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Ganesha Literature

Meaning of each artefact

Hindu Gods are often represented in a vivid manner. Lord Ganesha being one of the most important Gods of Hindus is no different. From his countenance to each artefact in his hand, everything holds a meaning and a lesson.

Legend has it that Ganesha was created out of mud and sweat of Parvati. His elephant head was given to him by Shiva when he unknowingly killed his son. This is mentioned in the Shiva Purana. Another story of creation of Ganesha is known as per the Brahma Vaivarta Purana.

The dramatic countenance of Ganesha holds many meanings. His large head represents great wisdom and knowledge. The broken tusk represents the sacrifice required to gain the wisdom and knowledge. He sometimes holds the tusk in his hand to show that one must finish what one started. The trunk of Lord Ganesha indicates the ability to differentiate between good and evil. Lord Ganesha’s large stomach contains all the known and unknown of the universe. His large ears are to listen to the call of his devotees when they need him. Ganesha’s raised hand symbolizes protection to his devotees.

Moving on to the artefacts Lord Ganesha holds in his hands, the axe is used for the protection of his devotees. In some idols the axe is replaced by a sword. He also holds a Trishul that has a spiritual meaning. The trident indicates love, wisdom and action. The mace is indicative of Lord Ganesha’s decisiveness and discipline. With the mace he guides humanity towards enlightenment. The noose is also believed to be a weapon that is used by Ganesha to pull wandering devotees back to the supposed right path. The hammer indicates that Ganesha is a patron of arts and crafts. Ganesha also holds a stick that is a symbol of warning, to not waver from the path of righteousness.

The artefacts apart from the weapons also represent different things. For instance the laddoo (sweet) that Ganesha holds in his trunk and the bowl of modaka in his hand is the reward for his true devotees. The lotus in his hand is symbolic to the ascent of the spirit above material pleasures. The conch shell in Lord Ganesha’s right hand is the call to his devotees to pray. The goad is used to prod those who walk on the path of spirituality. The Veena (an Indian musical instrument) promotes the importance of listening to one’s conscience.

Apart from his countenance and the artefacts that he holds, the things that are depicted around him are also symbolic to his teachings. The bowl of fruit by his feet or even his transport (the mouse) represents something. The pineapple is representative of giving and sharing while the mango in the fruit basket symbolizes purification of the spirit. The coconut indicates the triumph over ego. It is used to show the ego that is hard from outside and soft once penetrated.

Ganesha in his visual representation furnishes teachings that hold deeper meaning and should be implemented by his devotees in their life.

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Chakras where Ganesha Resides

The word chakra is taken from a Sanskrit word meaning the spinning wheel.  According to beliefs in many religions, chakras start at Mooladhara Chakara the base of the spine in a human body and go up through the head on kundalini (latent female energy believed to lie coiled at the base of the spine).  Many religions consider Chakras to be the spiritual and energy power points.  There are seven primary or main chakra points and about a hundred smaller secondary chakras. The smaller points are often called meridians. The secondary chakra points are influenced with action and physicality while the seven primary chakras deal with emotions and spirituality. The primary chakras influence health. The health concerns related to them are caused by an unbalance in the chakra itself, from an emotional or spiritual cause, which then manifests into a physical ailment.

The first chakra is situated below the sacrum bone in the human body. which also resides Kundalini.  The main significance of the first chakra is related to innocence. It provides child like joy that gives us innate happiness that we look for in our life.   According to Hindu mythology, the first chakra is known as Mooladhara chakra or the Mooladhara center. In Sanskrit, Moola means “The Root” and Adhar means “The Support”.  Thus, mooladhar translates into “the supporter of the Kundalini”.

 The Mooldhara has a pictorial description in the form of a flower of four petals or plexus and is placed right below the triangular bone. The plexus looks after our sexual activities and excretion system.

When evolution started, only one-celled organisms amoebae, were created, but as the days passed, the beings started getting more complex.  The Mooladhara is made of the earth element and manifests a magnetic force into a person. The mooladhara is placed just below the abode of the  Kundalini, at the sheer subtle body.

The kundalini has to rise through three centers, and the mooladhara helps in protecting the chastity of kundalini at the time of awakening.   The innate quality of this chakra is innocence as discussed earlier, which in turn gives us simplicity, joy purity  and integrity.

Lord Ganesha was created by Shree Adi Shakti, the  Primordial Power of God Almighty.  As Ganesha was born to the Primordial mother, he signs his presence with her at every chakra.  He is considered the embodiment of purity, innocence, chastity and celibacy.  By awakening the qualities of the Mooladhara through meditation, we learn the art of being more innocent human being. This helps us  in being less materialistic and motiveless in our deeds.  This is also a way to rediscover  the wisdom which plays a pivotal role in choosing the correct decisions of our lives.

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Iconography of Ganesha

Ganesha - Iconography

The symbolic meanings of various mudras of the icons of Lord Ganesha vary to a great extent. We can see idols of Lord Ganesha in various poses like standing, seated or reclining. The Mudgala Purana (an ancient Indian text giving details about the life of Lord Ganesha) lists 32 forms of Ganpati in various poses.  In this article we discuss the general iconography of the idols.

Starting with the elephant head-it was Lord Shiva (Lord Ganesha’s father) who in a moment of anger had beheaded his son and later fixed the head of an elephant on his body. The elephant head is characterized by large flappy ears, tusks, large eyes, a small mouth and a long trunk.

His big and flappy ears are typical elephant ears and symbolize that we should listen more. The mouth is small and is hidden under his trunk which means that we should speak less. He is commonly known as Ekadanta (the one with one tooth) since his left tusk is broken. When Lord Ganesha was angry at the moon mocking at him and making fun of how he looked, he broke one of his tusks and threw at the moon. Ever since he has only one tusk. The protruding belly of our beloved Ganpati is like his trademark. Due to this feature he is also referred to as Lambodara (meaning Pot Belly) or Mahodara (meaning Great Belly). It is believed by many that his huge belly actually signifies that an individual must have a large capacity to face all the pleasant as well as the unpleasant situations in life. His eyes have a unique characteristic that is similar to the eyes of an elephant. The eyes of an elephant possess natural deceptiveness that makes them perceive objects bigger than they usually are. This property signifies that we should look at people with humility and never consider any person small or incapable.

In the Hindu mythology, there has always been a debate over the number of arms that Lord Ganesha had. According to the ancient texts, he had 2 – 16 arms. However, the idols are commonly shown with just four arms. These four arms signify four different attributes of the subtle body namely- mind, intellect, ego and conscience. His four hands have different things each of which has a meaning attached. There is an axe in the upper right arm. The axe is said to cut all the bonds of attachment, sufferings and pain. There is a flower in the lower left hand. The third upright hand symbolizes aashirwaad (blessing). He holds a rope in his upper left hand. The rope is meant to pull you towards your goal and also is used by the Lord to pull his devotees closer to himself. Lord Ganesha has a tilak on his forehead in the shape of a crescent moon.

There is also a close relation between Ganesha and serpents. Once when he was travelling around the world on his vehicle – the rat, a snake had suddenly appeared in front of the rat. The rat got scared which lead to Lord Ganesha falling off from the rat. This is the reason that moon had also laughed at him. Seeing this the Lord became extremely angry, cursed the moon and tied the snake around his belly. Therefore, in some representations of Ganesha, holds a serpent in his hand, or has serpents coiled around his ankles. His vehicle is the rat which signifies speed and the ability to reach every nook and corner of the world.

ganesha symbolism

Lord Ganesha’s, trunk is curved to the left side. It indicates power, intellect, efficiency and adaptability. There are offerings at his feet in the form of a tray of his favourite sweet, modak (made up of coconut, jaggery and nuts) and flowers that depict that the world can be at your feet-you just need to stay strong and work towards achieving your goal. While he sits comfortably on his throne, his right foot dangles over his left foot.

Many mythological experts say that the left side of his body symbolizes emotion and the right side symbolizes reason and knowledge. The right foot dangling over the left foot indicates that in life we should face all the situations with reason and knowledge overcoming emotions.

Lord Ganpati is a perfect blend of human and animal like characteristics which help us to understand the situations in our lives in a better manner. The fact that we should consider reason over emotion is such a simple thought but extremely relevant in today’s world. His elephant like head makes us realize that it is the inner beauty that is most important and not the physical appearance. Even though Lord Ganesha, has a head of an elephant he is one of the most loved Gods among the people and it is because of this elephant head that he got the powers of wisdom and knowledge.

In a world full of people who want to look best even with their behaviour being not up to the mark, Lord Ganesha teaches us to be a perfect human by being humble and confident at the same time.

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The Mysterious Powers of Lord Ganesha

A long time ago, Goddess Parvati decided to have someone guard her door while she was bathing. She created a little boy out of her sweat and dirt. Suddenly, Lord Shiva, her husband,  appeared and was in shock and rage to see a stranger keep him away from his own hood and his own wife. Lord Shiva could not control his temper and he beheaded the little boy. When Parvati returned from her bath, she was in utter grief to see her doorkeeper dead. Hence Shiva was sent on a mission to hunt for a head for the boy and had to bring backthe head of any living being that was sleeping facing the North. After looking around for hours, he finally spotted a sleeping elephant.  This is how Lord Ganesha, the cheerful elephant-headed God, came into existence. Lord Ganesha, so loyal to his mother, is loved by all.. Goddess Parvati ensured, that Ganesha was created in such a way that he was raised to the level of God and was assigned important tasks that required supernatural powers.

Now let us turn our hearts and minds to the five powers Lord Ganesha possesses or in other words, the five shaktis. The first shakti revolves around the love and affection one has for his immediate family. The second one is pretty much the same, extended to relatives, neighbours and friends. The third shakti extends the love to the external world: colleagues or business associates, while the fourth one is love for cultures and religions. Finally, the fifth shakti tells us that we will receive an enormous amount of peace by loving Lord Ganesha.


Ganesha is believed to be in-charge of removing obstacles or in Vedic terms, Vighna Vinashaka or destroyer of obstacles. Moreover, he throws hurdles in the path of activities that we’re not supposed to tread on and removes them from the path that we’re supposed to follow. When it’s the beginning of anything, say, a business or a job or a project, one turns to Ganesha for his blessings, which is believed to be auspicious and lucky. Ganesha is also known as the God of wisdom. Lord Shiva, the father of Ganehsa, named him Ganapati , the leader (pati) of his troops (ganas). Ganesha always makes sure that one is able to execute a mighty task with a small force. For example, he travelled all over the universe on a tiny rat, giving us inspiration to achieve great success with limited means. Therefore, heplays a major role when it comes to helping the mortals with all their endeavours.

Ganesha’s powers have a very strong impact on our lives. A Ganesha idol is a remarkable and indispensable element of every Hindu home. It represents a human being having the entire Cosmos in himself, with a massive amount of spiritual energies and authority. We should imbibe all these values of the great elephant God in our day-to-day lives. Ganesha, with his mysterious powers, will make one prosper. He is a symbol of love and is everyone’s well-wisher.

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