Explaining Ganapati Thangka – the Great Red Lord of Hosts
Ganapati is one of the best-known and most worshipped deities in the Hindu pantheon. Ganapati is also known as the Great Red Lord of Hosts.
Table of Contents
- 1 - The Viability of the Ganapati
- 2 - Iconography of the Ganapati
- 3 - Depicting Ganapati Thangka
- 4 - Lineage of the Ganapati
- 5 - Ganapati with Padmasambhava Thangka
- 6 - Ganapati with Vaishavana Thangka
- 7 - Ganapati with Avalokiteshvara thangka
The Viability of the Ganapati
In this portion, we are going to grab about the viability of the Ganapati. After that, we will learn about the short etymological description of Ganapati itself. Eventually, we will highlight about Spiritual power of the Ganapati.
Etymology of the Ganapati
The meaning of Ganapati is tsog gi dag PO, mar Chen in Tibet.
Spritual power of Ganapati
Ganapati is known as Ganesh and Vinayaka who is one of the best-known and most worshipped deities in the Hindu pantheon.
Hindu denominations worship him regardless of affiliations and devotion to Ganesha is widely diffused and extends to Jains and Buddhists. This form of Ganapati is regarded as an emanation of Avalokiteshvara.
Iconography of the Ganapati
Posture of the Ganapati
Ganapati stays beside a lapis lazuli rock mountain is a red lotus with eight petals in the middle a blue rat expelling various jewels.
Shri Ganapati is with a body who is red in color having an elephant face with sharp white tusks and possessing three eyes.
Ganapati is with black hair tied in a topknot with a wishing-gem and a red silk ribbon in a bundle on the crown of the head.
Ganapati has twelve hands. The six right hands of Ganapati holds an axe, arrow, hook, vajra, sword, and spear.
The peaceful right and left hands of Ganapati are signified by the vajra and skullcup filled with blood held to the heart.
The remaining hands of Ganapati are displayed in a threatening manner. Ganapati is wearing various silks as a lower garment and adorned with a variety of jewel ornaments.
The left foot of Ganapati is extended in a dancing manner. He is standing in the middle of the bright rays of red flickering light.
This form of Ganapati belongs to a set of three powerful deities known as the ‘mar Chen kor sum’ or the Three Great Red Deities included in a larger set called ‘The Thirteen Golden Dharmas’ of Sakya. The other two deities are Kurukulla and Takkiraja.
Depicting Ganapati Thangka
Presently, it is in the Rubin Museum of Art.
The first pair of hands of Ganapati is with a vajra and skullcup. The second pair of hands a drawn bow and arrow.
There is a unique form of the four-armed Bhutadamara Vajrapani is at the top center of the thangka. Bhutadamara Vajrapani is blue in color. Bhutadamara Vajrapani is wrathful.
This is a non-standard form of the meditational deity Bhutadamara who is typically depicted performing the ‘Bhutadamara’ demon subduing gesture with both hands at the level of the heart.
Bhutadamara is also holding a vajra in the upraised right hand and a vajra lasso in the left hand.
Vajrapanjara Tantra and the Bhutadamara Tantra
The Vajrapanjara Tantra and the Bhutadamara Tantra both describe the deity as performing the mudra.
The origins of the Bhutadamara associated with Maharakta Ganapati are so far not explained.
Also at the top right and left of the thangka, there are two figures wearing monastic attire and red Pandita hats typical of the Sakya and Ngor schools of Tibetan Buddhism.
The hand attributes for each are a vajra and bell. The figures are unidentified and no inscriptions are found below the figures or on the back of the painting.
Lineage of the Ganapati
The source text used in the Sakya Tradition was taught by the Mahasiddha Krishnacharin and translated by Pandita Gayadhara.
It is a little odd that those two do not appear in the official lineage of teachers. The lineage of Ganapati is listed below:
- Vajra Varahi
- Lord Shavaripa
- Hangdu Karpo
- Mal Lotsawa
- Sachen Kunga Nyingpo
Ganapati with Padmasambhava Thangka
Ganapati is red in color with a white elephant head and four hands. He holds a plate of Indian sweets, a white radish, a string of mala beads, and a hook.
The heels of the feet are supported by the hands of a blue monkey-headed goddess that stands on the backs of two small goddesses.
Four attendant retinue figures
Four attendant retinue figures are red in color with one face and two hands held in the right a rope, hook, chain and bell.
The left hands of each hold a bow and lasso.
Ragavajra Ganapati is known as glorious Ganapati. Ragavajra Ganapati’s body is white in color.
Ragavajra has three faces, the main face is that of an elephant, the right a mouse, the left a monkey.
With six arms the three right of Ragavajra Ganapati holds a vajra, turnip, and sword.
The three left hold sweets, a skullcup filled with alchohol and a battle axe. The two back legs of Ragavajra Ganapati are placed bent and the other extended.
The two inside legs are folded. He is adorned with jewels, a lotus garland, and naked.
Ganapati with Vaishavana Thangka
On the left side of the thangka, there is Guru Rinpoche Padmasambhava holding to the heart a gold vajra, the left placed in the lap supporting a skullcup.
At the top center of the thangka, there above wisps of cloud and the rainbow light is a standing Guru Rinpoche accompanied by two attendant goddesses who is holding aloft a parasol behind and waving a fragrant sensor in front.
Padmasambhava is on the right side of the thangka. Padmasambhava is performing the function of a wealth deity, Guru Rinpoche-Vaishravanawho is with one face and two hands holding in the right an upraised victory banner.
Mongoose is on the left side of the thangka and held in the lap. Mongoose is attired in the usual manner and is surrounded by the Eight Horseman of Vaishravana.
Binding Red Vaishravana
Binding Red Vaishravana is at the middle left of the thangka.
Red Vaishravana is with one face, three eyes, and two hands holding in the right upraised a victory banner and spear.
Ganapati with Avalokiteshvara thangka
Ganapati, Maha Rakta is a tantric Buddhist form of Ganapati related to the Chakrasamvara Cycle of Tantras.
This form of Ganapati is regarded as an emanation of Avalokiteshvara.
Ganapati Who is known as Maha Rakta is beside a lapis lazuli rock mountain is a red lotus with eight petals in the middle a blue rat expelling various jewels.