Himalayan Art Resources

Buddhist Deity: Ganapati Iconography

Ganapati Main Page

Subjects, Topics & Types:
- Description (below)
- Outline Page
- Ganesha (Shaiva Hindu)
- One Face, Two Hands (white, red)
- One Face, Four Hands (white, red or blue)
- One Face, Twelve Hands (Maharakta)
- Three faces, Six Hands, Ragavajra (Atisha Tradition)
- Rinjung Lhantab (5 Forms)
- Nyingma Forms of Ganapati (Revealed Treasure)
- Secondary Figure (Charya & Yoga Tantra)
- Yantra Diagram
- Confusions: Ganesha (Shaiva Hindu)
- Others...

- Ganapati Introduction
- Is the Hindu Ganapati & the Buddhist Ganapati the Same?
- A Ganapati Painting
- Elephant Imagery in Art
- Ganesh: Studies of an Asian God (Book Review)

Number of Arms:
- Two
- Four
- Six
- Twelve

There are two main Sarma traditions of Ganapati in Tibet descending from Atisha and Mal Lotsawa.

Atisha Dipamkara Shrijnana:
- White, Three faces, Six Hands (Ragavajra)
- White, One Face, Four Hands
- Yellow, One Face, Four Hands

Mal Lotsawa Lodro Drag:
- Red, One Face, Four Hands
- Red, One Face, Twelve Hands (Maharakta)

The primary function of Ganapati in Tantric Buddhism is that of a wealth deity - a meditation and ritual practice done for the purposes of obtaining wealth. Most forms of Ganapati belong to the Kriya classification of Buddhist Tantra. In the 11th century Jowo Atisha popularized at least two forms of Ganapati in Tibet. The Indian Pandita Gayadhara introduced numerous other forms of Ganapati which came down through the Sakya Tradition of Tibetan Buddhism. In the following centuries the Nyingma Tradition gave rise to numerous forms through the process of Revealed Treasure.

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Jeff Watt 5-2006 [updated 3-2011, 5-2017, 12-2019, 1-2021]

(The images below are only a selection of examples from the links above).