November 2, 2009 on 3:00 pm
Lord Ganesh is always invoked at the start of any ceremony or when launching new endeavors. He is a patron-deity of the arts and the lord of beginnings. Ganesh is worshipped first at all Hindu occasions and festivals.
Ganesh appears as a pot-bellied figure. For some, he might appear to be less imposing. But for those who truly know this deity and seek his protection, Ganesh can be gentle and affectionate but also quite fearsome, making him a formidable ally and protector. When one invokes Ganesh, it is said that one must be careful not to ignore him at some other time. Not only is Ganesh known to be the remover of obstacles, but as one who places obstacles in front of somebody who needs to be checked in their behavior. There are many legends as to how Ganesh acquired an elephant head. One of the most popular is that Parvati, wife of Shiva, took a bath and asked Ganesh to stand guard. When her husband Shiva asked to enter the bathing room, Ganesh opposed him. Shiva in his rage cut off Ganesh’s head. Parvati, sorely distressed by this action, asked Shiva to replace it and so Shiva did with the head of the first living being he encountered: an elephant. It is interesting to note that Ganesh, sometimes like his father Shiva, appears in murtis as the Dancing Ganesh.
Ganesh has four hands, holding a shell, discus, club and water lily. His elephant head has only one tusk. Similar to other India gods, he has a “vehicle,” in his case a rat. The rat is sometimes shown at the foot of Ganesh. Other times, Ganesh is seen astride the rat.
Ganesh is also a popular figure in Indian art. He is portrayed as sitting, standing, dancing, engaging in acts of heroism against demons, and playing with his family as a boy or other contemporary situations.
Ganesh evokes quite a bit of affection and laughter. In fact, unlike other murtis, he is popularly portrayed as Baby Ganesh and seen as crawling or lounging. He has an adorable countenance and is considered one of the most popular murtis for children to place on their pujas so that they need not feel intimidated by other larger-appearing gods.
A lesser-known quality of Ganesh is that he is considered to be the Lord of letters and learning. In Sanskrit, the word “buddhi” is now translated as intelligence or wisdom. The concept of buddhi is closely associated with the personality of Ganesh. One of Ganesh’s names in the Ganesha Purana is Buddipriya or lover of wisdom. Ganesh with large ears also indicates his ability to listen to others with fine discrimination and intellect.
Within Kundalini yoga, Ganesh resides in the first chakra, called Muladhara or base chakra. Ganesh holds, supports and guides all the other chakras, governing the forces that propel the wheel of life. When one has Ganesh as her ally and friend, one is standing on solid ground.
May you have success in all future and present endeavors: May Ganesh blesses you with prosperity and wisdom. Om Sri Ganesh!