Who Is Ganesha?

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Ganesha definition

Ganesha, or Vinayaka, Pillaiyar, or Ganapati, as he is often referred to, is a major Hindu deity that is often referred to as Lord of the People.

You will probably best recognize him depicted in his elephant-headed form, regularly carrying in his hand a few round Indian sweets (which he is supposedly extremely fond of!).

Ganesha Deep Dive

Son of Shiva and Parvati, Lord Ganesha is a god who is chubby, gentle, and wise, so it makes sense that he is one of Hinduism’s most popular deities.

He is the Hindu god of beginnings, thought to bring good luck, wisdom, and perfect intellect. His intellect is demonstrated by the fact that he scribed the great epic Mahabharata, as dictated by Sage Ved Vyasa.

As well as this, Ganesh is considered the remover of obstacles. He is often invoked before starting a new venture in business or personal life.

lord ganesha statue

The Birth of Ganesha

One day, Goddess Parvati was at home preparing for a bath. She asked Nandi (Lord Shiva’s bull) to guard the door to the bathroom and let no one come in. As he was faithful first to Lord Shiva, he let the god in when he came home wanting to see Parvati.

Parvati was annoyed that she did not have anyone as loyal to her as Nandi was to Shiva, and thus she decided to create Ganesha. She took the turmeric paste from bathing and blew life into it.

As Shiva did not recognize him, he chopped off the boy’s head leaving the goddess distraught. To ease her pain, he instructed his soldiers to get the head of the first creature they saw in order to bring his son back to life.

Shiva affixed the elephant’s head to his son, and Lord Ganesha was born!

Ganesha’s Symbolism

1. Elephant Head

Elephants represent wisdom and knowledge, much like the qualities of Ganapati. They also represent gyan shakti (the power to know) and karma shakti (acting in accordance with dharma).

2. Lord Ganesh’s Big Belly

This symbolizes his generosity and ability to digest everything in life – the total acceptance of the good, the bad, and the ugly! His belly is also thought to represent the entire cosmos.

3. Mooshika

Mooshika is the mouse that sits at Ganesha’s feet or that he is often depicted riding (yes, riding) on. There are a few different theories about this symbolism.

Some state that it is because the size of the mouse allows him to enter all the tiny nooks and corners to destroy all obstacles for his worshippers.

Others say that it serves as a reminder of the need to control the ego, as those who control their ego have Ganesha consciousness. Similarly to this, Mooshika might also represent the importance of controlling desires and how he can support with this process.

Ganesha in your life

Why Invoke Ganesha?

1. Muladhara (Root Chakra)

Ganesha is Lord of the Root Chakra, which has significant powers of the things we are able to manifest into form on the earth (material) plane. It’s also associated with family, stability, and wealth, much like the god himself.

Activating this chakra is the first step of awakening our kundalini energy which lies dormant at the base of our spine. When it becomes activated, the energy can be transferred to the upper chakras enabling more growth and wisdom and eventually leading to liberation.

As the gatekeeper of the first chakra, it’s helpful to invoke Ganesh’s grace to bestow success on us with the journey of spiritual enlightenment.

lord ganesha statue in leaves

2. Starting a New Journey

Ganesh is worshipped before starting any Hindu puja or ritual, no matter which god or goddess the puja is invoking. This is because it is believed that any obstacle that might arise during the ritual will easily be overcome with the presence of Ganesha.

Just as he is prayed to during the start of a ritual, he can be invoked at the start of any new venture or journey that you are embarking on. As the remover of obstacles and the god of success, he can bring blessings and luck to these projects.

This could be a personal venture, a business venture, writing or artistic projects, or if you have an issue in your personal life that you need help with overcoming.

3. The Guardian of Thresholds

You may often see Lord Ganesh placed in the doorways of homes or temples. This symbolizes protection from the god who was given this duty after he was the doorkeeper for his mother’s chambers in Hindu mythology.

It is thought the adornment of his image or statue will prevent evil from entering your home.

Mantras For Ganesha

1. Om Gam Ganapataye Namaha

My salutations to Lord Ganesha – I bow down to Lord Ganesha and accept all his great qualities in myself

2. Om Ganadhyakhsaya Namah

I bow to Lord Ganesha as the leader of the Gana (this one is thought to cultivate group healing in particular).

3. Om Gajananaya Namah

If God can carry the elephant’s head whilst also fulfilling his duties, even we should part with our egos and live our lives dutifully

4. Om Vighnanashaya Namah

The remover of obstacles will remove any impediments in my life

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To go deep and expand your yogic knowledge, access our free Yoga Terms Encyclopedia, where we host a profound wealth of ancient and timeless yogic wisdom in an accessible modern format.

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Liz is a Qigong and Yoga teacher based in Gloucestershire with a love for all things movement, nature & community. She strives to create a trauma-informed space in which everyone is empowered to be their authentic selves. www.elizabethburns.co.uk

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