|GANESHA - THE ELEPHANT
Ganesha, commonly known and easily recognized as the Elephant-God, is one of
the most popular deities of the Hindu pantheon. Before every undertaking - be
it laying of the foundation of a house, or opening of a shop or beginning any
other work, blessings of Lord Ganesha are invoked by worshipping him first.
|GANESHA - SON OF SHIVA AND PARVATI
Ganesha has many names. The main ones are GANAPATI
(lord of the tribe or attendants), VIGNESHWARA (controller of all obstacles),
VINAYAKA (the prominent leader), GAJANANA (elephant faced), GAJADHIPATI (Lord
of elephants), LAMBKARNA (long eared), LAMBODARA (pendant -bellied) and EKADANTA
(having one tusk), GAJAVADANA (the elephant face), SHOORPA-KARNA (winnowing pan
like ears), CHATURBHUJA (four hands) - three of
them carrying Pasha (a rope), ANKUSHA (a spear-like weapon curved at one end)
and MODAKA (a pudding like sweet dish) and the fourth held in a gesture which
assures help and protection to the devotee, a beautiful body of red complexion
- is how he is pictured. And he rides a mouse.
There is a story that Parvati created Ganesha with the outer dusty layers of
her body. On the day of the Ganesha festival an earthen idol is worshipped. This
reminds us of his relation to the earth. The idol has four hands. One right hand
holds a Pasha. This is endowed with divine greatness. With the help of this,
Ganesha attracts the minds of his devotees. The other hand bestows boons. This
indicates that those who throw themselves on Ganesha's mercy need fear nothing.
Similarly, one left hand carries an Ankusha. This is a symbol to show that Ganesha
will destroy our ignorance. The other hand holds a vessel filled with Modakas.
This shows that Ganesha brings joy to everyone.
Ganesha's bulky head symbolizes his extraordinary intelligence. His ears are
broad like winnowing pans. Winnowing pans are used to winnow grain. The husk
and the grain get separated, so does Ganesha distinguish between truth and untruth.
It may also be said that the broad ears symbolize his capacity to listen to the
prayers of all his devotees with great attention. While his ever-moving trunk
teaches that one should be active always, his single tusk denotes single-mindedness
in action. His huge belly signifies that the entire Brahmanda (universe) is hidden
within Ganapati. He rides a rat. The rat personifies evil qualities like anger,
too much of pride and selfishness. Riding on the rat shows that Ganesha checks
these evil passions.
|PARVATI ASKING NANDI TO STAY GUARD
Ganesha is the son of Lord Shiva and goddess Parvati (Shiva's
consort). The story
connected with his birth and having an elephant's head is an interesting episode
of Hindu mythology. Kailasa is the abode of Lord Shiva. Parvati is Shiva's wife.
Shiva had thousands of servants like Nandi and Bhringi.
One day Parvati went to bathe, as usual, she asked Nandi to keep watch at the
door. Parvati said to Nandi, "Don't let any one enter and disturb me" and