Ganesha … We all know him as a symbol of the destroyer of obstacles. As the Hindu deity we worship before initiating any new beginning, he is world famous!In the Hindu culture, every prayer starts with his name. Ganesha is the lord of Vedic astrology, and many yogis around the world refer to him as the elephant god! He has the face of an elephant, rides on a rat, and has a huge belly with a snake tied to his stomach as his belt.Have you ever wondered what Ganesha really represents? In India, there are many traditional stories that we hear as young kids. For example, there’s the story about how Parvati – Ganesha’s mother – created him by removing the dirt of her body, and Shiva – his father – chopped off a little boy’s head and replaced it with an elephant head.I often wondered as a child: Was Parvati really that dirty? How can a lady remove so much dirt from her body that she can mold a child from it and then go for a shower again? And when she made him, how did he become 10 years old instantly?
Sometimes we are so immersed in our own world that we don’t really look beyond the box we have created around ourselves. Stories and symbols are pictorial representations of deeper inner meaning that is forgotten during generations of following rituals.As a child, I could not accept the fact that Shiva had the patience to do tapas (meditated) for 10 years but couldn’t wait for his wife, Parvati, to finish her shower. I was amazed at Shiva’s low tolerance level. I have lost sleep over the idea that Shiva could even get angry after meditating for a decade. In my experience, anyone who meditates for just 5 minutes in one day feels compassion and love instantly. How did Shiva become so brutal and angry to chop off a little boy’s head? And on top of all that, he then cut off an elephant’s head to save his son! How was this elephant head attached to Ganesha’s body anyway? And why and how does such a huge body sit on a rat and ride?Where was the logic in this? There was something missing. In the story, if Ganesha’s mother and father were so-called gods, they would have behaved as an ocean of peace and love, not like celebrities on Bravo TV who create drama.
We traditionally are commanded not to ask questions of our elders, who likely lacked the knowledge. For many generations, they religiously followed rituals without knowing the inner meanings. Our ancestors just stopped thinking and accepted that it’s all about god and worshipping deities.I kept wondering until I actually figured it out when I got older.
Here is my symbolic interpretation of The Lord Ganesha! I feel I did decode the symbolic representation, which is the jist of the story in my point of view.A huge elephant head represents the knowledge and wisdom that elephants have, that we humans inherit. The elephant trunk is sensitive enough to pick up a child and strong enough to uproot a tree. We have that inner strength to accomplish everything as well as be sensitive and kind to all.Ganesha’s ears are like a strainer, which can separate good and bad and hear only good things. His big belly represents tolerance, keeping words heard in the stomach, keeping secrets and not being a gossipy bee buzzing around. Nowadays, we have big holes and nothing stays in our belly. We love drama.One leg hanging down and the other folded represents groundedness, but also detachment from the world.Modhak held in his hand with five closed fingers represents holding all five vices in hand. Another hand indicates letting go and radiating divine light into the world, representing serving others, sharing, caring and cooperating.
The significance behind Ganesha riding on a rat was interesting when I figured it out. Before a rat bites, it actually blows on the spot to numb the region, and then it bites hard. Likewise, when vices enter our body we aren’t aware, but when we check ourselves first (numb the region) we see we have many vices. All are immersed into ALGAE: attachment, lust, greed, anger, and ego.Without cracking the symbolic code, we carry on the centuries- and generations-old tradition of living in ignorance, neglecting our own self-worth and missing out on the experience that expanding our knowledge can bring. The next time you come across an image of Ganesha, check all these qualities in yourself. Try to be the better version of yourself. It’s enlightening to find we are all the same once the vices fade away.