Lord Ganesha

Shri Ganeshaya Namha


The Figure of Ganesha

Ganesha's figure is well known in India. The elephant face (Gaja vadana), winnowing pan like ears (Shoorpa-Karna), a huge belly (Lam bodara), four hands (Chaturbhuja) -three of them carrying Pasha (a rope), Ankusha (a spear-like weapon curved at one end) and Modaka (a pudding like sweet dish) - and the fourth held in a gesture which assures help
and protection to the devotee, a beautiful body of red complexion - this is how he is pictured. And he rides a rat.


There is a story that Parvati created Ganesha with the outer dusty layers of her body. On the day of the Ganesha festival an earthen idol is worshipped. This reminds us of his relation to the earth. The idol has four hands. One right hand holds a Pasha. This is endowed with divine greatness. With the help of this, Ganesha attracts the minds of his devotees. The other hand bestows boons. This indicates that those who throw themselves on Ganesha's mercy need fear nothing. Similarly, one left hand carries an Ankusha. This is - a symbol to show that Ganesha will destroy our ignorance. The other hand holds a vessel filled with Modakas. This shows that Ganesha brings joy to every -

Ganesha's bulky head symbolizes his extraordinary intelligence. His ears are broad like winnowing pans. You know winnowing- pans are used to winnow grain. What happens then? The husk and the grain get separated. So does Ganesha distinguish between truth and untruth. It may also be said that the broad ears symbolize his capacity to listen to the prayers of all his devotees with great attention. While his ever-moving trunk teaches that one should be active always, his single tusk denotes single-mindedness in action.His huge belly signifies that the entire Brahmanda (universe) is hidden within Ganapati.
He rides a rat. The rat personifies evil qualities like anger, too much of pride and selfishness. Riding on the rat shows that Ganesha checks these evil passions.

His Names

Ganesha is known not by one name or two, but by many names, Each name has an explanation. Because of his elephant face he is called Gajanana ('Gaja' meaning elephant); as the leader of Shiva's Gana he is known as Gananayaka; he bestows boons on his devotees and so is Varasiddhi Vinayaka, he is Vidya Ganapati because he grants knowledge and wisdom; he is called Gowriputra because he was born by the grace of Parvati, Ekadanta because he has only one tusk, and Vighneshwara because he is the Lord of all obstacles - so he has many names.The belief that, Ganapati loves his devotees immensely is the reason for his worship everywhere.

Outside India

In how many lands are Ganesha worshipped! There are shrines dedicated to him in many countries, even outside India.Hundreds of years ago Hindu missionaries went to different countries. They carried with them the idols of Ganesha who was their supreme deity. They spread their ideas about his form, power and the symbolic significance of his form Merchants used to carry the idols of Ganesha to foreign countries so that their journey and trade may be free from obstacles. Perhaps, Ganesha came to be known to people of other lands for these reasons, Anyway, Ganesha is a popular God even in foreign countries.Ganesha has different names, forms and symbolic significance in some countries. He is famous in different forms in Tibet, Nepal, Ceylon (now Srilanka), Afghanistan, China, Japan, Indonesia, - Cambodia, Thailand etc. In Burma there is one idol of Ganesha touching the ground with his hand. An idol of Vinayaka in Cambodia has only two shoulders. The idol of Ganapati in a Buddhistic monastery at Kung-Hsien in China carries the Chintamani (a precious gem) in the left hand. (The Chintamani is believed to be capable of granting any boon.)

Parvati's Beloved Son

Kailasa is the abode of Lord Ishwara. Parvati is Ishwara's wife. Ishwara had thousands of servants like Nandi and Bhringi.One day Parvati went to bathe, as usual, Nandi kept watch at the door. Parvati said to Nandi, "Don't let any one enter" and went in.After a while Ishwara arrived. Nandi told, him that Parvati was bathing. Ishwara turned a deaf ear to him and entered. Parvati was displeased at the sudden entry of her husband.Next day it was time for Parvati to go to bathe. Then she made the figure of a boy with the dirt of her body and gave him life. It was this boy who later became Ganesha and Gajamukha.The boy Ganesha wa's very handsome. He was equally strong. He bowed to his mother in reverence and devotion and said, "Mother, what shall I do?"Ganesha was more radiant than the sun and the moon. Parvati was overjoyed at the sight of the lad. She embraced him, caressed his head tenderly and kissed him with affection. Then she gave him a thick stick and said, "Look, my child, I am now going for a bath. Don't allow anybody inside without my permission.

Not Even Ishwara!

Ishwara happened to come there. Ganesha stopped him at the door. Ishwara became angry, Moreover, Ishwara had never seen the boy. Glaring at him, he shouted, "You little brat, who are you? Don't you know that I am the master ofKailasa and that Parvati is my wife? You are trying to stop me! How dare you?"Ganesha did not flinch, He replied: 'Whoever you may be, I am not afraid -of you. Now mother is having a bath. Without her permission I cannot allow anybody inside. So now, go away!"

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