Objects as History -Iconography of 11th Century Ganesha Idol :

For this assignment, I was assigned the 11th Century Ganesha Idol, that was found in Thane, Maharashtra.

This idol, is now kept at the CSMVS (Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj Vastu Sangrahalaya) Museum in Mumbai. So, me and my group of friends visited the museum, to collect more information.




Indians worship Ganesh on just about every occasion. The ritual is called Ganesh Puja. During Ganesh Chaturthi, his images and idols are paraded through the streets and then immersed in the sea. Indians worship

The idol is made of Basalt and it was found in Jandhali Baug, Thane, Maharashtra in 11th Century CE.[1]


The idol has a big head, which indicates thinking big. It has large ears and a small mouth which refer to listening more and talking less respectively. The small eyes, indicate concentration and its large stomach speaks about peacefully digesting all good and bad in life. The idol has only one tusk which implies retaining the good and throwing away the bad.

The snake across his stomach is a symbol of Shiva. It pulls you closer to your highest goals.The modaks in his hand are the rewards of Sadhana. Sadhana is self-victory and victory over time and space.[2]


The idol of Lord Ganesha is seated with his right leg lowered. This expresses his concern for living beings, a desire to be pro-active as well as his desire to take part in acts of love, compassion and liberation.

Ganesha is depicted with four arms, implying that the Lord has sovereignty or control over the four cardinal directions, the four divisions of society, the four stages of life, the four aspects of Hindu psychology, the four levels of consciousness, the four important components of dharma, and the four aims of human endeavor.

The crown is a classic symbol of his sovereignty and its also indicates the reality which cannot be known to us which is presented through this deity.

One of the Lord’s hands is in Chin Mudra. This is the gesture of teaching. It indicates the passing of knowledge from the deity to the one contemplating it. He in turn is expected to pass on the knowledge to others. The thumb pressing on the index finger suggests crushing one’s ego, while the three fingers represent getting over one’s anger and greed.


The Deity is also seen holding an Ankusha or an Elephant Goad in his left hand. This acts as an incentive to continue in spiritual practice and to apply the teachings. It also suggests the control of anger.[3]

[1] “11th Century Ganesha Idol.” Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj Vastu Sangrahalaya. 159-161, Mahatma Gandhi Road, Fort, Mumbai, Maharashtra 400032. 10 October 2016.

[2] “Elephant God Ganesha Presence Throughout Worldwide.” Columbus Lost. Accessed October 22, 2016. http://www.columbuslost.com/Temples/Elephant-God-Ganesha-presence-throughout-Worldwide/info

[3] Rama Ramanuja Achari. Hindu Iconology. Simha Publications, 2015. http://www.srimatham.com/uploads/5/5/4/9/5549439/hindu_iconography_1.pdf


  1. “11th Century Ganesha Idol.” Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj Vastu Sangrahalaya. 159-161, Mahatma Gandhi Road, Fort, Mumbai, Maharashtra 400032. 10 October 2016.
  2.  “Elephant God Ganesha Presence Throughout Worldwide.” Columbulost – Discover the Lost Heritage of the World with Ancient Temples, Monuments, Books, Manuscripts. Accessed October 22, 2016. http://www.columbuslost.com/Temples/Elephant-God-Ganesha-presence-throughout-Worldwide/info
  3. Achari, Rama Ramanuja. Hindu Iconology. 1st ed. Simha Publications, 2015. www.srimatham.com/uploads/5/5/4/9/5549439/hindu_iconography_1.pdf





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