The Lord of Success
Ganesha is depicted as the elephant deity who is riding a mouse. The son of Lord Shiva and Mother Parvati, Ganesha was born with a curved trunk, big ears, and pot belly. He is the Lord of success and destroyer of evil and obstacles. He is also worshipped by Hindus as the Lord of wisdom, knowledge, education, and wealth. It is believed that for the fulfillment of ones desire, his blessings are absolutely necessary.
Significance of the Ganesh Form
The Head: The head of Lord Ganesh symbolizes the soul (Atman) which represents the supreme reality of the existence of humans. The elephant head denotes wisdom and the trunk represents Om.
The Human Body: The human body represents the earthly existence (Maya) of human beings.
The Goad: The goad is in his upper right hand which helps him to propel man forward to the eternal path and to remove obstacles in their way.
The Noose: The noose is in his left hand which helps him capture all difficulties.
The Broken Tusk: The broken tusk which he holds like a pen in his lower right hand symbolizes sacrifice, which he broke to write the Mahabharta.
The Rosary: The rosary in his other hand suggests that knowledge and wisdom should be continuous.
The Ladoo: The ladoo is a sweet that he holds in his trunk which signifies that one must discover the sweetness of Atman.
Big Ears: The big ears signify that He is always listening to our prayers and petitions.
The Snake: The snake that is around his waist represents all forms of energy.
The Mouse: The mouse shows that he is very humble to choose to ride the lowest of creatures.
The Story of Ganeshas Head
As depicted in the Shiva Purana, the story of Ganeshas head goes like this: Once goddess Parvati created a boy out of the dirt on her body while bathing and assigned him the task of guarding the entrance to her bathroom. When Shiva, her husband returned, he 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 who 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. Hence his name ‘Ganapati’. Shiva also bestowed a boon that people would worship him and invoke his name before undertaking any venture.