Devout Hindus worship him for his ability to remove obstacles. They remember Ganesha, their beloved god, before embarking on any endeavor or worshipping other gods. This rule is only broken when Siva is worshipped. Ganesha’s father is Siva. There is no need to worship the son separately when you worship the father because the son is always found in the heart of his father. As a result, when Siva is worshipped, Ganesha is pushed to the sidelines.
Ganesha, also known as Ganapati, is the Sivaganas’ leader (the forces of Siva). He is the first god to receive all of the honors. He is known as Vighnaraja or Vighnesvara, the Lord of Obstacles and Impediments. Devout Hindus worship him for his ability to remove obstacles. They remember Ganesha, their beloved god, before embarking on any endeavor or worshipping other gods. This rule is only broken when Siva is worshipped. Ganesha’s father is Siva. There is no need to worship the son separately when you worship the father because the son is always found in the heart of his father. As a result, when Siva is worshipped, Ganesha is pushed to the sidelines.
Ganesha, more than any other god, draws and holds our attention. Nobody can deny his unusual features or his unusual placement in the Hindu pantheon. A foreigner unfamiliar with Hinduism’s tenets might draw incorrect conclusions about Ganesha and Hinduism based on his form.
But he’d be surprised to learn that, despite his appearance, Ganesha is one of Hinduism’s most popular gods. Millions of people are drawn to him irresistibly and worship him deeply with unrivaled devotion, regardless of their age, gender, education, or background. His presence adds a great deal of variety and vibrancy to Hinduism. His childlike innocence and behavior entice the younger generation and draw them into religious life at a young age. They form friendships with Ganesha, and those friendships last for the rest of their lives.
Ganesha has an unusual, if not grotesque, appearance. His shape defies all physical beauty and proportion standards. It does not, however, evoke feelings of ugliness or repulsion in those who are devoted to him. They see in him a peculiar charm that is uniquely his own and powerfully appealing, filled with love in their hearts. He has a short stature, almost dwarfish appearance, and is red in color. Circumstances forced him to live with an elephant head, which sits rather confidently on a big pot belly supported by sumo warrior limbs and legs. His skin color is usually red. However, his images are available in blue, black, green, yellow, white, and pink.
In an encounter with Parasurama, he lost one of his tusks. As a result, he is left with only one, which we see in all of his images. The other tusk appears in his hand from time to time and serves as his pen. He is depicted with four arms, either seated or standing. We occasionally see more than four hands. Each of his arms is holding a different object. His pot belly is girded with a snake, and a yajnopavitam (a sacred thread) dangles across his shoulders. A snake is sometimes used in place of the sacred thread.
He also wears a gold or silver crown. We don’t often see him with long, flowing hair. A large sivanama adorns his brow, with a third eye in the center. His trunk may be turned to the left or right depending on your luck and the intentions of the artist or sculptor who created the image. He travels in a small, odd-looking mouse. When one looks at the mouse, one wonders if it is his vehicle or his pet, because the mouse does not appear to be working. It can be seen happily sitting at its master’s feet, nibbling on the tasty food that has been served to it.
He is depicted in a variety of ways in the images. We can only tell which aspect he is by looking at the objects he holds, his posture, and the colour of his skin. He carries a variety of objects, depending on his mood and purpose. Popular items on the list include an axe, a broken tusk, modakas (traditional rice cakes), a lute, a sugarcane stem, weapons, a book, and a rosary. These objects represent his state of consciousness.
For example, if he is shown holding modakas, we must assume that he is in a good mood. If he is carrying weapons, we must assume he is on a combat mission. We must assume that he is in the company of the rural folk if he is shown holding sugarcane. In his most popular form, he holds a noose (pasa) and a goad (ankush) in two arms, with the other two held in the abhaya and varada mudras. He sometimes appears with Lakshmi and Saraswathi, as well as his Shaktis Riddhi and Siddhi. When he does this, he is known as Siddhivinayaka.
The mystery of his shape: Despite his unusual appearance and form, Ganesha has millions of devotees and followers all over the world. This clearly demonstrates that true devotion to God is independent of our mental notions of form and beauty and that men are capable of worshipping God in all of his manifestations, regardless of what he appears to be.
Ganesha has his own unique beauty and charm. His is not a pretty face. Hidden behind his unusual features is a far deeper harmony that a casual glance overlooks. You realize his truly radiant personality as you become his true devotee and open your heart to his love. When he touches your heart, you see the beauty of true innocence, purity, divinity, and a childlike consciousness that touches your heart with all its enticing charm and ever-flowing tenderness.
No other god brings out the child in you, along with all the associated emotions, like Ganesha. With the possible exception of his parents, no other god inspires feelings of awe and fear in you. Those who truly love him are able to feel these emotions and comprehend his true significance.
He goes by several names. Ganapathi (Lord of the Ganas), Vighneswara (Lord of the Obstacles), Lambodara (potbellied), Vakrathunda (with a curved trunk), Mahaganapathi (great Ganapathi), Parvathinandana (son of Parvathi), Mushikavahana (rider of a mouse), Ekadantaya (one with one tusk), Kumaraguru (child (child Ganapathi). There are numerous other names and variations. There is no temple in India, old or new, that does not contain an image of Ganesha.
There is much speculation about his origins and how he became so famous. Some scholars compare Ganapathi to Ganapathi Brahmanaspati of the Vedas. Some believe he shared characteristics with the Maruts or the storm gods of the Vedic pantheon. However, there is no direct reference in the Vedas to the worship of an elephant god known as Ganapathi. He was most likely a non-Aryan and non-Vedic god with ties to the earlier cults of Mother Goddess and pastoral worship.
He may have been associated with Saivism from the beginning and rose to prominence with the rise of Saivism. With his elevation to the position of god-leader, he most likely diminished the importance of Indra. These changes were most likely a reflection of the Vedic religion’s metamorphosis following the collapse of Vedic kingdoms and the migration of Brahmin families to new lands. His association with the epic Mahabharata must have helped him gain popularity among the general public.
His origin is the subject of many legends. These are mentioned briefly here.
- Parvathi created or manifested him.
- He was the mental offspring of Parvathi and Ganga.
- He was created by Parvathi without Shiva’s knowledge and was beheaded by him as a result of a misunderstanding. He attached an elephant head to his headless body and brought him to life at the request of Parvathi.
- He sprang directly from Siva’s face, with great brilliance and captivating beauty, irritating Parvathi, who cursed him to become ugly and dwarfish in the process.
- Krishna with an elephant’s head.
The third version is the most popular and widely accepted. Some attribute the Ganapathi tradition to ancient farming communities’ fear of elephants and rats.
How did he become the gods’ leader?
There’s also an intriguing story about how he came to be the gods’ leader. His father once decided to make one of his sons the head of the gods. He summoned his two sons and set up a competition between them. He told them that whoever completed a complete circle of the universe and returned to him first would be given the exalted position. Kumaraswamy, confident in his strength and power, sped on his peacock to complete the journey, while the young Vinayaka, aware of his limitations, stayed back.
However, he wisely regarded his father as the embodiment of the entire universe and circled around him. His faith and belief were so strong that wherever Kumaraswami went, he found his brother ahead of him. He returned to Kailash, exhausted and perplexed, and admitted defeat. Siva, impressed by Ganesha’s devotion and intelligence, declared him the winner and appointed him as the leader of the gods.
Worship of Ganesha
Ganapathi is worshipped in a variety of ways. It has recently become fashionable to keep images of Vinayaka in drawing rooms and offices as decorative pieces rather than offering true worship. This is not in keeping with our traditions. It was once forbidden to keep images of Vinayaka in one’s home unless one was willing to offer daily worship to him. Disrespect for Ganesha may not bother him, but it will hinder our spiritual progress because he is the first god to appear in our deeper states of meditation.
The images of Ganesha are made in a variety of sizes and materials. Clay, flour, sandal paste, metals, stone, and wood are common materials. Images made of clay, flour, and sandal paste are temporarily worshipped and then immersed in water. There are no restrictions on who can create these images, except that the creators must be pure and clean. After worship, Ganesha images are rarely kept in homes. They are usually submerged in water. This unusual practice is motivated by two factors.
One is the belief that keeping an elephant in the house will cause it to devour everything and leave you destitute. The second reason is that Ganesh reminds us all of the transience of life and relationships in this world in this way.
Ganesh-Chaturthi is one of Hinduism’s most popular festivals. It is observed for nine days throughout India. People set up temporary pandals in public places to worship Ganapathi during this time. In some places, the images are built to be as tall as one or two stories. The idols of Ganesh are carried in a large procession and immersed in a nearby lake, river, well, or sea at the end of nine days. By all accounts, Ganesh-Chaturthi is a popular festival celebrated by both large and small groups.
Aspects of Ganesha
Ganapathi is worshipped in a variety of ways. There are a number of temples built for him throughout India, where he appears in various forms. His appearance is determined by who built the temple and for what purpose. Some of his most popular forms, as well as their names, are listed below.
- Ganapathi as a child is known as Balaganapati.
- Ganapathi in his youth, Tarunaganapathi.
- Ganesha with five heads, ten hands, and a third eye, Herambhaganapathi.
- Ganapathi in his ferocious form, Viravighnesa
- Ganapathi is accompanied by his Shaktis, either Lakshmi and Sarasvathi or his wives Siddhi and Riddhi.
- Achintyaganapathi: Ganapathi is a dreadful aspect worshipped in a negative way by Tantric secret cults.
- Ganapathi in a dancing mood is referred to as Nrittganapathi.
- Varasiddhi Vinayaka: Ganapathi as a boon-giver. On the occasion of Ganesh Chathurthi, he is usually worshipped in this form.
Ganapathi has a voracious appetite for delicious food. He enjoys oily and sweet foods, as well as various fruits and leaves, and coconuts. As an elephant god, he enjoys plants, leaves, and twigs. As a result, during Ganesh Chathurthi (or Vinayaka Chavithi), he is worshipped with leaves from 21 different plants. Machi, brihati, bilwa, durvayugma, datura, badari, apamarga, tulasi, choota, karavira, vishnukranta, dadimi, devadaru, maruvaka, sindhuvara, jaji, gandaki, sami, asvaththa, arjuna, and arka are their native names.
It is worth noting that the majority of them are either medicinal plants or condiments.
Ganesha symbolizes the unity of the usual and the unusual, the normal and the abnormal, and the beautiful and the ugly aspects of earthly life. He represents all that is grotesque and unusual in the world around a center of purity and divinity. He reminds us of the simple truth that everything becomes divine in the presence of God. His form dispels many mental illusions about forms and appearances, as well as the notion that beauty and intelligence go together when in reality, we rarely see these two in equal proportions.
Lord Ganesha is known as the “Creator of Obstacles.” However, this is only symbolic. In reality, Ganesha is a facilitator who assists us in our good actions while hindering us in our bad. He becomes an impediment when we engage in actions that are contrary to our divine nature or are detrimental to our spiritual progress. We have limited awareness as humans, and we may not always make the best decisions.
When we surrender to Ganesha and worship Him, he assists us in our good actions and keeps us from pursuing wrong goals by putting obstacles in our way. As a result, we are expected to submit to Ganesha and seek his divine guidance. He consumes food that is more than just food. It represents our insatiable desires, fears, and devotion. He develops the qualities of detachment and devotion in us by devouring our desires, love, and fears.
The mouse he uses as his vehicle is more than just a mouse; it represents our fears and nervousness, as well as our humility and self-surrender. We need faith and belief in God to carry out any action successfully. When Lord Vinayaka descends into our consciousness and rides our minds, he removes our fears. He gives us the strength to face life and become divine. His enormous mental powers and abnormally high intelligence are reflected in his large elephant head. Ganesha is the embodiment of wisdom, well-versed in the Vedas and other scriptures.
He transcribed the Mahabharata. His broken tusk gives us hope that we, too, can sublimate our aggressive tendencies into peace and intelligence.
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