Many a Hindu symbols and deities fascinate people world over. A lot of people are aware of the elephant headed God of Hindus…….Lord Ganesha. For the Hindus, Ganesha is the most important. All festivals, functions or any thing auspicious begin only after a prayer to Lord Ganesha.
Why a God with elephant head?
According to the mythological stories, there are three Gods….the trinity; Brahma(the creator of world), Vishnu (the protector) and Mahesh (the destroyer of evil). Mahesh or Lord Shiva is the one to lose temper very quickly.
Lord Shiva and his consort Goddess Parvati had their abode at the snow-clad Mt. Kailasha in Himalayan range. Once Shiva was on his mission of killing demons and days passed by. Parvati was getting bored and decided to fashion a baby out of clay. She created a baby boy , gave him life and named him Ganesha. She taught and took great care of him like her son. One day she was preparing to have a relaxed bath and told Ganesha to let no one disturb her. That same day Shiva returned and went straight towards his home but Ganesha was guarding the door. Shiva asked the little boy to let him enter but the boy adamantly refused and retorted that his mother didn’t want to be disturbed. Few requests later, Lord Shiva lost his temper and beheaded the little boy. Parvati on hearing the commotion rushed out only to find her son dying. She was livid with anger and insisted that her son be brought back to life. Then Lord Shiva ordered his men to find a head of somebody to resurrect Ganesha. A dying elephant’s head came to the rescue and the little boy lived.
Why pray for blessings to Ganesh first:
Ganesha had another brother Kartikeya. One day these two little brothers wanted to prove their worth. Lord Shiva proposed a competition. He wanted the two brothers to complete a trip around the universe in shortest time. Lord Ganesha being the smarter one made his parents sit in one place and started going around them. When Kartikeya returned he saw his brother already there. Lord Ganesha then explained his actions thus:
“The whole Universe for a child is but his parents and in their selfless service lies the happiness”
Lord Shiva was so pleased that he blessed Ganesha and declared that then onwards all ceremonies would be considered complete only if the first prayer was addressed to Ganesha.
The Hindu beliefs are full of many such stories for hundreds of Gods and goddesses. There is a moral behind all such stories and almost all stories lay down the fundamentals of a virtuous way of life. The form of Lord Ganesh also explains the simple rules of ethical behaviour.
Symbolism of form of Lord Ganesh
Lord Ganesh is depicted as pot-bellied elephant headed God who rides on a mouse and is fond of eating sweets. Each part of this form has some meaning….
Big Head : It implies that we should think big. Mean and petty thoughts are the reason of downfall of a human being. So think big….
Large Ears: Shoopkarna, another name for Lord Ganesh depicts Ganesh with big sieve shaped elephant ears. The big ears denote that we should be a good listener and filter out the bad stuff from good just like a big sieve.
Small Eyes : To pay more attention and concentrate and assimilate in the big head…
Small Mouth and Trunk: To talk less but just like the flexible trunk we should be very adaptive in all circumstances and highly efficient in whatever we do….
Large Stomach : Digest all good and bad this life has to offer peacefully and be content…
Vahana Mooshak : Lord Ganesh even with his huge size has a mouse as his vehicle. The mouse symbolises desire. Uncontrolled desire leads us astray from the moral and ethical way of life. Just as Ganesha’s vehicle is small , so should be our desire…..small and easy to control so that it doesn’t take us for a ride towards our downfall.
Modak (sweets in the shape of a flower bud) : Lord Ganesh is fond of sweetest things in life and modaks represent contentment, inner peace and enlightenment which are the rewards of a spiritual, disciplined and correct living. That is we should aim for….
It may be difficult at all times for us humans to resist temptations, be good and patient, supress anger and hurt……but we can aim to imbibe some qualities which Lord Ganesha symbolises.
May the VIGHNHARTA(vighn + harta : problems, obstacles + destroyer : destroyer of all problems…..Lord Ganesh) shower his blessings on all of us….