Lord Ganesha , The Hindu Elephant God

picture of ganesha with his elephants

Lord Ganesha – the elephant deity who rides a mouse – is one of the most common symbols associated with Hinduism. Ganesha is not just important but also very popular and pervasive in the minds of the people. He is the God Hindu’s start their pujas with, He is the destroyer of  negative energies. The devotees of Ganesha celebrate a festival to glorify him, called Ganesh Chaturthi. It comes once a year and is an event celebrated almost up to 21 days.

Lord Ganesha

Ganesha, the son of Lord Shiva and Goddess Parvati, has an elephantine face with a curved trunk and big ears, and has the round pot-bellied body of a human being. He is the destroyer of the evils and obstacles and is called the Lord of Success. People also worship him as the God of education , knowledge, wisdom and wealth. He is one of the five prime Hindu deities (other four being The Brahma, The Vishnu, The Shiva and The Durga) who are glorified as the panchayatana puja (worship of five deities: Shiva, Vishnu, Durga, Surya and Ganesh). The first step of puja is by starting with praying to Ganesha.

The significance of Ganesha’s Form

Starting with Ganesha’s head which symbolizes the soul or the Atman, is the ultimate supreme reality of the human existence. His human body represents Maya or the earthly existence of human beings. The elephant head signifies wisdom and its trunk stands for Om, the symbol of cosmic reality. Ganesha holds a whip in his upper right hand, which helps him remove the obstacles from the way and bring mankind forward on the eternal path. All the difficulties are gently implemented by the noose (a loop with a running knot) in Ganesha’s left hand. As a symbol of sacrifice, Ganesha broke a tusk to write Mahabharata, which he holds like a pen in his lower right hand. He also holds a rosary in his other hand which suggests that the quest of knowledge should continue always. To indicate the discovery of the sweetness of the soul, Atman, he holds a sweet called Laddoo in his trunk. His big fanlike ears transmit that he is always listening to our petitions and prayers. The snake which represents energy in all forms, runs around his waist. Lastly, he is so humble that he can ride even the lowest of the creatures such as a mouse. The mantra vakratunda mahakaya implies on the form of Lord Ganesha : Vakra-Tunda Maha-Kaaya Surya-Kotti Sama-prabha O Lord Ganesha, with a Curved Trunk & a Large Body, and with the brightness that is equal to a Million Suns, Nir-vighnam Kuru Me Deva Sarva-Kaaryeshu Sarvadaa: Please free all my Works from Obstacles, Always VIDEO The story behind how Ganesha was born and how got his elephant head There are many versions of how Ganesha was born and how he got his elephant head. One of them as per the Shiva Purana is: Once goddess Parvati had to go for a bath, and since there was no one to watch over the house and not allow anyone to enter while she was bathing, she created a boy from the mud paste that she made to bathe and breathed life into him. And so Ganesha was born. Goddess Parvati ordered him to guard the house and not allow anyone inside. While Ganesha was obediently following the orders of his mother, Lord Shiva returned home and tried to enter in. He told Ganesha that he was Parvati’s husband and that this was his house. But Ganesha stopped him and wouldn’t let him enter the house. Lord Shiva, being very short-tempered, got angry that this strange boy would not allow him inside his own house. So he severed Ganesha’s head with his Trishul (the weapon of Lord Shiva, shaped as a fork). When Parvati came out of the house and saw Ganesha’s lifeless form, she was devastated and she insisted that Shiva bring Ganesha back to life immediately. Unfortunately, the Trishul of Lord Shiva was so mighty that while severing Ganesha’s head, the head flew very far off. Any of the attempts made to find the head were unsuccessful. Finally Shiva told his disciples to bring the head of the first living being sleeping with his head in the north direction. They brought back the head of an elephant who slept in that manner. Shiva attached that head to the body of Ganesha and brought him back to life. Since then, Shiva said that he is to be called Ganapati, the head of celestial armies and will be worshipped by everyone before starting any activities. Ganesha: The Destroyer of Pride Ganesha is the destroyer of pride, vanity, selfishness all obstacles and evils. He is the meeting ground of all Hindus and the beginning of the Hindu religion. He is called the personification of the material universe.