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India is a land of diverse cultures and ethnicities, but the one thing that binds us together is the faith and belief. Whatever the religion be, it always teaches us to have faith in our self and believe that good shall always win over bad.

indian elephant god

Elephant God

Lord Ganesha is one of the most popular gods of Hindu mythology. Ganesha is made up of two Sanskrit words, Gana and Ish. Ish means a deity or god and Gana means a community or a group. Thus, Lord Ganesha is considered to be the leader of the clan or the masses. He symbolically represents success and prosperity. His unique characteristics like elephant head, big flappy ears, pot belly and a long trunk make him all the more lovable. As Vighnharta, Lord Ganesha is believed to be the remover of all obstacles. This is one of the reasons he is prayed at the beginning of any new project or venture. By doing so devotees are asking lord to bless them and steer them onto the path of success and prosperity.

But today we shall be specifically discussing about the elephant head of Lord Ganesha. There are many stories on how lord Ganesha got the elephant head and its significance. We shall be taking about all of these, so let’s begin this enchanting journey!

How Lord Ganesha got the elephant head?

A large number of people are fascinated by the overall appearance of Lord Ganesha. An elephant head on a human body is a rare sight. But not many people know that how did lord Ganesha got this unique identity.

Once when goddess Parvati had to take a bath, she created a small boy, about 12 years of age to guard the door. She did this using her special powers and ingredients like – turmeric, scruff and her sweat. The small boy was none other than lord Ganesha. Obeying his mother’s orders he was guarding the door while goddess Parvati was bathing. Lord Shiva returned from his meditation session was taken aback to see a small boy standing at the entrance barring him to enter his own house. Even when lord Shiva told him that he is goddess Parvati’s husband, Lord Ganesha did not allow him to enter the premises. He was unaware of lord Shiva’s identity and said “My mother (goddess Parvati) has told me to keep a watch and guard the door till she is bathing. Thus, I can’t allow anyone to enter.” Lord Shiva tried to push away Lord Ganesha, but he strong Ganesha didn’t move from his place. Lord Shiva fumed with anger and in this fit of anger he struck on Lord Ganesha’s head. Hearing the commotion, goddess Parvati hurried towards the entrance only to see Lord Ganesha wounded. She broke down and cried a lot. She explained her husband the entire situation and the reason that she created their son.

That’s when Lord Shiva realized his mistake and apologized to goddess Parvati. He immediately summoned his army and told them to get the head of the first being that they find who is sleeping with its head facing the north direction. The troops searched far and wide and finally found an elephant that was sleeping in the position described by lord Shiva. So they got his head. Lord Shiva revived life in the boy by attaching the elephant’s head and also made him the leader of his army.

On seeing this goddess Parvati became all the more angry. She said “Everyone would make fun of my child and nobody would worship him.” Lord Shiva bestowed a boon on Lord Ganesha and said that all Lord Ganesha would always be the first deity to be worshipped. He also said that prayers would not be considered complete if lord Ganesha is not worshipped at the beginning.

So this is how Lord Ganesha got the elephant head and the blessing of being worshipped first.

Significance

The elephant head on a human body might seem odd, but that is where the deeper meaning steps in. This mismatch signifies that one should not always focus on the appearance; it is the inner beauty that makes a man beautiful in the real sense. As the son of Lord Shiva (the epitome of power) and goddess Parvati (the mother of the entire universe) Lord Ganesha strikes a perfect balance between body and soul.

Despite being one of the most popular gods, Lord Ganesha is reckoned for his humility and subtle nature. These are the qualities that should be learnt by one and all today. Never be proud of your beauty or brain, instead be thankful to god for bestowing his blessings upon you.

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In Hinduism Ganesha is the incarnation of that formless divinity that has been encapsulated to a most magnificentlord ganesh form by his devotees and ardent followers. The word ‘gan’ stands for groups and ‘esh’ or ‘ish’ is the ruler. Lord Ganesha is the ruler and presiding deity of every single group of atoms or energy that constitutes this universe. Without him as the supreme power yielding his control upon them the universe would have been reduced to a chaos. He is the emblem of that supreme consciousness that is all pervading and responsible for bringing order in that cosmic universe.

Though Ganesha is always worshiped in his incarnation as the elephant headed god but the form is created only to break away from the form and reach that formlessness which is the Parambrahma. Ganesha is the ‘ajam’ or the unborn, ‘nirvikalpa’ or beyond all attributes and ‘nirakar’ that is beyond any form. He is the perfect example of the unison between the form and the formless and this unison, this duality amidst a great singularity is the basic trait of Hindu religious and spiritual philosophy. He is the ultimate form of formlessness that manifests and dissolves everything and provides his follower with the ultimate spiritual bliss that is ever possible to attain by human beings.

 The modaka or the laddu that lord Ganesha is often found holding in his hand is symbolic of that blissful state that one experiences only when he acquires great knowledge and both material and spiritual wisdom. As the lord of wisdom and intellect Ganesha appears as gluttonous and rotund that signifies his never ending appetite for knowledge and wisdom and also his ability to digest them. He is there to reveal the secrets of eternal bliss to his devotees.

ganapatiThe modaka is also symbolic of wisdom that he holds under his control and rides on his senses represented by the rat to achieve that spiritual salvation after which one goes beyond mortality, beyond all limitations that exist between life and death. When one stands face to face with his true self that is the most blissful moment experienced by an individual during his whole existence and without having a feeling of this blissful moment life of no living being can be considered as successful or blessed.In his every aspect lord Ganesha is the liberator or the means by which one can attain ‘moksha’ or salvation. Wearing the digit moon on his forehead he is the protector for who bow to him. His pot belly and gigantic physical appearance in spite of his teen age is a symbolic representation of total acceptance and generosity and his uplifted hand assures his followers that there is nothing to be scared as he will be always with them in their moments of crisis to guide them safely to their destination.

 In every possible aspect of lord Ganesha the root of symbolism run so deep that one can often find himself completely at loss to understand his reality but the elephant headed god will always be there to guide them to proper realization and success.

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