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Tuesday, August 28, 2012

The symbolic meaning of the form of Lord ganesha

The symbolic meaning of the form of Lord ganesha has been very well explained in this article The image of Ganesh and its meaning 
By Kishore Asthana, TNN 
The Economic Times 
September 3, 2008 

View image here: 
An elephant's trunk has the strength to uproot a tree as well as the 
finesse to pick up a needle. Ganesh's trunk symbolises the fact that 
the wise person has both immense strength and fine discrimination. 

Ganesh has large ears. The wise person hears all. He has four hands. 
In one hand he holds a lotus, the symbol of enlightenment . In the 
other hand he holds a hatchet. That is, the old karma-- all your 
sanskaras, the accumulated good and bad of past deeds -- get cut when 
enlightenment comes. 

The third hand holds laddoos, the round sweet-meats. They are the 
rewards of a wise life. Ganesh is never shown eating the laddus. The 
wise man never partakes of the rewards of his deeds. He is not 
attached to them. The fourth hand is shown blessing the people. The 
wise man wishes the best for everyone. 

Ganesh has only one tusk; the other is shown broken. There is an 
interesting story as to how Ganesh happened to get an elephant's head 
and how one tusk got broken. The symbolism of the broken tusk is that 
the wise person is beyond duality. 

We tend to think that we end when our bodies end in the material 
world. We are the first person. All else is different. This duality 
is created by the mind which creates the ego to help us survive in 
this world. This 'me-other' duality is the screen keeping us from 
realising our real Self, which is beyond body and mind. 

Once we transcend this duality, we see the entire Universe as a 
single whole and we become aware of our true Selves. The single tusk 
of Ganesh symbolises this non-duality. Wisdom allows us to see all as 
one and ourselves an integral part of the whole. 

Ganesh is shown sitting with one foot on the ground and the other 
resting on his knee, above the ground. The wise person is of this 
earth, yet not entirely of this earth. 

Ganesh is shown seated on a rat. The reason for saying that Ganesh 
'rides' on the rat is that the rat is among the greediest of all 
animals. It will keep nibbling at whatever is available, eating 
everything it can. 

Scientifically, too, the rat's teeth keep growing and it has to keep 
chewing on something to keep these within limits. The rat is a symbol 
of our senses, which are never satisfied. They crave new experiences, 
new tastes. Left uncontrolled, they keep growing forever. The wise 
person rides on his senses. He keeps them under control. 

Ganesh is often shown seated in front of a tray of sweets. In these 
images the rat is shown sitting in front of Ganesh, perhaps a bit to 
one side, looking up at him. The senses of the wise person are under 
his control and the rat dare not eat the sweets without the 
permission of Ganesh. 

Ganesh is the son of Shiv and Parvati, the God governing the life- 
force and the earthmother. This symbolises the spirit and body of the 
wise person. Finally, the wise person has the dignity of an elephant. 

When we say "Aum Ganeshaye Namah" before starting anything what we 
are saying is that "In what we are about to do, let wisdom be our 
guide". In a sense, Ganesh is our most powerful god, and he is 
usually remembered before starting any rituals for other deities. 

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