Positions of Ganesha
World, as we know it, is a collection of organism made from a compilation of molecules. These molecules in Sanskrit are known as “Ganas”. The name Ganesh hence means the Lord of all Ganas.
Several idols of Ganesha exist all over the world. These depictions may vary in different countries but each one holds a meaning. Many craftsmen have worked meticulously on the details of the idols. The details not just lie in the artifacts or the features of Lord Ganesha, but also the positions he rests in. Every position of rest has a symbolic meaning associated to it.
The sitting posture may be seen mounted on high platform. The throne is called a ‘Pitha’. Lord Ganesha is also depicted sitting on a lotus flower. The posture in which Lord Ganesha sits on a lotus is known as the “Padma Asan” in yoga. Typically Lord Ganesha is seen with one leg up and right leg hanging on the ground.
The leg on the ground symbolizes Lord Ganesha’s connect with worldly affairs. The left leg bent backwards indicates meditation. This posture hence denotes a perfect balance between attaining spirituality and taking care of his duties. Though several other forms of sitting postures of Lord Ganesha exist, their symbolic meaning is contested by specialists in each case.
Of the standing postures of Lord Ganesha static as well as dynamic postures of the deity exist. In the static posture Ganesha is shown standing, with one foot on the ground and the other slightly raised and supported by his vehicle, the rat. Although the standing posture has been associated to having a rigid attitude, it also depicts determination and strength of the mind. The dynamic posture on where Lord Ganesha is shown dancing denotes celebration by Lord Ganesha on defeating demons. This is reminiscent of the time when Lord Krishna (another Hindu deity) defeated the serpent Kaliya and danced on his head. The Brahmavaivarta-Purana indeed states that Lord Ganesha is an incarnation of Krishna. The “Linga Purana” was written after Ganesha successfully defeated demons to save earth. The dance is also an emulation of his father- Shiva. This posture has been depicted in paintings in the medieval period and is also found in Thailand and Sri Lanka.
The lying Ganesha is more so a modern representation. The other positions of Ganesha date back to 5th and 7th century and have been depicted in paintings. Statues made of bronze exist from this period that depicts Ganesha in the lying down position. The resting position is often associated with content. According to the Vedas, Ganesha is the one who maintains the balance of life. Although Lord Vishnu created earth by breathing into the water of life, Ganesha maintains the balance of life by doing the same. However, these parallels are contested by scholars as the interpretation of Ganesha lying down is more modern.
In his essence, Ganesha holds many meanings. It is not just his countenance or the artifacts but also his resting positions that symbolically mean something.