Parvati, Shiva’s wife, eager to take a bath without being disturbed, she needed someone who could stay guarding the door and preventing anyone from entering. Then she created a boy with flour and gave him life. But when the unsuspecting Shiva came and stood in front of this stranger who dared to prevent him from passing, the god cut off his head. Once Shiva discovered the truth, to comfort the desperate mother, ordered his attendants (the heavenly hosts, in Sanskrit gana means multitudes) to take the head of the first animal they met to put it on unfortunate young man. Fate wanted it to be an elephant. This story – which we find in the Shiva Purana – is the most common explanation of why Ganesh has the head of an elephant and, as much, is also called Gajanana (Face of elephant) or Gajadhipa (King of elephants) or Ganapati (Lord of heavenly hosts or categories).
Ganesh is one of most popular deites in
and he is the supreme deity, placed above all others, for the Ganapatya Hindus. India
Without doubt, Ganesh is the god that inspires more sympathy and curiosity among non-hindus, but what most fascinates me about the elephant-headed god is his metaphorical and mystical significance that goes far beyond the strange appearance and good-natured look.
Ganesh is a sort of Hinduism Summa Theologica. The presence of large and small, man and animal are fundamental concepts of hindu philosophy, namely the correspondence between macrocosm and microcosm. Ganesh is the representation of the union of opposites that occurs only in God because he goes beyond the world of opposites. Ganesh is the visual representation of identity between god and man, between Brahman and Atman, is the image of tat tvam asi (you are that) I have mentioned in previous post and whose knowledge is true knowledge. Not for nothing his graphic symbol is the swastika, graphical representation of the diversity that comes from the unit.
Ganesh is considered the god who overcomes obstacles and difficulties, so he is present always in hindus homes and for that he is also called Vighnesvara (Lord of obstacles) or Vinayaka (Best between the guides). To him you are addressing, bowing touching the trunk and then touching your right hear with your left hand and your left ear with your right hand simultaneously as many times as you embark on a journey, you’ve an examination, you begin activity.
His vahan is a rat (mushaki). The mouse in fact, as the elephant but by different startegies, overcome any obstacle. The mouse also represents man’s ego that Ganesh dominates riding it. For this feature is also known as Vahanmushika.
Often one fo his tusks is broken because – according to one of many traditions – it was used as a pen to write Mahabharata which Ganesh was engaged in writing without interruption at the dictation of sage Vyasa. For this is also considered a patron of letters and schools.
The iconography of Ganesh represents him with an axe to cut bonds of ignorance, a noose to tie passions and a plat of laddu, cakes of which he is grredy.
All prayers to Ganesh begin and end with mantra "Om Gam Ganapataye namah."