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Let us find out in some greater detail about the Various Lord Ganesha Artefacts.  Many stories float about the origin of Ganesha’s head but little is known about the artefacts that Lord Ganesha carries. It is considered inauspicious to sculpt Ganesha’s idol with two hands. There are representations of Lord Ganesha with two hands in ancient literature. Generally he is shown with four or more hands. The four armed Ganesha came into existence in the Gupta period (5th to 7th century). Ganesha carries artefacts each of which holds a symbolic meaning.

Most common representation of Lord Ganesha shows him with four hands. Hence the popular artefacts that he holds are the lotus (a closed lotus), the axe, the modaka and the rope. The stories of their origin make for interesting anecdotes. The physical appearance of Lord Ganesha is described in the Ganesh Upanishads. Traditional scriptures describe Ganesha with four arms and the four artefacts.

The lotus was given to Lord Ganesha by Brahma. When Ganesha ate the demon to save the earth and the celestial beings, he could not bear the heat in his stomach. The lotus was given to him to soothe his pain and anxiety. It is hence representative to spiritual awakening and triumph over evil.

The axe comes from Lord Ganesha’s father Shiva. It was given to Lord Ganesha as a gift from his father. Ganesha holds the axe in his upper right hand. Ganesha being the king of Shaiva deity (king of Lord Shiva’s devotees) was vested with the axe that belongs to Lord Shiva. Another popular story of the origin of the axe is after the encounter of Lord Ganesha with Parshurama (avatar of Lord Vishnu. One day Parshurama was going to pay a visit to Lord Shiva. Not knowing Parshurama, Lord Ganesha asked for his introduction before allowing him to go further. This agitated Parshurama and in his anger he hurled his axe (which was a gift from Lord Shiva) towards Lord Ganesha. Ganesha recognized the axe and out of respect got struck by it. The axe is hence symbolic to the respect Ganesha holds for his father. Incidentally this is how Lord Ganesha also got his tusk broken, that he holds in one of his hands.

The modaka is Ganesha’s favourite sweet. It was given to him as a prize by his mother Parvati after he won a race with his brother Skanda. When the Devas came to Shiva and Parvati with a divine sweet claiming that the one who consumes it shall have all the knowledge and wisdom of the world, Parvati was in a fix. She told her sons to encircle the earth and the one to do it fastest shall win. Ganesha simply encircled his parents and said that they constituted the world for him. The display of wisdom won Ganesha the modakam.

The rope is alternatively represented with a snake. On his birthday Ganesha stuffed himself with sweets and his belly grew bigger. He got on to his mouse and during his travel, fell on the ground. The contents of the stomach came out and to hold them Ganesha tied the snake in his belly. He is shown carrying the snake/rope in his hand in his idols sometimes.

The origin of the main artefacts tells the story of Ganesha’s triumph on vices and also his humility. It is hence enlightening to know them.

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