Hindu Lord Ganesh: Remover of Obstacles

Hindu God Ganesh has ascribed to many roles over time.  His most marked role is that of Vighneshvara, or Lord of Obstacles, within the Hindu Religion.  This applies to both material and spiritual aims.  Besides the primary remover of obstacles he is also thought to place obstacles in the way of those in need of guidance.   If one is expressing themselves in less then ideal ways, Ganesh may bring those to light by bringing about hindrances that may enlighten them.

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Another such role is that of Lord of letters and learning.  Ganesh is renowned for his divine intellect and wisdom.  He is thought to be a teacher of the divine with his inherent cleverness and vast intelligence.  He is worshiped often by devout Hindus whenever they are embarking on a new endeavor, such as buying a house or starting a new business opportunity.  They pray for his guidance in that their new beginning may be successful.

It would not be a stretch to say that virtually every Hindu home has some sort of statue or montage to Lord Ganesh.  He is worshiped by everyone, whether rich or poor, all over India.  They collectively believe that he is a granter of success, prosperity, and protects against hardships that may arise.  Most beseech upon him at the beginning of every prayer, important events, or religious ritual.  It is even said that musicians, dancers, and artists call upon him at the beginning of every performance, undertaking, or event.  One of the most influential invocations is the following mantra:

‘Om Shri Gaṇeshāya Namah’ translated asOm, salutation to the Illustrious Ganesha’

Most Hindu households give offerings of sweets to their beloved Ganesh which is why he is often depicted holding a basket of delicacies.  Although the birth of Ganesh is the most often celebrated holiday worshiping Ganesh, he is often revered during Diwali, the Hindu festival of lights.  This is mostly due to his everyday influence in the lives of Hindus nationwide.  Diwali is a celebration of the plentiful qualities of life, of which Ganesh is often a largely believed guidance through them all.

Chakras, Colors & Hindu Gods: A Closer Look at the Hindu System

Chakras, their colors and position on the body

Chakras, their colors and position on the body

The word chakra is derived from Sanskrit, meaning “wheel”, or “circle of life”. They consist of seven main energy centers found in the body and is associated with a variety of colors, symbols and Hindu gods. In Hinduism, the continuous flow of energy throughout the chakras is referred to as “Shakti”. The concept of chakra was first mentioned in the ancient sacred Hindu text, The Vedas, but also plays an important role in Tibetan Buddhism.
Chakras are located along the spine and influence different nerve systems, organs and glands with their energy. These vortexes of energy are originated from Brahman, according to Hindu beliefs. It is presumed that as Shakti flows from one chakra point to another it exhausts the body and soul. The energy that becomes coiled in the base of the spine (root chakra) is called Kundalini. The spiritual goal is to awaken and release the Kundalini in order to attain a greater consciousness and merge it with the Infinite consciousness of Brahman. Through meditation and Kundalini yoga, the energy can pass back up the spine until it reaches the top of the head (crown chakra), producing a mystical experience.

“Kundalini yoga consists of active and passive asana-based kriyas, pranayama, and meditations which target the whole body system (nervous system, glands, mental faculties, and chakras) to develop awareness, consciousness and spiritual strength.” –Yogi Bhajan

Chakras & Colors:
1. Muladhara: The Root Chakra – located at base of the spine. Associated with red. It affects your confidence, trust in life and self-esteem. It is from here that our base instincts arise; the need to survive or the fight or flight reflex. Hindu God –Lord Ganesh and Brahman.
2. Swadhisthana: The Sacral Chakra – located below the navel. Associated with orange. It affects sexual desires, attractions and the need to procreate. Other emotions, such as, anger, fear and hatred stem from this chakra. Hindu God –Lord Vishnu
3. Manipura: The Solar Plexus Chakra – located at the bottom of the breast bone. Associated with bright yellow. It affects the lower back, digestive system, liver and gall bladder. Feelings that are associated with this chakra, include, determination, self-acceptance and will power. It is here that instinctual emotion translates to more complex emotions. Hindu God –Maharudra Shiva
4. Anahata: The Heart Chakra – located at the center of the chest. Associated with green. Feelings associated with this location are love, compassion, emotional security, forgiveness and loving kindness. Hindu God –Ishvara
5. Vishuddha: The Throat Chakra – located at the throat, over the larynx. Associated with blue. It is the source of our ability to communicate, and express creativity and individuality. Hindu God – Sadashiva
6. Ajna: The Third Eye Chakra – located at front of the head in between eye brows. Associated with indigo. The mind, as the sense organ and action organ are associated with this chakra. Feelings associated with this chakra are spirituality, awareness, and sense of time. Hindu God -Ardhanarishvara –an androgynous form of Hindu god Lord Shiva and Parvati, also known as Devi and Shakti
7. Sahasrara: The Crown Chakra – located at the top of the head. Associated with purple, or gold. It is from this chakra that all others emanate. It relates to pure consciousness. In Hindu literature, it is known as “the supreme center of contact with God.” Here liberated ones abide in communion with the Self. Hindu God – Lord Shiva

The Hindu Gods and Chakras

The Hindu Gods and Chakras

“Good for the body is the work of the body, good for the soul the work of the soul, and good for either the work of the other”. –Henry David Thoreau

The Origins of Ganesh & His Elephant Head

“Shiva returned and fitted the elephant head on the child’s body and breathed new life into the boy.”

Bronze Parvati statue with her sons Ganesh and Murugan

Bronze Parvati statue with her sons Ganesh and Murugan 36″

In Hindu mythology, traditional stories have been passed down for generations regarding the birth of Ganesh and the reason behind his elephant head. Ganesh is the son of Lord Shiva, the Destroyer and Restorer, and his wife Parvati, an incarnation of the Great Mother Goddess, Devi. They lived high in the Himalaya Mountains, where Lord Shiva was away for many years at a time, creating, destroying, and preserving life. While Shiva was absent, Parvati became very bored and lonely, and her motherly instincts made her yearn for a son.

Legend says that Parvati decided to create a baby by scrubbing her skin with sandal paste and mixed it with clay to mold a figure of a boy. She used her powers to breathe life into the clay mold and instantly fell in love with the boy. One day, while Shiva was still away, Parvati asked her son to guard the entrance to her room and let no one enter, while she took a bath. Unannounced, Lord Shiva returned home and was refused entry by this boy who was a complete stranger. Irritated by the child’s insolence, a battle ensued and Shiva cut off the head of his young son with his trident.

When Parvati discovered her headless son, she was stricken with such grief that she threatened to destroy the heavens and earth. With the balance of the entire Universe at stake, Shiva wanted to console his wife and bring his son back to life. Lord Shiva and his troops set out into the forest to find anyone sleeping with their head facing north (the auspicious direction associated with wisdom). The first living being they came upon was a baby elephant and took its head. Shiva returned and fitted the elephant head on the child’s body and breathed new life into the boy. His wife’s reaction was one of enchantment and she declared this boy was even better than her first creation. They named their son Ganesh. Lord Shiva praised his son for his courage by being made Lord of New Beginnings and guardian of entrances. Ganesh is worshiped at the beginning of any new undertaking to reach success and a safe journey.

Ganesh Chaturthi is the celebration to honor the birthday of the Lord of Beginnings. It falls on the fourth day after the new moon in the month of Bhadrapada (August – September).

Create Your Own Clay Ganesh Statue for Ganesh Chathuri

“Wishing you happiness as big as Ganesh’s appetite
Life as long as his trunk
Trouble as small as his mouse
And moments as sweet as his laddus”

Ganesh made of clay

Clay Ganesh for Ganesh Chathuri

The celebration of the birthday of Lord Ganesh is right around the corner, to be held on September 19, 2012. Preparations are underway for the Ganesh festival and many devotees are opting to make their own, eco-friendly, clay Ganesh statues at home. Ganesh Chathuri, a day filled with public celebrations and home worship, lasts for ten days, and ends with a Ganesh idol immersion. The water immersion ceremony during Chathuri is called Ganesh Visarjana (Sanskrit for ‘departure’). Clay images of Ganesh are ceremoniously dissolved in the ocean or other bodies of water, signifying Ganesh’s withdrawal into all-pervasive consciousness. Hindus believe that Lord Ganesh bestows his presence on earth this day, and worshiping him will bring prosperity, good fortune, and fulfillment of desires.

To start a new tradition, with family or friends, create your own clay idol at home. The Ganesh statue does not have to be perfect, just be proud of your idol, enjoy the process and have faith.

“Let all the peace, all the light, all the goodness which the Deity inspires, become part of the parcel of your being.”

Materials Needed:
1. Modeling clay – ready-to-use, moist clay found at any craft store
2. Rolling pin
3. Base for your statue – wooden board is preferred, as it doesn’t stick
4. Exacto knife or sharp-pointed pencil
5. Aluminum foil
6. Paints, glitter, white thread for the poonal or Jandhyam (optional)

Instructions:
1. Separate your clay into sections to represent Ganesh’s body, head, legs, arms, ears and trunk
2. Roll out the largest section of clay into a thin sheet and use it to cover a ball of aluminum foil. This will represent Ganesh’s body and bulbous belly.
3. Roll smaller balls of clay to make his head, ears and trunk. Attach his head to the body – using a lot of water to paste and shape.
4. Make two clay horseshoe-shapes. Use for his legs – cross legs at base of Ganesh for lotus posture. Use another horseshoe-shape to use as arms and attach to body at shoulder level. Form the arms so they adjust at elbows with right angles; the right hand palm turned up.
5. For the ears, make two flat coin-like structures and attach to head.
6. Roll out clay for his trunk and keep it in proportion of his body. The trunk should be wider at top, and narrows down to curve halfway down to his waist. Smooth and add the ‘three patte’ lines on the trunk and forehead with a knife or pencil.
7. To finish, knead, smooth and shape the entire clay idol. Use a Ganesh sculpture or image as a reference guide.
8. Wait until Ganesh is completely dried and paint, use glitter, beads or various accessories.

Please feel free to email photos of your home-made Ganesh clay sculptures to info@lotussculpture.com. Lotus Sculpture would love to share your creations or helpful hints.

The Sacred Symbols of Lord Ganesh Statues

“Lord Ganesh and his symbols bestow life lessons to help steady the mind and evolve with spiritual, positive progression.”

Bronze Dancing Ganesh Statue

Dancing Ganesh Statue holding noose, axe, broken tusk and sweets

Lord Ganesh, the Remover of Obstacles, is rich in symbolism used as spiritual guides. Each symbol associated with the elephant-headed Hindu god is viewed as a reminder to manifest the powers held within us. Ganesh, a much-beloved and worshiped deity, is the son of Lord Shiva and Parvati. He is also known as the God of wisdom, prosperity and auspiciousness.

A Ganesh statue can be hand-carved in many postures and forms, typically with four or eight arms, holding various symbolic objects. Lord Ganesh is often displayed dancing or playing a musical instrument, such as a flute. He is sometimes accompanied by or riding a rat (or the mouse) – a symbol of all-pervasiveness. The rat can be interpreted as under Ganesh’s control, which is symbolic of a spiritual pursuit to attain self-realization and grace.

Even the position of Lord Ganesh’s trunk has significance and special meaning. Like all of Ganesh’s symbols and traits, each hold an interesting difference in the benefits devotees would get. If the idol trunk turns left, it signifies blessings of wealth, success and pleasure. To his right, the trunk represents moksha-related benefits – understanding that all pleasures on earth are momentary and to take the path of achieving bliss. His cracked tusk held in the right hand was broken off with purpose to use as a writing tool for the Mahabharata Epic. This is seen as a symbol of sacrifice, strength and demonstrates that we must finish what we start.

Some of the most popular sacred symbols in Lord Ganesh statues are an elephant goad, bowls full of Indian sweets or honey, an axe and an upside-down noose. Goads are symbolic of how one should steer the soul away from the ignorance and illusions of this earth, just as man would steer an elephant away from a treacherous path. Modakapatra, also known as a bowl of sweets, exemplifies Ganesh’s love of sweets and the symbol He loves most – moksha, or liberation, one the sweetest of all things sweet. The axe is a tool used to destroy ignorance in the world.  The noose illustrates the notion to draw loved-ones close, but also remind us to encircle and save strayed ones in extraordinary ways.

Although some symbols hold more esoteric meaning than others, all of the sacred symbols of Ganesh can be interpreted in many ways. Above all, Lord Ganesh and his symbols bestow life lessons to help steady the mind and evolve with spiritual, positive progression.

Ganesha Symbolism

Ganesha Symbolism