Ganesha — the Elephant

GaneshaThe stories, symbolism, attributes and legends surrounding Lord Ganesha are so numerous and varied, that we can only hope to lift the curtain and shine a little light.

I will share some of my favourite attributes and symbolism in this first part. After that, I leave the door open for you to share and comment on whatever experience and knowledge you may have regarding Sir Ganesh, The lord of the hosts, Ganapati, the destroyer of obstacles.

Where to start but at the beginning? Ganesha is the first born son of Shiva and Parvati and within his name Ganesh, ‘Ga’ symbolizes Buddhi (intellect) and ‘Na’ symbolizes Vijnana (wisdom).

Because of these two qualities, Ganesha is considered the master of wisdom and intellect. His big belly symbolizes the prosperity of nature, and is thought to contain infinite universes.

With equanimity, Ganesha swallows the sorrows of the universe, to protect the world.

His wide ears indicate wisdom. This is the type of wisdom that comes from the ability to listen to people’s problems, but also from our own meditation and contemplation over spiritual truths.It is important for everyone to learn how to listen as one of the best ways of assimilating ideas in the world around us. In this way Ganesh’s ears are used to gain knowledge. In Hindu belief, the huge ears indicate that whenever a person knows God, at the same time they come in possession of all knowledge.

The broken tusk of Ganapataya stands primarily for his ability to overcome or “break through” the illusions of duality, to see that we are one.

Ganesh is escorted, attended to and occasionally carried by a mouse. According to some interpretations, the dive vehicle of Ganesha, the mouse, represents talent, wisdom, and intelligence. Because a mouse usually leads his life below ground, one could argue that it can also be a symbol of ignorance, the kind of ignorance originating in fear and darkness that should be lifted up by light and knowledge.

The mouse of Lord Ganesha can teach us how to remain on alert, to be aware of the illusory reality and to light up the flame of inner knowledge and wisdom.

Philosophically, Ganesha, denotes the person who has found the Divine within himself. Ganesha’s is the first sound, OM, from which all songs were brought forth. When Shakti (Energy) and Shiva (Matter) were joined together, both Light (Skanda) and Sound (Ganesha) were born.

Ganesha is a symbol of the perfect balance of beauty and kindness on one side and power and force on the other. Given these qualities, Ganesha teaches us to be able to discriminate between the illusion and the truth, to be able to see the real versus the unreal.

All in all, Ganesha is a frequently invoked Deity, because he is the God of Good Fortune capable of bringing abundance and prosperity. In fact, Ganesha can help us destroy the obstacles on our spiritual and material paths.

To bring prosperity and release blockage in households and businesses, it is a tradition to place Ganesha in the first left hand corner, as you enter.  You can built an alcove for Ganesh, even before you have a beautiful statue of this Deity.

Filed under: Blog Posts, Glossary