Monday, May 30, 2016

Ganesha - Full version 2015

      (Medium: Acrylic on canvas. July 2015. size: 91 cm x 61 cm. Painting by Murali T, Kerala, India)

This painting is the outcome of an effort to understand the curious construct of the  image of Lord Ganapathy (Ganesh) in its relevant social and historical background. Lord Ganapathy, who is considered the tutelary divinity of Knowledge and the scriptures and is the Lord of  intelligence  and wisdom,  has a bizarre image:  a human with the head of an elephant!
This god with the elephant's head,  one of the many  Hindu deities, is known by several names like  Ganapathy, Ganesh, Vigneswara, Vinayaka etc.  It can be assumed that this God was taken and fostered by the  casteist Hindu religion from the cradle of the then declining Buddhist religion  (the tantric faction of buddhism)  around the fourth century. The  God Ganapathy's image which is being worshiped now-a-days  is the  body of a human  who had lost his head  and the head of an elephant  which had lost its body,  joined together .  But this  artist  is searching for the parts discarded and  lost while the form of Lord Ganapathy was concieved, the head of the human,  and the body of the elephant.  The answer to that search may not be available in the  frivolous  myths propagated by the brahmanic  priesthood.  The search, for those parts discarded, are to be extended into the domains of  social history and our logical reasoning.
The idea of the collective-strength can be seen in  the  "gana" root of his names Ganapathy and Ganesha.  And the 'vigna',  resistance, the causing of hindrance, to the castieist- chathurvarnya-brahmanic religion,  can be read in his  decapitated head.  The 'gana'  in his name point to the vigilant  resistance-group supporting him. The context,  that the  castiest Hindu religion  referred to Buddhists, as 'Kshatriya', (Jaina followers reffered as 'Vysya') and that Ganapathy has a tantric Buddhist  heritage brings about an idea that Ganapathy was an annoyance to the Brahmans.  There is  also a  myth of Parasurama, whose mission was to annihilate  the 'Kshatriyas'(Buddhist) and the cutting off one tusk of Ganapathy can be read as an allegory to  the establishing of  brahmanic supremacy.
As far as Buddhists were concerned,  elephant is a symbol of the Buddha. Many animals like elephant, bull, horse etc which are described in  the epic of   Buddha's life  were his memorials by the Buddhists  who were not idolaters.  There is a statue, aprox. 2300 years old,  of an elephant coming out of a rock formation in Dhaulagiri near Bhuvaneshwar, sculpted as part of the Buddhist evangelism of emperor Asoka. This statue symbolically depicts a story related to Buddhas birth. Importing  the image of elephant,  which was a symbol of Buddha, into casteist Hindu religion was a plot to diffuse Buddhists. The concept of   Ganapathy   was a technique to defeat and  surmount, the inexorable moral strength of the Buddhist ideology using its own images and misleading  by such  symbolic representations.
The present image of the God Ganapathy was formed during the fourth and fifth centuries of the Christian era, in the  castiest Hindu  and the tantric- Buddhist religions. The concept of  Ganapathy, considered  as the embodiment  of alphabets and knowledge, highlights his relevance to the Buddhist thought and religion.  The  casteist- brahmanic-social setup, whose modus operandi  to retain hegemony was  to monopolize knowledge, gained upper-hand  towards the end of the Gupta regime. During that time the adversaries of the brahmins were the Buddhists.  After the Gupta regime (AD. 320-550) the castiest-brahmin-priests lost their glory and  supremacy in the society and a disgruntled lot of  these sorcerer-wizard-scholars  infiltrated the centers of advanced  learning like 'Nalanda' and 'Takshashila', and established  strong caucuses of antagonists of Buddhism. The plots for  destroying  those kings  who did not conform to their policies of Yaga-yajnas, sorcery, dismembering  the society into  castes, establishing a  status of unquestioned  supremacy of brahmins in society etc., declaring them to be  'Asuras', 'Rakshasas' and despots,  where hatched during that period. Under these circumstances we can  reasonably assume  that the formulation of the Ganapathy myth  was to assuage the  wrath of  the general public,  after such a genocide  of the Buddhists  by the brahmin priests.

Ganapathy is a symbolic representation of the  beheading of the Buddhists. That is why  offerings  to  Ganapathy  is made  mandatory  before   the offerings to all the other divinities that the brahmins have introduced. Thus the worship of Ganapathy became  acceptable and became a solace even to those Buddhists who were  reluctant to leave their allegiance to their  former religion.  Today  on all auspicious occasions, the ritual of  offerings to Ganapathy which ensures the presence of a brahmin priest , haunts our society. 
Carrier Mouse
It is to be considered that the carrier of Lord Ganapathy is an insignificant rodent. A harebrained, elephant-headed, gluttonous, bloated god image  riding a small mouse, reveals the  hatred, animosity , vengefulness, mockery and the despise that  the brahmin priests nurtures in their collective racist memory  towards Ganapathy. The story of  Parasurama,  an incarnation of Vishnu  and   the destroyer of kshathriyas,  confronting Ganapathy and cutting off his tusk can also be read as a reference to the vengefulness of the priesthood. In short, Ganapathy is a matyr. The deified victim of brahmin priesthood, in their infamous  machinations to subdue the tantric Buddhists.

Courtesy : Thanks to Ms. Jaya M for English translation.