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Ganesha is one of the most beloved of all the Hindu Gods. He is Elephant headed God, the first son of Lord Siva and his wife Parvati. It is first wise to investigate the story of how Ganesha got his elephant head. It seems that once upon a time the goddess Parvati, created a son, and stationed him outside her bathroom as a guard while she bathed. However she did not tell her husband Lord Siva of this addition to their family. When Siva returned home after a long sojourn and meditation he was surprised to find the strange boy attempting to deny him access. He then struck off the boy's head in a rage. Parvati, stricken insisted that Siva fix the situation. So Siva went looking for a sleeping being who was facing north. An elephant was found and its severed head returned and attached to the boys body. Shiva then restored its life and bestowed a boon so that people would worship him and invoke his name before undertaking any venture.
Ganesha’s form is a highly symbolic one. The elephant is a very large, yet smart and gentle creature. When expeditions are led through the jungle, elephants are often at the front of the pack as they will clear the path. Similarly it is Ganesha who is famously the remover of obstacles in our lives and on our spiritual path. That is why all undertakings and journey begin with the evocation of his name. A clear depends path to success, both material and spiritual begin with Ganesha. The trunk of an elephant is very strong, able to uproot a tree. Yet it is delicate enough to grasp a pebble from the ground. Similarly our mind and efforts musty be equally strong, yet nimble as the elephants trunk. It must be able to be resilient, tey flexible.
Ganesha has four arms. In two hands he often holds a rope and an ax. The rope is symbolic of Maya and the 3 Gunas, each Guna a strand of the rope of Maya. The axe is that which will free us from the binding effects of our karma and the Maya it creates. The rope can also represent a noose that captures of difficulties and the ax of how he frees us of those difficulties. Ganesha is also seen holding mala beads and also usually some sweets in a pot or setting at his feet. This is to remind us that life is sweet and to enjoy it and say our prayers. Also the large ears of Ganesha hears all our prayers and his big eyes are all seeing. He rides on a mouse, because he is the most humble and patient. He shares his sweets with the mouse. The mouse is also symbolic of greed, with very large teeth but a small mouth.
Ganesha is almost always seen displaying a Swastika on his palm. The Swastika is timeless and highly symbolic, referring to the four elements in motion around a fixed and unmoving point. Inviting us to remember our true nature at the center of all external activity. It also relates a spinning Chakra or more specifically to the to the Muladhara Chakra, the seat of the Kundalini. It is the Muladhara which must first be pierced before the real journey home begins and it is Ganesha who clears a path to the Muladhara.
In many ways Ganesha is the most important of all Hindu Gods. Always evoked first, as an intermediary, first we need his blessings as it is he who is always guarding the doorway while the pristine Divine Mother bathes nearby.