Ganesha Hindu God - The Remover of Obstacles
~A Hymn from Sri Bhagavat-Tathva~
Ganesh, or Ganesha, the chubby, gentle, wise, elephant-headed Hindu God is one of Hinduisms most popular deities.
The Hindu God Ganesha is the remover of obstacles, the deity whom worshipers first acknowledge when they visit a temple.
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Statues of Ganesha can be found in most Indian towns. His image is placed where new houses are to be built; he is honored at the start of a journey or business venture, and poets traditionally invoke him at the start of a book.
Ganesha is usually depicted colored red; he is pot bellied, has one tusk broken, and four arms that often hold a noose called a pasam, an elephant goad, and a pot of rice, or his favorite sweets, laddus. His appetite for these sweets is legendary and offerings of them are often left at his shrine.
Goads (or elephant prods) are typically used to direct elephants. Goads are symbolic of how one should steer the soul away from the ignorance and illusions of this earthly world just as a mahout would steer an elephant away from any treacherous path.
In Hindu ideology weapons are often viewed as symbolic tools to destroy the ego rather than to cause any type of bloodshed.
Ganesha's characteristic pot belly is usually bound around with a cobra. The cobra is an animal usually associated with his father, the Hindu God Shiva, a reminder that Ganesha is his son.
In sculpture the position of Lord Ganesha's trunk has a symbolic meaning. If the trunk turns to the Ganesha's left, that is the direction for success in the world. It is a position associated with grihasthas, or householders. To his right, the trunk represents moksha, good for renouncing the world. When one chooses a Ganesh sculpture that is proper for their own spiritual path the trunk position is one thing that is good to keep in mind.
Ganesha is often displayed playing a musical instrument. Much like Krishna, Ganesha affirms life by celebrating in it's pleasures and beauty.
How Ganesha came to have the head of an elephant is explained in various stories. One account of his birth is that Parvati formed him from the rubbings of her body so that he might stand guard at the door while she bathed. When Shiva approached, unaware this was his son, he was enraged at being kept away from his wife and proceeded to lop off the head of Ganesha.
To ease Parvati's grief, Shiva promised to cut off the head of the first living thing he saw and attach it to the body. That creature was an elephant. The Hindu God Ganesha was thus restored to life and rewarded for his courage by being made lord of new beginnings and guardian of entrances. A prayer to Ganesha is invariably accompanied by smashing a coconut, symbolic of smashing the undesirable forces inherent in oneself.