Monday, July 21, 2008

Ganesha symbolism

Wondering about the symbolism of Ganesha this morning, since all Hindu religious art is very symbolic. 

"Significance of the Ganesha Form

Ganesha's head symbolizes the Atman or the soul, which is the ultimate supreme reality of human existence, and his human body signifies Maya or the earthly existence of human beings. The elephant head denotes wisdom and its trunk represents Om, the sound symbol of cosmic reality. In his upper right hand Ganesha holds a goad, which helps him propel mankind forward on the eternal path and remove obstacles from the way. The noose in Ganesha's left hand is a gentle implement to capture all difficulties.

The broken tusk that Ganesha holds like a pen in his lower right hand is a symbol of sacrifice, which he broke for writing the Mahabharata. The rosary in his other hand suggests that the pursuit of knowledge should be continuous. The laddoo (sweet) he holds in his trunk indicates that one must discover the sweetness of the Atman. His fan-like ears convey that he is all ears to our petition. The snake that runs round his waist represents energy in all forms. And he is humble enough to ride the lowest of creatures, a mouse."

"The curved trunk of Ganesh represents the arousal of the powers of the kundalini . Vast ears represent the ability to listen to and comprehend all that others say. The large stomach inspires us to keep all that is within our minds under wraps until it is accomplished.

The single tusk reminds us of that time during the Mahabharata, when the great rishi Ved Vyas, found that he could not even start writing the epic. He then invoked Ganesh, who though cursed by the moon to lack lunar energy (energy for creativity and romance), heard his soulful, truthful pleas, giving him one of his tusks to be fashioned into a pen so that the task of writing the great epic, could be initiated. Hence, the irreplaceable use of Ivory in precious works of art was started.

The vehicle of Ganeshji is the mouse. The unique quality of the mouse is that, while the rest of the world sleeps with great abandon, it quietly hoards all sorts of things in its hole, to be discovered only when its young ones start playing around!

Similarly, before starting any task, it is essential to undergo the penance of collecting all related information and making necessary preparations. This wisdom fuelled by hard work is the vehicle for success, signified by the laddoos in Ganeshji’s hands! This is his true worship or stuti . A stuti is the expression of a humble desire, of working towards realising and consequently actualising these qualities.

There is yet another important social message communicated by the symbol of Ganeshji. That is, if anywhere around us, at home or outside, there is someone with an unusual physical form, we should respectfully include such a person in our celebrations, especially when we are staring something new, because wishes from the truthful heart of such an individual, assist in making the task obstacle-free and successful. "
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