Shiva- Father of Lord Ganesha
Lord Shiva, who is an important part of the holy trinity, is the father of Lord Ganesha. He is one of the most important God’s in the Hindu culture. Shiva is known as the destroyer. While the word has negative connotations, here it simply means that Lord Shiva destroys the rotten to create something new. It is this cycle of destruction and creation that makes life possible. Shiva is considered a learned sage who leads a life of an ascetic on top of mount Kailasa, along with his wife Parvati. He is worshipped as a lingam also in many temples of India. The lingam constitutes the female and the male reproductive organs which reflect that Shiva constitutes the process of reproduction to sustain life. This fact further strengthens the belief that Lord Shiva is responsible to complete the circle of life. Apart from a lingam Shiva is also depicted as immersed in meditation or as a dancer (Natraja). He is also shown in rage slaying demons.
The Shiva Sahasranama lists many names of Shiva which mostly mean pure, destroyer or the auspicious one. In Mahanyasa, he has ten thousand names (Dasha Sahasranama). There is a dedicated sect of Hinduism for Lord Shiva called Shaivism (the other sects of Hinduism are- Smartism, Vaishnavism and Shaktism). Followers of Shaivism consider Lord Shiva as the Supreme Being.
In his depiction, Lord Shiva is shown with three eyes, the Ganges flowing out of his hair and a crescent moon on his forehead. He also has ash smeared all over him. He holds Trishul and a Damaroo (a small drum). He also has a snake coiled around his neck.
Each of these artefacts and attributes mean something. The third eye was opened by Lord Shiva to destroy Kama (desire). The ash smeared over the body of Shiva denotes that he has forsaken all material pleasures to attain spirituality. The crescent moon denotes the waxing and waning phenomena of the moon through which the time cycle evolves. This reflects the control of Lord Shiva over time. The sacred Ganges considered as the holiest river in India has made its abode in Shiva’s head. The serpent around the neck denotes eternity and knowledge.
As Lord Ganesha’s father, Shiva is the one who declared that Ganesha would be considered the most powerful God after the holy trinity and Parvati. Lord Shiva also endowed Ganesha with wisdom and knowledge and also placed the head of an elephant on him. Some legends have it that Ganesha was given the head of an elephant by Shiva because Shiva found him too alluring. The relationship between Lord Shiva and Lord Ganesha is that of immense mutual respect. The mighty father and son (along with Parvati) form the most respected and worshipped in the Hindu culture.