We have seen So many Gaṇas in the sculptures accompanying Lord Śiva and other some deities. They are often seen in the Valabhi portion which is termed as “Bhūtamālā”. They are seen doing mischievous actions and with several shapes and heads. Shall we see the purāṇic details behind them?
While explaining the creation of the world, Vāyupurāṇa gives the details of all such creations. The eighth chapter of the Uttarārdha of the purāṇa gives the birth and other details of Bhūta gaṇas.
भूतिर्विजज्ञे भूतांश्च रुद्रस्यानुचरान् प्रभोः।
स्थूलान् कृशांश्च दीर्घांश्च वामनान् ह्रस्वकान् समान् ।। ८.२३६ ।।
लम्बकर्णान् प्रलम्बोष्ठान् लम्बजिह्वास्तनोदरान्।
एकरूपान् द्विरूपांश्च लम्बस्फिक्स्थूलपिण्डिकान् ।। ८.२३७ ।।
कृष्णान् गौरांश्च नीलांश्च श्वेतांश्च लोहितारुणान् ।। ८.२३८ ।।
बभ्रून् वै शबलान् धूम्रान् कद्रून् रासभदारुणान्।
मुञ्जकेशान् हृषीकेशान् सर्पयजोपवीतिनः ।। ८.२३९ ।।
विसृष्टाक्षान् विरूपाक्षान् कृशाक्षानेकलोचनान्।
बहुशीर्षान् विशीर्षांश्च एकशीर्षांश्च शीर्षकान् ।। ८.२४० ।।
चण्डांश्च विकटांश्चैव विरोमान् रोमशांस्तथा।
अन्धांस्व जटिलांश्चैव कुञ्जान् हेषकवामनान् ।। ८.२४१ ।।
एककर्णान् महाकर्णान् शङ्कुकर्णानकर्णिकान् ।। ८.२४२ ।।
दंष्ट्रिणो नखिनश्चैव निर्द्दन्तांश्च द्विजिह्वकान्।
एकहस्तान् द्विहस्तांश्च त्रिहस्तांश्चाप्यहस्तकान् ।। ८.२४३ ।।
एकपादान् द्विपादांश्च त्रिपादान् बहुपादकान् ।
महायोगान् महासत्त्वान् सुतपक्वान् महाबलान् ।। ८.२४४ ।।
सर्वत्रगानप्रतिघान् ब्रह्मज्ञान् कामरूपिणः ।
घोरान् क्रूरांश्च मेध्यांश्च शिवान् पुण्यान् सवादिनः ।। ८.२४५ ।।
कुशहस्तान् महाजिह्वान् महाकर्णान्महाननान्।
हस्तादांश्च मुखादांश्च शिरोदांश्च कपालिनः ।। ८.२४६ ।।
दीप्तास्यान् दीप्तनेत्रांश्च चित्र माल्यानुलेषनान् ।। ८.२४७ ।।
अन्नादान् पिशितादांश्च बहुरूपान् सुरूपकान् ।
रात्रिसन्ध्याचरान् घोरान् क्वचित्सौम्यान् दिवाचरान्।
नक्तञ्चरान् सुदुष्प्रेक्ष्यान् घोरांस्तान् वै निशाचरान् ।। ८.२४८ ।।
परत्वे च भयं दैव सर्वे ते गतमानसाः।
नैषां भार्याऽस्ति पुत्रो वा सर्वे ते ह्यूर्द्ध्वरेतसः ।। ८.२४९ ।।
शतन्तानि सहस्राणि भूतानामात्मयोगिनाम्।
एते सर्वे महात्मानो भूत्याः पुत्राः प्रकीर्त्तिताः ।। ८.२५० ।।
According to this purāṇa, krodhā had twelve daughters and she gave them to Pulaha, a great sage. Among these twelve, Bhūti gave birth to the Bhūtas. They became the followers of Lord Śiva. Some of them were very stout and some others were very lean. Some were tall and some were short and others were of normal size. Some of them had long ears and some were of very long ears. Some had lengthy tongue, belly and chest. Some had single form and others had multi forms. They lived on the banks of ponds, river and oceans. Some were of black complexion and others had white, blue and red complexions. They hold many creatures and animals. Some of them had beautiful hair with sacred thread made up of serpent. Some of them devoid of eyes and some had more eyes. Some had many heads and other had no head or single head. Some had extensive speed and some were very slow. Some were short. Some were blind and some had single, many and no ears. Some had cruel teeth and nails. Some were devoid of teeth and some had two tongues. Some were single handed and others were many handed and some were devoid of hands. Some had single leg, double and many legs. They were engaged in singing and playing instruments. They knew the ultimate truth and they had the power to take desirable forms. They were cruel but pure. They were auspicious and had the powers to eat in a sacrifice. They were biting the hands and heads of others. They hold bow, sword and tridents. They had glowing face and eyes. They were the eaters of food and meat. They were devoid of fear and family. They were self – contented and were bachelors. There were hundred and thousand in numbers.
Thus Vāyupurāṇa depicts the bhūtas. Mahābhārata adds to this and say that the Bhūtas were in many forms. They had different types of ornaments and flags. They has the faces of tiger, lion and bear. Some had the faces of cat and crocodile. Some had the face and lips like that of an elephant. Some had the face of owl and others had eagle and wolf faces. Some had their body like porcupine, cow and other animals. Some had dark complexion and hold discus, maze and other weapons. Some had their faces on their belly and named as “Udaremukhas”.
Thus they are explained in the two texts. Other texts add to the above and content and explain that these Bhūtas were controlled by Bhūtanāyakas like Kūṣṃāṇda, Kumbhodara and Kumbhāsya.
Śilpa śastras too inform us to depict them with five Tāla of measurement and with many mischievous actions.
We can see the sculptural depiction of such bhūtas with the above descriptions. Some in dancing poses and others in holding creatures and doing mischievous actions. Gaṇeśa is said to be the chief of these Bhūtas and he will be depicted along with these gaṇas.
Picture from Net and Sri. Pandiyan.