Interesting facts and stories about Lord Ganesha – Lord of Success
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Lord Ganesha is one of the most important and the most common associative identities with Hinduism. The son of Lord Shiva and Parvati, Ganesha has an elephantine demeanour and has a curved trunk, big ears, and a huge pot-belly. He is seen as the obliterator of all obstacles and the kind lord of success, education, knowledge, wisdom and wealth. Ganesha is seen as one of the five prime Hindu deities (Brahma, Vishnu, Shiva and Durga being the others) who are glorified as the panchayatana puja.
Significance of the Ganesha Form
Lord Ganesha’s head is a representative symbolization of the Atma, or the soul. This is the ultimate supreme reality of human existence. His human body signifies Maya, or the earthly existence of humans. The elephant head is said to be a symbol of wisdom and the trunk represents Om, the sound symbol of cosmic reality. Lord Ganesh holds a goad on his upper right hand, aiming to propel mankind forward on the eternal path, and to remove obstacles from one’s path. The noose in Ganesha’s left hand is a gentle implement that can help capture difficulties. The broken tusk that Ganesha wields like a pen in his lower right hand is a symbol of sacrifice, since he broke it to write the Mahabharata. The rosary in his other hand depicts that the pursuit of knowledge should be continuous. The laddoo he holds in his trunk indicates that one must discover the sweetness of the Atman. His fan-like ears convey that he is all ears to our petition. The snake that runs round his waist represents energy in all forms. And he is humble enough to ride the lowest of creatures, a mouse.
Legends about Lord Ganesha
Legend goes that once, goddess Parvati, while taking a bath, had created a boy out of the dirt of her body and assigned him the task of guarding the entrance to her bathroom. Shiva returned and was surprised to find a stranger denying him access, and struck off the boy’s head in rage. Parvati broke down in utter grief and to soothe her, Shiva sent out his squad (gana) to fetch the head of any sleeping being that was facing the north. The company found a sleeping elephant and brought back its severed head, which was then attached to the body of the boy. Shiva restored its life and made him the leader (pati) of his troops. Thus the name ‘Ganapati’. Shiva also bestowed a boon that people would worship him and invoke his name before undertaking any venture.
There is a second version of the origin of Ganesha as found in the Brahma Vaivarta Purana: Lord Shiva had asked Goddess Parvati to observe the punyaka vrata for a year in order to appease Vishnu to have a son. When a son was born to her, all the gods and goddesses assembled to rejoice on its birth. Lord Shani, the son of Surya (Sun-God), was also present. However, he refused to look at the infant. Disturbed, Parvati asked him why and Shani replied that his looking at baby would harm the newborn. But, on Parvati’s insistence when Shani saw the baby, the child’s head was severed instantly. All the gods started to bemoan, whereupon Vishnu hurried to the bank of river Pushpabhadra and brought back the head of a young elephant, and joined it to the baby’s body, thus reviving it.
Remarkable things about Lord Ganesha
There are two significant things about Lord Ganesha. One is that he is only one-toothed. In this connection it is said that once Parasurama wanted to visit Shiva and Paravati. But he was not allowed by Ganesha. A fight ensured between the two and in the course of this fight Ganesha lost one of his teeth. Another remarkable thing is that lord Ganesha has a rat as his ‘Vahana’. Another belief is that Lord Ganesha was able to go into nooks and crannies around the world and work as the Destroyer of Obstacles because his vehicle is a mouse, which basically can slither through tiny holes and narrow pathways, even in the darkness of night. This gives the quality of all-pervasiveness to Ganesha.
However, the most likely reasoning for why the mouse is the vehicle of Lord Ganesha is this: Lord Ganesha is known as the Conqueror of Obstacles (Vighnaharta). In ancient times, when agriculture was the primary mode of sustenance, rodents were one of the biggest obstacles to prosperity. Rodents would destroy standing crops, eat up stored grains and thereby result in severe losses for the common man. Lord Ganesha, in having a mouse/rat as his vehicle, is symbolically shown to have conquered this pest, thus staying true to his name of Vighnaharta.
This deity is worshipped by one and all for seeking his blessings and receiving wisdom, knowledge, wealth and prosperity.
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