Ganesh is one of the
most worshiped gods in the Hindu religion. He is the destroyer of vanity, selfishness, pride
and is the remover of obstacles. He also is the symbol of
abundance since there is nothing stopping you between you and your
ideal. He is
the personification of material universe in all its various
magnificent manifestations. Many Hindus have a statue, painting
or symbol to assist in praying to Ganesh at some time in their day.
Since his main job is to remove obstacles in your life's path, he has
become one of the most praised and worshiped of Hindu gods.
If you're wondering
why he has the head of an elephant, there is a great story behind
this. As depicted in the ancient Hindu text called the "Shiva Purana",
the goddess Parvati, while bathing, created a boy out of
the dirt of her body and assigned him the task of guarding the
entrance to her bathroom. When Shiva, her husband returned, he
was surprised to find a stranger denying him access, and struck off
the boy's head in rage. Parvati broke down
in utter grief and to soothe her, Shiva sent out his people to
fetch the head of any sleeping being who was facing the north.
They found a sleeping elephant and brought back its severed
head, which was then attached to the body of the boy. Shiva
restored its life and made him the leader of his troops, hence his
original name 'Ganapati'. Shiva also bestowed a boon that people would worship
him and invoke his name before undertaking any venture.
Ganesh is a highly
symbolic deity for Hindus. The head of Ganesh represents the
soul or ultimate reality), while his body signifies the world
and earthly realm of human beings. The elephant trunk had the
symbol of OM on it, which is the primal sound and symbol of the
Universal reality. In his upper right
hand Ganesh holds a goad, which helps him propel mankind forward on
the eternal path and remove obstacles from the way. The noose in
Ganesh's left hand is a gentle implement to capture all difficulties.
The broken tusk that Ganesh holds like a pen in his lower right hand
is a symbol of sacrifice, which he broke for writing the Mahabharata.
The rosary in his other hand suggests that the pursuit of knowledge
should be continuous. The laddoo (sweet) he holds in his trunk
indicates that one must discover the sweetness of the Atman. His
fan-like ears convey that he is all ears to our petition. The snake
that runs round his waist represents energy in all forms. And he is
humble enough to ride the lowest of creatures, a mouse.