History of Lord Ganesha

famous hindu god ganesha

Hindu Lord Ganesha — the elephant-deity driving a mouse — has become one of the traditional mnemonics for anything associated with Hinduism. This not only suggests the significance of Lord Ganesha, but also shows how popular and pervasive this deity is in the minds of the masses.

Lord Ganesha associated as a God of Success

The son of Lord Shiva and Goddess Parvati, Ganesha has a  ponderous countenance with a rounded trunk and big ears, and a huge pot-bellied body of a human being.

He is the Lord of success and destroyer of evils and obstacles. He is also worshipped as the god of education, knowledge, wisdom and wealth. In fact, Lord Ganesha is one of the five prime Hindu deities (Lord Brahma, Lord Vishnu, Lord Shiva and Goddess Durga being the other four) whose enthusiasm is glorified as the panchayatana puja.

Importance of the Lord Ganesha Form

Ganesha’s head symbolizes the Atman or the soul, which is the final supreme reality of human existence, and his human body signifies Maya or the earthly being of human beings. The elephant head denotes wisdom and its trunk represents Om, the sound symbol of cosmic reality.

In his upper right hand, Lord Ganesha holds a goad, which helps him propel mankind forward on the eternal path and remove barriers from the way. The loop in Lord Ganesha’s left hand is a gentle implement to capture all responsibilities.

The broken tusk that God Ganesha holds like a pen in his lower right hand is a symbol of sacrifice, which he broke for writing the Mahabharata. The rosary in his other hand suggests that the hunt of knowledge should be continuous.

The laddoo (sweet) he holds in his trunk symbolizes that one must discover the sweetness of the Atman. His fan-like ears convey that he is all ears to our petition. The snake that runs round his waist represents energy in all forms. And he is gentle enough to ride the lowest of creatures, a mouse.

How Lord Ganesha Got His Head

The story of the birth of this zoomorphic deity, as described in the Shiva Purana, goes like this: Once goddess Parvati, while bathing, created a boy out of the dirt of her body and allowed him the task of guarding the entrance to her bathroom. When Lord  Shiva, her husband returned, he was surprised to find a stranger doubting him access, and struck off the boy’s head in rage.

Goddess Parvati split down in utter grief and to soothe her, Lord Shiva sent out his squad (gana) to fetch the head of any sleeping being who was facing the north. The company found an asleep elephant and brought back its severed head, which was then attached to the body of the boy. Lord  Shiva restored its life and made him the leader (pati) of his troops. Hence his name ‘Ganapati’. Lord  Shiva also offered a boon that people would worship him and invoke his name before undertaking any venture.

However, there’s another less popular story of his origin, found in the Lord Brahma Vaivarta Purana: Lord Shiva asked Goddess Parvati to observe the punyaka vrata for a year appease Lord Vishnu in order to have a son. When a son was born to her, all the gods and goddesses assembled to enjoy on its birth. Lord Shani, the son of God Surya (Sun-God), was also present, but he refused to look at the infant. Perturbed at this behaviour, Goddess Parvati asked him the reason, and God Shani replied that his looking at baby would harm the newborn. However, on Goddess Parvati’s demand when God Shani eyed the baby, the child’s head was severed instantly. All the gods started to bemoan, whereupon Lord Vishnu hurried to the bank of river Pushpabhadra and brought back the head of a young elephant, and followed it to the baby’s body, thus reviving it.

Lord Ganesha, the Destroyer of Pride

Lord Ganesha is also the destroyer of pride, greed and pride. He is the personification of material universe in all its various beautiful manifestations.

Ganesh (Vinayak) Chaturthi festival

The devotees of Lord Ganesha are known as ‘Ganapatyas’, and the festival to celebrate and worship him is called Ganesh (Vinayak) Chaturthi.


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