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Thread: Symbolism of Lord Ganesha

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    Symbolism of Lord Ganesha



    Once Parvati wanted to take a bath, and none of her attendants or Shiva-Gana were around to guard the house while she baths. Out of necessity, she created a human boy like image from the turmeric she used to take bath with, and infused life into the image.
    Parvati ordered the now alive boy to look after the house and guard it while she was having a bath. She asked him not to let anyone enter the house without her permission.
    Soon, Shiva returned to the house, and tried to enter it when the boy in front of him stopped him from entering. Shiva argued that he was the master of the house and Parvati's husband, but the boy who had not heard any other voice than Parvati was determined not to let anyone enter the house without her permission.
    Infuriated at the young boy's stubbornness, Shiva chopped off the head of the little boy with his trishula.
    Parvati, when came out, saw the lifeless body of her "son". She demanded her son to be made alive again.
    The power with which Shiva had hit the boy, out of fury, had made the head being hurled away very far off to some distant place.
    Parvati was enraged and her fury beyond control. Shiva asked his Ganas to set out in all directions and get the head of any dying animal which they could first set their eyes on. The Ganas found a dying elephant first, and brought its head back to Shiva, who affixed it on the head of the boy and infused life into it, naming him Ganesha, or the Lord(Ish) of Ganas.


    To talk something about Ganesha, cannot surely be covered by one singular blog post, and to think of it, most of the legends and stories associated with him have already been doing rounds of animated series, cartoon books, and grannies' stories since our childhood, so I will stick to the symbolism in this particular post, and will try to explain the attributes of Ganesha.
    The elephant head: Spectacular indeed that Ganesha has the head of an elephant, an animal mostly known for its patience, peacefulness, and also a symbol of Dharma and knowledge across many religions like Buddhism. The elephant head, most striking attribute of Ganesha, represents great wisdom and effortlessness. Whenever an obstacle comes in front of an elephant, it neither is affected by it nor it tries to move around it. The elephant calmly removes the obstacle and moves ahead. Similarly, Ganesha represents Gyan Shakti and Karma shakti.


    Large Ears: I personally believe that conversation is an art, and it take nothing less than absolute dedication in learning this art to qualify as a successful conversationalist.
    Successful managers and great conversationalists around the world know for a fact that a proper conversation comprises of two equally important parts. As much emphasis is put on improving communication skills, to be a patient listener is equally important, something which Ganesha heavily puts emphasis on.
    The large ears signify the listening patiently and listening as much as possible in the pursuit of intellectual growth and wisdom. The ears of Ganesha symbolize his capabilities of listening more and very patiently. The reason why when Ved Vyasa asked him to write Mahabharat ] down, and Ganesha agreed on condition that Ved Vyasa would never stop narrating and that Ganesha would write down each word only when the meaning of the word is clear to him.
    As is known famously, Ganesha stopped only for half a second , the only time when Ved Vyasa could take a rest.


    The enormous potbelly: So, if you have witnessed any of the animated movies or comic strips on Ganesha, they imply heavily on one attribute, how Ganesha would eat up all the Laddoos kept in front of him and would still feel hungry, thanks to his enormous pot belly.
    The Laddoos, in turn symbolize all the simple as well as precious elements of the world which would help a person love a life of comfort and ease. It signifies that whatever element one would crave for in the world, are at the feet of Ganesha. This signifies that he is the giver of all such worldly comforts and the devotee needs to ask for it.
    The enormous belly signifies that the devotee should be able to digest, whether some good or some bad knowledge is imparted to him. The devotee shall be open to accept any kind of knowledge and receive it gracefully, whether to his liking or not. The enormous belly also signifies that Ganesha is the holder of great Vedic knowledge and one possesses great wisdom.
    The Trunk: Perhaps the most distinguishing feature of an elephant, the trunk is used by the elephant to perform the extreme nature of tasks, both noble and gross, as per the elphant's needs. It would not only help the animal feed itself, but would also be used to clean itself. It not only has the power to uproot a tree or thump any huge structure in front of itself, it can also be used to clean the path of branches and leaves and other smaller obstacles.
    Ganesha's tusk sends the strong message of being adaptable and highly efficient in whatever we endeavour we set our focus and energies on.


    Ekdant(The Tusk): Interestingly, though legends say that the other tusk of Ganesha was broken by his brother Kartikeya in a fit of jealousy, the single tusk of Ganesha symbolizes we ought to keep off the good while be able to discard the evil at our own will and conviction. One shall be open to accepting criticism and learn his way through it to improve himself but shall not hold on to it forever.
    On another interesting note, Ganesha used his broken tusk to write down Mahabharat.
    The legs: A comparatively lesser acknowledged attribute of Ganesha, one leg of Ganesha is always resting on ground while the other is always raised. While this not only symbolizes mobility and consistent movement of life, it also symbolizes that while living his life, one should always be rooted to his surroudnings and material world, he should also strive for meditation and spiritual upliftment of his soul. One should peform his wordly duties while also being devoted to God


    The hidden symbolism in the story: While the story appears simple and quite an interesting tale on the birth of Ganesha, there is a lot of hidden symbolism in the story itself which take it to some another level.
    Parvati in the story symbolizes Shakti, or Supreme power that resides in our body. Shiva represents the Lord himself, while Ganesha, with his human head represents our ego. Without the ego, if one realizes his Supreme power, he embraces the Lord. But, the ego would not let Lord meet with inner Supreme power.
    The Lord kicks the head of the ego, and replaces it with a bigger, higher ego. This higher ego relates to the universe beyond self.
    Meditation and devotion may help one kill his ego and relate more with the supreme or universal ego
    .

    One of the most revered, worshipped, widely respected and shall I say, famous(around the world) Gods of Hinduism, Ganesha is someone who becomes the part of any Hindu believer since childhood. The images, the symbolism, the attributes not only become a part of the entire devotional imagery for the child, be it Diwali, or Ganesh Chaturthi, or pious ceremonies like "Grah Pravesh" or marriage, modern artists and scriptures and entertainers have added yet another dimension to the overall divinity, imagery and "charisma" of Ganesha.
    The first to be worshipped before all the deities in a ceremony, Ganesha is for everyone. On one hand he is the Vighna-Vinashaka for those who sincerely understand and believe in him, on the other hand, he is the "friend" or the cool dude amongst the youths and the kids(thanks to modern day movie makers.)



    Ganpati Bappa Morya

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    Re: Symbolism of Lord Ganesha

    Namaste sapansaxena

    Thanks for sharing. Is this your own work, your own authorship?

    Tell us about Ganapati and how He returened the Chintamani wishing gem back to Sage Kapila. Tell us what that means in your terms.

    Om Namah Sivaya

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    Re: Symbolism of Lord Ganesha

    Namaste Shivafan,
    Most of the symbolism here I have collected from various sources and rest of it, I have tried to chip in my own interpretation.
    I have not yet heard the story you talked about, I am really sorry. I would definitely read the story and would like to discuss it with you soon

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    Re: Symbolism of Lord Ganesha

    Namaste Sapansaxena

    Yes the history of Chintamani is an amazing history. Some do not know that there are Ganapati Murtis with this Name. Your input would be valued. Take time to investigate and give input!

    Om Namah Sivaya

  5. Re: Symbolism of Lord Ganesha

    वक्र-तुण्ड महाकाय सूर्यकोटि समप्रभ l
    निर्विघनम कुरुमेदेव सर्व कार्येषु सर्वदा॥
    O Ganapati, One with a curved trunk, a large body,
    Your brilliance is equal to numerous suns definitely,
    O God, please formulate all my undertakings totally,
    With your blessing - free from obstacles constantly.

    Extract from “Chants of Hindu Gods and Goddesses in English Rhyme”

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