Sakti Ganapati

Here Ganesha is identified by his elephant head and trunk and, of course, his vahana, a mouse.

This Vigraha is unusual for its size, height of 12.5 cm, Balamuri (trunk turned to the right) and consort.

There are several views as to who his consort is Riddhi, Siddhi or Buddhi. Though there is a Lakshmi Ganesha, it is believed the word Lakshmi denotes Sakthi rather than Lakshmi, the consort of Vishnu. More about it later.

In South India, it is accepted Ganapati is a Bramacharin, a bachelor. Some view Ganapati with Sakthi to be an offshoot of the Ganapatya sect, which views Ganapati as the Supreme God. When the Ganapatya sect was gaining traction, the Sakta tradition (worship of Sakti as the Supreme deity) was also making inroads. This resulted in the Ganapatya sect adopting Satkthi in Ganapati worship.

The number and the forms of Ganapathi with Sakti vary by author.

T A G Rao in his book Elements of Hindu Iconography, 1914, lists five Ganapatis with Sakti: Lakshmi Ganapati, Ucchista Ganapati, Maha Ganapati, Uddhva Ganapati and Pingala Ganapati.

An earlier work Sritattvaniddhi by Mummadi Krishnaraja Wodeyar (1794-1868), lists 32 forms of Ganapati, of which eight are with Sakti. They are Sakti, Ucchista, Lakshmi, Maha, Udva, Vara, Uddanda, Sankasha Ganapatis.

For this blog site, I am adopting the terminology of Sritattvanidhi. The ones published on this blog site include Mahaganapati and Lakshmi Ganapati.

Sakti Ganapati, as documented by Sritattavanidhi, is closest to the subject of this blog. The picture and Kannada version of the Dhyana Slokha are as in Sritattavanidhi. The picture, Dhyana Slokha and its translation are in the public domain.

“Sakti Ganapati is red in colour. He has four arms. His lower right-hand shows the mudra of lack of fear (Abhaya); the two others wear the elephant goad and the noose; the last hand, which holds a lemon, embraces the goddess. With the top of his trunk, Shakti Ganapati holds a Modaka” Note: the translation and the picture do not match.

This Vigraha is about 12.5 cm in height and may be dated to the early nineteenth century or earlier. It is from Karnataka.

Note: It is debatable whether the thirty-two forms of Ganapati are exhaustive. However now it is widely accepted and a range of products, paintings and sculptures, are available depicting the thirty-two forms. That is probably how iconography develops, matures and consolidates. It is a subject for further research and blogs.

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