Ganesha: The Remover of Obstacles

Who is Lord Ganesh?

The chubby, gentle, wise, elephant-headed Ganesh, or Ganesha, is one of Hinduisms most popular deities.Ganesha is one of the most distinctive Hindu deities with his large elephant head and pot-bellied human body. He plays a dual role of a supreme being powerful enough to remove obstacles and ensure success or create obstructions for those whose ambition has become destructive.

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Ganesh is the remover of obstacles, the deity whom worshipers first acknowledge when they visit a temple.Ganesh is usually shown in sculpture accompanied by or riding a rat. Since rats are seen as being capable of gnawing their way through most things, the rat symbolizes Ganesh’s ability to destroy every obstacle.

The Meaning of Ganesh.

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Ganesh’s name literally means “Lord of Gana.” Ganesh was entrusted by Shiva with the leadership of the Ganas, Shiva’s dwarfish, rowdy retinue, in compensation for the loss of his human head.

Ganesh is also patron of letters and of learning; he is the legendary scribe who, using his commonly held broken tusk, wrote down parts of the Mahabharata Epic.

Ganesh is usually depicted colored red; he is pot bellied, has one tusk broken, and has four arms that may hold a pasam, a goad, and a pot of rice, or sweetmeats. The sweet meats are held in a type of bowl known as a laddus. His appetite for these sweets is legendary and offerings of them are often left at his shrine.

A pasam or noose is a triple twine weapon. Each of the three twines represent:

1. Arrogance and conceit

2. Maya – the illusory nature of the real world, and

3. Ignorance.

Goads (or elephant prods) are typically used to direct elephants. Goads are symbolic of how one should steer the soul away from the ignorance and illusions of this earthly world just as a mahout would steer an elephant away from any treacherous path.

In Hindu ideology weapons are a viewed as symbolic tools to destroy the ego rather than to cause any type of bloodshed.

Ganesh’s characteristic pot belly is usually bound around with a cobra. The cobra is an animal usually associated with Shiva, a reminder that Ganesh is his son.

 

The Story of Ganesha

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The Hindu tradition contains many different versions of Ganesha’s origins. Some stories say that Ganesha was born with an elephant head. Most say that he was born with a human head that was later replaced with the elephant head.

In one version of the story, Ganesha’s mother, the goddess Parvati, created Ganesha from the dirt off her body while she was bathing. She then had Ganesha guard the entrance to her bathroom. When her husband, Shiva, came home, he was angry that a stranger blocked his access and cut off Ganesha’s head in a fit of rage. Parvati was struck with grief, and to console her, Shiva restored Ganesha to life, giving him an elephant head.

Inspiration from Ganesha

When you’re setting goals or seeking wisdom as you pursue them—call upon Ganesha as your guide. Ganesha can be especially helpful for:

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  • Any big or small endeavor in which you want to succeed.
  • Writing and artistic projects.
  • Seeking wisdom before making a big decision such as deciding whether to leave a job or change careers.
  • Any situation where an obstacle is preventing you from success.
  • Cultivating a peaceful household. Ganesha is loving and polite, yet strong.

Symbolism and Significance of Ganesha

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  • Ganesha’s big belly represents generosity and total acceptance.
  • Ganesha’s upraised hand depicts protection.  It means, ‘Fear not, I am with you’, and his lowered hand, palm facing outwards means endless giving as well as an invitation to bow down. This is also symbolic of the fact that we will all dissolve into earth one day.
  • Ganesha also has a single tusk which signifies one-pointedness. Even the implements Ganesha wields are symbolic.
  • He carries in his hands the ‘Ankusa’ (signifying awakening) and the ‘Paasa’ (signifying control). With awakening, a lot of energy is released, which without proper control, can go haywire.

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