

The family includes his brother the war god Kartikeya, who is also called Subramanya, Skanda, Murugan and other names. Regional differences dictate the order of their births. In northern India, Skanda is generally said to be the elder, while in the south, Ganesha is considered the first born. In northern India, Skanda was an important martial deity from about 500 BCE to about 600 CE, when worship of him declined significantly in northern India. As Skanda fell, Ganesha rose. Several stories tell of sibling rivalry between the brothers and may reflect sectarian tensions.

 

Ganesha's marital status, the subject of considerable scholarly review, varies widely in mythological stories. One pattern of myths identifies Ganesha as an unmarried brahmacari. This view is common in southern India and parts of northern India. Another pattern associates him with the concepts of Buddhi (intellect), Siddhi (spiritual power), and Riddhi (prosperity); these qualities are sometimes personified as goddesses, said to be Ganesha's wives. He also may be shown with a single consort or a nameless servant (Sanskrit: daşi). Another pattern connects Ganesha with the goddess of culture and the arts, Sarasvati or Śarda (particularly in Maharashtra). He is also associated with the goddess of luck and prosperity, Lakshmi. Another pattern, mainly prevalent in the Bengal region, links Ganesha with the banana tree, Kala Bo.

 

The Shiva Purana says that Ganesha had begotten two sons: Kşema (prosperity) and Lābha (profit). In northern Indian variants of this story, the sons are often said to be Śubha (auspiciouness) and Lābha. The 1975 Hindi film Jai Santoshi Maa shows Ganesha married to Riddhi and Siddhi and having a daughter named Santoshi Ma, the goddess of satisfaction. This story has no Puranic basis, but Anita Raina Thapan and Lawrence Cohen cite Santoshi Ma's cult as evidence of Ganesha's continuing evolution as a popular deity.

 

WOSHIP AND FESTIVALS

Ganesha is worshipped on many religious and secular occasions; especially at the beginning of ventures such as buying a vehicle or starting a business. K.N. Somayaji says, "there can hardly be a [Hindu] home [in India] which does not house an idol of Ganapati. [..] Ganapati, being the most popular deity in India, is worshipped by almost all castes and in all parts of the country". Devotees believe that if Ganesha is propitiated, he grants success, prosperity and protection against adversity.

 

Ganesha is a non-sectarian deity, and Hindus of all denominations invoke him at the beginning of prayers, important undertakings, and religious ceremonies. Dancers and musicians, particularly in southern India, begin performances of arts such as the Bharatnatyam dance with a prayer to Ganesha. Mantras such as Om Shri Gaṇeshāya Namah (Om, salutation to the Illustrious Ganesha) are often used. One of the most famous mantras associated with Ganesha is Om Gaṃ Ganapataye Namah (Om, Gaṃ, Salutation to the Lord of Hosts).

 

Devotees offer Ganesha sweets such as modaka and small sweet balls (laddus). He is often shown carrying a bowl of sweets, called a modakapātra. Because of his identification with the color red, he is often worshipped with red sandalwood paste (raktacandana) or red flowers. Dūrvā grass (Cynodon dactylon) and other materials are also used in his worship.

 

Festivals associated with Ganesh are Ganesh Chaturthi or Vināyaka chaturthī in the śuklapakṣa (the fourth day of the waxing moon) in the month of bhādrapada (August/September) and the Gaṇeśa jayanti (Gaṇeśa's birthday) celebrated on the cathurthī of the śuklapakṣa (fourth day of the waxing moon) in the month of māgha (January/February)."

 

GANESH CHATURTI

An annual festival honours Ganesha for ten days, starting on Ganesha Chaturthi, which typically falls in late August or early September. The festival begins with people bringing in clay idols of Ganesha, symbolising Ganesha's visit. The festival culminates on the day of Ananta Chaturdashi, when idols (murtis) of Ganesha are immersed in the most convenient body of water. Some families have a tradition of immersion on the 2nd, 3rd, 5th, or 7th day. In 1893, Lokmanya Tilak transformed this annual Ganesha festival from private family celebrations into a grand public event. He did so "to bridge the gap between the Brahmins and the non-Brahmins and find an appropriate context in which to build a new grassroots unity between them" in his nationalistic strivings against the British in Maharashtra. Because of Ganesha's wide appeal as "the god for Everyman", Tilak chose him as a rallying point for Indian protest against British rule. Tilak was the first to install large public images of Ganesha in pavilions, and he established the practice of submerging all the public images on the tenth day. Today, Hindus across India celebrate the Ganapati festival with great fervour, though it is most popular in the state of Maharashtra. The festival also assumes huge proportions in Mumbai, Pune, and in the surrounding belt of Ashtavinayaka temples.

 

TEMPLES

In Hindu temples, Ganesha is depicted in various ways: as an acolyte or subordinate deity (pãrśva-devatã); as a deity related to the principal deity (parivāra-devatã); or as the principal deity of the temple (pradhāna), treated similarly as the highest gods of the Hindu pantheon. As the god of transitions, he is placed at the doorway of many Hindu temples to keep out the unworthy, which is analogous to his role as Parvati’s doorkeeper. In addition, several shrines are dedicated to Ganesha himself, of which the Ashtavinayak (lit. "eight Ganesha (shrines)") in Maharashtra are particularly well known. Located within a 100-kilometer radius of the city of Pune, each of these eight shrines celebrates a particular form of Ganapati, complete with its own lore and legend. The eight shrines are: Morgaon, Siddhatek, Pali, Mahad, Theur, Lenyadri, Ozar and Ranjangaon.

 

There are many other important Ganesha temples at the following locations: Wai in Maharashtra; Ujjain in Madhya Pradesh; Jodhpur, Nagaur and Raipur (Pali) in Rajasthan; Baidyanath in Bihar; Baroda, Dholaka, and Valsad in Gujarat and Dhundiraj Temple in Varanasi, Uttar Pradesh. Prominent Ganesha temples in southern India include the following: Kanipakam in Chittoor; the Jambukeśvara Temple at Tiruchirapalli; at Rameshvaram and Suchindram in Tamil Nadu; at Malliyur, Kottarakara, Pazhavangadi, Kasargod in Kerala, Hampi, and Idagunji in Karnataka; and Bhadrachalam in Andhra Pradesh.

 

T. A. Gopinatha notes, "Every village however small has its own image of Vighneśvara (Vigneshvara) with or without a temple to house it in. At entrances of villages and forts, below pīpaḹa (Sacred fig) trees [...], in a niche [...] in temples of Viṣṇu (Vishnu) as well as Śiva (Shiva) and also in separate shrines specially constructed in Śiva temples [...]; the figure of Vighneśvara is invariably seen." Ganesha temples have also been built outside of India, including southeast Asia, Nepal (including the four Vinayaka shrines in the Kathmandu valley), and in several western countries.

 

RISE TO PROMINENCE

 

FIRST APEARANCE

Ganesha appeared in his classic form as a clearly recognizable deity with well-defined iconographic attributes in the early 4th to 5th centuries. Shanti Lal Nagar says that the earliest known iconic image of Ganesha is in the niche of the Shiva temple at Bhumra, which has been dated to the Gupta period. His independent cult appeared by about the 10th century. Narain summarizes the controversy between devotees and academics regarding the development of Ganesha as follows:

 

What is inscrutable is the somewhat dramatic appearance of Gaņeśa on the historical scene. His antecedents are not clear. His wide acceptance and popularity, which transcend sectarian and territorial limits, are indeed amazing. On the one hand there is the pious belief of the orthodox devotees in Gaņeśa's Vedic origins and in the Purāṇic explanations contained in the confusing, but nonetheless interesting, mythology. On the other hand there are doubts about the existence of the idea and the icon of this deity" before the fourth to fifth century A.D. ... [I]n my opinion, indeed there is no convincing evidence of the existence of this divinity prior to the fifth century.

 

POSSIBLE INFLUENCES

Courtright reviews various speculative theories about the early history of Ganesha, including supposed tribal traditions and animal cults, and dismisses all of them in this way:

 

In the post 600 BC period there is evidence of people and places named after the animal. The motif appears on coins and sculptures.

 

Thapan's book on the development of Ganesha devotes a chapter to speculations about the role elephants had in early India but concludes that, "although by the second century CE the elephant-headed yakṣa form exists it cannot be presumed to represent Gaṇapati-Vināyaka. There is no evidence of a deity by this name having an elephant or elephant-headed form at this early stage. Gaṇapati-Vināyaka had yet to make his debut."

 

One theory of the origin of Ganesha is that he gradually came to prominence in connection with the four Vinayakas (Vināyakas). In Hindu mythology, the Vināyakas were a group of four troublesome demons who created obstacles and difficulties but who were easily propitiated. The name Vināyaka is a common name for Ganesha both in the Purāṇas and in Buddhist Tantras. Krishan is one of the academics who accepts this view, stating flatly of Ganesha, "He is a non-vedic god. His origin is to be traced to the four Vināyakas, evil spirits, of the Mānavagŗhyasūtra (7th–4th century BCE) who cause various types of evil and suffering". Depictions of elephant-headed human figures, which some identify with Ganesha, appear in Indian art and coinage as early as the 2nd century. According to Ellawala, the elephant-headed Ganesha as lord of the Ganas was known to the people of Sri Lanka in the early pre-Christian era.

 

A metal plate depiction of Ganesha had been discovered in 1993, in Iran, it dated back to 1,200 BCE. Another one was discovered much before, in Lorestan Province of Iran.

 

First Ganesha's terracotta images are from 1st century CE found in Ter, Pal, Verrapuram and Chandraketugarh. These figures are small, with elephant head, two arms, and chubby physique. The earliest Ganesha icons in stone were carved in Mathura during Kushan times (2nd-3rd centuries CE).

 

VEDIC AND EPIC LITERATURE

The title "Leader of the group" (Sanskrit: gaṇapati) occurs twice in the Rig Veda, but in neither case does it refer to the modern Ganesha. The term appears in RV 2.23.1 as a title for Brahmanaspati, according to commentators. While this verse doubtless refers to Brahmanaspati, it was later adopted for worship of Ganesha and is still used today. In rejecting any claim that this passage is evidence of Ganesha in the Rig Veda, Ludo Rocher says that it "clearly refers to Bṛhaspati—who is the deity of the hymn—and Bṛhaspati only". Equally clearly, the second passage (RV 10.112.9) refers to Indra, who is given the epithet 'gaṇapati', translated "Lord of the companies (of the Maruts)." However, Rocher notes that the more recent Ganapatya literature often quotes the Rigvedic verses to give Vedic respectability to Ganesha .

 

Two verses in texts belonging to Black Yajurveda, Maitrāyaṇīya Saṃhitā (2.9.1) and Taittirīya Āraṇyaka (10.1), appeal to a deity as "the tusked one" (Dantiḥ), "elephant-faced" (Hastimukha), and "with a curved trunk" (Vakratuņḍa). These names are suggestive of Ganesha, and the 14th century commentator Sayana explicitly establishes this identification. The description of Dantin, possessing a twisted trunk (vakratuṇḍa) and holding a corn-sheaf, a sugar cane, and a club, is so characteristic of the Puranic Ganapati that Heras says "we cannot resist to accept his full identification with this Vedic Dantin". However, Krishan considers these hymns to be post-Vedic additions. Thapan reports that these passages are "generally considered to have been interpolated". Dhavalikar says, "the references to the elephant-headed deity in the Maitrāyaṇī Saṃhitā have been proven to be very late interpolations, and thus are not very helpful for determining the early formation of the deity".

 

Ganesha does not appear in Indian epic literature that is dated to the Vedic period. A late interpolation to the epic poem Mahabharata says that the sage Vyasa (Vyāsa) asked Ganesha to serve as his scribe to transcribe the poem as he dictated it to him. Ganesha agreed but only on condition that Vyasa recite the poem uninterrupted, that is, without pausing. The sage agreed, but found that to get any rest he needed to recite very complex passages so Ganesha would have to ask for clarifications. The story is not accepted as part of the original text by the editors of the critical edition of the Mahabharata, in which the twenty-line story is relegated to a footnote in an appendix. The story of Ganesha acting as the scribe occurs in 37 of the 59 manuscripts consulted during preparation of the critical edition. Ganesha's association with mental agility and learning is one reason he is shown as scribe for Vyāsa's dictation of the Mahabharata in this interpolation. Richard L. Brown dates the story to the 8th century, and Moriz Winternitz concludes that it was known as early as c. 900, but it was not added to the Mahabharata some 150 years later. Winternitz also notes that a distinctive feature in South Indian manuscripts of the Mahabharata is their omission of this Ganesha legend. The term vināyaka is found in some recensions of the Śāntiparva and Anuśāsanaparva that are regarded as interpolations. A reference to Vighnakartṛīṇām ("Creator of Obstacles") in Vanaparva is also believed to be an interpolation and does not appear in the critical edition.

 

PURANIC PERIOD

Stories about Ganesha often occur in the Puranic corpus. Brown notes while the Puranas "defy precise chronological ordering", the more detailed narratives of Ganesha's life are in the late texts, c. 600–1300. Yuvraj Krishan says that the Puranic myths about the birth of Ganesha and how he acquired an elephant's head are in the later Puranas, which were composed from c. 600 onwards. He elaborates on the matter to say that references to Ganesha in the earlier Puranas, such as the Vayu and Brahmanda Puranas, are later interpolations made during the 7th to 10th centuries.

 

In his survey of Ganesha's rise to prominence in Sanskrit literature, Ludo Rocher notes that:

 

Above all, one cannot help being struck by the fact that the numerous stories surrounding Gaṇeśa concentrate on an unexpectedly limited number of incidents. These incidents are mainly three: his birth and parenthood, his elephant head, and his single tusk. Other incidents are touched on in the texts, but to a far lesser extent.

 

Ganesha's rise to prominence was codified in the 9th century, when he was formally included as one of the five primary deities of Smartism. The 9th-century philosopher Adi Shankara popularized the "worship of the five forms" (Panchayatana puja) system among orthodox Brahmins of the Smarta tradition. This worship practice invokes the five deities Ganesha, Vishnu, Shiva, Devi, and Surya. Adi Shankara instituted the tradition primarily to unite the principal deities of these five major sects on an equal status. This formalized the role of Ganesha as a complementary deity.

 

SCRIPTURES

Once Ganesha was accepted as one of the five principal deities of Brahmanism, some Brahmins (brāhmaṇas) chose to worship Ganesha as their principal deity. They developed the Ganapatya tradition, as seen in the Ganesha Purana and the Mudgala Purana.

 

The date of composition for the Ganesha Purana and the Mudgala Purana - and their dating relative to one another - has sparked academic debate. Both works were developed over time and contain age-layered strata. Anita Thapan reviews comments about dating and provides her own judgement. "It seems likely that the core of the Ganesha Purana appeared around the twelfth and thirteenth centuries", she says, "but was later interpolated." Lawrence W. Preston considers the most reasonable date for the Ganesha Purana to be between 1100 and 1400, which coincides with the apparent age of the sacred sites mentioned by the text.

 

R.C. Hazra suggests that the Mudgala Purana is older than the Ganesha Purana, which he dates between 1100 and 1400. However, Phyllis Granoff finds problems with this relative dating and concludes that the Mudgala Purana was the last of the philosophical texts concerned with Ganesha. She bases her reasoning on the fact that, among other internal evidence, the Mudgala Purana specifically mentions the Ganesha Purana as one of the four Puranas (the Brahma, the Brahmanda, the Ganesha, and the Mudgala Puranas) which deal at length with Ganesha. While the kernel of the text must be old, it was interpolated until the 17th and 18th centuries as the worship of Ganapati became more important in certain regions. Another highly regarded scripture, the Ganapati Atharvashirsa, was probably composed during the 16th or 17th centuries.

 

BEYOND INDIA AND HINDUISM

Commercial and cultural contacts extended India's influence in western and southeast Asia. Ganesha is one of a number of Hindu deities who reached foreign lands as a result.

 

Ganesha was particularly worshipped by traders and merchants, who went out of India for commercial ventures. From approximately the 10th century onwards, new networks of exchange developed including the formation of trade guilds and a resurgence of money circulation. During this time, Ganesha became the principal deity associated with traders. The earliest inscription invoking Ganesha before any other deity is associated with the merchant community.

 

Hindus migrated to Maritime Southeast Asia and took their culture, including Ganesha, with them. Statues of Ganesha are found throughout the region, often beside Shiva sanctuaries. The forms of Ganesha found in Hindu art of Java, Bali, and Borneo show specific regional influences. The spread of Hindu culture to southeast Asia established Ganesha in modified forms in Burma, Cambodia, and Thailand. In Indochina, Hinduism and Buddhism were practiced side by side, and mutual influences can be seen in the iconography of Ganesha in the region. In Thailand, Cambodia, and among the Hindu classes of the Chams in Vietnam, Ganesha was mainly thought of as a remover of obstacles. Today in Buddhist Thailand, Ganesha is regarded as a remover of obstacles, the god of success.

 

Before the arrival of Islam, Afghanistan had close cultural ties with India, and the adoration of both Hindu and Buddhist deities was practiced. Examples of sculptures from the 5th to the 7th centuries have survived, suggesting that the worship of Ganesha was then in vogue in the region.

 

Ganesha appears in Mahayana Buddhism, not only in the form of the Buddhist god Vināyaka, but also as a Hindu demon form with the same name. His image appears in Buddhist sculptures during the late Gupta period. As the Buddhist god Vināyaka, he is often shown dancing. This form, called Nṛtta Ganapati, was popular in northern India, later adopted in Nepal, and then in Tibet. In Nepal, the Hindu form of Ganesha, known as Heramba, is popular; he has five heads and rides a lion. Tibetan representations of Ganesha show ambivalent views of him. A Tibetan rendering of Ganapati is tshogs bdag. In one Tibetan form, he is shown being trodden under foot by Mahākāla, (Shiva) a popular Tibetan deity. Other depictions show him as the Destroyer of Obstacles, and sometimes dancing. Ganesha appears in China and Japan in forms that show distinct regional character. In northern China, the earliest known stone statue of Ganesha carries an inscription dated to 531. In Japan, where Ganesha is known as Kangiten, the Ganesha cult was first mentioned in 806.

 

The canonical literature of Jainism does not mention the worship of Ganesha. However, Ganesha is worshipped by most Jains, for whom he appears to have taken over certain functions of Kubera. Jain connections with the trading community support the idea that Jainism took up Ganesha worship as a result of commercial connections. The earliest known Jain Ganesha statue dates to about the 9th century. A 15th-century Jain text lists procedures for the installation of Ganapati images. Images of Ganesha appear in the Jain temples of Rajasthan and Gujarat.

 

WIKIPEDIA

could not resist...a quick trip to the city.....my grand daughter...age 16...bought these shoes...on line...and wore them to a formal dance ( I can't imagine !!!!!)

 

and then these socks worn by a friend at a meeting caught my eye too...

 

very busy couple of days...and so will tomorrow be as well....commenting is way behind !!

Take Me Out to the Go-Go

 

BY THOMAS SAYERS ELLIS

  

Nikita zips across stage

Trailed by a troop of white-gloved

One-wheelers: Killer Joes,

The 12 & Under Crew

In disguise.

 

A sixth sense guides him

Beyond darkness. An

Inner voice says when,

Don’t stop, don’t stop, don’t stop,

I’ll tell you when.

 

A constellation of funeral homes.

Jumpsuits. Red & white

Ribbons in the sky. The total

Groove, a carnival of roses

Circling the moon.

 

Mere call & response

Never knocked socks this way,

Lifting nicknames & dates

From the faces of tombstones

And mere call & response never will.

 

God climbs inside,

Asking for souls—

Something we weren’t taught to share.

  

FOOTNOTES: go-go, (noun) I. to go for it [Fr. early Motown; poss. Yoruba “agogo”]. I. A vernacular dance music unique to Washington, D.C.; a non-stop, live party music in which a pulsing bass drum beat blends with African rhythms and the sounds of timbales, cowbells, and conga drums as trumpets, trombones, saxophones and synthesizers belt out licks from Jazz, Funk and Soul, punctuated by rapped greetings to the local crews and ongoing dialogue between the dance floor and the band;

 

2. a music/dance event featuring Go-Go bands, generally at a community center, skating rink or dance hall, frequented by teens and young teens “hooked up” in the latest casual wear; (verb, int.). I. To go for it.

  

Thomas Sayers Ellis, “Take Me Out to the Go-Go” from The Maverick Room. Copyright © 2005 by Thomas Sayers Ellis. Reprinted by permission of Graywolf Press.

 

Source: The Maverick Room (Graywolf Press, 2005)

  

* * *

  

Chuck Brown & The Soul Searchers: "Bustin' Loose"

Ganesha, also spelled Ganesh, and also known as Ganapati and Vinayaka, is a widely worshipped deity in the Hindu pantheon. His image is found throughout India and Nepal. Hindu sects worship him regardless of affiliations. Devotion to Ganesha is widely diffused and extends to Jains, Buddhists, and beyond India.

 

Although he is known by many attributes, Ganesha's elephant head makes him easy to identify. Ganesha is widely revered as the remover of obstacles, the patron of arts and sciences and the deva of intellect and wisdom. As the god of beginnings, he is honoured at the start of rituals and ceremonies. Ganesha is also invoked as patron of letters and learning during writing sessions. Several texts relate mythological anecdotes associated with his birth and exploits and explain his distinct iconography.

 

Ganesha emerged as a distinct deity in the 4th and 5th centuries CE, during the Gupta Period, although he inherited traits from Vedic and pre-Vedic precursors. He was formally included among the five primary deities of Smartism (a Hindu denomination) in the 9th century. A sect of devotees called the Ganapatya arose, who identified Ganesha as the supreme deity. The principal scriptures dedicated to Ganesha are the Ganesha Purana, the Mudgala Purana, and the Ganapati Atharvashirsa.

 

ETYMOLOGY AND OTHER NAMES

Ganesha has been ascribed many other titles and epithets, including Ganapati and Vighneshvara. The Hindu title of respect Shri is often added before his name. One popular way Ganesha is worshipped is by chanting a Ganesha Sahasranama, a litany of "a thousand names of Ganesha". Each name in the sahasranama conveys a different meaning and symbolises a different aspect of Ganesha. At least two different versions of the Ganesha Sahasranama exist; one version is drawn from the Ganesha Purana, a Hindu scripture venerating Ganesha.

 

The name Ganesha is a Sanskrit compound, joining the words gana, meaning a group, multitude, or categorical system and isha, meaning lord or master. The word gaņa when associated with Ganesha is often taken to refer to the gaņas, a troop of semi-divine beings that form part of the retinue of Shiva. The term more generally means a category, class, community, association, or corporation. Some commentators interpret the name "Lord of the Gaņas" to mean "Lord of Hosts" or "Lord of created categories", such as the elements. Ganapati, a synonym for Ganesha, is a compound composed of gaṇa, meaning "group", and pati, meaning "ruler" or "lord". The Amarakosha, an early Sanskrit lexicon, lists eight synonyms of Ganesha : Vinayaka, Vighnarāja (equivalent to Vighnesha), Dvaimātura (one who has two mothers), Gaṇādhipa (equivalent to Ganapati and Ganesha), Ekadanta (one who has one tusk), Heramba, Lambodara (one who has a pot belly, or, literally, one who has a hanging belly), and Gajanana; having the face of an elephant).

 

Vinayaka is a common name for Ganesha that appears in the Purāṇas and in Buddhist Tantras. This name is reflected in the naming of the eight famous Ganesha temples in Maharashtra known as the Ashtavinayak (aṣṭavināyaka). The names Vighnesha and Vighneshvara (Lord of Obstacles) refers to his primary function in Hindu theology as the master and remover of obstacles (vighna).

 

A prominent name for Ganesha in the Tamil language is Pillai. A. K. Narain differentiates these terms by saying that pillai means a "child" while pillaiyar means a "noble child". He adds that the words pallu, pella, and pell in the Dravidian family of languages signify "tooth or tusk", also "elephant tooth or tusk". Anita Raina Thapan notes that the root word pille in the name Pillaiyar might have originally meant "the young of the elephant", because the Pali word pillaka means "a young elephant".

 

In the Burmese language, Ganesha is known as Maha Peinne, derived from Pali Mahā Wināyaka. The widespread name of Ganesha in Thailand is Phra Phikhanet or Phra Phikhanesuan, both of which are derived from Vara Vighnesha and Vara Vighneshvara respectively, whereas the name Khanet (from Ganesha) is rather rare.

 

In Sri Lanka, in the North-Central and North Western areas with predominantly Buddhist population, Ganesha is known as Aiyanayaka Deviyo, while in other Singhala Buddhist areas he is known as Gana deviyo.

 

ICONOGRAPHY

Ganesha is a popular figure in Indian art. Unlike those of some deities, representations of Ganesha show wide variations and distinct patterns changing over time. He may be portrayed standing, dancing, heroically taking action against demons, playing with his family as a boy, sitting down or on an elevated seat, or engaging in a range of contemporary situations.

 

Ganesha images were prevalent in many parts of India by the 6th century. The 13th century statue pictured is typical of Ganesha statuary from 900–1200, after Ganesha had been well-established as an independent deity with his own sect. This example features some of Ganesha's common iconographic elements. A virtually identical statue has been dated between 973–1200 by Paul Martin-Dubost, and another similar statue is dated c. 12th century by Pratapaditya Pal. Ganesha has the head of an elephant and a big belly. This statue has four arms, which is common in depictions of Ganesha. He holds his own broken tusk in his lower-right hand and holds a delicacy, which he samples with his trunk, in his lower-left hand. The motif of Ganesha turning his trunk sharply to his left to taste a sweet in his lower-left hand is a particularly archaic feature. A more primitive statue in one of the Ellora Caves with this general form has been dated to the 7th century. Details of the other hands are difficult to make out on the statue shown. In the standard configuration, Ganesha typically holds an axe or a goad in one upper arm and a pasha (noose) in the other upper arm.

 

The influence of this old constellation of iconographic elements can still be seen in contemporary representations of Ganesha. In one modern form, the only variation from these old elements is that the lower-right hand does not hold the broken tusk but is turned towards the viewer in a gesture of protection or fearlessness (abhaya mudra). The same combination of four arms and attributes occurs in statues of Ganesha dancing, which is a very popular theme.

 

COMMON ATTRIBUTES

Ganesha has been represented with the head of an elephant since the early stages of his appearance in Indian art. Puranic myths provide many explanations for how he got his elephant head. One of his popular forms, Heramba-Ganapati, has five elephant heads, and other less-common variations in the number of heads are known. While some texts say that Ganesha was born with an elephant head, he acquires the head later in most stories. The most recurrent motif in these stories is that Ganesha was created by Parvati using clay to protect her and Shiva beheaded him when Ganesha came between Shiva and Parvati. Shiva then replaced Ganesha's original head with that of an elephant. Details of the battle and where the replacement head came from vary from source to source. Another story says that Ganesha was created directly by Shiva's laughter. Because Shiva considered Ganesha too alluring, he gave him the head of an elephant and a protruding belly.

 

Ganesha's earliest name was Ekadanta (One Tusked), referring to his single whole tusk, the other being broken. Some of the earliest images of Ganesha show him holding his broken tusk. The importance of this distinctive feature is reflected in the Mudgala Purana, which states that the name of Ganesha's second incarnation is Ekadanta. Ganesha's protruding belly appears as a distinctive attribute in his earliest statuary, which dates to the Gupta period (4th to 6th centuries). This feature is so important that, according to the Mudgala Purana, two different incarnations of Ganesha use names based on it: Lambodara (Pot Belly, or, literally, Hanging Belly) and Mahodara (Great Belly). Both names are Sanskrit compounds describing his belly. The Brahmanda Purana says that Ganesha has the name Lambodara because all the universes (i.e., cosmic eggs) of the past, present, and future are present in him. The number of Ganesha's arms varies; his best-known forms have between two and sixteen arms. Many depictions of Ganesha feature four arms, which is mentioned in Puranic sources and codified as a standard form in some iconographic texts. His earliest images had two arms. Forms with 14 and 20 arms appeared in Central India during the 9th and the 10th centuries. The serpent is a common feature in Ganesha iconography and appears in many forms. According to the Ganesha Purana, Ganesha wrapped the serpent Vasuki around his neck. Other depictions of snakes include use as a sacred thread wrapped around the stomach as a belt, held in a hand, coiled at the ankles, or as a throne. Upon Ganesha's forehead may be a third eye or the Shaivite sectarian mark , which consists of three horizontal lines. The Ganesha Purana prescribes a tilaka mark as well as a crescent moon on the forehead. A distinct form of Ganesha called Bhalachandra includes that iconographic element. Ganesha is often described as red in color. Specific colors are associated with certain forms. Many examples of color associations with specific meditation forms are prescribed in the Sritattvanidhi, a treatise on Hindu iconography. For example, white is associated with his representations as Heramba-Ganapati and Rina-Mochana-Ganapati (Ganapati Who Releases from Bondage). Ekadanta-Ganapati is visualized as blue during meditation in that form.

 

VAHANAS

The earliest Ganesha images are without a vahana (mount/vehicle). Of the eight incarnations of Ganesha described in the Mudgala Purana, Ganesha uses a mouse (shrew) in five of them, a lion in his incarnation as Vakratunda, a peacock in his incarnation as Vikata, and Shesha, the divine serpent, in his incarnation as Vighnaraja. Mohotkata uses a lion, Mayūreśvara uses a peacock, Dhumraketu uses a horse, and Gajanana uses a mouse, in the four incarnations of Ganesha listed in the Ganesha Purana. Jain depictions of Ganesha show his vahana variously as a mouse, elephant, tortoise, ram, or peacock.

 

Ganesha is often shown riding on or attended by a mouse, shrew or rat. Martin-Dubost says that the rat began to appear as the principal vehicle in sculptures of Ganesha in central and western India during the 7th century; the rat was always placed close to his feet. The mouse as a mount first appears in written sources in the Matsya Purana and later in the Brahmananda Purana and Ganesha Purana, where Ganesha uses it as his vehicle in his last incarnation. The Ganapati Atharvashirsa includes a meditation verse on Ganesha that describes the mouse appearing on his flag. The names Mūṣakavāhana (mouse-mount) and Ākhuketana (rat-banner) appear in the Ganesha Sahasranama.

 

The mouse is interpreted in several ways. According to Grimes, "Many, if not most of those who interpret Gaṇapati's mouse, do so negatively; it symbolizes tamoguṇa as well as desire". Along these lines, Michael Wilcockson says it symbolizes those who wish to overcome desires and be less selfish. Krishan notes that the rat is destructive and a menace to crops. The Sanskrit word mūṣaka (mouse) is derived from the root mūṣ (stealing, robbing). It was essential to subdue the rat as a destructive pest, a type of vighna (impediment) that needed to be overcome. According to this theory, showing Ganesha as master of the rat demonstrates his function as Vigneshvara (Lord of Obstacles) and gives evidence of his possible role as a folk grāma-devatā (village deity) who later rose to greater prominence. Martin-Dubost notes a view that the rat is a symbol suggesting that Ganesha, like the rat, penetrates even the most secret places.

 

ASSOCIATIONS

 

OBSTACLES

Ganesha is Vighneshvara or Vighnaraja or Vighnaharta (Marathi), the Lord of Obstacles, both of a material and spiritual order. He is popularly worshipped as a remover of obstacles, though traditionally he also places obstacles in the path of those who need to be checked. Paul Courtright says that "his task in the divine scheme of things, his dharma, is to place and remove obstacles. It is his particular territory, the reason for his creation."

 

Krishan notes that some of Ganesha's names reflect shadings of multiple roles that have evolved over time. Dhavalikar ascribes the quick ascension of Ganesha in the Hindu pantheon, and the emergence of the Ganapatyas, to this shift in emphasis from vighnakartā (obstacle-creator) to vighnahartā (obstacle-averter). However, both functions continue to be vital to his character.

 

BUDDHI (KNOWLEDGE)

Ganesha is considered to be the Lord of letters and learning. In Sanskrit, the word buddhi is a feminine noun that is variously translated as intelligence, wisdom, or intellect. The concept of buddhi is closely associated with the personality of Ganesha, especially in the Puranic period, when many stories stress his cleverness and love of intelligence. One of Ganesha's names in the Ganesha Purana and the Ganesha Sahasranama is Buddhipriya. This name also appears in a list of 21 names at the end of the Ganesha Sahasranama that Ganesha says are especially important. The word priya can mean "fond of", and in a marital context it can mean "lover" or "husband", so the name may mean either "Fond of Intelligence" or "Buddhi's Husband".

 

AUM

Ganesha is identified with the Hindu mantra Aum, also spelled Om. The term oṃkārasvarūpa (Aum is his form), when identified with Ganesha, refers to the notion that he personifies the primal sound. The Ganapati Atharvashirsa attests to this association. Chinmayananda translates the relevant passage as follows:

 

(O Lord Ganapati!) You are (the Trinity) Brahma, Vishnu, and Mahesa. You are Indra. You are fire [Agni] and air [Vāyu]. You are the sun [Sūrya] and the moon [Chandrama]. You are Brahman. You are (the three worlds) Bhuloka [earth], Antariksha-loka [space], and Swargaloka [heaven]. You are Om. (That is to say, You are all this).

 

Some devotees see similarities between the shape of Ganesha's body in iconography and the shape of Aum in the Devanāgarī and Tamil scripts.

 

FIRST CHAKRA

According to Kundalini yoga, Ganesha resides in the first chakra, called Muladhara (mūlādhāra). Mula means "original, main"; adhara means "base, foundation". The muladhara chakra is the principle on which the manifestation or outward expansion of primordial Divine Force rests. This association is also attested to in the Ganapati Atharvashirsa. Courtright translates this passage as follows: "[O Ganesha,] You continually dwell in the sacral plexus at the base of the spine [mūlādhāra cakra]." Thus, Ganesha has a permanent abode in every being at the Muladhara. Ganesha holds, supports and guides all other chakras, thereby "governing the forces that propel the wheel of life".

 

FAMILY AND CONSORTS

Though Ganesha is popularly held to be the son of Shiva and Parvati, the Puranic myths give different versions about his birth. In some he was created by Parvati, in another he was created by Shiva and Parvati, in another he appeared mysteriously and was discovered by Shiva and Parvati or he was born from the elephant headed goddess Malini after she drank Parvati's bath water that had been thrown in the river.

 

The family includes his brother the war god Kartikeya, who is also called Subramanya, Skanda, Murugan and other names. Regional differences dictate the order of their births. In northern India, Skanda is generally said to be the elder, while in the south, Ganesha is considered the first born. In northern India, Skanda was an important martial deity from about 500 BCE to about 600 CE, when worship of him declined significantly in northern India. As Skanda fell, Ganesha rose. Several stories tell of sibling rivalry between the brothers and may reflect sectarian tensions.

 

Ganesha's marital status, the subject of considerable scholarly review, varies widely in mythological stories. One pattern of myths identifies Ganesha as an unmarried brahmacari. This view is common in southern India and parts of northern India. Another pattern associates him with the concepts of Buddhi (intellect), Siddhi (spiritual power), and Riddhi (prosperity); these qualities are sometimes personified as goddesses, said to be Ganesha's wives. He also may be shown with a single consort or a nameless servant (Sanskrit: daşi). Another pattern connects Ganesha with the goddess of culture and the arts, Sarasvati or Śarda (particularly in Maharashtra). He is also associated with the goddess of luck and prosperity, Lakshmi. Another pattern, mainly prevalent in the Bengal region, links Ganesha with the banana tree, Kala Bo.

 

The Shiva Purana says that Ganesha had begotten two sons: Kşema (prosperity) and Lābha (profit). In northern Indian variants of this story, the sons are often said to be Śubha (auspiciouness) and Lābha. The 1975 Hindi film Jai Santoshi Maa shows Ganesha married to Riddhi and Siddhi and having a daughter named Santoshi Ma, the goddess of satisfaction. This story has no Puranic basis, but Anita Raina Thapan and Lawrence Cohen cite Santoshi Ma's cult as evidence of Ganesha's continuing evolution as a popular deity.

 

WOSHIP AND FESTIVALS

Ganesha is worshipped on many religious and secular occasions; especially at the beginning of ventures such as buying a vehicle or starting a business. K.N. Somayaji says, "there can hardly be a [Hindu] home [in India] which does not house an idol of Ganapati. [..] Ganapati, being the most popular deity in India, is worshipped by almost all castes and in all parts of the country". Devotees believe that if Ganesha is propitiated, he grants success, prosperity and protection against adversity.

 

Ganesha is a non-sectarian deity, and Hindus of all denominations invoke him at the beginning of prayers, important undertakings, and religious ceremonies. Dancers and musicians, particularly in southern India, begin performances of arts such as the Bharatnatyam dance with a prayer to Ganesha. Mantras such as Om Shri Gaṇeshāya Namah (Om, salutation to the Illustrious Ganesha) are often used. One of the most famous mantras associated with Ganesha is Om Gaṃ Ganapataye Namah (Om, Gaṃ, Salutation to the Lord of Hosts).

 

Devotees offer Ganesha sweets such as modaka and small sweet balls (laddus). He is often shown carrying a bowl of sweets, called a modakapātra. Because of his identification with the color red, he is often worshipped with red sandalwood paste (raktacandana) or red flowers. Dūrvā grass (Cynodon dactylon) and other materials are also used in his worship.

 

Festivals associated with Ganesh are Ganesh Chaturthi or Vināyaka chaturthī in the śuklapakṣa (the fourth day of the waxing moon) in the month of bhādrapada (August/September) and the Gaṇeśa jayanti (Gaṇeśa's birthday) celebrated on the cathurthī of the śuklapakṣa (fourth day of the waxing moon) in the month of māgha (January/February)."

 

GANESH CHATURTI

An annual festival honours Ganesha for ten days, starting on Ganesha Chaturthi, which typically falls in late August or early September. The festival begins with people bringing in clay idols of Ganesha, symbolising Ganesha's visit. The festival culminates on the day of Ananta Chaturdashi, when idols (murtis) of Ganesha are immersed in the most convenient body of water. Some families have a tradition of immersion on the 2nd, 3rd, 5th, or 7th day. In 1893, Lokmanya Tilak transformed this annual Ganesha festival from private family celebrations into a grand public event. He did so "to bridge the gap between the Brahmins and the non-Brahmins and find an appropriate context in which to build a new grassroots unity between them" in his nationalistic strivings against the British in Maharashtra. Because of Ganesha's wide appeal as "the god for Everyman", Tilak chose him as a rallying point for Indian protest against British rule. Tilak was the first to install large public images of Ganesha in pavilions, and he established the practice of submerging all the public images on the tenth day. Today, Hindus across India celebrate the Ganapati festival with great fervour, though it is most popular in the state of Maharashtra. The festival also assumes huge proportions in Mumbai, Pune, and in the surrounding belt of Ashtavinayaka temples.

 

TEMPLES

In Hindu temples, Ganesha is depicted in various ways: as an acolyte or subordinate deity (pãrśva-devatã); as a deity related to the principal deity (parivāra-devatã); or as the principal deity of the temple (pradhāna), treated similarly as the highest gods of the Hindu pantheon. As the god of transitions, he is placed at the doorway of many Hindu temples to keep out the unworthy, which is analogous to his role as Parvati’s doorkeeper. In addition, several shrines are dedicated to Ganesha himself, of which the Ashtavinayak (lit. "eight Ganesha (shrines)") in Maharashtra are particularly well known. Located within a 100-kilometer radius of the city of Pune, each of these eight shrines celebrates a particular form of Ganapati, complete with its own lore and legend. The eight shrines are: Morgaon, Siddhatek, Pali, Mahad, Theur, Lenyadri, Ozar and Ranjangaon.

 

There are many other important Ganesha temples at the following locations: Wai in Maharashtra; Ujjain in Madhya Pradesh; Jodhpur, Nagaur and Raipur (Pali) in Rajasthan; Baidyanath in Bihar; Baroda, Dholaka, and Valsad in Gujarat and Dhundiraj Temple in Varanasi, Uttar Pradesh. Prominent Ganesha temples in southern India include the following: Kanipakam in Chittoor; the Jambukeśvara Temple at Tiruchirapalli; at Rameshvaram and Suchindram in Tamil Nadu; at Malliyur, Kottarakara, Pazhavangadi, Kasargod in Kerala, Hampi, and Idagunji in Karnataka; and Bhadrachalam in Andhra Pradesh.

 

T. A. Gopinatha notes, "Every village however small has its own image of Vighneśvara (Vigneshvara) with or without a temple to house it in. At entrances of villages and forts, below pīpaḹa (Sacred fig) trees [...], in a niche [...] in temples of Viṣṇu (Vishnu) as well as Śiva (Shiva) and also in separate shrines specially constructed in Śiva temples [...]; the figure of Vighneśvara is invariably seen." Ganesha temples have also been built outside of India, including southeast Asia, Nepal (including the four Vinayaka shrines in the Kathmandu valley), and in several western countries.

 

RISE TO PROMINENCE

 

FIRST APEARANCE

Ganesha appeared in his classic form as a clearly recognizable deity with well-defined iconographic attributes in the early 4th to 5th centuries. Shanti Lal Nagar says that the earliest known iconic image of Ganesha is in the niche of the Shiva temple at Bhumra, which has been dated to the Gupta period. His independent cult appeared by about the 10th century. Narain summarizes the controversy between devotees and academics regarding the development of Ganesha as follows:

 

What is inscrutable is the somewhat dramatic appearance of Gaņeśa on the historical scene. His antecedents are not clear. His wide acceptance and popularity, which transcend sectarian and territorial limits, are indeed amazing. On the one hand there is the pious belief of the orthodox devotees in Gaņeśa's Vedic origins and in the Purāṇic explanations contained in the confusing, but nonetheless interesting, mythology. On the other hand there are doubts about the existence of the idea and the icon of this deity" before the fourth to fifth century A.D. ... [I]n my opinion, indeed there is no convincing evidence of the existence of this divinity prior to the fifth century.

 

POSSIBLE INFLUENCES

Courtright reviews various speculative theories about the early history of Ganesha, including supposed tribal traditions and animal cults, and dismisses all of them in this way:

 

In the post 600 BC period there is evidence of people and places named after the animal. The motif appears on coins and sculptures.

 

Thapan's book on the development of Ganesha devotes a chapter to speculations about the role elephants had in early India but concludes that, "although by the second century CE the elephant-headed yakṣa form exists it cannot be presumed to represent Gaṇapati-Vināyaka. There is no evidence of a deity by this name having an elephant or elephant-headed form at this early stage. Gaṇapati-Vināyaka had yet to make his debut."

 

One theory of the origin of Ganesha is that he gradually came to prominence in connection with the four Vinayakas (Vināyakas). In Hindu mythology, the Vināyakas were a group of four troublesome demons who created obstacles and difficulties but who were easily propitiated. The name Vināyaka is a common name for Ganesha both in the Purāṇas and in Buddhist Tantras. Krishan is one of the academics who accepts this view, stating flatly of Ganesha, "He is a non-vedic god. His origin is to be traced to the four Vināyakas, evil spirits, of the Mānavagŗhyasūtra (7th–4th century BCE) who cause various types of evil and suffering". Depictions of elephant-headed human figures, which some identify with Ganesha, appear in Indian art and coinage as early as the 2nd century. According to Ellawala, the elephant-headed Ganesha as lord of the Ganas was known to the people of Sri Lanka in the early pre-Christian era.

 

A metal plate depiction of Ganesha had been discovered in 1993, in Iran, it dated back to 1,200 BCE. Another one was discovered much before, in Lorestan Province of Iran.

 

First Ganesha's terracotta images are from 1st century CE found in Ter, Pal, Verrapuram and Chandraketugarh. These figures are small, with elephant head, two arms, and chubby physique. The earliest Ganesha icons in stone were carved in Mathura during Kushan times (2nd-3rd centuries CE).

 

VEDIC AND EPIC LITERATURE

The title "Leader of the group" (Sanskrit: gaṇapati) occurs twice in the Rig Veda, but in neither case does it refer to the modern Ganesha. The term appears in RV 2.23.1 as a title for Brahmanaspati, according to commentators. While this verse doubtless refers to Brahmanaspati, it was later adopted for worship of Ganesha and is still used today. In rejecting any claim that this passage is evidence of Ganesha in the Rig Veda, Ludo Rocher says that it "clearly refers to Bṛhaspati—who is the deity of the hymn—and Bṛhaspati only". Equally clearly, the second passage (RV 10.112.9) refers to Indra, who is given the epithet 'gaṇapati', translated "Lord of the companies (of the Maruts)." However, Rocher notes that the more recent Ganapatya literature often quotes the Rigvedic verses to give Vedic respectability to Ganesha .

 

Two verses in texts belonging to Black Yajurveda, Maitrāyaṇīya Saṃhitā (2.9.1) and Taittirīya Āraṇyaka (10.1), appeal to a deity as "the tusked one" (Dantiḥ), "elephant-faced" (Hastimukha), and "with a curved trunk" (Vakratuņḍa). These names are suggestive of Ganesha, and the 14th century commentator Sayana explicitly establishes this identification. The description of Dantin, possessing a twisted trunk (vakratuṇḍa) and holding a corn-sheaf, a sugar cane, and a club, is so characteristic of the Puranic Ganapati that Heras says "we cannot resist to accept his full identification with this Vedic Dantin". However, Krishan considers these hymns to be post-Vedic additions. Thapan reports that these passages are "generally considered to have been interpolated". Dhavalikar says, "the references to the elephant-headed deity in the Maitrāyaṇī Saṃhitā have been proven to be very late interpolations, and thus are not very helpful for determining the early formation of the deity".

 

Ganesha does not appear in Indian epic literature that is dated to the Vedic period. A late interpolation to the epic poem Mahabharata says that the sage Vyasa (Vyāsa) asked Ganesha to serve as his scribe to transcribe the poem as he dictated it to him. Ganesha agreed but only on condition that Vyasa recite the poem uninterrupted, that is, without pausing. The sage agreed, but found that to get any rest he needed to recite very complex passages so Ganesha would have to ask for clarifications. The story is not accepted as part of the original text by the editors of the critical edition of the Mahabharata, in which the twenty-line story is relegated to a footnote in an appendix. The story of Ganesha acting as the scribe occurs in 37 of the 59 manuscripts consulted during preparation of the critical edition. Ganesha's association with mental agility and learning is one reason he is shown as scribe for Vyāsa's dictation of the Mahabharata in this interpolation. Richard L. Brown dates the story to the 8th century, and Moriz Winternitz concludes that it was known as early as c. 900, but it was not added to the Mahabharata some 150 years later. Winternitz also notes that a distinctive feature in South Indian manuscripts of the Mahabharata is their omission of this Ganesha legend. The term vināyaka is found in some recensions of the Śāntiparva and Anuśāsanaparva that are regarded as interpolations. A reference to Vighnakartṛīṇām ("Creator of Obstacles") in Vanaparva is also believed to be an interpolation and does not appear in the critical edition.

 

PURANIC PERIOD

Stories about Ganesha often occur in the Puranic corpus. Brown notes while the Puranas "defy precise chronological ordering", the more detailed narratives of Ganesha's life are in the late texts, c. 600–1300. Yuvraj Krishan says that the Puranic myths about the birth of Ganesha and how he acquired an elephant's head are in the later Puranas, which were composed from c. 600 onwards. He elaborates on the matter to say that references to Ganesha in the earlier Puranas, such as the Vayu and Brahmanda Puranas, are later interpolations made during the 7th to 10th centuries.

 

In his survey of Ganesha's rise to prominence in Sanskrit literature, Ludo Rocher notes that:

 

Above all, one cannot help being struck by the fact that the numerous stories surrounding Gaṇeśa concentrate on an unexpectedly limited number of incidents. These incidents are mainly three: his birth and parenthood, his elephant head, and his single tusk. Other incidents are touched on in the texts, but to a far lesser extent.

 

Ganesha's rise to prominence was codified in the 9th century, when he was formally included as one of the five primary deities of Smartism. The 9th-century philosopher Adi Shankara popularized the "worship of the five forms" (Panchayatana puja) system among orthodox Brahmins of the Smarta tradition. This worship practice invokes the five deities Ganesha, Vishnu, Shiva, Devi, and Surya. Adi Shankara instituted the tradition primarily to unite the principal deities of these five major sects on an equal status. This formalized the role of Ganesha as a complementary deity.

 

SCRIPTURES

Once Ganesha was accepted as one of the five principal deities of Brahmanism, some Brahmins (brāhmaṇas) chose to worship Ganesha as their principal deity. They developed the Ganapatya tradition, as seen in the Ganesha Purana and the Mudgala Purana.

 

The date of composition for the Ganesha Purana and the Mudgala Purana - and their dating relative to one another - has sparked academic debate. Both works were developed over time and contain age-layered strata. Anita Thapan reviews comments about dating and provides her own judgement. "It seems likely that the core of the Ganesha Purana appeared around the twelfth and thirteenth centuries", she says, "but was later interpolated." Lawrence W. Preston considers the most reasonable date for the Ganesha Purana to be between 1100 and 1400, which coincides with the apparent age of the sacred sites mentioned by the text.

 

R.C. Hazra suggests that the Mudgala Purana is older than the Ganesha Purana, which he dates between 1100 and 1400. However, Phyllis Granoff finds problems with this relative dating and concludes that the Mudgala Purana was the last of the philosophical texts concerned with Ganesha. She bases her reasoning on the fact that, among other internal evidence, the Mudgala Purana specifically mentions the Ganesha Purana as one of the four Puranas (the Brahma, the Brahmanda, the Ganesha, and the Mudgala Puranas) which deal at length with Ganesha. While the kernel of the text must be old, it was interpolated until the 17th and 18th centuries as the worship of Ganapati became more important in certain regions. Another highly regarded scripture, the Ganapati Atharvashirsa, was probably composed during the 16th or 17th centuries.

 

BEYOND INDIA AND HINDUISM

Commercial and cultural contacts extended India's influence in western and southeast Asia. Ganesha is one of a number of Hindu deities who reached foreign lands as a result.

 

Ganesha was particularly worshipped by traders and merchants, who went out of India for commercial ventures. From approximately the 10th century onwards, new networks of exchange developed including the formation of trade guilds and a resurgence of money circulation. During this time, Ganesha became the principal deity associated with traders. The earliest inscription invoking Ganesha before any other deity is associated with the merchant community.

 

Hindus migrated to Maritime Southeast Asia and took their culture, including Ganesha, with them. Statues of Ganesha are found throughout the region, often beside Shiva sanctuaries. The forms of Ganesha found in Hindu art of Java, Bali, and Borneo show specific regional influences. The spread of Hindu culture to southeast Asia established Ganesha in modified forms in Burma, Cambodia, and Thailand. In Indochina, Hinduism and Buddhism were practiced side by side, and mutual influences can be seen in the iconography of Ganesha in the region. In Thailand, Cambodia, and among the Hindu classes of the Chams in Vietnam, Ganesha was mainly thought of as a remover of obstacles. Today in Buddhist Thailand, Ganesha is regarded as a remover of obstacles, the god of success.

 

Before the arrival of Islam, Afghanistan had close cultural ties with India, and the adoration of both Hindu and Buddhist deities was practiced. Examples of sculptures from the 5th to the 7th centuries have survived, suggesting that the worship of Ganesha was then in vogue in the region.

 

Ganesha appears in Mahayana Buddhism, not only in the form of the Buddhist god Vināyaka, but also as a Hindu demon form with the same name. His image appears in Buddhist sculptures during the late Gupta period. As the Buddhist god Vināyaka, he is often shown dancing. This form, called Nṛtta Ganapati, was popular in northern India, later adopted in Nepal, and then in Tibet. In Nepal, the Hindu form of Ganesha, known as Heramba, is popular; he has five heads and rides a lion. Tibetan representations of Ganesha show ambivalent views of him. A Tibetan rendering of Ganapati is tshogs bdag. In one Tibetan form, he is shown being trodden under foot by Mahākāla, (Shiva) a popular Tibetan deity. Other depictions show him as the Destroyer of Obstacles, and sometimes dancing. Ganesha appears in China and Japan in forms that show distinct regional character. In northern China, the earliest known stone statue of Ganesha carries an inscription dated to 531. In Japan, where Ganesha is known as Kangiten, the Ganesha cult was first mentioned in 806.

 

The canonical literature of Jainism does not mention the worship of Ganesha. However, Ganesha is worshipped by most Jains, for whom he appears to have taken over certain functions of Kubera. Jain connections with the trading community support the idea that Jainism took up Ganesha worship as a result of commercial connections. The earliest known Jain Ganesha statue dates to about the 9th century. A 15th-century Jain text lists procedures for the installation of Ganapati images. Images of Ganesha appear in the Jain temples of Rajasthan and Gujarat.

 

WIKIPEDIA

Coloured and metalic inks, glow in dark paint, magnetised iron filings on Rough Watercolour Paper 600gsm

77.5cm by 57cm

Unsold.

 

After Edvard Munch's The Scream.

 

This cross section of a human cell. Struck my imagination in many ways. Horizontally the Cell looks like a gondola boat, Its interior parts are like a proud island city state! But from this vertical way up that Im displaying it to you at it makes me think of a 1930's Hollywood movies Starlet screaming with her face's skin sliced off. (Sorry!)

 

I present you with, The Screaming Cell.

 

This Biological Landscapes art series I created from my fascination with scale & fantasy to let me discover and enter new worlds of adventure in the macro diagrams and images of our organic living systems.

 

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Populating the Dark Matter

 

Space is beautiful, blissful foreverness, a mysterious garden at night yet to be explored.

 

But space is lonely, detached from humanity, from our earths emotion and life. Science jumps ahead, out into the deep and hard to ever touch theoretical infinite. Earths life and the living inner soul becomes redundant, progress leaves us as its wiggly awkward footnote!

 

I believe our own consciousness pilots our evolution, for better or worse!

 

This series I call Populating the Dark Matter because I want to mix my love of the perfect black and starlit jeweled infinite with the warmth and humanity of life on earth and its struggles, emotions and conditions. Space becomes for me a giant metaphorical gallery where I can exhibit and study life on earth!

 

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The magnetised iron filings are an element, the undefinable energy, the passion of bodies and souls engaged and revolving as mandala like totems of metaphor and symbolism populating the undiscovered gallery of our outer space heavens.

 

Magnetised Imagery is a way to portray the undefinable living energy of people, creatures, nature & all the physical forces of our universe.

 

My artistic process manipulates expressivly the physical reaction of iron powders by using various magnets & quickly sealing that result to create a permanent image in this medium.

 

This frozen magnetic dance seems to perform forever, freely moving & alive.

 

In creating this new medium to portray life, I am percieving living bodies as wilful energy behind skin masks of shape & circumstance.

 

A soul is being portrayed as hard to catch in its costumed outline of a body!

 

Echoing our ancient art. Where characters where brought into the world by the act of drawing them into the torch lit contours of our mind in the cave!

Thiswritelife.wordpress.com

 

The Borgia Apartments are not just a footnote in papal history, but an opulent group of six rooms located in the Borgia Tower inside the Vatican.

 

Sealed off after the death of Alexander VI, Rodrigo Borgia, (1431-1503) by Pope Pius III due to its association with the despised Borgia family; the art itself cannot be denied; the vivid colors of red and blue tempt the fingertips to touch, the scenery overwhelms the senses, all colliding in the mind of the admirer.

 

Depictions of the Sybils, early Saints, the Resurrection and the Magi fill the vaulted walls, the detail exquisite. The arched ceilings are intricately frescoed and the floors once covered with rare Moorish tiles, a few pieces still evident. Chambers that oversaw plans of war, marriages of dynasties, and even murder may be empty of furnishings, but the remaining art portrays the opulence and power of the time. These six rooms lay hidden in the Vatican for three hundred years preserving frescos created at the command of Alexander VI for the private apartments of the Borgia pope.

 

In 1492 Pinturicchio was employed by Pope Alexander VI to decorate a recently completed suite of rooms in the Vatican. The rooms are now part of the Vatican library and five of the suites retain a series of frescos.

 

The upper part of the walls and vaults were not only painted, but further enriched with delicate stucco work in relief, and are a masterpiece of design. The paintings used themes from medieval encyclopedias adding an eschatological layer of meaning and celebrating the supposedly divine origins of the Borgias.

 

Pinturicchio worked in these rooms with an army of apprentices without interruption until 1498. No contract is in evidence, the only record of his work is the payment; another line entered in the Vatican account books.

 

The private living rooms of the Pope at that time were the Hall of Mysteries, the Hall of the Saints and the Hall of the Liberal Arts, besides the two withdrawing rooms.

 

Imagination furnishes the empty chambers with all the choice objects they once contained.

 

The priceless majolica, the gold and silver vessels, the brocaded hangings, the ivory carvings – an ideal background for the scenes of love and revelry once lived here. The strum of music, the laughter and wit, boisterous merriment, muted conferences, the whispered plotting, the ghastly treacheries, the dying groans. In the Hall of the Sibyls, the second husband of Lucrezia, Alfonso of Aragon, was murdered. In the adjoining suite, the Pope himself died in agony. What other deeds of darkness, despair and triumphant villainy have these chaste and innocent conceptions of Pintoricchio looked down upon? Fascinations of fleurs du mal.

 

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Reds Italy:

 

The Vatican's Appartamento Borgia (Borgia Apartments) were the private chambers of Borgia Pope Alexander VI, frescoed by early Renaissance master Pinturicchio.

 

The Borgia Apartments, downstairs from the Raphael Rooms, were painted by Pinturicchio and occupied by the infamous Spanish Borgia pope Alexander VI (you know: that devilish guy played by Jeremy Irons in the Borgias TV series).

 

This apartment suite was closed off by Julius II—who refused to live in rooms sullied by his venal predecessor—and its frescoes covered with black crepe.

 

Things remained that way for 386 years, until the apartments were reopened in 1889 to serve as display rooms for the Vatican's collection of (frankly bland, for the most part) modern religious art.

 

More importantly, when they reopened in 1889, the Vatican also finally uncovered the walls and ceilings to unveil the rich frescoes, painted by Pinturicchio with wacky early-Renaissance Umbrian fantasy.

 

Pinturicchio's frescoes in the Borgia apartments

 

A co-pupil of Raphael’s under master Perugino, Pinturicchio had a penchant for embedding fake jewels and things like metal saddle studs in his frescoes rather than painting these details in for an intriguing effect—call it Renassiance 3D.

 

While Pinturrichio's art is not necessarily at its top form in these rooms, they're worth a run-through.

 

The frescoes have been (finally) getting restored over the past several years, and the cleaning revealed something amazing: the first European depiction of Native Americans.

 

In the scene of The Risen Christ (a.k.a. The Ressurection)—just above the casket and to the left of the head of the long-haired man in red robes gazing up at Jesus—is a tiny scene of naked men in feathered headresses dancing around a pole. One even appears to be styling a mohawk hairdo.

 

What makes this even more remarkable is that these frescoes were finished by 1494—just two years after Columbus made landfall in the Caribbean and a mere 18 months or so after he returned from that voyage and handed over his journals to Ferdinand and Isabella of Spain.

 

More intriguing: While this scene was being painted, the crowned heads of Europe were still desperately trying to keep discovery of the New World a secret while they divvied up the rights to any future discoveries.

 

So while Columbus' discovery was something of a state secret at the time, Alexander VI apparently just couldn't resist a little bragging via fresco. He must have shared Columbus' description of the natives with Pinturicchio so he could slip them in there.

 

And that balding, pius-looking fellow kneeling in rich gold robes on the left side of the scene? It's Rodrigo Borgia himself: Pope Alexander VI.

Yoko Ono

23 Jan 1966

 

To the Wesleyan People (who attended the meeting.)

-a footnote to my lecture of January 13th, 1966

 

When a violinist plays, which is incidental: the arm movement or the bow sound?

 

Try arm movement only.

 

If my music seems to require physical silence, that is because it requires concentration to yourself – and this requires inner silence which may lead to outer silence as well.

 

I think of my music, more as practice (gyo) than music.

 

The only sound that exists to me is the sound of the mind. My works are only to induce music of the mind in people.

 

It is not possible to control a mind-time with a stopwatch or a metronome. In the mind-world, things spread out and go beyond time.

 

There is a wind that never dies.

 

*************

 

My paintings, which are all instruction paintings ( and meant for others to do),came after college & assemblage (1915) and happening (1905) came into the art world. Considering the nature of my painting, and any of the above three words or a new word can be used instead of the word, painting. But I like the old word painting because it immediately connects with “wall painting” painting, and it is nice and funny.

 

Among my instruction paintings, my interest is mainly in “painting to construct in your head”. In your head, for instance, it is possible for a straight line to exist-not as a segment of a curve but as a straight line. Also, a line can be straight, curved and something else at the same time. A dot can exist as a 1,2,3,4,5,6, dimensional object all at the same time or at various times in different combinations as you wish to perceive. The movement of the molecule can be continuum and discontinuum at the same time. It can be with colour and/or without. There is no visual object that does not exist in comparison to or simultaneously with other objects, but these characteristics can be eliminated if you wish. A sunset can go on for days. You can eat up all the clouds in the sky. You can assemble a painting with a person in the North Pole over a phone, like playing chess. This painting method derives from as far back as the time of the Second World War when we had no food to eat, and my brother and I exchanged menus in the air.

 

There may be a dream that two dream together, but there is no chair that two see together.

 

***********

 

I think it is possible to see a chair as it is. But when you burn the chair, you suddenly realize that the chair in your head did not burn or disappear.

 

The world of construction seems to be the most tangible, and therefore final. This made me nervous. I started to wonder if it were really so.

 

Isn’t a construction a beginning of a thing like a seed? Isn’t it a segment of a larger totality, like an elephant’s tail? Isn’t it something just about to emerge-not quite structured… like an unfinished church with a sky ceiling? Therefore, the following works:

 

A venus made of plastic, except that her head is to be imagined.

 

A paper ball and a marble book, except that the final version is the fusion of these two objects which come into existence only in your head.

 

A marble sphere (actually existing) which, in your head, gradually becomes a sharp come by the time it is extended to the far end of the room.

 

A garden covered with a thick marble instead of snow-but like snow, which is to be appreciated only when you uncover the marble coating.

 

One thousand needles: imagine threading them with a straight thread.

 

*********

 

I would like to see the sky machine on every corner of the street instead of the coke machine. We need more skies than coke.

 

*******

 

Dance was once the way people communicated with God and godliness in people. Since when did dance become a pastel-faced exhibitionism of dancers on the spotlighted stage? Can you not communicate if it is totally dark?

 

If people make it a habit to draw a somersault on every other street as they commute to their office, take off their pants before they fight, shake hands with strangers whenever they feel like it, give flowers or part of their clothing on streets, subways, elevator, toilet, etc., and if politicians go through a tea house door (lowered, so people must bend very low to get through) before they discuss anything and spend a day watching the fountain water dance at the nearest park, the world business may slow down a little but we may have peace.

To me this is dance.

 

*****

 

All my works in the other fields have an “Event bent” so to speak. People ask me why I call some works Event and others not. They also ask me why I do not call my Events, Happenings.

 

Event, to me, is not an assimilation of all the other arts as Happening seems to be, but an extrication from the various sensory perceptions. It is not “a get togetherness” as most happenings are, but a dealing with oneself. Also, it has no script as happenings do, though it has something that starts moving – the closest word for it may be a ‘wish” or “hope”.

 

****

 

At a small dinner party next week, we suddenly discovered that out poet friend whom we admire very much was colour blind. Barbara Moore said, “That explains about his work. Usually people’s eyes are blocked by colour and they can’t see

the thing.”

 

After unblocking one’s mind, by dispensing with visual, auditory, and kinetic perceptions, what will come of us? Would there be anything? I wonder. And my events are mostly spent in wonderment.

 

In Kyoto, at the Nanzenji Temples the High Monk was kind to let me use one of the temples and the gardens for my Event. It is a temple with great history, and it was an unheard of honour for the Monk to give permission for such a use, especially to a woman. The Event took place from evening till dawn. About fifty people came with the knowledge that it will last till dawn. The instruction was to watch the sky and to “touch”. Some of them were just fast asleep until dawn. Some sat in the garden, some on the wide corridor, which is like a verandah. It was a beautiful full moon night, and the moon was so bright, that the mountains and the trees, which usually looked black under the moonlight, began to show their green. People talked about moonburn, moonbath, and about touching the sky. Two people, I noticed, were whispering all about their life story to each other. Once in a while, a restless person would come to me and ask if I was alright. I thought that was very amusing, because it was a very warm and peaceful July night, and there was no reason why I should not be alright. Probably he was starting to feel something happening to him, something that he did not yet know how to come with, the only way out for him was to come to me and ask if I was alright. I was a little nervous about people making cigarette holes on the national treasure floors and tatami, from being high on the moonlight, since most of the people were young modern Japanese, and some French and Americans. But nothing like that happened. When the morning breeze started to come in, people quietly woke up their friends and we took a bath, three at a time in a bath especially prepared for us at that hour of the day. The temple bath is made of high stone, and it is very warm. After the bath, we had miso soup and onigirl (rice sandwich). Without my saying anything about it, people silently swept the room and mopped the corridor before leaving. I did not know most of them, as they were mostly Kyoto people, and they left without giving their names. I wonder who they were.

 

At another time, also in Kyoto, before the Nanzenji Event, I had a concert at Yamaichi Hall. It was called “The Strip-tease Show” (it was stripping of the mind.) When I met the High Monk the next day, he seemed a bit dissatisfied.

 

“I went to see your concert,” he said.

“Thank you, did you like it?”

 

“Well, why did you have those three chairs on the stage and call it strip-tease by three?”

“If it I a chair or stone or woman, it is the same thing, my Monk.”

“Where is he music?”

“The music is in the mind, my Monk.”

“But that is the same with what we are doing, aren’t you an avant-garde composer?”

“That is a label which was out by others for convenience.”

“For instance, does Toshiro Mayuzumi create music of your kind?”

“I can only speak for myself.”

“Do you have many followers?”

“No, but I know of two men who know what I am doing. I am very thankful for that.”

 

Though he is a High Monk he is extremely young, he may be younger than myself.

I wonder what the Monk is doing now.

 

***

 

Another Event that was memorable for me was “Fly”, at Naiqua Gallery in Tokyo. People were asked to come prepared to fly in their own way. I did not attend.

 

**

 

People talk about happening. They say that art is headed towards that direction, that happening is assimilating the arts. I don’t believe in collectivism of art nor in having only one direction in anything. I think it is nice to return to having many different arts, including happening, just as having many flowers. In fact, we could have more arts “smell”, “weight”, “taste”, “cry”, “anger” (competition of anger, that sort of thing), etc. People might say, that we never experience things separately , they are always in fusion, and tat is why “the happening”, which is a fusion of all sensory perceptions. Yes I agree, but if tat is so, it is all the more reason and challenge to create a sensory experience isolated from other sensory experiences, which is something rare in daily life Art Is no merely a duplication of life. To assimilate art in life, is different from art duplicating life.

But returning to having various divisions of art, does not mean, for instance, that one must use only sounds as means to create music. One may give instructions to watch the fire for 10 days in order to create a vision in ones mind.

 

*

 

The mind is omnipresent, events in life never happen alone and the history is forever increasing its volume. The natural state of life and mind is complexity. At this point, what art can offer (if it can at all – to me it seems) is an absence of complexity, a vacuum through which you are led to a state of complete relaxation of mind. After that you may return to the complexity of life again, it may not be the same, or it may be, or you may never return, but that is your problem.

 

Mental richness should be worried just a physical richness. Didn’t Christ say that it was like a camel trying to pass through a needle hole, for John Cage to go to heaven? I think it is nice to abandon what you have as much as possible, as many mental possession as the physical ones, as they clutter your mind. It is nice to maintain poverty of environment, sound, thinking and belief. It is nice to keep oneself small like a grain of rice instead of expanding and make yourself dispensable like paper. See little, hear little, and think little.

 

The body is the Bodhi Tree

The mind like a bright mirror standing

Take care to wipe it all the time

And allow no dust to cling. – Shen-hsiu

 

There never was a Bodhi Tree

Nor bright mirror standing

Fundamentally, not one things exists

So where is the dust to cling? - Hui-neng

 

Yoko Ono

23 Jan 1966

 

"GIVE ME the moonlight, give me the girl, and leave the rest to me" - the song that became Frankie Vaughan's signature tune and gave him the public nickname of "Mr Moonlight", would hardly have trademarked the young pop singer as perhaps variety's last great all- round entertainer without the devoted coaching in style and the technique of top-hat twirling and patent-leather high-kicking given him by an old lady, still top of the bill in Vaughan's early years, Miss Hetty King.

Hetty, born in 1883, gracing the music halls since 1897, became a male impersonator in 1905. The switch made her a star, and, dressed as a merchant seaman for "All the Nice Girls Love a Sailor", during which she carefully ignited her pipe, or strutting the stage in top hat and tails singing the praises of Piccadilly, "the playground of the gay", she sang her immaculate act almost to her end, which came in 1972 at the age of 89.

Frankie Vaughan met her during a run of New Stars and Old Favourites - he was new, Hetty was, frankly, old - and became utterly captivated by her performance. Certainly without her interest in him and constant coaching in her top- hat-and-tails technique, he would never have become that star so well remembered.

Born Frank Abelson in Liverpool in 1928, the son of an upholsterer, he was clearly a smart lad. He won a scholarship to the Lancaster College of Art and a place at Leeds University. Called up towards the end of the Second World War, he joined the RAMC, where he spent some of his three- and-a-half-year enlistment taking his first steps into the world of entertainment, singing in a number of camp concerts backed by station dance bands.

Demobbed in 1949, he enrolled at Leeds College of Art as a student teacher. Every year the students presented their own revue at the Empire Theatre, and Frankie, remembering how he had enjoyed his odd spot of singing whilst in the Army, volunteered to take part. The theatre manager was much impressed and advised him to seek out Billy Marsh, who handled such newcomers to show business as Norman Wisdom and Joan Regan. Vaughan said thanks but no thanks, preferring the somewhat safer world of commercial art. He left the art college and took a freelance job designing a stand for the Furniture Exhibition at Earls Court. He was paid 30 guineas, a more than fair fee for those days. Unfortunately, further well-paid commissions were not forthcoming.

Remembering the enthusiasm of the Empire manager, Vaughan got him to write a letter of introduction to Billy Marsh. The reply was for him to come to London in one month when auditions would be held. Too impatient to wait, Vaughan took a train to town and marched into Marsh's office singing at the top of his voice. Marsh was less than amused: he was holding a business conference at the time.

However, sensing something in the young man's voice, he advised him to hire a pianist and a rehearsal room and he would come and listen. One hour in a room containing nothing else than a piano and a stool cost Vaughan all of half-a-crown (121/2 pence), but it was well worth it. He sang the Donald Peers hit "Powder Your Face With Sunshine" and Marsh enjoyed it, promptly booking him into the Kingston Empire for a week. Top of the bill was the cockney comedian Jimmy Wheeler ("Aye-aye! That's yer lot!"). The day after his debut, the Tuesday, Vaughan was shifted from opening turn to closing the first half of the bill. Frankie Vaughan had arrived.

By the end of his first year touring the variety halls, Vaughan was earning pounds 150 a week. He had also met Hetty King, whilst appearing as one of the new stars in New Stars and Old Favourites. The encounter would change Vaughan's style for the rest of his career, beginning with the single old-style top-hat-and-tails high- kicking number as a kind of encore and finally virtually taking over his entire act.

It was while singing in Glasgow that he found an old sheet music of "Give Me the Moonlight", a Victorian song sung by the old-time comedian Fred Barnes, who had died in 1938. Vaughan made the song his own, eventually performing it around the world from the London Palladium to New York and Las Vegas.

Vaughan entered the recording side of show business in 1950, singing "The Old Piano Roll Blues" for Decca, a cover version of the hit recording by Hoagy Carmichael, Al Jolson and the Andrews Sisters. Many other hits would follow once he had switched to HMV. First came "Look at That Girl" (1953) with Ken Mackintosh and his orchestra. This was a cover for Guy Mitchell, top man of his time. Later there were "The Cuff of My Shirt" (1954) with the Kordites, "Happy Days and Lonely Nights" (1955), the extraordinary "Green Door" (1956), "The Garden of Eden" (1957) and "Kisses Sweeter Than Wine" (1958) with which he was up against that folksy group, the Weavers.

Vaughan's film career was small but significant, starting with nothing more than his voice. He sang songs on the soundtrack of Escape in the Sun (1956), a somewhat obscure jungle thriller starring John Bentley. The picture-going world saw his face for the first time in Ramsbottom Rides Again (1956) a comical cowboy contraption starring Big-Hearted Arthur Askey and his daughter Anthea. Vaughan sang two songs, "Ride, Ride Again" and "This is the Night".

More serious stuff came his way when he was taken under the production wings of Anna Neagle and her producer husband, Herbert Wilcox. These Dangerous Years (1957) gave him second billing to George Baker in a Jack Trevor Storey's screenplay about a Liverpool teenager, conscripted into the Army, who goes on the run after wounding a bully. Apart from the title song he sang "Cold Cold Shower" and "Isn't This a Lovely Evening".

Further Wilcox-Neagle films followed, starting with Wonderful Things (1958). Another Storey original, this cast Vaughan as a singing Catalan fisherman coming to London to make his fortune. He sang the title song and "Little Fishes" and of course, made his fortune. The Lady is a Square (1959) top-billed Anna Neagle herself as the square lady, with Janette Scott as her teenage daughter. As usual Vaughan sang the title song, plus "Honey Bunny Baby" and "That's My Doll". A few months later came The Heart of a Man with Vaughan top-billed at last over Anne Heywood, Anthony Newley and Tony Britton. Four songs this time, "Walking Tall", "My Boy Flat-Top", "Sometime Somewhere" and the title song as usual. Vaughan plays an ex- seaman who becomes a dancer on a gambler's posh yacht.

Vaughan's film career seemed to end here, at least as far as Wilcox and Neagle were concerned, but four years later he suddenly reappeared as one of the many personalities who supported William Rushton in It's All Over Town (1963). Other stars playing themselves included Mr Acker Bilk, the Bachelors, the Springfields and Clodagh Rodgers. In this Eastmancolor hotchpotch Vaughan finally put on film the definitive version of his "Give Me the Moonlight".

Vaughan made his first television appearance on the BBC in 1952, and thereafter was a frequent star in variety-style shows, moving across to commercial television once this got under way. Among the many programmes he sang in are On with the Show transmitted from Blackpool (1955), The Jack Jackson Show, Sunday Night at the London Palladium, and his very own Frankie Vaughan Show (all 1956), and in the United States The Big Record Show and The Ed Sullivan Show (1959). By 1961 he was televising globally in Belgium, Denmark, Germany, Holland, Italy and Spain.

Vaughan's live appearances covered every kind of show, starting with Wildfire, an ice show at the Empress Hall in 1956. He was given just four weeks to learn to skate to music, and made it by a day-long routine starting at half past eight. All went well until he tried exiting backwards after his "Give Me the Moonlight" number, and fell flat on his back over the barrier.

He recovered quickly, for by this time he had become something of a health- and-strength fanatic, so much so that during his 1956 Blackpool season he formed a weight- lifting club amongst his fellow cast members. He also spent much of his free time training with professional footballers, and Ronnie Allen, the West Bromwich centre- forward, actually ran his fan club, doing a more than fair impression of Vaughan's act whenever the occasion arose.

Apart from the self-improvement of so much physical exercise, Vaughan also gave of his time and more to the National Association of Boys' Clubs, including all the royalties from one of his discs, the song "Seventeen".

There followed many big stage productions, from summer seasons at the Talk of the Town to Christmas pantomimes, and Puss in Boots at the London Palladium (1963), for which important venue he performed an eight-month season in 1964. In 1970 there was cabaret at the Rockefeller Center in New York, and in 1971 a lengthy tour of Australia. Several Royal Variety Shows included one special event in Scotland.

Perhaps Vaughan's personal favourite memory was that of going to Hollywood for 20th Century-Fox, where he was co-starred (well almost) with the Sixties queen of the sexy screen, Marilyn Monroe. Officially, he was fifth-billed behind Yves Montand, Tony Randall and Wilfrid Hyde-White, but that was perhaps better than the footnote to the cast-list: "As themselves, Milton Berle, Bing Crosby and Gene Kelly". The BFI critic commented, "Vaughan is sadly and obviously out of his class", but at least it left him with a unique memory for a British song-and-dance-man.

Vaughan was appointed OBE in 1965 for his work for the Boys' Clubs (he was advanced CBE two years ago) and in 1967 at the age of 39 was crowned the youngest ever King of the Grand Order of Water Rats. His recent slide into ill-health makes a tragic finale to a career that once throbbed with well-publicised fitness. Ironically he contributed an illustrated article to the 1962 book of Radio Luxembourg Record Stars. It was entitled "How To Be a Tower of Strength and Stay Fit".

 

Frank Abelson (Frankie Vaughan), singer: born Liverpool 3 February 1928; OBE 1965, CBE 1997; married 1951 Stella Shock (two sons, one daughter); died High Wycombe, Buckinghamshire 17 September 1999.

 

Denis Gifford The Independent 18 September 1999

 

NESA dance concert "Footnotes" 2006

In mid-1944, it looked as if the war in Europe was coming to an end. Hitler was on the run. After five hard years of war, Allied soldiers were breathing easier - even stopping to enjoy dances and parties.

 

Hitler, however, had one final card to play. In December 1944, he struck back with a counterattack that has come to be known as the Battle of the Bulge - the single biggest and bloodiest American soldiers have ever fought - in which nearly 80,000 were killed, maimed or captured in an infernal test of courage and endurance.

 

It came as a total surprise when, on December 16, 1944, thirty German divisions - a quarter of a million men strong - roared across an 85-mile Allied front, from southern Belgium to the middle of Luxembourg. Secretly planned down to the detail by Hitler himself, the invasion was designed to split the American-British alliance, setting them to quarreling and permitting the Führer to negotiate a peace. The losses on the first day were massive; in some places, the Allies were outnumbered ten to one.

 

By Christmas, the German offensive had opened a bulge some 50 miles into the Allied lines, forcing the biggest mass surrender of American soldiers since Bataan - some 4,000 men in a single day. Across the rolling hills and dark forests of Belgium and Luxembourg, more than half a million young Allied men were thrown into battle.

 

The soldiers often fought in zero-temperature conditions and driving snow, which prevented them from seeing more than 10 or 20 yards in front of them. With equipment and uniforms that were designed for warmer times, frostbite became a terrible reality. Because soldiers were often cut off from their divisions in foxholes, the wounded, in some cases, literally froze to death.

 

"Both the enemy and the weather could kill you," says Private Bart Hagerman. "And the two of them together was a pretty deadly combination."

 

"It seems like you`re in this deadly struggle under miserable conditions and the whole universe is united against you," recalls Sergeant Ed Stewart.

 

As the battle wore on and the Americans suffered more and more casualties, men had to be found to take their places. As a result, physical standards were lowered, and training was cut short. In one the film`s most moving sections, Ben Kimmelman, a captain, describes how soldiers who had been physically wounded or disturbed by combat were given cursory treatment and shipped back to the front.

 

"Men who were wounded and were redeemable were in a very bad position," recalls Kimmelman."... It`s very hard to forget the expressions on their faces ... a kind of hollow-eyed, lifeless, slack-jawed expression. ... It`s almost as though they`re going to a hopeless doom."

 

The Battle of the Bulge ended in the last few days of January 1945, when American troops made their way back to the original lines: the ones they had held when the battle began. Sixteen thousand Americans had lost their lives and 60,000 were wounded or captured; German casualties were said to be twice that. And for many veterans, the terrible battle has never ended.

 

"It doesn`t go away," says Sergeant Ed Stewart. "It sleeps sometimes, but then it awakens again ... It`s an enormity of an experience. And everything after that has been a footnote."

 

Photo: Road between Martelange and Ettelbruck, southern edge of the bulge.

 

Click here

Thiswritelife.wordpress.com

 

The Borgia Apartments are not just a footnote in papal history, but an opulent group of six rooms located in the Borgia Tower inside the Vatican.

 

Sealed off after the death of Alexander VI, Rodrigo Borgia, (1431-1503) by Pope Pius III due to its association with the despised Borgia family; the art itself cannot be denied; the vivid colors of red and blue tempt the fingertips to touch, the scenery overwhelms the senses, all colliding in the mind of the admirer.

 

Depictions of the Sybils, early Saints, the Resurrection and the Magi fill the vaulted walls, the detail exquisite. The arched ceilings are intricately frescoed and the floors once covered with rare Moorish tiles, a few pieces still evident. Chambers that oversaw plans of war, marriages of dynasties, and even murder may be empty of furnishings, but the remaining art portrays the opulence and power of the time. These six rooms lay hidden in the Vatican for three hundred years preserving frescos created at the command of Alexander VI for the private apartments of the Borgia pope.

 

In 1492 Pinturicchio was employed by Pope Alexander VI to decorate a recently completed suite of rooms in the Vatican. The rooms are now part of the Vatican library and five of the suites retain a series of frescos.

 

The upper part of the walls and vaults were not only painted, but further enriched with delicate stucco work in relief, and are a masterpiece of design. The paintings used themes from medieval encyclopedias adding an eschatological layer of meaning and celebrating the supposedly divine origins of the Borgias.

 

Pinturicchio worked in these rooms with an army of apprentices without interruption until 1498. No contract is in evidence, the only record of his work is the payment; another line entered in the Vatican account books.

 

The private living rooms of the Pope at that time were the Hall of Mysteries, the Hall of the Saints and the Hall of the Liberal Arts, besides the two withdrawing rooms.

 

Imagination furnishes the empty chambers with all the choice objects they once contained.

 

The priceless majolica, the gold and silver vessels, the brocaded hangings, the ivory carvings – an ideal background for the scenes of love and revelry once lived here. The strum of music, the laughter and wit, boisterous merriment, muted conferences, the whispered plotting, the ghastly treacheries, the dying groans. In the Hall of the Sibyls, the second husband of Lucrezia, Alfonso of Aragon, was murdered. In the adjoining suite, the Pope himself died in agony. What other deeds of darkness, despair and triumphant villainy have these chaste and innocent conceptions of Pintoricchio looked down upon? Fascinations of fleurs du mal.

 

---

 

Reds Italy:

 

The Vatican's Appartamento Borgia (Borgia Apartments) were the private chambers of Borgia Pope Alexander VI, frescoed by early Renaissance master Pinturicchio.

 

The Borgia Apartments, downstairs from the Raphael Rooms, were painted by Pinturicchio and occupied by the infamous Spanish Borgia pope Alexander VI (you know: that devilish guy played by Jeremy Irons in the Borgias TV series).

 

This apartment suite was closed off by Julius II—who refused to live in rooms sullied by his venal predecessor—and its frescoes covered with black crepe.

 

Things remained that way for 386 years, until the apartments were reopened in 1889 to serve as display rooms for the Vatican's collection of (frankly bland, for the most part) modern religious art.

 

More importantly, when they reopened in 1889, the Vatican also finally uncovered the walls and ceilings to unveil the rich frescoes, painted by Pinturicchio with wacky early-Renaissance Umbrian fantasy.

 

Pinturicchio's frescoes in the Borgia apartments

 

A co-pupil of Raphael’s under master Perugino, Pinturicchio had a penchant for embedding fake jewels and things like metal saddle studs in his frescoes rather than painting these details in for an intriguing effect—call it Renassiance 3D.

 

While Pinturrichio's art is not necessarily at its top form in these rooms, they're worth a run-through.

 

The frescoes have been (finally) getting restored over the past several years, and the cleaning revealed something amazing: the first European depiction of Native Americans.

 

In the scene of The Risen Christ (a.k.a. The Ressurection)—just above the casket and to the left of the head of the long-haired man in red robes gazing up at Jesus—is a tiny scene of naked men in feathered headresses dancing around a pole. One even appears to be styling a mohawk hairdo.

 

What makes this even more remarkable is that these frescoes were finished by 1494—just two years after Columbus made landfall in the Caribbean and a mere 18 months or so after he returned from that voyage and handed over his journals to Ferdinand and Isabella of Spain.

 

More intriguing: While this scene was being painted, the crowned heads of Europe were still desperately trying to keep discovery of the New World a secret while they divvied up the rights to any future discoveries.

 

So while Columbus' discovery was something of a state secret at the time, Alexander VI apparently just couldn't resist a little bragging via fresco. He must have shared Columbus' description of the natives with Pinturicchio so he could slip them in there.

 

And that balding, pius-looking fellow kneeling in rich gold robes on the left side of the scene? It's Rodrigo Borgia himself: Pope Alexander VI.

155cm by 155cm

Pencil, inks, acrylics, spray paints and magnetised iron filings on white paper.

Unsold.

 

Space is beautiful, blissful foreverness, a mysterious garden at night yet to be explored.

 

But space is lonely, detached from humanity, from our earths emotion and life. Science jumps ahead, out into the deep and hard to ever touch theoretical infinite. Earths life and the living inner soul becomes redundant, progress leaves us as its wiggly awkward footnote!

 

I believe our own consciousness pilots our evolution, for better or worse!

 

This series I call Populating the Dark Matter because I want to mix my love of the perfect black and starlit jeweled infinite with the warmth and humanity of life on earth and its struggles, emotions and conditions. Space becomes for me a giant metaphorical gallery where I can exhibit and study life on earth!

 

The magnetised iron filings are an element, the undefinable energy, the passion of bodies and souls engaged and revolving as mandala like totems of metaphor and symbolism populating the undiscovered gallery of our outer space heavens.

 

---------------------------------------

 

Magnetised Imagery is a way to portray the undefinable living energy of people, creatures, nature & all the physical forces of our universe.

 

My artistic process manipulates expressivly the physical reaction of iron powders by using various magnets & quickly sealing that result to create a permanent image in this medium.

 

This frozen magnetic dance seems to perform forever, freely moving & alive.

 

In creating this new medium to portray life, I am percieving living bodies as wilful energy behind skin masks of shape & circumstance.

 

A soul is being portrayed as hard to catch in its costumed outline of a body!

 

Echoing our ancient art. Where characters where brought into the world by the act of drawing them into the torch lit contours of our mind in the cave!

I found this on the internet about this photo so i have copied it and pasted it here it was in the guardian newspaper

  

There's a ship in Middlesbrough dock that's been listing like the Costa Concordia. She looks like she might vanish completely into the River Tees. As I peer at her from across the expanse of flattened industrial land that separates her from the road, I can just about make out the name she once had, in sprightly red above the decaying mess of the bow: the Tuxedo Royale.

 

I'm here because Middlesbrough has been at or near the top of a lot of lists these past months. There's house prices. In England and Wales they fell by an average of 1.3% in 2011. But in Middlesbrough they plummeted by 9.9%. A few miles up the road in Hartlepool they took a 17.5% tumble. There were no worse declines anywhere in Britain. And then there are even bleaker lists. A Middlesbrough family is more at risk of falling into poverty than any other family in England. This is according to the credit reference agency, Experian. When the public sector cuts kick in properly, the people of Middlesbrough will find themselves the least able to withstand them. (Most resilient, by the way, will be a town called Elmbridge in Surrey, Experian has somehow calculated).

 

This is because when the shipbuilding and steel and chemical industries collapsed, the opportunities here were in the public sector – in education, the NHS and so on. Middlesbrough shipbuilders retrained to become – as the phase went at the time – "keyboard warriors". [See footnote]

 

Now there are To Let signs everywhere. This is a town where lots of window frames have no windows and lots of doorways have no doors. Amid all this the Tuxedo Royale seems especially sad and mysterious. Where did she come from? How did she end up like this?

 

I make some calls, and get talking with two men called Richard Moffatt and John Coates. "Have you got shoes with good grip?" says John. "If you don't mind signing something to absolve the dock owners of any responsibility if you fall overboard, I'll take you on board."

 

I ask who owns Tuxedo Royale. "Nobody," says Richard. "She's ownerless. If she had an owner someone would have to be responsible for her."

 

John Coates sits in a nearby cafe. Truckers stand in the toilets in their underpants, washing at the sinks. John isn't a trucker. He's unemployed.

 

"I just plod about from day to day," he says. "A lot of people cabbage but I try and keep busy. I go round to friends' houses. I'm trying to get this Tuxedo Royale project going."

 

John is 47 and looks younger, I think because there's a restless energy to him. He's propelled onwards by a vision. He used to work on the Tuxedo Royale now he wants to save her. He says he'll explain how when we're on board.

 

We drive through Middlehaven dock – an expanse of flattened nothingness that once, John says, "had a close-knit community living here. But very violent. Very dangerous. Lots of drugs. So they levelled the place. They had to, really."

 

We park outside the Tuxedo Royale. Close up, I can see what a mess she's in. The decks glisten with shattered glass. Electrical wires hang down from the ceilings like spaghetti. John tells me about her past. It turns out she's had quite the Chitty Chitty Bang Bang life.

 

She was built in 1965, on Tyneside, by British Railways. At first she was the TSS Dover, a steam-powered car ferry, but she was soon transformed into a Mediterranean passenger ship called the Sol Express. She saw many things back then, John says, from incredible parties to terrifying militia warfare. One day in September 1983 she was sailing from Larnaca, Cyprus, when she received an emergency call. Lebanese Christian soldiers and Muslim militia were shooting at each other in nearby Beirut. The fighting was so intense the port had been forced to close, but a group of American embassy staff needed rescuing. And so the Sol Express, "in a sign of confidence in the government", according to a New York Times article at the time, changed destination. She sailed into Beirut and saved the Americans.

 

Five years later, in 1988, an Irish shoe leather millionaire pumped a fortune into her and the Sol Express became the lavish floating nightclub, the Tuxedo Royale. For more than a decade she settled, wildly successfully, in Newcastle upon Tyne. Some of the TV series Our Friends in the North was filmed on board, and Daniel Craig went partying on the ship to get into character.

 

Later I manage to find a promotional video. The camera sweeps through bars bathed in blue light, past mirrored pillars that pulsate in pink neon. There's a revolving dancefloor, an ancient Rome-themed disco room and a psychedelic room. "Here's Trader Jack's disco bar," says the voiceover. "With its sleek clean lines and glossy wood floors it looks every inch the ship's disco. Here's the 70s theme club, Stowaways. The funky decor and colour scheme reflect the decor of that era. The concept of a floating entertainment complex is definitely of the moment."

 

John finds some strips of rusting metal for us to use as a makeshift gangplank. Last week thieves stole the actual gangplank, he says. We teeter precariously over it and on to the ship and I get a very different kind of tour.

 

There are ripped-out doors and shattered glass everywhere. John says the ship is being stripped for scrap: "They're smashing the portholes just to get the little brass knobs off. They've stolen miles of cables. They're spending whole weekends on board. We've found sleeping bags. A few months ago you could have started the generators, stocked the bars and run it as a club. She would have been up and running. Now look …"

 

It really is a shambles. The decks are strewn with debris. Mangled cables cascade down from the smashed ceiling tiles. The mirror balls are missing their mirrors. The thieves have stolen so much they've gone right through to the water. She would have sunk by now if she hadn't already hit the bottom of the river.

 

"All this …" John waves his hands across the devastation, "has happened in the last fortnight."

 

We continue our tour. "This was our Sunset Bar," says John. "They used to have a saxophone player over there." He points to a mound of mangled chairs. "It was a chillout bar. The floors were polished. She was really outstanding. Down there was Trader Jack's. You'd meet friends in the Sunset and go in there. They'd play Michael Jackson, Donna Summer. You never wanted to sit down."

 

John pauses. He looks around. "It's heartbreaking for me, this. I helped put in a lot of the lighting and electrical work. It's a bit devastating, actually."

 

"Can't the police do anything?" I ask.

 

"They don't want to know," John says. "They're '0800 go away we're not interested'. They haven't got the funds to do anything about it."

 

John falls silent for a moment. Then he says, "She's a victim of changing times, I suppose."

 

So what happened? I think a clue can be found in an Observer article from May 1999. The food critic Jay Rayner visited Newcastle that month. He walked past the Tuxedo Royale and wrote that she "looks, to the untutored eye, like nothing less than Dante's seven circles of hell made seaworthy". Then he walked on to his destination – a new Michelin starred restaurant where he chose "a warm salad of salt pork, griddled foie gras and puy lentils".

 

Newcastle was changing. The Tuxedo Royale was anachronistically ungentrified. She had to move to somewhere more culturally fitting. And so it was, in May 2000, she moored to great fanfare 50 miles south, here in Middlehaven, right in front of Middlesbrough FC stadium. Which is where she became a floating strip club for the home fans.

 

"They used to put strippers on in the Bonzai bar," says John. "Pre-match. The music would come on and the girls would jump out from behind the bar and dance certain dances. I remember one time we had 1,200 guys on board all waiting for the strippers but the agency was unreliable and the girls hadn't turned up. In the end we persuaded one of the female bar staff to get up and do a bit."

 

"She must have loved you," I say.

 

"Yeah, well," says John, "there were 1,200 drunken men on board, all chanting, and no strippers. So she got up and did a little bit, God bless her. We got away with it."

 

And then times changed again. In September 2004, plans were announced to transform the flattened wasteland of Middlehaven. Dubai's economic development minister, his excellency Mohamed Ali Alabbar, was interested.

 

"They had this vision," John says. "This place would be second only to Dubai. All these multibillion-pound futuristic buildings." The plans were incredibly elaborate. There would be a primary school in the shape of a spelling block, a cinema designed to resemble a Rubik's cube, apartment blocks inspired by Prada skirts, a hotel in the shape of the game KerPlunk, a brand new college and an Anish Kapoor sculpture.

 

The scheme was launched at the Venice Biennale. The Middlesbrough mayor, Ray Mallon, ceremonially handed his excellency a Middlesbrough football shirt. Part of the deal was that the Tuxedo Royale had to go.

 

"Our plans are ambitious and hugely significant and proceeding at a spectacular pace," the developers announced in 2005. "It is timely that this vessel should now move on."

 

The ship's owner, Michael Quadrini, said magnanimously that he didn't want to stand in the way of progress during these boom times. Anyway, he added, it was fine because the company had "been offered other sites both in the UK and abroad and are currently looking into which will be the best one".

 

But nothing materialised. Instead the Tuxedo Royale shut forever and sailed a few miles up river to a truly horrendous place – the "ghost ships" graveyard in Hartlepool.

 

The ghost ships were vast, hulking, decommissioned US and French military vessels that were supposed to have been dismantled in Turkey.

 

"But the Turks didn't want them," says John's friend Nathan, who has joined us on board. "They were too dangerous. Too filled with asbestos. So they forced them on to us instead." It makes you gasp to see photographs of the Tuxedo Royale in the shadow of the ghost ships. She looks like a minnow about to be devoured by sharks.

 

Now she's back in Able dock, right next to Middlehaven. The Dubai dream died. The financial markets collapsed and the coalition government announced its cuts. John, Nathan and I stand on deck and gaze out, across the expanse of nothingness, at the unrealised vision.

 

Actually, two lovely things got built before it all collapsed – the beautiful Kapoor sculpture and a gleaming steel Middlesbrough college building designed to resemble a ship's hull. But they stand alone and incongruous. In the midst of the economic devastation, saving the Tuxedo Royale is low on everyone's priorities.

 

There are only two men holding out hope: John and his friend Richard, a railway preservation enthusiast who lives in Dover. I telephone him. He says it'll cost £200,000 to move the ship into dry dock across the water, safe from the vandals and thieves.

 

"I said to my contact in Middlesbrough council: 'You must have people who can raise that kind of money,'" Richard tells me. "He replied, 'Well we did, but we've just made them all redundant.'"

 

"You're exactly what David Cameron hopes will happen," I say. "An entrepreneur entering a savagely cut community to try and make everything OK with a private initiative."

 

"Yes, he has a name for it, doesn't he?" says Richard. "'Localised something … or … um …"

 

"It's on the tip of my tongue too," I say.

 

"It's … um …" says Richard.

 

The next day Richard emails me: "I've remembered the name! Big society!"

 

"Big society!" I email back. "That's it!"

 

Now, John and I climb down the makeshift gangplank and back on to land. John points to the spot where the thieves jump across the water to steal the brass knobs and cables. It's a giant and perilous leap.

 

"They could break their necks," I say. John nods. "You've got to give them marks for bravery," I say.

 

We survey what's left of the ship. "Sooner or later those lifeboats are going to start falling off," John says. "If we don't catch it now, it's gone."

 

By 'it' he means not just the ship, but shipbuilding here in the north-east. "There are so many lads like us just dying for something to do," he says. "You get worn down. Your feeling of worth goes. But if we can raise the £200,000 to get her into dry dock we can get a thriving little community going. Bring the old shipbuilders down for a cup of tea.

 

"I know one old guy, a master shipbuilder, 67 years old. He's stacking shelves at Tesco. They don't have to do anything strenuous – just tell their stories. It'll be like going down to the allotments for them. And they can pass the knowledge on to the youngsters who'll be fixing the ship up. And in years to come they can say: 'I built that ship.' Or their kids can say: 'My dad built that ship.'" John pauses. "We have to go back from being keyboard warriors to actually making something."

 

"Have you got local support?" I ask.

 

"Yes," he says. "Although a man from Middlehaven said to me the other day: 'The ship's got more chance of getting out from the bottom than you boys have.'"

 

As John remembers this insult he suddenly looks incredibly upset. But then a different look crosses his face, a look of absolute resolve, and I honestly think he's going to make it happen.

 

• This footnote was added on 8 March 2012. A version of the following correction was scheduled to appear in the Guardian: A feature about Middlesbrough referred to the collapse of Teesside's shipbuilding, steel and chemical industries. While this may well describe the dramatic declines in these sectors in the latter part of the 19th century, a reader rightly points out that: "The chemical industry on Teesside hasn't collapsed. The process sector is actually growing . . . The steel works are at Redcar and have of course reopened creating 1,500 or so jobs under SSI."

I found this on the internet about this photo so i have copied it and pasted it here it was in the guardian newspaper

  

There's a ship in Middlesbrough dock that's been listing like the Costa Concordia. She looks like she might vanish completely into the River Tees. As I peer at her from across the expanse of flattened industrial land that separates her from the road, I can just about make out the name she once had, in sprightly red above the decaying mess of the bow: the Tuxedo Royale.

 

I'm here because Middlesbrough has been at or near the top of a lot of lists these past months. There's house prices. In England and Wales they fell by an average of 1.3% in 2011. But in Middlesbrough they plummeted by 9.9%. A few miles up the road in Hartlepool they took a 17.5% tumble. There were no worse declines anywhere in Britain. And then there are even bleaker lists. A Middlesbrough family is more at risk of falling into poverty than any other family in England. This is according to the credit reference agency, Experian. When the public sector cuts kick in properly, the people of Middlesbrough will find themselves the least able to withstand them. (Most resilient, by the way, will be a town called Elmbridge in Surrey, Experian has somehow calculated).

 

This is because when the shipbuilding and steel and chemical industries collapsed, the opportunities here were in the public sector – in education, the NHS and so on. Middlesbrough shipbuilders retrained to become – as the phase went at the time – "keyboard warriors". [See footnote]

 

Now there are To Let signs everywhere. This is a town where lots of window frames have no windows and lots of doorways have no doors. Amid all this the Tuxedo Royale seems especially sad and mysterious. Where did she come from? How did she end up like this?

 

I make some calls, and get talking with two men called Richard Moffatt and John Coates. "Have you got shoes with good grip?" says John. "If you don't mind signing something to absolve the dock owners of any responsibility if you fall overboard, I'll take you on board."

 

I ask who owns Tuxedo Royale. "Nobody," says Richard. "She's ownerless. If she had an owner someone would have to be responsible for her."

 

John Coates sits in a nearby cafe. Truckers stand in the toilets in their underpants, washing at the sinks. John isn't a trucker. He's unemployed.

 

"I just plod about from day to day," he says. "A lot of people cabbage but I try and keep busy. I go round to friends' houses. I'm trying to get this Tuxedo Royale project going."

 

John is 47 and looks younger, I think because there's a restless energy to him. He's propelled onwards by a vision. He used to work on the Tuxedo Royale now he wants to save her. He says he'll explain how when we're on board.

 

We drive through Middlehaven dock – an expanse of flattened nothingness that once, John says, "had a close-knit community living here. But very violent. Very dangerous. Lots of drugs. So they levelled the place. They had to, really."

 

We park outside the Tuxedo Royale. Close up, I can see what a mess she's in. The decks glisten with shattered glass. Electrical wires hang down from the ceilings like spaghetti. John tells me about her past. It turns out she's had quite the Chitty Chitty Bang Bang life.

 

She was built in 1965, on Tyneside, by British Railways. At first she was the TSS Dover, a steam-powered car ferry, but she was soon transformed into a Mediterranean passenger ship called the Sol Express. She saw many things back then, John says, from incredible parties to terrifying militia warfare. One day in September 1983 she was sailing from Larnaca, Cyprus, when she received an emergency call. Lebanese Christian soldiers and Muslim militia were shooting at each other in nearby Beirut. The fighting was so intense the port had been forced to close, but a group of American embassy staff needed rescuing. And so the Sol Express, "in a sign of confidence in the government", according to a New York Times article at the time, changed destination. She sailed into Beirut and saved the Americans.

 

Five years later, in 1988, an Irish shoe leather millionaire pumped a fortune into her and the Sol Express became the lavish floating nightclub, the Tuxedo Royale. For more than a decade she settled, wildly successfully, in Newcastle upon Tyne. Some of the TV series Our Friends in the North was filmed on board, and Daniel Craig went partying on the ship to get into character.

 

Later I manage to find a promotional video. The camera sweeps through bars bathed in blue light, past mirrored pillars that pulsate in pink neon. There's a revolving dancefloor, an ancient Rome-themed disco room and a psychedelic room. "Here's Trader Jack's disco bar," says the voiceover. "With its sleek clean lines and glossy wood floors it looks every inch the ship's disco. Here's the 70s theme club, Stowaways. The funky decor and colour scheme reflect the decor of that era. The concept of a floating entertainment complex is definitely of the moment."

 

John finds some strips of rusting metal for us to use as a makeshift gangplank. Last week thieves stole the actual gangplank, he says. We teeter precariously over it and on to the ship and I get a very different kind of tour.

 

There are ripped-out doors and shattered glass everywhere. John says the ship is being stripped for scrap: "They're smashing the portholes just to get the little brass knobs off. They've stolen miles of cables. They're spending whole weekends on board. We've found sleeping bags. A few months ago you could have started the generators, stocked the bars and run it as a club. She would have been up and running. Now look …"

 

It really is a shambles. The decks are strewn with debris. Mangled cables cascade down from the smashed ceiling tiles. The mirror balls are missing their mirrors. The thieves have stolen so much they've gone right through to the water. She would have sunk by now if she hadn't already hit the bottom of the river.

 

"All this …" John waves his hands across the devastation, "has happened in the last fortnight."

 

We continue our tour. "This was our Sunset Bar," says John. "They used to have a saxophone player over there." He points to a mound of mangled chairs. "It was a chillout bar. The floors were polished. She was really outstanding. Down there was Trader Jack's. You'd meet friends in the Sunset and go in there. They'd play Michael Jackson, Donna Summer. You never wanted to sit down."

 

John pauses. He looks around. "It's heartbreaking for me, this. I helped put in a lot of the lighting and electrical work. It's a bit devastating, actually."

 

"Can't the police do anything?" I ask.

 

"They don't want to know," John says. "They're '0800 go away we're not interested'. They haven't got the funds to do anything about it."

 

John falls silent for a moment. Then he says, "She's a victim of changing times, I suppose."

 

So what happened? I think a clue can be found in an Observer article from May 1999. The food critic Jay Rayner visited Newcastle that month. He walked past the Tuxedo Royale and wrote that she "looks, to the untutored eye, like nothing less than Dante's seven circles of hell made seaworthy". Then he walked on to his destination – a new Michelin starred restaurant where he chose "a warm salad of salt pork, griddled foie gras and puy lentils".

 

Newcastle was changing. The Tuxedo Royale was anachronistically ungentrified. She had to move to somewhere more culturally fitting. And so it was, in May 2000, she moored to great fanfare 50 miles south, here in Middlehaven, right in front of Middlesbrough FC stadium. Which is where she became a floating strip club for the home fans.

 

"They used to put strippers on in the Bonzai bar," says John. "Pre-match. The music would come on and the girls would jump out from behind the bar and dance certain dances. I remember one time we had 1,200 guys on board all waiting for the strippers but the agency was unreliable and the girls hadn't turned up. In the end we persuaded one of the female bar staff to get up and do a bit."

 

"She must have loved you," I say.

 

"Yeah, well," says John, "there were 1,200 drunken men on board, all chanting, and no strippers. So she got up and did a little bit, God bless her. We got away with it."

 

And then times changed again. In September 2004, plans were announced to transform the flattened wasteland of Middlehaven. Dubai's economic development minister, his excellency Mohamed Ali Alabbar, was interested.

 

"They had this vision," John says. "This place would be second only to Dubai. All these multibillion-pound futuristic buildings." The plans were incredibly elaborate. There would be a primary school in the shape of a spelling block, a cinema designed to resemble a Rubik's cube, apartment blocks inspired by Prada skirts, a hotel in the shape of the game KerPlunk, a brand new college and an Anish Kapoor sculpture.

 

The scheme was launched at the Venice Biennale. The Middlesbrough mayor, Ray Mallon, ceremonially handed his excellency a Middlesbrough football shirt. Part of the deal was that the Tuxedo Royale had to go.

 

"Our plans are ambitious and hugely significant and proceeding at a spectacular pace," the developers announced in 2005. "It is timely that this vessel should now move on."

 

The ship's owner, Michael Quadrini, said magnanimously that he didn't want to stand in the way of progress during these boom times. Anyway, he added, it was fine because the company had "been offered other sites both in the UK and abroad and are currently looking into which will be the best one".

 

But nothing materialised. Instead the Tuxedo Royale shut forever and sailed a few miles up river to a truly horrendous place – the "ghost ships" graveyard in Hartlepool.

 

The ghost ships were vast, hulking, decommissioned US and French military vessels that were supposed to have been dismantled in Turkey.

 

"But the Turks didn't want them," says John's friend Nathan, who has joined us on board. "They were too dangerous. Too filled with asbestos. So they forced them on to us instead." It makes you gasp to see photographs of the Tuxedo Royale in the shadow of the ghost ships. She looks like a minnow about to be devoured by sharks.

 

Now she's back in Able dock, right next to Middlehaven. The Dubai dream died. The financial markets collapsed and the coalition government announced its cuts. John, Nathan and I stand on deck and gaze out, across the expanse of nothingness, at the unrealised vision.

 

Actually, two lovely things got built before it all collapsed – the beautiful Kapoor sculpture and a gleaming steel Middlesbrough college building designed to resemble a ship's hull. But they stand alone and incongruous. In the midst of the economic devastation, saving the Tuxedo Royale is low on everyone's priorities.

 

There are only two men holding out hope: John and his friend Richard, a railway preservation enthusiast who lives in Dover. I telephone him. He says it'll cost £200,000 to move the ship into dry dock across the water, safe from the vandals and thieves.

 

"I said to my contact in Middlesbrough council: 'You must have people who can raise that kind of money,'" Richard tells me. "He replied, 'Well we did, but we've just made them all redundant.'"

 

"You're exactly what David Cameron hopes will happen," I say. "An entrepreneur entering a savagely cut community to try and make everything OK with a private initiative."

 

"Yes, he has a name for it, doesn't he?" says Richard. "'Localised something … or … um …"

 

"It's on the tip of my tongue too," I say.

 

"It's … um …" says Richard.

 

The next day Richard emails me: "I've remembered the name! Big society!"

 

"Big society!" I email back. "That's it!"

 

Now, John and I climb down the makeshift gangplank and back on to land. John points to the spot where the thieves jump across the water to steal the brass knobs and cables. It's a giant and perilous leap.

 

"They could break their necks," I say. John nods. "You've got to give them marks for bravery," I say.

 

We survey what's left of the ship. "Sooner or later those lifeboats are going to start falling off," John says. "If we don't catch it now, it's gone."

 

By 'it' he means not just the ship, but shipbuilding here in the north-east. "There are so many lads like us just dying for something to do," he says. "You get worn down. Your feeling of worth goes. But if we can raise the £200,000 to get her into dry dock we can get a thriving little community going. Bring the old shipbuilders down for a cup of tea.

 

"I know one old guy, a master shipbuilder, 67 years old. He's stacking shelves at Tesco. They don't have to do anything strenuous – just tell their stories. It'll be like going down to the allotments for them. And they can pass the knowledge on to the youngsters who'll be fixing the ship up. And in years to come they can say: 'I built that ship.' Or their kids can say: 'My dad built that ship.'" John pauses. "We have to go back from being keyboard warriors to actually making something."

 

"Have you got local support?" I ask.

 

"Yes," he says. "Although a man from Middlehaven said to me the other day: 'The ship's got more chance of getting out from the bottom than you boys have.'"

 

As John remembers this insult he suddenly looks incredibly upset. But then a different look crosses his face, a look of absolute resolve, and I honestly think he's going to make it happen.

 

• This footnote was added on 8 March 2012. A version of the following correction was scheduled to appear in the Guardian: A feature about Middlesbrough referred to the collapse of Teesside's shipbuilding, steel and chemical industries. While this may well describe the dramatic declines in these sectors in the latter part of the 19th century, a reader rightly points out that: "The chemical industry on Teesside hasn't collapsed. The process sector is actually growing . . . The steel works are at Redcar and have of course reopened creating 1,500 or so jobs under SSI."

 

.........so goes the spiritual.....but for me, I realise that the moment is only transitory, this stretch of water passes, and does not return.

As life......................echos nature. We are not immortal, our lives and experiences are photos in an album.

This was taken last weekend, in a break from the snow and ice....but it will return!

A footnote.....I wore heels that day, for about 14 hours without problem, both 2" and 3". Danced till 1 a.m.

(My friend Mary, took the photo.)

NESA dance concert "Footnotes" 2006

Ganesha, also spelled Ganesh, and also known as Ganapati and Vinayaka, is a widely worshipped deity in the Hindu pantheon. His image is found throughout India and Nepal. Hindu sects worship him regardless of affiliations. Devotion to Ganesha is widely diffused and extends to Jains, Buddhists, and beyond India.

 

Although he is known by many attributes, Ganesha's elephant head makes him easy to identify. Ganesha is widely revered as the remover of obstacles, the patron of arts and sciences and the deva of intellect and wisdom. As the god of beginnings, he is honoured at the start of rituals and ceremonies. Ganesha is also invoked as patron of letters and learning during writing sessions. Several texts relate mythological anecdotes associated with his birth and exploits and explain his distinct iconography.

 

Ganesha emerged as a distinct deity in the 4th and 5th centuries CE, during the Gupta Period, although he inherited traits from Vedic and pre-Vedic precursors. He was formally included among the five primary deities of Smartism (a Hindu denomination) in the 9th century. A sect of devotees called the Ganapatya arose, who identified Ganesha as the supreme deity. The principal scriptures dedicated to Ganesha are the Ganesha Purana, the Mudgala Purana, and the Ganapati Atharvashirsa.

 

ETYMOLOGY AND OTHER NAMES

Ganesha has been ascribed many other titles and epithets, including Ganapati and Vighneshvara. The Hindu title of respect Shri is often added before his name. One popular way Ganesha is worshipped is by chanting a Ganesha Sahasranama, a litany of "a thousand names of Ganesha". Each name in the sahasranama conveys a different meaning and symbolises a different aspect of Ganesha. At least two different versions of the Ganesha Sahasranama exist; one version is drawn from the Ganesha Purana, a Hindu scripture venerating Ganesha.

 

The name Ganesha is a Sanskrit compound, joining the words gana, meaning a group, multitude, or categorical system and isha, meaning lord or master. The word gaņa when associated with Ganesha is often taken to refer to the gaņas, a troop of semi-divine beings that form part of the retinue of Shiva. The term more generally means a category, class, community, association, or corporation. Some commentators interpret the name "Lord of the Gaņas" to mean "Lord of Hosts" or "Lord of created categories", such as the elements. Ganapati, a synonym for Ganesha, is a compound composed of gaṇa, meaning "group", and pati, meaning "ruler" or "lord". The Amarakosha, an early Sanskrit lexicon, lists eight synonyms of Ganesha : Vinayaka, Vighnarāja (equivalent to Vighnesha), Dvaimātura (one who has two mothers), Gaṇādhipa (equivalent to Ganapati and Ganesha), Ekadanta (one who has one tusk), Heramba, Lambodara (one who has a pot belly, or, literally, one who has a hanging belly), and Gajanana; having the face of an elephant).

 

Vinayaka is a common name for Ganesha that appears in the Purāṇas and in Buddhist Tantras. This name is reflected in the naming of the eight famous Ganesha temples in Maharashtra known as the Ashtavinayak (aṣṭavināyaka). The names Vighnesha and Vighneshvara (Lord of Obstacles) refers to his primary function in Hindu theology as the master and remover of obstacles (vighna).

 

A prominent name for Ganesha in the Tamil language is Pillai. A. K. Narain differentiates these terms by saying that pillai means a "child" while pillaiyar means a "noble child". He adds that the words pallu, pella, and pell in the Dravidian family of languages signify "tooth or tusk", also "elephant tooth or tusk". Anita Raina Thapan notes that the root word pille in the name Pillaiyar might have originally meant "the young of the elephant", because the Pali word pillaka means "a young elephant".

 

In the Burmese language, Ganesha is known as Maha Peinne, derived from Pali Mahā Wināyaka. The widespread name of Ganesha in Thailand is Phra Phikhanet or Phra Phikhanesuan, both of which are derived from Vara Vighnesha and Vara Vighneshvara respectively, whereas the name Khanet (from Ganesha) is rather rare.

 

In Sri Lanka, in the North-Central and North Western areas with predominantly Buddhist population, Ganesha is known as Aiyanayaka Deviyo, while in other Singhala Buddhist areas he is known as Gana deviyo.

 

ICONOGRAPHY

Ganesha is a popular figure in Indian art. Unlike those of some deities, representations of Ganesha show wide variations and distinct patterns changing over time. He may be portrayed standing, dancing, heroically taking action against demons, playing with his family as a boy, sitting down or on an elevated seat, or engaging in a range of contemporary situations.

 

Ganesha images were prevalent in many parts of India by the 6th century. The 13th century statue pictured is typical of Ganesha statuary from 900–1200, after Ganesha had been well-established as an independent deity with his own sect. This example features some of Ganesha's common iconographic elements. A virtually identical statue has been dated between 973–1200 by Paul Martin-Dubost, and another similar statue is dated c. 12th century by Pratapaditya Pal. Ganesha has the head of an elephant and a big belly. This statue has four arms, which is common in depictions of Ganesha. He holds his own broken tusk in his lower-right hand and holds a delicacy, which he samples with his trunk, in his lower-left hand. The motif of Ganesha turning his trunk sharply to his left to taste a sweet in his lower-left hand is a particularly archaic feature. A more primitive statue in one of the Ellora Caves with this general form has been dated to the 7th century. Details of the other hands are difficult to make out on the statue shown. In the standard configuration, Ganesha typically holds an axe or a goad in one upper arm and a pasha (noose) in the other upper arm.

 

The influence of this old constellation of iconographic elements can still be seen in contemporary representations of Ganesha. In one modern form, the only variation from these old elements is that the lower-right hand does not hold the broken tusk but is turned towards the viewer in a gesture of protection or fearlessness (abhaya mudra). The same combination of four arms and attributes occurs in statues of Ganesha dancing, which is a very popular theme.

 

COMMON ATTRIBUTES

Ganesha has been represented with the head of an elephant since the early stages of his appearance in Indian art. Puranic myths provide many explanations for how he got his elephant head. One of his popular forms, Heramba-Ganapati, has five elephant heads, and other less-common variations in the number of heads are known. While some texts say that Ganesha was born with an elephant head, he acquires the head later in most stories. The most recurrent motif in these stories is that Ganesha was created by Parvati using clay to protect her and Shiva beheaded him when Ganesha came between Shiva and Parvati. Shiva then replaced Ganesha's original head with that of an elephant. Details of the battle and where the replacement head came from vary from source to source. Another story says that Ganesha was created directly by Shiva's laughter. Because Shiva considered Ganesha too alluring, he gave him the head of an elephant and a protruding belly.

 

Ganesha's earliest name was Ekadanta (One Tusked), referring to his single whole tusk, the other being broken. Some of the earliest images of Ganesha show him holding his broken tusk. The importance of this distinctive feature is reflected in the Mudgala Purana, which states that the name of Ganesha's second incarnation is Ekadanta. Ganesha's protruding belly appears as a distinctive attribute in his earliest statuary, which dates to the Gupta period (4th to 6th centuries). This feature is so important that, according to the Mudgala Purana, two different incarnations of Ganesha use names based on it: Lambodara (Pot Belly, or, literally, Hanging Belly) and Mahodara (Great Belly). Both names are Sanskrit compounds describing his belly. The Brahmanda Purana says that Ganesha has the name Lambodara because all the universes (i.e., cosmic eggs) of the past, present, and future are present in him. The number of Ganesha's arms varies; his best-known forms have between two and sixteen arms. Many depictions of Ganesha feature four arms, which is mentioned in Puranic sources and codified as a standard form in some iconographic texts. His earliest images had two arms. Forms with 14 and 20 arms appeared in Central India during the 9th and the 10th centuries. The serpent is a common feature in Ganesha iconography and appears in many forms. According to the Ganesha Purana, Ganesha wrapped the serpent Vasuki around his neck. Other depictions of snakes include use as a sacred thread wrapped around the stomach as a belt, held in a hand, coiled at the ankles, or as a throne. Upon Ganesha's forehead may be a third eye or the Shaivite sectarian mark , which consists of three horizontal lines. The Ganesha Purana prescribes a tilaka mark as well as a crescent moon on the forehead. A distinct form of Ganesha called Bhalachandra includes that iconographic element. Ganesha is often described as red in color. Specific colors are associated with certain forms. Many examples of color associations with specific meditation forms are prescribed in the Sritattvanidhi, a treatise on Hindu iconography. For example, white is associated with his representations as Heramba-Ganapati and Rina-Mochana-Ganapati (Ganapati Who Releases from Bondage). Ekadanta-Ganapati is visualized as blue during meditation in that form.

 

VAHANAS

The earliest Ganesha images are without a vahana (mount/vehicle). Of the eight incarnations of Ganesha described in the Mudgala Purana, Ganesha uses a mouse (shrew) in five of them, a lion in his incarnation as Vakratunda, a peacock in his incarnation as Vikata, and Shesha, the divine serpent, in his incarnation as Vighnaraja. Mohotkata uses a lion, Mayūreśvara uses a peacock, Dhumraketu uses a horse, and Gajanana uses a mouse, in the four incarnations of Ganesha listed in the Ganesha Purana. Jain depictions of Ganesha show his vahana variously as a mouse, elephant, tortoise, ram, or peacock.

 

Ganesha is often shown riding on or attended by a mouse, shrew or rat. Martin-Dubost says that the rat began to appear as the principal vehicle in sculptures of Ganesha in central and western India during the 7th century; the rat was always placed close to his feet. The mouse as a mount first appears in written sources in the Matsya Purana and later in the Brahmananda Purana and Ganesha Purana, where Ganesha uses it as his vehicle in his last incarnation. The Ganapati Atharvashirsa includes a meditation verse on Ganesha that describes the mouse appearing on his flag. The names Mūṣakavāhana (mouse-mount) and Ākhuketana (rat-banner) appear in the Ganesha Sahasranama.

 

The mouse is interpreted in several ways. According to Grimes, "Many, if not most of those who interpret Gaṇapati's mouse, do so negatively; it symbolizes tamoguṇa as well as desire". Along these lines, Michael Wilcockson says it symbolizes those who wish to overcome desires and be less selfish. Krishan notes that the rat is destructive and a menace to crops. The Sanskrit word mūṣaka (mouse) is derived from the root mūṣ (stealing, robbing). It was essential to subdue the rat as a destructive pest, a type of vighna (impediment) that needed to be overcome. According to this theory, showing Ganesha as master of the rat demonstrates his function as Vigneshvara (Lord of Obstacles) and gives evidence of his possible role as a folk grāma-devatā (village deity) who later rose to greater prominence. Martin-Dubost notes a view that the rat is a symbol suggesting that Ganesha, like the rat, penetrates even the most secret places.

 

ASSOCIATIONS

 

OBSTACLES

Ganesha is Vighneshvara or Vighnaraja or Vighnaharta (Marathi), the Lord of Obstacles, both of a material and spiritual order. He is popularly worshipped as a remover of obstacles, though traditionally he also places obstacles in the path of those who need to be checked. Paul Courtright says that "his task in the divine scheme of things, his dharma, is to place and remove obstacles. It is his particular territory, the reason for his creation."

 

Krishan notes that some of Ganesha's names reflect shadings of multiple roles that have evolved over time. Dhavalikar ascribes the quick ascension of Ganesha in the Hindu pantheon, and the emergence of the Ganapatyas, to this shift in emphasis from vighnakartā (obstacle-creator) to vighnahartā (obstacle-averter). However, both functions continue to be vital to his character.

 

BUDDHI (KNOWLEDGE)

Ganesha is considered to be the Lord of letters and learning. In Sanskrit, the word buddhi is a feminine noun that is variously translated as intelligence, wisdom, or intellect. The concept of buddhi is closely associated with the personality of Ganesha, especially in the Puranic period, when many stories stress his cleverness and love of intelligence. One of Ganesha's names in the Ganesha Purana and the Ganesha Sahasranama is Buddhipriya. This name also appears in a list of 21 names at the end of the Ganesha Sahasranama that Ganesha says are especially important. The word priya can mean "fond of", and in a marital context it can mean "lover" or "husband", so the name may mean either "Fond of Intelligence" or "Buddhi's Husband".

 

AUM

Ganesha is identified with the Hindu mantra Aum, also spelled Om. The term oṃkārasvarūpa (Aum is his form), when identified with Ganesha, refers to the notion that he personifies the primal sound. The Ganapati Atharvashirsa attests to this association. Chinmayananda translates the relevant passage as follows:

 

(O Lord Ganapati!) You are (the Trinity) Brahma, Vishnu, and Mahesa. You are Indra. You are fire [Agni] and air [Vāyu]. You are the sun [Sūrya] and the moon [Chandrama]. You are Brahman. You are (the three worlds) Bhuloka [earth], Antariksha-loka [space], and Swargaloka [heaven]. You are Om. (That is to say, You are all this).

 

Some devotees see similarities between the shape of Ganesha's body in iconography and the shape of Aum in the Devanāgarī and Tamil scripts.

 

FIRST CHAKRA

According to Kundalini yoga, Ganesha resides in the first chakra, called Muladhara (mūlādhāra). Mula means "original, main"; adhara means "base, foundation". The muladhara chakra is the principle on which the manifestation or outward expansion of primordial Divine Force rests. This association is also attested to in the Ganapati Atharvashirsa. Courtright translates this passage as follows: "[O Ganesha,] You continually dwell in the sacral plexus at the base of the spine [mūlādhāra cakra]." Thus, Ganesha has a permanent abode in every being at the Muladhara. Ganesha holds, supports and guides all other chakras, thereby "governing the forces that propel the wheel of life".

 

FAMILY AND CONSORTS

Though Ganesha is popularly held to be the son of Shiva and Parvati, the Puranic myths give different versions about his birth. In some he was created by Parvati, in another he was created by Shiva and Parvati, in another he appeared mysteriously and was discovered by Shiva and Parvati or he was born from the elephant headed goddess Malini after she drank Parvati's bath water that had been thrown in the river.

 

The family includes his brother the war god Kartikeya, who is also called Subramanya, Skanda, Murugan and other names. Regional differences dictate the order of their births. In northern India, Skanda is generally said to be the elder, while in the south, Ganesha is considered the first born. In northern India, Skanda was an important martial deity from about 500 BCE to about 600 CE, when worship of him declined significantly in northern India. As Skanda fell, Ganesha rose. Several stories tell of sibling rivalry between the brothers and may reflect sectarian tensions.

 

Ganesha's marital status, the subject of considerable scholarly review, varies widely in mythological stories. One pattern of myths identifies Ganesha as an unmarried brahmacari. This view is common in southern India and parts of northern India. Another pattern associates him with the concepts of Buddhi (intellect), Siddhi (spiritual power), and Riddhi (prosperity); these qualities are sometimes personified as goddesses, said to be Ganesha's wives. He also may be shown with a single consort or a nameless servant (Sanskrit: daşi). Another pattern connects Ganesha with the goddess of culture and the arts, Sarasvati or Śarda (particularly in Maharashtra). He is also associated with the goddess of luck and prosperity, Lakshmi. Another pattern, mainly prevalent in the Bengal region, links Ganesha with the banana tree, Kala Bo.

 

The Shiva Purana says that Ganesha had begotten two sons: Kşema (prosperity) and Lābha (profit). In northern Indian variants of this story, the sons are often said to be Śubha (auspiciouness) and Lābha. The 1975 Hindi film Jai Santoshi Maa shows Ganesha married to Riddhi and Siddhi and having a daughter named Santoshi Ma, the goddess of satisfaction. This story has no Puranic basis, but Anita Raina Thapan and Lawrence Cohen cite Santoshi Ma's cult as evidence of Ganesha's continuing evolution as a popular deity.

 

WOSHIP AND FESTIVALS

Ganesha is worshipped on many religious and secular occasions; especially at the beginning of ventures such as buying a vehicle or starting a business. K.N. Somayaji says, "there can hardly be a [Hindu] home [in India] which does not house an idol of Ganapati. [..] Ganapati, being the most popular deity in India, is worshipped by almost all castes and in all parts of the country". Devotees believe that if Ganesha is propitiated, he grants success, prosperity and protection against adversity.

 

Ganesha is a non-sectarian deity, and Hindus of all denominations invoke him at the beginning of prayers, important undertakings, and religious ceremonies. Dancers and musicians, particularly in southern India, begin performances of arts such as the Bharatnatyam dance with a prayer to Ganesha. Mantras such as Om Shri Gaṇeshāya Namah (Om, salutation to the Illustrious Ganesha) are often used. One of the most famous mantras associated with Ganesha is Om Gaṃ Ganapataye Namah (Om, Gaṃ, Salutation to the Lord of Hosts).

 

Devotees offer Ganesha sweets such as modaka and small sweet balls (laddus). He is often shown carrying a bowl of sweets, called a modakapātra. Because of his identification with the color red, he is often worshipped with red sandalwood paste (raktacandana) or red flowers. Dūrvā grass (Cynodon dactylon) and other materials are also used in his worship.

 

Festivals associated with Ganesh are Ganesh Chaturthi or Vināyaka chaturthī in the śuklapakṣa (the fourth day of the waxing moon) in the month of bhādrapada (August/September) and the Gaṇeśa jayanti (Gaṇeśa's birthday) celebrated on the cathurthī of the śuklapakṣa (fourth day of the waxing moon) in the month of māgha (January/February)."

 

GANESH CHATURTI

An annual festival honours Ganesha for ten days, starting on Ganesha Chaturthi, which typically falls in late August or early September. The festival begins with people bringing in clay idols of Ganesha, symbolising Ganesha's visit. The festival culminates on the day of Ananta Chaturdashi, when idols (murtis) of Ganesha are immersed in the most convenient body of water. Some families have a tradition of immersion on the 2nd, 3rd, 5th, or 7th day. In 1893, Lokmanya Tilak transformed this annual Ganesha festival from private family celebrations into a grand public event. He did so "to bridge the gap between the Brahmins and the non-Brahmins and find an appropriate context in which to build a new grassroots unity between them" in his nationalistic strivings against the British in Maharashtra. Because of Ganesha's wide appeal as "the god for Everyman", Tilak chose him as a rallying point for Indian protest against British rule. Tilak was the first to install large public images of Ganesha in pavilions, and he established the practice of submerging all the public images on the tenth day. Today, Hindus across India celebrate the Ganapati festival with great fervour, though it is most popular in the state of Maharashtra. The festival also assumes huge proportions in Mumbai, Pune, and in the surrounding belt of Ashtavinayaka temples.

 

TEMPLES

In Hindu temples, Ganesha is depicted in various ways: as an acolyte or subordinate deity (pãrśva-devatã); as a deity related to the principal deity (parivāra-devatã); or as the principal deity of the temple (pradhāna), treated similarly as the highest gods of the Hindu pantheon. As the god of transitions, he is placed at the doorway of many Hindu temples to keep out the unworthy, which is analogous to his role as Parvati’s doorkeeper. In addition, several shrines are dedicated to Ganesha himself, of which the Ashtavinayak (lit. "eight Ganesha (shrines)") in Maharashtra are particularly well known. Located within a 100-kilometer radius of the city of Pune, each of these eight shrines celebrates a particular form of Ganapati, complete with its own lore and legend. The eight shrines are: Morgaon, Siddhatek, Pali, Mahad, Theur, Lenyadri, Ozar and Ranjangaon.

 

There are many other important Ganesha temples at the following locations: Wai in Maharashtra; Ujjain in Madhya Pradesh; Jodhpur, Nagaur and Raipur (Pali) in Rajasthan; Baidyanath in Bihar; Baroda, Dholaka, and Valsad in Gujarat and Dhundiraj Temple in Varanasi, Uttar Pradesh. Prominent Ganesha temples in southern India include the following: Kanipakam in Chittoor; the Jambukeśvara Temple at Tiruchirapalli; at Rameshvaram and Suchindram in Tamil Nadu; at Malliyur, Kottarakara, Pazhavangadi, Kasargod in Kerala, Hampi, and Idagunji in Karnataka; and Bhadrachalam in Andhra Pradesh.

 

T. A. Gopinatha notes, "Every village however small has its own image of Vighneśvara (Vigneshvara) with or without a temple to house it in. At entrances of villages and forts, below pīpaḹa (Sacred fig) trees [...], in a niche [...] in temples of Viṣṇu (Vishnu) as well as Śiva (Shiva) and also in separate shrines specially constructed in Śiva temples [...]; the figure of Vighneśvara is invariably seen." Ganesha temples have also been built outside of India, including southeast Asia, Nepal (including the four Vinayaka shrines in the Kathmandu valley), and in several western countries.

 

RISE TO PROMINENCE

 

FIRST APEARANCE

Ganesha appeared in his classic form as a clearly recognizable deity with well-defined iconographic attributes in the early 4th to 5th centuries. Shanti Lal Nagar says that the earliest known iconic image of Ganesha is in the niche of the Shiva temple at Bhumra, which has been dated to the Gupta period. His independent cult appeared by about the 10th century. Narain summarizes the controversy between devotees and academics regarding the development of Ganesha as follows:

 

What is inscrutable is the somewhat dramatic appearance of Gaņeśa on the historical scene. His antecedents are not clear. His wide acceptance and popularity, which transcend sectarian and territorial limits, are indeed amazing. On the one hand there is the pious belief of the orthodox devotees in Gaņeśa's Vedic origins and in the Purāṇic explanations contained in the confusing, but nonetheless interesting, mythology. On the other hand there are doubts about the existence of the idea and the icon of this deity" before the fourth to fifth century A.D. ... [I]n my opinion, indeed there is no convincing evidence of the existence of this divinity prior to the fifth century.

 

POSSIBLE INFLUENCES

Courtright reviews various speculative theories about the early history of Ganesha, including supposed tribal traditions and animal cults, and dismisses all of them in this way:

 

In the post 600 BC period there is evidence of people and places named after the animal. The motif appears on coins and sculptures.

 

Thapan's book on the development of Ganesha devotes a chapter to speculations about the role elephants had in early India but concludes that, "although by the second century CE the elephant-headed yakṣa form exists it cannot be presumed to represent Gaṇapati-Vināyaka. There is no evidence of a deity by this name having an elephant or elephant-headed form at this early stage. Gaṇapati-Vināyaka had yet to make his debut."

 

One theory of the origin of Ganesha is that he gradually came to prominence in connection with the four Vinayakas (Vināyakas). In Hindu mythology, the Vināyakas were a group of four troublesome demons who created obstacles and difficulties but who were easily propitiated. The name Vināyaka is a common name for Ganesha both in the Purāṇas and in Buddhist Tantras. Krishan is one of the academics who accepts this view, stating flatly of Ganesha, "He is a non-vedic god. His origin is to be traced to the four Vināyakas, evil spirits, of the Mānavagŗhyasūtra (7th–4th century BCE) who cause various types of evil and suffering". Depictions of elephant-headed human figures, which some identify with Ganesha, appear in Indian art and coinage as early as the 2nd century. According to Ellawala, the elephant-headed Ganesha as lord of the Ganas was known to the people of Sri Lanka in the early pre-Christian era.

 

A metal plate depiction of Ganesha had been discovered in 1993, in Iran, it dated back to 1,200 BCE. Another one was discovered much before, in Lorestan Province of Iran.

 

First Ganesha's terracotta images are from 1st century CE found in Ter, Pal, Verrapuram and Chandraketugarh. These figures are small, with elephant head, two arms, and chubby physique. The earliest Ganesha icons in stone were carved in Mathura during Kushan times (2nd-3rd centuries CE).

 

VEDIC AND EPIC LITERATURE

The title "Leader of the group" (Sanskrit: gaṇapati) occurs twice in the Rig Veda, but in neither case does it refer to the modern Ganesha. The term appears in RV 2.23.1 as a title for Brahmanaspati, according to commentators. While this verse doubtless refers to Brahmanaspati, it was later adopted for worship of Ganesha and is still used today. In rejecting any claim that this passage is evidence of Ganesha in the Rig Veda, Ludo Rocher says that it "clearly refers to Bṛhaspati—who is the deity of the hymn—and Bṛhaspati only". Equally clearly, the second passage (RV 10.112.9) refers to Indra, who is given the epithet 'gaṇapati', translated "Lord of the companies (of the Maruts)." However, Rocher notes that the more recent Ganapatya literature often quotes the Rigvedic verses to give Vedic respectability to Ganesha .

 

Two verses in texts belonging to Black Yajurveda, Maitrāyaṇīya Saṃhitā (2.9.1) and Taittirīya Āraṇyaka (10.1), appeal to a deity as "the tusked one" (Dantiḥ), "elephant-faced" (Hastimukha), and "with a curved trunk" (Vakratuņḍa). These names are suggestive of Ganesha, and the 14th century commentator Sayana explicitly establishes this identification. The description of Dantin, possessing a twisted trunk (vakratuṇḍa) and holding a corn-sheaf, a sugar cane, and a club, is so characteristic of the Puranic Ganapati that Heras says "we cannot resist to accept his full identification with this Vedic Dantin". However, Krishan considers these hymns to be post-Vedic additions. Thapan reports that these passages are "generally considered to have been interpolated". Dhavalikar says, "the references to the elephant-headed deity in the Maitrāyaṇī Saṃhitā have been proven to be very late interpolations, and thus are not very helpful for determining the early formation of the deity".

 

Ganesha does not appear in Indian epic literature that is dated to the Vedic period. A late interpolation to the epic poem Mahabharata says that the sage Vyasa (Vyāsa) asked Ganesha to serve as his scribe to transcribe the poem as he dictated it to him. Ganesha agreed but only on condition that Vyasa recite the poem uninterrupted, that is, without pausing. The sage agreed, but found that to get any rest he needed to recite very complex passages so Ganesha would have to ask for clarifications. The story is not accepted as part of the original text by the editors of the critical edition of the Mahabharata, in which the twenty-line story is relegated to a footnote in an appendix. The story of Ganesha acting as the scribe occurs in 37 of the 59 manuscripts consulted during preparation of the critical edition. Ganesha's association with mental agility and learning is one reason he is shown as scribe for Vyāsa's dictation of the Mahabharata in this interpolation. Richard L. Brown dates the story to the 8th century, and Moriz Winternitz concludes that it was known as early as c. 900, but it was not added to the Mahabharata some 150 years later. Winternitz also notes that a distinctive feature in South Indian manuscripts of the Mahabharata is their omission of this Ganesha legend. The term vināyaka is found in some recensions of the Śāntiparva and Anuśāsanaparva that are regarded as interpolations. A reference to Vighnakartṛīṇām ("Creator of Obstacles") in Vanaparva is also believed to be an interpolation and does not appear in the critical edition.

 

PURANIC PERIOD

Stories about Ganesha often occur in the Puranic corpus. Brown notes while the Puranas "defy precise chronological ordering", the more detailed narratives of Ganesha's life are in the late texts, c. 600–1300. Yuvraj Krishan says that the Puranic myths about the birth of Ganesha and how he acquired an elephant's head are in the later Puranas, which were composed from c. 600 onwards. He elaborates on the matter to say that references to Ganesha in the earlier Puranas, such as the Vayu and Brahmanda Puranas, are later interpolations made during the 7th to 10th centuries.

 

In his survey of Ganesha's rise to prominence in Sanskrit literature, Ludo Rocher notes that:

 

Above all, one cannot help being struck by the fact that the numerous stories surrounding Gaṇeśa concentrate on an unexpectedly limited number of incidents. These incidents are mainly three: his birth and parenthood, his elephant head, and his single tusk. Other incidents are touched on in the texts, but to a far lesser extent.

 

Ganesha's rise to prominence was codified in the 9th century, when he was formally included as one of the five primary deities of Smartism. The 9th-century philosopher Adi Shankara popularized the "worship of the five forms" (Panchayatana puja) system among orthodox Brahmins of the Smarta tradition. This worship practice invokes the five deities Ganesha, Vishnu, Shiva, Devi, and Surya. Adi Shankara instituted the tradition primarily to unite the principal deities of these five major sects on an equal status. This formalized the role of Ganesha as a complementary deity.

 

SCRIPTURES

Once Ganesha was accepted as one of the five principal deities of Brahmanism, some Brahmins (brāhmaṇas) chose to worship Ganesha as their principal deity. They developed the Ganapatya tradition, as seen in the Ganesha Purana and the Mudgala Purana.

 

The date of composition for the Ganesha Purana and the Mudgala Purana - and their dating relative to one another - has sparked academic debate. Both works were developed over time and contain age-layered strata. Anita Thapan reviews comments about dating and provides her own judgement. "It seems likely that the core of the Ganesha Purana appeared around the twelfth and thirteenth centuries", she says, "but was later interpolated." Lawrence W. Preston considers the most reasonable date for the Ganesha Purana to be between 1100 and 1400, which coincides with the apparent age of the sacred sites mentioned by the text.

 

R.C. Hazra suggests that the Mudgala Purana is older than the Ganesha Purana, which he dates between 1100 and 1400. However, Phyllis Granoff finds problems with this relative dating and concludes that the Mudgala Purana was the last of the philosophical texts concerned with Ganesha. She bases her reasoning on the fact that, among other internal evidence, the Mudgala Purana specifically mentions the Ganesha Purana as one of the four Puranas (the Brahma, the Brahmanda, the Ganesha, and the Mudgala Puranas) which deal at length with Ganesha. While the kernel of the text must be old, it was interpolated until the 17th and 18th centuries as the worship of Ganapati became more important in certain regions. Another highly regarded scripture, the Ganapati Atharvashirsa, was probably composed during the 16th or 17th centuries.

 

BEYOND INDIA AND HINDUISM

Commercial and cultural contacts extended India's influence in western and southeast Asia. Ganesha is one of a number of Hindu deities who reached foreign lands as a result.

 

Ganesha was particularly worshipped by traders and merchants, who went out of India for commercial ventures. From approximately the 10th century onwards, new networks of exchange developed including the formation of trade guilds and a resurgence of money circulation. During this time, Ganesha became the principal deity associated with traders. The earliest inscription invoking Ganesha before any other deity is associated with the merchant community.

 

Hindus migrated to Maritime Southeast Asia and took their culture, including Ganesha, with them. Statues of Ganesha are found throughout the region, often beside Shiva sanctuaries. The forms of Ganesha found in Hindu art of Java, Bali, and Borneo show specific regional influences. The spread of Hindu culture to southeast Asia established Ganesha in modified forms in Burma, Cambodia, and Thailand. In Indochina, Hinduism and Buddhism were practiced side by side, and mutual influences can be seen in the iconography of Ganesha in the region. In Thailand, Cambodia, and among the Hindu classes of the Chams in Vietnam, Ganesha was mainly thought of as a remover of obstacles. Today in Buddhist Thailand, Ganesha is regarded as a remover of obstacles, the god of success.

 

Before the arrival of Islam, Afghanistan had close cultural ties with India, and the adoration of both Hindu and Buddhist deities was practiced. Examples of sculptures from the 5th to the 7th centuries have survived, suggesting that the worship of Ganesha was then in vogue in the region.

 

Ganesha appears in Mahayana Buddhism, not only in the form of the Buddhist god Vināyaka, but also as a Hindu demon form with the same name. His image appears in Buddhist sculptures during the late Gupta period. As the Buddhist god Vināyaka, he is often shown dancing. This form, called Nṛtta Ganapati, was popular in northern India, later adopted in Nepal, and then in Tibet. In Nepal, the Hindu form of Ganesha, known as Heramba, is popular; he has five heads and rides a lion. Tibetan representations of Ganesha show ambivalent views of him. A Tibetan rendering of Ganapati is tshogs bdag. In one Tibetan form, he is shown being trodden under foot by Mahākāla, (Shiva) a popular Tibetan deity. Other depictions show him as the Destroyer of Obstacles, and sometimes dancing. Ganesha appears in China and Japan in forms that show distinct regional character. In northern China, the earliest known stone statue of Ganesha carries an inscription dated to 531. In Japan, where Ganesha is known as Kangiten, the Ganesha cult was first mentioned in 806.

 

The canonical literature of Jainism does not mention the worship of Ganesha. However, Ganesha is worshipped by most Jains, for whom he appears to have taken over certain functions of Kubera. Jain connections with the trading community support the idea that Jainism took up Ganesha worship as a result of commercial connections. The earliest known Jain Ganesha statue dates to about the 9th century. A 15th-century Jain text lists procedures for the installation of Ganapati images. Images of Ganesha appear in the Jain temples of Rajasthan and Gujarat.

 

WIKIPEDIA

NESA dance concert "Footnotes" 2006

Ganesha, also spelled Ganesh, and also known as Ganapati and Vinayaka, is a widely worshipped deity in the Hindu pantheon. His image is found throughout India and Nepal. Hindu sects worship him regardless of affiliations. Devotion to Ganesha is widely diffused and extends to Jains, Buddhists, and beyond India.

 

Although he is known by many attributes, Ganesha's elephant head makes him easy to identify. Ganesha is widely revered as the remover of obstacles, the patron of arts and sciences and the deva of intellect and wisdom. As the god of beginnings, he is honoured at the start of rituals and ceremonies. Ganesha is also invoked as patron of letters and learning during writing sessions. Several texts relate mythological anecdotes associated with his birth and exploits and explain his distinct iconography.

 

Ganesha emerged as a distinct deity in the 4th and 5th centuries CE, during the Gupta Period, although he inherited traits from Vedic and pre-Vedic precursors. He was formally included among the five primary deities of Smartism (a Hindu denomination) in the 9th century. A sect of devotees called the Ganapatya arose, who identified Ganesha as the supreme deity. The principal scriptures dedicated to Ganesha are the Ganesha Purana, the Mudgala Purana, and the Ganapati Atharvashirsa.

 

ETYMOLOGY AND OTHER NAMES

Ganesha has been ascribed many other titles and epithets, including Ganapati and Vighneshvara. The Hindu title of respect Shri is often added before his name. One popular way Ganesha is worshipped is by chanting a Ganesha Sahasranama, a litany of "a thousand names of Ganesha". Each name in the sahasranama conveys a different meaning and symbolises a different aspect of Ganesha. At least two different versions of the Ganesha Sahasranama exist; one version is drawn from the Ganesha Purana, a Hindu scripture venerating Ganesha.

 

The name Ganesha is a Sanskrit compound, joining the words gana, meaning a group, multitude, or categorical system and isha, meaning lord or master. The word gaņa when associated with Ganesha is often taken to refer to the gaņas, a troop of semi-divine beings that form part of the retinue of Shiva. The term more generally means a category, class, community, association, or corporation. Some commentators interpret the name "Lord of the Gaņas" to mean "Lord of Hosts" or "Lord of created categories", such as the elements. Ganapati, a synonym for Ganesha, is a compound composed of gaṇa, meaning "group", and pati, meaning "ruler" or "lord". The Amarakosha, an early Sanskrit lexicon, lists eight synonyms of Ganesha : Vinayaka, Vighnarāja (equivalent to Vighnesha), Dvaimātura (one who has two mothers), Gaṇādhipa (equivalent to Ganapati and Ganesha), Ekadanta (one who has one tusk), Heramba, Lambodara (one who has a pot belly, or, literally, one who has a hanging belly), and Gajanana; having the face of an elephant).

 

Vinayaka is a common name for Ganesha that appears in the Purāṇas and in Buddhist Tantras. This name is reflected in the naming of the eight famous Ganesha temples in Maharashtra known as the Ashtavinayak (aṣṭavināyaka). The names Vighnesha and Vighneshvara (Lord of Obstacles) refers to his primary function in Hindu theology as the master and remover of obstacles (vighna).

 

A prominent name for Ganesha in the Tamil language is Pillai. A. K. Narain differentiates these terms by saying that pillai means a "child" while pillaiyar means a "noble child". He adds that the words pallu, pella, and pell in the Dravidian family of languages signify "tooth or tusk", also "elephant tooth or tusk". Anita Raina Thapan notes that the root word pille in the name Pillaiyar might have originally meant "the young of the elephant", because the Pali word pillaka means "a young elephant".

 

In the Burmese language, Ganesha is known as Maha Peinne, derived from Pali Mahā Wināyaka. The widespread name of Ganesha in Thailand is Phra Phikhanet or Phra Phikhanesuan, both of which are derived from Vara Vighnesha and Vara Vighneshvara respectively, whereas the name Khanet (from Ganesha) is rather rare.

 

In Sri Lanka, in the North-Central and North Western areas with predominantly Buddhist population, Ganesha is known as Aiyanayaka Deviyo, while in other Singhala Buddhist areas he is known as Gana deviyo.

 

ICONOGRAPHY

Ganesha is a popular figure in Indian art. Unlike those of some deities, representations of Ganesha show wide variations and distinct patterns changing over time. He may be portrayed standing, dancing, heroically taking action against demons, playing with his family as a boy, sitting down or on an elevated seat, or engaging in a range of contemporary situations.

 

Ganesha images were prevalent in many parts of India by the 6th century. The 13th century statue pictured is typical of Ganesha statuary from 900–1200, after Ganesha had been well-established as an independent deity with his own sect. This example features some of Ganesha's common iconographic elements. A virtually identical statue has been dated between 973–1200 by Paul Martin-Dubost, and another similar statue is dated c. 12th century by Pratapaditya Pal. Ganesha has the head of an elephant and a big belly. This statue has four arms, which is common in depictions of Ganesha. He holds his own broken tusk in his lower-right hand and holds a delicacy, which he samples with his trunk, in his lower-left hand. The motif of Ganesha turning his trunk sharply to his left to taste a sweet in his lower-left hand is a particularly archaic feature. A more primitive statue in one of the Ellora Caves with this general form has been dated to the 7th century. Details of the other hands are difficult to make out on the statue shown. In the standard configuration, Ganesha typically holds an axe or a goad in one upper arm and a pasha (noose) in the other upper arm.

 

The influence of this old constellation of iconographic elements can still be seen in contemporary representations of Ganesha. In one modern form, the only variation from these old elements is that the lower-right hand does not hold the broken tusk but is turned towards the viewer in a gesture of protection or fearlessness (abhaya mudra). The same combination of four arms and attributes occurs in statues of Ganesha dancing, which is a very popular theme.

 

COMMON ATTRIBUTES

Ganesha has been represented with the head of an elephant since the early stages of his appearance in Indian art. Puranic myths provide many explanations for how he got his elephant head. One of his popular forms, Heramba-Ganapati, has five elephant heads, and other less-common variations in the number of heads are known. While some texts say that Ganesha was born with an elephant head, he acquires the head later in most stories. The most recurrent motif in these stories is that Ganesha was created by Parvati using clay to protect her and Shiva beheaded him when Ganesha came between Shiva and Parvati. Shiva then replaced Ganesha's original head with that of an elephant. Details of the battle and where the replacement head came from vary from source to source. Another story says that Ganesha was created directly by Shiva's laughter. Because Shiva considered Ganesha too alluring, he gave him the head of an elephant and a protruding belly.

 

Ganesha's earliest name was Ekadanta (One Tusked), referring to his single whole tusk, the other being broken. Some of the earliest images of Ganesha show him holding his broken tusk. The importance of this distinctive feature is reflected in the Mudgala Purana, which states that the name of Ganesha's second incarnation is Ekadanta. Ganesha's protruding belly appears as a distinctive attribute in his earliest statuary, which dates to the Gupta period (4th to 6th centuries). This feature is so important that, according to the Mudgala Purana, two different incarnations of Ganesha use names based on it: Lambodara (Pot Belly, or, literally, Hanging Belly) and Mahodara (Great Belly). Both names are Sanskrit compounds describing his belly. The Brahmanda Purana says that Ganesha has the name Lambodara because all the universes (i.e., cosmic eggs) of the past, present, and future are present in him. The number of Ganesha's arms varies; his best-known forms have between two and sixteen arms. Many depictions of Ganesha feature four arms, which is mentioned in Puranic sources and codified as a standard form in some iconographic texts. His earliest images had two arms. Forms with 14 and 20 arms appeared in Central India during the 9th and the 10th centuries. The serpent is a common feature in Ganesha iconography and appears in many forms. According to the Ganesha Purana, Ganesha wrapped the serpent Vasuki around his neck. Other depictions of snakes include use as a sacred thread wrapped around the stomach as a belt, held in a hand, coiled at the ankles, or as a throne. Upon Ganesha's forehead may be a third eye or the Shaivite sectarian mark , which consists of three horizontal lines. The Ganesha Purana prescribes a tilaka mark as well as a crescent moon on the forehead. A distinct form of Ganesha called Bhalachandra includes that iconographic element. Ganesha is often described as red in color. Specific colors are associated with certain forms. Many examples of color associations with specific meditation forms are prescribed in the Sritattvanidhi, a treatise on Hindu iconography. For example, white is associated with his representations as Heramba-Ganapati and Rina-Mochana-Ganapati (Ganapati Who Releases from Bondage). Ekadanta-Ganapati is visualized as blue during meditation in that form.

 

VAHANAS

The earliest Ganesha images are without a vahana (mount/vehicle). Of the eight incarnations of Ganesha described in the Mudgala Purana, Ganesha uses a mouse (shrew) in five of them, a lion in his incarnation as Vakratunda, a peacock in his incarnation as Vikata, and Shesha, the divine serpent, in his incarnation as Vighnaraja. Mohotkata uses a lion, Mayūreśvara uses a peacock, Dhumraketu uses a horse, and Gajanana uses a mouse, in the four incarnations of Ganesha listed in the Ganesha Purana. Jain depictions of Ganesha show his vahana variously as a mouse, elephant, tortoise, ram, or peacock.

 

Ganesha is often shown riding on or attended by a mouse, shrew or rat. Martin-Dubost says that the rat began to appear as the principal vehicle in sculptures of Ganesha in central and western India during the 7th century; the rat was always placed close to his feet. The mouse as a mount first appears in written sources in the Matsya Purana and later in the Brahmananda Purana and Ganesha Purana, where Ganesha uses it as his vehicle in his last incarnation. The Ganapati Atharvashirsa includes a meditation verse on Ganesha that describes the mouse appearing on his flag. The names Mūṣakavāhana (mouse-mount) and Ākhuketana (rat-banner) appear in the Ganesha Sahasranama.

 

The mouse is interpreted in several ways. According to Grimes, "Many, if not most of those who interpret Gaṇapati's mouse, do so negatively; it symbolizes tamoguṇa as well as desire". Along these lines, Michael Wilcockson says it symbolizes those who wish to overcome desires and be less selfish. Krishan notes that the rat is destructive and a menace to crops. The Sanskrit word mūṣaka (mouse) is derived from the root mūṣ (stealing, robbing). It was essential to subdue the rat as a destructive pest, a type of vighna (impediment) that needed to be overcome. According to this theory, showing Ganesha as master of the rat demonstrates his function as Vigneshvara (Lord of Obstacles) and gives evidence of his possible role as a folk grāma-devatā (village deity) who later rose to greater prominence. Martin-Dubost notes a view that the rat is a symbol suggesting that Ganesha, like the rat, penetrates even the most secret places.

 

ASSOCIATIONS

 

OBSTACLES

Ganesha is Vighneshvara or Vighnaraja or Vighnaharta (Marathi), the Lord of Obstacles, both of a material and spiritual order. He is popularly worshipped as a remover of obstacles, though traditionally he also places obstacles in the path of those who need to be checked. Paul Courtright says that "his task in the divine scheme of things, his dharma, is to place and remove obstacles. It is his particular territory, the reason for his creation."

 

Krishan notes that some of Ganesha's names reflect shadings of multiple roles that have evolved over time. Dhavalikar ascribes the quick ascension of Ganesha in the Hindu pantheon, and the emergence of the Ganapatyas, to this shift in emphasis from vighnakartā (obstacle-creator) to vighnahartā (obstacle-averter). However, both functions continue to be vital to his character.

 

BUDDHI (KNOWLEDGE)

Ganesha is considered to be the Lord of letters and learning. In Sanskrit, the word buddhi is a feminine noun that is variously translated as intelligence, wisdom, or intellect. The concept of buddhi is closely associated with the personality of Ganesha, especially in the Puranic period, when many stories stress his cleverness and love of intelligence. One of Ganesha's names in the Ganesha Purana and the Ganesha Sahasranama is Buddhipriya. This name also appears in a list of 21 names at the end of the Ganesha Sahasranama that Ganesha says are especially important. The word priya can mean "fond of", and in a marital context it can mean "lover" or "husband", so the name may mean either "Fond of Intelligence" or "Buddhi's Husband".

 

AUM

Ganesha is identified with the Hindu mantra Aum, also spelled Om. The term oṃkārasvarūpa (Aum is his form), when identified with Ganesha, refers to the notion that he personifies the primal sound. The Ganapati Atharvashirsa attests to this association. Chinmayananda translates the relevant passage as follows:

 

(O Lord Ganapati!) You are (the Trinity) Brahma, Vishnu, and Mahesa. You are Indra. You are fire [Agni] and air [Vāyu]. You are the sun [Sūrya] and the moon [Chandrama]. You are Brahman. You are (the three worlds) Bhuloka [earth], Antariksha-loka [space], and Swargaloka [heaven]. You are Om. (That is to say, You are all this).

 

Some devotees see similarities between the shape of Ganesha's body in iconography and the shape of Aum in the Devanāgarī and Tamil scripts.

 

FIRST CHAKRA

According to Kundalini yoga, Ganesha resides in the first chakra, called Muladhara (mūlādhāra). Mula means "original, main"; adhara means "base, foundation". The muladhara chakra is the principle on which the manifestation or outward expansion of primordial Divine Force rests. This association is also attested to in the Ganapati Atharvashirsa. Courtright translates this passage as follows: "[O Ganesha,] You continually dwell in the sacral plexus at the base of the spine [mūlādhāra cakra]." Thus, Ganesha has a permanent abode in every being at the Muladhara. Ganesha holds, supports and guides all other chakras, thereby "governing the forces that propel the wheel of life".

 

FAMILY AND CONSORTS

Though Ganesha is popularly held to be the son of Shiva and Parvati, the Puranic myths give different versions about his birth. In some he was created by Parvati, in another he was created by Shiva and Parvati, in another he appeared mysteriously and was discovered by Shiva and Parvati or he was born from the elephant headed goddess Malini after she drank Parvati's bath water that had been thrown in the river.

 

The family includes his brother the war god Kartikeya, who is also called Subramanya, Skanda, Murugan and other names. Regional differences dictate the order of their births. In northern India, Skanda is generally said to be the elder, while in the south, Ganesha is considered the first born. In northern India, Skanda was an important martial deity from about 500 BCE to about 600 CE, when worship of him declined significantly in northern India. As Skanda fell, Ganesha rose. Several stories tell of sibling rivalry between the brothers and may reflect sectarian tensions.

 

Ganesha's marital status, the subject of considerable scholarly review, varies widely in mythological stories. One pattern of myths identifies Ganesha as an unmarried brahmacari. This view is common in southern India and parts of northern India. Another pattern associates him with the concepts of Buddhi (intellect), Siddhi (spiritual power), and Riddhi (prosperity); these qualities are sometimes personified as goddesses, said to be Ganesha's wives. He also may be shown with a single consort or a nameless servant (Sanskrit: daşi). Another pattern connects Ganesha with the goddess of culture and the arts, Sarasvati or Śarda (particularly in Maharashtra). He is also associated with the goddess of luck and prosperity, Lakshmi. Another pattern, mainly prevalent in the Bengal region, links Ganesha with the banana tree, Kala Bo.

 

The Shiva Purana says that Ganesha had begotten two sons: Kşema (prosperity) and Lābha (profit). In northern Indian variants of this story, the sons are often said to be Śubha (auspiciouness) and Lābha. The 1975 Hindi film Jai Santoshi Maa shows Ganesha married to Riddhi and Siddhi and having a daughter named Santoshi Ma, the goddess of satisfaction. This story has no Puranic basis, but Anita Raina Thapan and Lawrence Cohen cite Santoshi Ma's cult as evidence of Ganesha's continuing evolution as a popular deity.

 

WOSHIP AND FESTIVALS

Ganesha is worshipped on many religious and secular occasions; especially at the beginning of ventures such as buying a vehicle or starting a business. K.N. Somayaji says, "there can hardly be a [Hindu] home [in India] which does not house an idol of Ganapati. [..] Ganapati, being the most popular deity in India, is worshipped by almost all castes and in all parts of the country". Devotees believe that if Ganesha is propitiated, he grants success, prosperity and protection against adversity.

 

Ganesha is a non-sectarian deity, and Hindus of all denominations invoke him at the beginning of prayers, important undertakings, and religious ceremonies. Dancers and musicians, particularly in southern India, begin performances of arts such as the Bharatnatyam dance with a prayer to Ganesha. Mantras such as Om Shri Gaṇeshāya Namah (Om, salutation to the Illustrious Ganesha) are often used. One of the most famous mantras associated with Ganesha is Om Gaṃ Ganapataye Namah (Om, Gaṃ, Salutation to the Lord of Hosts).

 

Devotees offer Ganesha sweets such as modaka and small sweet balls (laddus). He is often shown carrying a bowl of sweets, called a modakapātra. Because of his identification with the color red, he is often worshipped with red sandalwood paste (raktacandana) or red flowers. Dūrvā grass (Cynodon dactylon) and other materials are also used in his worship.

 

Festivals associated with Ganesh are Ganesh Chaturthi or Vināyaka chaturthī in the śuklapakṣa (the fourth day of the waxing moon) in the month of bhādrapada (August/September) and the Gaṇeśa jayanti (Gaṇeśa's birthday) celebrated on the cathurthī of the śuklapakṣa (fourth day of the waxing moon) in the month of māgha (January/February)."

 

GANESH CHATURTI

An annual festival honours Ganesha for ten days, starting on Ganesha Chaturthi, which typically falls in late August or early September. The festival begins with people bringing in clay idols of Ganesha, symbolising Ganesha's visit. The festival culminates on the day of Ananta Chaturdashi, when idols (murtis) of Ganesha are immersed in the most convenient body of water. Some families have a tradition of immersion on the 2nd, 3rd, 5th, or 7th day. In 1893, Lokmanya Tilak transformed this annual Ganesha festival from private family celebrations into a grand public event. He did so "to bridge the gap between the Brahmins and the non-Brahmins and find an appropriate context in which to build a new grassroots unity between them" in his nationalistic strivings against the British in Maharashtra. Because of Ganesha's wide appeal as "the god for Everyman", Tilak chose him as a rallying point for Indian protest against British rule. Tilak was the first to install large public images of Ganesha in pavilions, and he established the practice of submerging all the public images on the tenth day. Today, Hindus across India celebrate the Ganapati festival with great fervour, though it is most popular in the state of Maharashtra. The festival also assumes huge proportions in Mumbai, Pune, and in the surrounding belt of Ashtavinayaka temples.

 

TEMPLES

In Hindu temples, Ganesha is depicted in various ways: as an acolyte or subordinate deity (pãrśva-devatã); as a deity related to the principal deity (parivāra-devatã); or as the principal deity of the temple (pradhāna), treated similarly as the highest gods of the Hindu pantheon. As the god of transitions, he is placed at the doorway of many Hindu temples to keep out the unworthy, which is analogous to his role as Parvati’s doorkeeper. In addition, several shrines are dedicated to Ganesha himself, of which the Ashtavinayak (lit. "eight Ganesha (shrines)") in Maharashtra are particularly well known. Located within a 100-kilometer radius of the city of Pune, each of these eight shrines celebrates a particular form of Ganapati, complete with its own lore and legend. The eight shrines are: Morgaon, Siddhatek, Pali, Mahad, Theur, Lenyadri, Ozar and Ranjangaon.

 

There are many other important Ganesha temples at the following locations: Wai in Maharashtra; Ujjain in Madhya Pradesh; Jodhpur, Nagaur and Raipur (Pali) in Rajasthan; Baidyanath in Bihar; Baroda, Dholaka, and Valsad in Gujarat and Dhundiraj Temple in Varanasi, Uttar Pradesh. Prominent Ganesha temples in southern India include the following: Kanipakam in Chittoor; the Jambukeśvara Temple at Tiruchirapalli; at Rameshvaram and Suchindram in Tamil Nadu; at Malliyur, Kottarakara, Pazhavangadi, Kasargod in Kerala, Hampi, and Idagunji in Karnataka; and Bhadrachalam in Andhra Pradesh.

 

T. A. Gopinatha notes, "Every village however small has its own image of Vighneśvara (Vigneshvara) with or without a temple to house it in. At entrances of villages and forts, below pīpaḹa (Sacred fig) trees [...], in a niche [...] in temples of Viṣṇu (Vishnu) as well as Śiva (Shiva) and also in separate shrines specially constructed in Śiva temples [...]; the figure of Vighneśvara is invariably seen." Ganesha temples have also been built outside of India, including southeast Asia, Nepal (including the four Vinayaka shrines in the Kathmandu valley), and in several western countries.

 

RISE TO PROMINENCE

 

FIRST APEARANCE

Ganesha appeared in his classic form as a clearly recognizable deity with well-defined iconographic attributes in the early 4th to 5th centuries. Shanti Lal Nagar says that the earliest known iconic image of Ganesha is in the niche of the Shiva temple at Bhumra, which has been dated to the Gupta period. His independent cult appeared by about the 10th century. Narain summarizes the controversy between devotees and academics regarding the development of Ganesha as follows:

 

What is inscrutable is the somewhat dramatic appearance of Gaņeśa on the historical scene. His antecedents are not clear. His wide acceptance and popularity, which transcend sectarian and territorial limits, are indeed amazing. On the one hand there is the pious belief of the orthodox devotees in Gaņeśa's Vedic origins and in the Purāṇic explanations contained in the confusing, but nonetheless interesting, mythology. On the other hand there are doubts about the existence of the idea and the icon of this deity" before the fourth to fifth century A.D. ... [I]n my opinion, indeed there is no convincing evidence of the existence of this divinity prior to the fifth century.

 

POSSIBLE INFLUENCES

Courtright reviews various speculative theories about the early history of Ganesha, including supposed tribal traditions and animal cults, and dismisses all of them in this way:

 

In the post 600 BC period there is evidence of people and places named after the animal. The motif appears on coins and sculptures.

 

Thapan's book on the development of Ganesha devotes a chapter to speculations about the role elephants had in early India but concludes that, "although by the second century CE the elephant-headed yakṣa form exists it cannot be presumed to represent Gaṇapati-Vināyaka. There is no evidence of a deity by this name having an elephant or elephant-headed form at this early stage. Gaṇapati-Vināyaka had yet to make his debut."

 

One theory of the origin of Ganesha is that he gradually came to prominence in connection with the four Vinayakas (Vināyakas). In Hindu mythology, the Vināyakas were a group of four troublesome demons who created obstacles and difficulties but who were easily propitiated. The name Vināyaka is a common name for Ganesha both in the Purāṇas and in Buddhist Tantras. Krishan is one of the academics who accepts this view, stating flatly of Ganesha, "He is a non-vedic god. His origin is to be traced to the four Vināyakas, evil spirits, of the Mānavagŗhyasūtra (7th–4th century BCE) who cause various types of evil and suffering". Depictions of elephant-headed human figures, which some identify with Ganesha, appear in Indian art and coinage as early as the 2nd century. According to Ellawala, the elephant-headed Ganesha as lord of the Ganas was known to the people of Sri Lanka in the early pre-Christian era.

 

A metal plate depiction of Ganesha had been discovered in 1993, in Iran, it dated back to 1,200 BCE. Another one was discovered much before, in Lorestan Province of Iran.

 

First Ganesha's terracotta images are from 1st century CE found in Ter, Pal, Verrapuram and Chandraketugarh. These figures are small, with elephant head, two arms, and chubby physique. The earliest Ganesha icons in stone were carved in Mathura during Kushan times (2nd-3rd centuries CE).

 

VEDIC AND EPIC LITERATURE

The title "Leader of the group" (Sanskrit: gaṇapati) occurs twice in the Rig Veda, but in neither case does it refer to the modern Ganesha. The term appears in RV 2.23.1 as a title for Brahmanaspati, according to commentators. While this verse doubtless refers to Brahmanaspati, it was later adopted for worship of Ganesha and is still used today. In rejecting any claim that this passage is evidence of Ganesha in the Rig Veda, Ludo Rocher says that it "clearly refers to Bṛhaspati—who is the deity of the hymn—and Bṛhaspati only". Equally clearly, the second passage (RV 10.112.9) refers to Indra, who is given the epithet 'gaṇapati', translated "Lord of the companies (of the Maruts)." However, Rocher notes that the more recent Ganapatya literature often quotes the Rigvedic verses to give Vedic respectability to Ganesha .

 

Two verses in texts belonging to Black Yajurveda, Maitrāyaṇīya Saṃhitā (2.9.1) and Taittirīya Āraṇyaka (10.1), appeal to a deity as "the tusked one" (Dantiḥ), "elephant-faced" (Hastimukha), and "with a curved trunk" (Vakratuņḍa). These names are suggestive of Ganesha, and the 14th century commentator Sayana explicitly establishes this identification. The description of Dantin, possessing a twisted trunk (vakratuṇḍa) and holding a corn-sheaf, a sugar cane, and a club, is so characteristic of the Puranic Ganapati that Heras says "we cannot resist to accept his full identification with this Vedic Dantin". However, Krishan considers these hymns to be post-Vedic additions. Thapan reports that these passages are "generally considered to have been interpolated". Dhavalikar says, "the references to the elephant-headed deity in the Maitrāyaṇī Saṃhitā have been proven to be very late interpolations, and thus are not very helpful for determining the early formation of the deity".

 

Ganesha does not appear in Indian epic literature that is dated to the Vedic period. A late interpolation to the epic poem Mahabharata says that the sage Vyasa (Vyāsa) asked Ganesha to serve as his scribe to transcribe the poem as he dictated it to him. Ganesha agreed but only on condition that Vyasa recite the poem uninterrupted, that is, without pausing. The sage agreed, but found that to get any rest he needed to recite very complex passages so Ganesha would have to ask for clarifications. The story is not accepted as part of the original text by the editors of the critical edition of the Mahabharata, in which the twenty-line story is relegated to a footnote in an appendix. The story of Ganesha acting as the scribe occurs in 37 of the 59 manuscripts consulted during preparation of the critical edition. Ganesha's association with mental agility and learning is one reason he is shown as scribe for Vyāsa's dictation of the Mahabharata in this interpolation. Richard L. Brown dates the story to the 8th century, and Moriz Winternitz concludes that it was known as early as c. 900, but it was not added to the Mahabharata some 150 years later. Winternitz also notes that a distinctive feature in South Indian manuscripts of the Mahabharata is their omission of this Ganesha legend. The term vināyaka is found in some recensions of the Śāntiparva and Anuśāsanaparva that are regarded as interpolations. A reference to Vighnakartṛīṇām ("Creator of Obstacles") in Vanaparva is also believed to be an interpolation and does not appear in the critical edition.

 

PURANIC PERIOD

Stories about Ganesha often occur in the Puranic corpus. Brown notes while the Puranas "defy precise chronological ordering", the more detailed narratives of Ganesha's life are in the late texts, c. 600–1300. Yuvraj Krishan says that the Puranic myths about the birth of Ganesha and how he acquired an elephant's head are in the later Puranas, which were composed from c. 600 onwards. He elaborates on the matter to say that references to Ganesha in the earlier Puranas, such as the Vayu and Brahmanda Puranas, are later interpolations made during the 7th to 10th centuries.

 

In his survey of Ganesha's rise to prominence in Sanskrit literature, Ludo Rocher notes that:

 

Above all, one cannot help being struck by the fact that the numerous stories surrounding Gaṇeśa concentrate on an unexpectedly limited number of incidents. These incidents are mainly three: his birth and parenthood, his elephant head, and his single tusk. Other incidents are touched on in the texts, but to a far lesser extent.

 

Ganesha's rise to prominence was codified in the 9th century, when he was formally included as one of the five primary deities of Smartism. The 9th-century philosopher Adi Shankara popularized the "worship of the five forms" (Panchayatana puja) system among orthodox Brahmins of the Smarta tradition. This worship practice invokes the five deities Ganesha, Vishnu, Shiva, Devi, and Surya. Adi Shankara instituted the tradition primarily to unite the principal deities of these five major sects on an equal status. This formalized the role of Ganesha as a complementary deity.

 

SCRIPTURES

Once Ganesha was accepted as one of the five principal deities of Brahmanism, some Brahmins (brāhmaṇas) chose to worship Ganesha as their principal deity. They developed the Ganapatya tradition, as seen in the Ganesha Purana and the Mudgala Purana.

 

The date of composition for the Ganesha Purana and the Mudgala Purana - and their dating relative to one another - has sparked academic debate. Both works were developed over time and contain age-layered strata. Anita Thapan reviews comments about dating and provides her own judgement. "It seems likely that the core of the Ganesha Purana appeared around the twelfth and thirteenth centuries", she says, "but was later interpolated." Lawrence W. Preston considers the most reasonable date for the Ganesha Purana to be between 1100 and 1400, which coincides with the apparent age of the sacred sites mentioned by the text.

 

R.C. Hazra suggests that the Mudgala Purana is older than the Ganesha Purana, which he dates between 1100 and 1400. However, Phyllis Granoff finds problems with this relative dating and concludes that the Mudgala Purana was the last of the philosophical texts concerned with Ganesha. She bases her reasoning on the fact that, among other internal evidence, the Mudgala Purana specifically mentions the Ganesha Purana as one of the four Puranas (the Brahma, the Brahmanda, the Ganesha, and the Mudgala Puranas) which deal at length with Ganesha. While the kernel of the text must be old, it was interpolated until the 17th and 18th centuries as the worship of Ganapati became more important in certain regions. Another highly regarded scripture, the Ganapati Atharvashirsa, was probably composed during the 16th or 17th centuries.

 

BEYOND INDIA AND HINDUISM

Commercial and cultural contacts extended India's influence in western and southeast Asia. Ganesha is one of a number of Hindu deities who reached foreign lands as a result.

 

Ganesha was particularly worshipped by traders and merchants, who went out of India for commercial ventures. From approximately the 10th century onwards, new networks of exchange developed including the formation of trade guilds and a resurgence of money circulation. During this time, Ganesha became the principal deity associated with traders. The earliest inscription invoking Ganesha before any other deity is associated with the merchant community.

 

Hindus migrated to Maritime Southeast Asia and took their culture, including Ganesha, with them. Statues of Ganesha are found throughout the region, often beside Shiva sanctuaries. The forms of Ganesha found in Hindu art of Java, Bali, and Borneo show specific regional influences. The spread of Hindu culture to southeast Asia established Ganesha in modified forms in Burma, Cambodia, and Thailand. In Indochina, Hinduism and Buddhism were practiced side by side, and mutual influences can be seen in the iconography of Ganesha in the region. In Thailand, Cambodia, and among the Hindu classes of the Chams in Vietnam, Ganesha was mainly thought of as a remover of obstacles. Today in Buddhist Thailand, Ganesha is regarded as a remover of obstacles, the god of success.

 

Before the arrival of Islam, Afghanistan had close cultural ties with India, and the adoration of both Hindu and Buddhist deities was practiced. Examples of sculptures from the 5th to the 7th centuries have survived, suggesting that the worship of Ganesha was then in vogue in the region.

 

Ganesha appears in Mahayana Buddhism, not only in the form of the Buddhist god Vināyaka, but also as a Hindu demon form with the same name. His image appears in Buddhist sculptures during the late Gupta period. As the Buddhist god Vināyaka, he is often shown dancing. This form, called Nṛtta Ganapati, was popular in northern India, later adopted in Nepal, and then in Tibet. In Nepal, the Hindu form of Ganesha, known as Heramba, is popular; he has five heads and rides a lion. Tibetan representations of Ganesha show ambivalent views of him. A Tibetan rendering of Ganapati is tshogs bdag. In one Tibetan form, he is shown being trodden under foot by Mahākāla, (Shiva) a popular Tibetan deity. Other depictions show him as the Destroyer of Obstacles, and sometimes dancing. Ganesha appears in China and Japan in forms that show distinct regional character. In northern China, the earliest known stone statue of Ganesha carries an inscription dated to 531. In Japan, where Ganesha is known as Kangiten, the Ganesha cult was first mentioned in 806.

 

The canonical literature of Jainism does not mention the worship of Ganesha. However, Ganesha is worshipped by most Jains, for whom he appears to have taken over certain functions of Kubera. Jain connections with the trading community support the idea that Jainism took up Ganesha worship as a result of commercial connections. The earliest known Jain Ganesha statue dates to about the 9th century. A 15th-century Jain text lists procedures for the installation of Ganapati images. Images of Ganesha appear in the Jain temples of Rajasthan and Gujarat.

 

WIKIPEDIA

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