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Monday, September 21, 2015

Symbolism of Ganesha

Ganesh is not just the most loved god among Hindus. He is also the first god they run to, in dire times. Let's learn about the various Ganesh symbols...

... Scripted in English ...

Vakratund mahaa-kaaya surya koti sama prabha
Nir.vignah kuru.me.dev.h sarva kaareye.shu sarvada

Traditionally, any shubh karya (auspicious work or activity) in Hinduism is begun with an invocation to Lord Ganesh. This ritualistic practice is an indicator of the fact that Ganesh is probably the most popular of the numerous gods in the Hindu pantheon. It is not just thanks to His lovable image, as the elephant-god, that Ganesh is so appealing. His devotees find his entire being a vast treasure trove of symbols and feel blessed when they meditates on them.

The Symbolic Meaning

It is believed that the Hindu sages conceptualized the rup or murti (forms) of the different gods, with an intent to convey a logical set of behavioral attributes through them. When we look at the number of meanings in the idol of Ganesh, this belief seems to be ingrained in this idol like representation too. Following are some of the most important symbols associated with Ganesh -

  1. His broad crown is an suggestion to think big in life.
  2. The tiny eyes indicate towards the importance of concentration and attention to detail for success in any foray.
  3. One of the foremost form of concentration is to listen to others more, and talk less. This is symbolized by the huge elephantine ears and small mouth that the idol of Ganesha sports. 
  4. Ganesha has only one tusk, with the other broken off. This symbolizes the importance of holding on only to the good and discarding the bad.
  5. The flexible trunk of Ganesha symbolizes the importance of being efficient and adaptable in order to be successful in one's ventures. The curve of the trunk is also said to represent the rising of the kundalini (spiritual energy that is believed to be coiled serpent-like at the base of the spine) powers.
  6. His large tummy points to the necessity of digesting all that life has to offer - the good, the bad, and the ugly.
  7. The Abhaya Mudra (gesture of fearlessness) of his lower right hand symbolizes Ganesha's blessings and protection on a person who is devoted himself towards a righteous act.
  8. Ganesh holds an axe in his upper right hand, with which the idol indicates that it is important to cut the emotional attachments, in other words keep them away, whilst performing a righteous act.
  9. With a rope in the upper left hand, the idol of Ganesha symbolizes "Ankush", that is control on one's body, mind and soul; to remain focused on the set task.
  10. If all the above attributes are obeyed in the pursued task, Ganesha offers rewards for penances (sadhana) done with the modak (type of confection, usually made from rice flour and a stuffing of jaggery, coconut, etc.)
  11. The bowls and baskets of offerings at Ganesh's feet are there to symbolise that the entire world, and all its choicest pleasures, are out there for the taking. 
  12. Ganesh's tiny pet and vehicle, his mouse, bowing down close by, is there to indicate that though a little desire is good, it is essential for one to master it. You have to ride your desires and not vice versa.

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