Ganesha, the Lord of the gaṇas (a sanskrit word that means people), is the son of the goddess Parvati and the god Shiva. He is considered the god of wisdom, the ways and the letters. He is usually represented with four arms, large belly and elephant’s head, and is depicted using a rat as his vehicle. Indians believe the elephant to be an animal of remarkable intelligence, hence making the elephant-headed god the most intelligent of all.
Ganesha, with his chubby trait and a good-natured air, attracts popular sympathy. He is the protector of home and the messenger of luck in business. Also he is the divinity of studies and intellectuals.
He is a bridge of harmony between man and the universe in a perfect symbiosis. His mount- the rodent, is his strength and is thus associated with its unprecedented ability to overcome all obstacles of life.
Lord Ganesha has qualities that would not fit in the virtual space. He dawns us all with his care and utmost affection for his people. Various stories and happenings have evolved over time, giving a deeper knowledge about Ganesha’s life, wisdom and our own beliefs.
Let’s have a look at all those stories and facts which have carved the Lord Ganesha the way he is.
1 How Ganesha Lost His Head
Ganesha was conceived by Parvati, Shiva’s wife. It happened that the goddess wished to remain alone in her palace. She placed Ganesh by the door, and told him not to let anyone in without her permission. She was sure that no one would disturb her without her consent.
But one day Shiva wished to see her without delay. Ganesha respected the slogan and asked for his mother’s authorization. His father saw that he did not have it and was denied entry. Shiva went furious and drew his sword. With one blow he knocked down his son’s head. Ganesha’s head rolled down and disappeared. What remained was the headless corpse in front of the palace.
Parvati was devastated. Shiva couldn’t bear his wife’s sadness and promised to replace the head of the newborn with that of the first living being that passed in front in its wide jungle. An elephant passed, and as per his words, Shiva gave an elephant’s head to his own son.
2 Lord Ganesha And Symbolism
Ganesha’s figure is loaded with multiple meanings and symbolisms. They express a state of perfection as well as the means to obtain it. Ganesha is considered the symbol of someone who has discovered divinity within himself.
He is a representation of the perfect balance between the masculine and feminine energies (Shiva-Parvati), between strength-goodness and between strength-beauty. It is also a representation of the capacity that gives the ability to perceive the distinctions between reality and illusion, between the real and the unreal.
3 Why Only Ganesha In All Auspicious Occasions
Ganesha is known to eliminate all obstacles, be it material or spiritual. Hindus consider him as the god of good luck and the one who grants prosperity and fortune in life.
4 Praying Lord Ganesha
A very well-known mantra that is used for worshipping Lord Ganesha is-
The Vakratunda Mahakaya Shlok Mantra:
“Vakra-Tunndda Maha-Kaaya Surya-Kotti Samaprabha
Nirvighnam Kuru Me Deva Sarva-Kaaryeshu Sarvadaa”
“वक्रतुण्ड महाकाय सुर्यकोटि समप्रभ
निर्विघ्नं कुरु मे देव सर्वकार्येषु सर्वदा”
The mantra means-
“One with a majestic trunk, a massive form and the radiance of a million suns, I pray to you to remove the obstacles from all my endeavors, always.”
It is one of the most important Mantras, particularly for wealth. The dedication is to Lord Ganesha, Goddess Riddhi (Hindu Goddess of Prosperity) and Goddess Siddhi (Hindu Goddess of spiritual enlightenment).
This mantra is a combination of devotion, gratitude and the power to help achieve wealth, wisdom, good luck, prosperity and success in life.
5 Demon Gajmukh And Lord Ganesha’s Victory Over Him
Once upon a time a demon named Gajmukh god the blessing of immortality from Lord Shiva.
Being immortal and having no fear of death, he didn’t respected any god and began to hurt the gods and other beings. The demon ordered other deities to stand before him and to strike their foreheads with their hands crossed, and would this way humiliate the Gods. He also made them sit up and get up while pulling their ears with crossed arms.
The gods complained to Lord Ganesha about serious consequences of his immortality. Ganesha promised to capture Gajmukh, and then went to confront the demon.
Gajmukh drew his bow and arrows to shoot but Ganesha destroyed it by throwing one of the weapons, and thus immobilized the entire army of the demon. This made Gajmukh angry and he used all the arms that he had. Instead of damaging Ganesha, the weapons revolved around him and fell to the ground harmlessly.
Ganesha broke one of his fangs and threw it at the demon. He vanished at the impact of this powerful weapon. But the blessing of immortality couldn’t let him die. Instead of dying he became a huge rat. Thus Ganesha sat upon this great rat and adopted it as his vehicle.
6 What Does The Rat Signify?
The rat is a form of victory over the demon Gajmukh and a form of gratitude to people. It is quite normal to see statues of Ganesha riding on the rat but may seem unusual to few. If the spiritual meaning of the rat I considered, it is a representation of the worldly desires which Ganesha governs on his will.
7 The Legend Of Ganesha And The Moon
One day a large number of worshipers wanted to see the god and had brought him exquisite delicacies. Ganesha had eaten everything but he could not digest everything he had swallowed. At night, he felt somewhat indisposed and decided to take a walk with his mouse.
The moonlight was wonderful that night, but then a snake appeared in the middle of the road. He was very stiff above his neck and appeared as very glossy creature under the moon rays. No doubt, the animal had no ill intention and only wanted admiration; but the rat was terribly frightened. The rat was so startled that he lost his balance and Ganesha fell. As soon as he fell, his belly burst and all the sweets rolled out.
The snake healed the sore of its abdomen, gathered the two sides of the wound and kept them tight with the aid of an improvised belt; the snake that had now served to repair the consequences of accident. Ganesha was glad seeing everything arranged, and healed his rat.
The moment was of immense laughter and Ganesha saw the moon, in a great joy. Moon was laughing to see his wide belly exploded with rats and sweet.
Lord Ganesha lost his temper and threw one of his fangs, breaking a part of the luminous face of the moon.
He cursed the moon with these words:
“I curse you, cruel creature!” From today, your entire splendor will disappear at certain times. The beauty of your appearance will be restored but only in certain parts.”
The story is believed to be true because the moon goes through the phases described in the curses of Ganesha.
Another legend of lord Ganesh that tells; one should never look at the moon in the night of Ganesh Chaturthi as it can make Lord Ganesh angry because he considers it as a mock on his elephant’s head.
8 Importance Of Ganesha Statue & Myths
It is a part of the Hindu mythology that in Hindu houses one can find a statue of Ganesha on the doors, a comparison to his role outside his mother- Goddess Parvati’s gate. Hindus believe him to prohibit the negative energies from coming in.
He is considered the destroyer of obstacles and difficulties. This is the reason why at the beginning of any task (be it building a house, the daily day task, or a wedding), it is advisable to pray to Lord Ganesha to ensure success. He is also considered the protector of travelers and especially of students.
Mythology evidenced his lost tusk as an act of self-sacrifice.
9 Why Ganesha Is Considered The Most Superior?
The Hindu mythology has that Lord Shiva on Ganesh Chaturthi declared his son Ganesha as superior to all Gods. He is now considered even superior than his father Lord Shiva.
10 Celebration Of Ganesh Chaturthi
Ganesh Chaturthi is celebrated each year in August/September to mark Ganesha’s birthday. It is celebrated throughout India, with the most famous and pompous being in Mumbai. The celebration is spread over ten days with rituals and gifts made to a statue; all these things make this occasion special.
Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaja, the great Maratha ruler was the first to celebrate Ganesh Chaturthi officially, and it has continued since then. The long custom was almost on the verge of fading out when freedom fighter Lokmanya Tilak revived the tradition and gave the celebration the form of a 10-day festival.
11 Ganesha’s Favorite Food
Lord Ganesha is known to be very fond of Modak and it is especially prepared during the festival of Ganesha Chaturthi.
12 Ganesha And His Different Names
The elephant-headed Lord Ganesha is referred as “Vighnaharta” (the remover of obstacles), “Buddhi Pradaayaka” (the giver of wisdom and intellect), Ekdant, Ganpati, Gajanan and in fact with more than 108 names, Ganesha and Ganpati being the most common. In fact, he is worshipped in many countries other than India, mainly Thailand, Cambodia, Indonesia, Afghanistan, Nepal and China.
13 Story Of The Broken Tusk
Everyone must have seen that one of the tusks of the elephant-headed God is broken, but never bothered asking how?
It happened that one day Ganesha was guarding his father who was in deep meditation, and just then a family friend came to visit. The friend was Parashurama, an incarnation of Vishnu and known for his severe anger.
Ganesha was told to not let anyone break the course of his father’s meditation, but he didn’t know that there was an important person in the house. Obeying his father’s order, he blocked Parashurama’s way and Parashurama thus threw an axe at Ganesha in a lost temper. As the axe was his father’s gift to Parashurama, he allowed the axe to hit him out of respect.
And that’s how his tusk was broken.
14 Ganesha- The Real Writer Of Mahabharata
Ganesha is the real writer of the Hindu epic Mahabharata, and it is believed that the Great Sage Ved Vyasa narrated the epic to Ganesha. He considered him to be the only eligible person for doing so because no one else in the universe was so wise as to take the writing of ancient wisdom.
Ganesha had put a condition of reciting the entire poem without pausing or taking a break, to which Ved Vyasa agreed. In order to deal with the tiring task of reciting without a break Vyasa would give Ganesh difficult and complex passages, thus forcing him to ask questions. This would give Vyasa the time to rest when needed.
15 The Snake Around Ganesha’s Belly
If you keenly look the image of Lord Ganesha, you’ll find a snake tied around his belly. It is due to the snake who assists Ganesha when the Moon was mocking Ganesha for his physical appearance.
It is a popular belief that Lord Ganesha’s stomach is the center house of the entire Cosmos.
The snake is believed to be a representation of the cosmic energy that holds the cosmos together. Lord Ganesha’s father, Lord Shiva also appears with a snake around his neck but it is different from Lord Ganesha’s representation around the belly. They both have completely different interpretations.