Recreation of Hidden Treasure of Ghazni Ganpati
by Anushree Sunil Ghisad
In our śāstra, the land known today as Afghanistan is an integral part of Akhaṇḍa Bhārata, too. The region was originally known as Gāndhāra, the famous home-province of Śakuni and Gāndhārī in our Mahābhārata Itihāsa.
The below piece is penned by Vidarbha resident Anushree Sunil Ghisad, an engineer-turned-Security Analyst. Śrīmatī Anushree has worked as a Senior Research Fellow in Counter-Terrorism with an Afghanistan-based company. She stayed in Afghanistan for over twenty-five months, and it was this experience that ignited her interest in the oral legacy of local communities preserving age-old cultural consciousness. Currently, she is working on Ancient Spiritual Traditions of Afghanistan.
History & Recreation
This year, our Gaṇapati Bappā is enthroned upon the vast mountains of the Ghazni province in present-day Afghanistan. According to Afghan scholar Abdul Rashid Khaliq, the very word ‘Ghazni’ derives from the Sanskrit word गज (gaja), meaning ‘elephant’; Ghazni has a rich Gāṇapatya tradition, which was further celebrated by its native ruling dynasty, the Lawīks.
The Lawīks were devout followers of the Śaiva Sāṃpradāya, and they ardently promoted the Gāṇapatya parampara. Local oral accounts reveal that indigenous artists from Ghazni intricately carved numerous Gaṇapati murtis into the expansive mountain ranges during the reign of the Lawīks. One such colossal murti still exists within a mountain, albeit with its lower portion eroded, while the upper half, including the trunk and teeth, remains intact. Remarkably, due to its earth-toned appearance blending seamlessly with the mountains, it has remained concealed from terrorists, thereby safeguarding this murti from further destruction.
In our depiction, we have recreated the Ghazni of the 750s, where our beloved Bappā embodies the spirit of that enduring Gaṇeśa murti, concealed somewhere in the remote Ghazni mountains. We can observe an entire settlement nestled at the mountain’s base, along with a mahādvāra at the entrance of Ghazni. According to local lore, this mahādvāra was constructed by Wujwir Lawīk in the 8th century to commemorate a grand welcome extended to the neighboring Kabul Shahi King and Zunbil King during the same era. Notably, the mahādvāra featured intricately carved Gaṇapati murtis adorning its battlements.
The aerial view is visible above in our altar this year, showcasing the mahādvāra of Ghazni with the Gaṇapati mūrti, carvings on battlements, and flourishing settlements under the Lawīks.
While we were recreating the Ghazni mountain ranges with cardboard and newspapers along with a few kids in our society, a tender conversation unfolded between a curious 8-year-old boy and his understanding elder sister.
“Who is decorating Bappā on the real Ghazni mountain?” inquired the boy.
His sister gently replied that perhaps no one adorned it. But upon seeing her brother’s disappointment, she was quick to add that a mouse would offer a flower daily for the next 10 days.
Filled with hope, the boy says “I shall also reserve a flower for Bappā on the real Ghazni mountain.”
His sister nodded, assuring him that the Bappā is watching him even from afar in Ghazni.
Hearing this, the boy wondered if Bappā watches over the people of Ghazni too.
His sister replied with an assuring smile,
“He has been watching over them for ages.”
Both children shared a smile and continued their work with cardboard, colors, and fevicol. In this innocent conversation, they unknowingly internalized the indigenous cultural richness of Afghanistan.
In reality, it was a celebration of the cultural consciousness of Bhārata.
Gaṇapati Bappā Morayā!!!