Asian Art Museum of San Francisco: Ganga - Deity of the Ganges - AM Musings
 
Picture
Hindu Deity Ganga
Carving of Ganga:  This small carving (about 15" high) is the subject of my first practice presentation I am giving as part of my Asian Art Museum docent training.  The sculpture is of Ganga the Hindu Deity of the Ganges River.  People growing up familiar with the Hindu tradition would recognize the lotus flower in her left hand and a water vessel in her right hand and symbols representing Ganga.  She is standing on a mythical water creature called a makara.  Hindus believe that all who came into the path of Ganga would be purified.

The deity Ganga and the Ganges River are one and the same.  According to Hindu mythology, Ganga came down from the heavens to form the Ganges River originating in the Himalayas, flowing 1500 miles through North India into the Ganges River Basin in Bangladesh and into the Bay of Bengal. The identification with water is significant for Ganga.  For centuries and to this day people flock to bathe in the Ganges River to be purified of sins.

My presentation went well. 
 
Chris
9/10/2011 09:35:50 am

Practice makes perfect
Ganga who purifies soul
Congratulations

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2/20/2012 11:29:10 am

It could be argued that the sculpture above of the Hindu Deity Ganga, who holds a lotus flower in one hand and a water vessel in the other might actually hold a vessel containing the ritual beverage Soma, and that the mushroomic looking parasol above her head represents the Amanita muscaria mushroom, one of the leading candidates for the so-called mystery plant known as Soma.
Over the years there has been a lot of speculation among scholars concerning the true identity of Soma the mystery plant in the Rig Veda, the only plant known to have been deified in the history of human culture, (Furst, 1972:201).
The true identity of Soma has been forgotten, but we know that Soma was a sacred plant worshiped as both a god and holy beverage by a people who called themselves Aryans, who introduced their Soma cult into India and the Indus Valley civilization around 1600 B.C. The Soma cult of the early Indo- Aryans was a cult of sacrifices, based on the observance and celebration of certain celestial laws which they believed were necessary to venerate in order to keep the world in balance. This balance was maintained through the acts of ritual sacrifice and the offering of a hallucinogenic drink called Soma.

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Larry
2/20/2012 04:50:19 pm

Thanks for the comment Carl, that's not something that's been mentioned in our lectures or discussions, but a very interesting observation.
Thanks for looking, Larry

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