The Elephant God Ganesha

The Elephant God Ganesha

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3D Image

The elephant god Ganesha, Like the dancing Shiva and goddess Parvati Ganesha was found in the soil in Tranquebar 1799. Bronze. South India. The National Museum of Denmark (Copenhagen, Denmark). Made with Memento Beta (now ReMake) from Autodesk.

Ganesha, also known as Ganapati and Vinayaka, is one of the best-known and most worshipped deities in the Hindu pantheon. His image is found throughout India, Sri Lanka, Thailand and Nepal. Although he is known by many attributes, Ganesha’s elephant head makes him easy to identify. Ganesha is widely revered as the remover of obstacles, the patron of arts and sciences and the deva of intellect and wisdom.

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Ganesha's head symbolizes the Atman or the soul, which is the supreme reality of human existence, while his body signifies Maya or mankind's earthly existence. The elephantine head denotes wisdom and its trunk represents Om, the sound symbol of cosmic reality.

In his upper right hand, Ganesha holds a goad, which helps him propel mankind forward on the eternal path and remove obstacles from the way. The noose in Ganesha's upper left hand is a gentle implement to capture all difficulties. The broken tusk that Ganesha holds like a pen in his lower right hand is a symbol of sacrifice, which he broke for writing the Mahabharata, one of Sanskrit's two major texts. The rosary in his other hand suggests that the pursuit of knowledge should be continuous.

The laddoo or sweet he holds in his trunk represents the sweetness of the Atman. His fan-like ears convey that he will always hear the prayers of the faithful. The snake that runs round his waist represents energy in all forms. And he is humble enough to ride the lowest of creatures, a mouse.

Who is the Hindu God Ganesha?

A four armed man with an elephant&rsquos head, this is perhaps one of the best known images in Hinduism. Often shown sitting on a lotus or an impossibly sized mouse, the elephant headed god Ganesha is one of the most recognizable Hindu deities. He is also one of the most important deities in Hinduism.

Honored by all sects of Hinduism, Ganesha is the son of the god Shiva and the goddess Parvati. According to Hindu legend, Ganesha was created when Parvati became dirty after celebrating a festival with Shiva. When she realized that her skin was filthy, she went to take a bath. Before bathing, Parvati removed the dirt from her skin and fashioned it into a boy. She then told him to stand guard while she was bathing.

While Parvati was in the bath, Shiva came looking for her. The boy, however, did not let Shiva pass and obstructed his path. Enraged, Shiva cut off the boy&rsquos head and went to Parvati. When Parvati realized what had happened, she was horrified. She explained to Shiva that Ganesha was her son. In response to Parvati&rsquos anguish and anger, Shiva instructed several helpers to locate a person or being who was sleeping with their head pointed north and bring the head to Shiva. The helpers went searching and found an elephant who fit Shiva&rsquos requirements. When they brought the head back, Shiva affixed it to the boy&rsquos torso and revived him. Shiva then made the newly created Ganesha the leader of armies and declared that people would worship Ganesha and invoke his name before than began any venture.

As a deity, Ganesha is also known as Ganesa, Ganesh, Ganapati, Vinayaka and Pillaiyar. He is the Lord of Good Fortune, Lord of Beginnings and Remover of Obstacles. When undertaking a challenge, Hindus will pray to Ganesha and ask him to bless their attempt and remove any obstacles that will keep them from success. Interestingly, Ganesha is a deity who not only removes obstacles, but also creates them in order to keep people in check.

In addition to acting to remove obstacles and help bring prosperity, Ganesha is known as a patron of letters and learning. Elephants in India are associated with unmatched wisdom and knowledge gained through careful listening and reflection. In the myth that depicts Ganesha&rsquos origins, Shiva cuts off Ganesha&rsquos head when he keeps Shiva from Parvati. By impeding Shiva&rsquos progress, the young Ganesha was acting as the force of ignorance which keeps out divine wisdom and enlightenment. Ignorance is associated with the mind. By losing his head, Ganesha lost his ignorance and had it replaced with an elephant&rsquos wisdom. When Ganesha grew older, legend has it that Ganesha was the first scribe to write down the epic poem the Mahabharata. According to the tale, Ganesha was writing down the epic as it was dictated to him by the sage Vyasa. Halfway through the dictation, Ganesha&rsquos pen snapped. Unwilling to force Vyasa to pause and interrupt the transcription or to risk missing part of the story, Ganesha snapped off one of his tusks and used it as a replacement pen. He is usually depicted holding this broken tusk in Indian art. The broken tusk underscores Ganesha&rsquos role as a patron of the arts and of learning. It is also seen as symbolic of willing sacrifices, especially those made in pursuit of artistic endeavors.

In addition to the association of Ganesha with elephants, for obvious reasons, he is also often linked with mice. In Hinduism, many deities are seen as having a particular animal that acts as the vahana or vehicle that carries the god or goddess to wherever they need or wish to go. Ganesha&rsquos vahana is a mouse. It seems odd to put a deity with the head of an elephant on the back of the mouse, but the mouse is actually seen as underscoring Ganesha&rsquos connection with knowledge and the removal of obstacles. An elephant is not impeded by obstacles because of its enormous size. They simply push through barriers and keep walking forward effortlessly. A mouse, on the other hand, can easily be blocked by a small barrier. That said, a mouse can slide through even the smallest of cracks and reach places an elephant cannot. When caught by strong ropes, an elephant will be trapped it if cannot yank itself free. A mouse, however, will slowly gnaw its way through the binding and escape. As such, elephants are associated with the effortless and unrelenting pursuit of enlightenment. A mouse, however, represents the hard work that is needed to cut through the many things that tie a person to ignorance and keep them from reaching wisdom and enlightenment.

Like many Hindu deities, portrayals and stories about Ganesha are filled with layers of symbolism. The combination of the elephant and mouse represents how Ganesha can remove obstacles of any size. His large belly stands for generosity and total acceptance. He is associated with successes, learning and wisdom. As such, it is no wonder that statues of Ganesha are so commonly found in Indian homes and places of business. He is a deity that anyone would want on their side.

What is the story behind Lord Ganesha’s origins?

It’s a very popular story and most people who are familiar with Hindu mythology will be aware of it. As per the story, Goddess Parvati created Lord Ganesh with the help of the dirt on her body. The dirt was a result of her celebrating with Lord Shiva. After creating Ganesha, she headed off to bathe and instructed Ganesha to not let anyone enter her chambers while she bathed. When Shiva eventually returned, Ganesha refused to allow him in as he was not aware of his identity. Shiva is known to be an angry God and in a fit of rage, he decapitated Ganesha and entered Parvati’s chambers. Upon learning about the fate of Ganesha, Parvati became distraught and pleaded with Shiva to save the boy since he was their son. Shiva then instructed the members of his retinue (“ganas”) to go and get the head of someone who was sleeping with their head pointing towards the north. The helpers got the head of an elephant, which Shiva affixed to the boy’s torso and Lord Ganesha as most people know him, was born.

He is a mouse-riding god.

Graffiti art of the Hindu god Ganesh and his mouse sidekick &mdash seen at the bottom left corner. Photo by JAM Project licensed CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

Many Hindu deities ride a special vehicle, or mount, in the form of an animal. Ganesh is seen with different animal mounts, but one of the most common is a mouse. But this is no ordinary mouse. In one story, it was an evil demon that Ganesh fought and was able to trap. The demon promised to carry Ganesh wherever he went from that day on.

Ganesh Chaturthi

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Ganesh Chaturthi, in Hinduism, 10-day festival marking the birth of the elephant-headed deity Ganesha, the god of prosperity and wisdom. It begins on the fourth day (chaturthi) of the month of Bhadrapada (August–September), the sixth month of the Hindu calendar.

At the start of the festival, idols of Ganesha are placed on raised platforms in homes or in elaborately decorated outdoor tents. The worship begins with the pranapratishtha, a ritual to invoke life in the idols, followed by shhodashopachara, or the 16 ways of paying tribute. Amid the chanting of Vedic hymns from religious texts like the Ganesh Upanishad, the idols are anointed with red sandalwood paste and yellow and red flowers. Ganesha is also offered coconut, jaggery, and 21 modaks (sweet dumplings), considered to be Ganesha’s favourite food.

At the conclusion of the festival, the idols are carried to local rivers in huge processions accompanied by drumbeats, devotional singing, and dancing. There they are immersed, a ritual symbolizing Ganesha’s homeward journey to Mount Kailas—the abode of his parents, Shiva and Parvati.

Ganesh Chaturthi assumed the nature of a gala public celebration when the Maratha ruler Shivaji (c. 1630–80) used it to encourage nationalist sentiment among his subjects, who were fighting the Mughals. In 1893, when the British banned political assemblies, the festival was revived by the Indian nationalist leader Bal Gangadhar Tilak. Today the festival is celebrated in Hindu communities worldwide and is particularly popular in Maharashtra and parts of western India.

    Thapan, Anita Raina (1997), Understanding Gaņapati: Insights into the Dynamics of a Cult, New Delhi: Manohar Publishers, ISBN 81-7304-195-4 Heras, H. (1972), The Problem of Ganapati, Delhi: Indological Book House Brown, Robert (1991), Ganesh: Studies of an Asian God, Albany: State University of New York, ISBN 0-7914-0657-1

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Why Siva replaced Ganesha head with Elephant

Hidden meaning of Parvati creating her son with scurf and grime and Ganesha human head replaced by Siva with elephant head in Puranas
Puranam Pancha Lakshanam – A text should have 5 characteristics or Pancha-Lakshana to be classified as a Purana. They are
Sargascha pratisargascha
Vamso Manvantarani cha
vamsaanucharitam chiva
puranam panchalakshanam

The text should be talking about
Sarga: Some scholars say this should be the proper breakdown into chapters, while some others are of the opinion that sarga means creation. So the Purana should have proper distinction about chapters and it should speak about the creation of the universe.
Pratisarga: again some say this relates to sub-chapters. Others opine that it should be about secondary creations, mostly re-creations after dissolution.
Vamsa: It should speak about the great Vamsas or the Genealogy of the great Rishis and the Devatas.
Manvataranicha: It should speak about the Manavantaras or reigns of Manus. Each Manu rules over an eon, each of which is shorter than the preceding ones. Currently, we are in the vyavastha manvantaram.
Vamasanucharitam: It should give a detailed description of the dynasties of Kings who lived and ruled this world – mostly, the great SuryaVamsh and the Chandra Vamsh or the Solar and Lunar Dynasties.
Out of these, except for history part which includes family lineage of kings, most of the puranic stories are allegories.
Cosmic forces like Siva, Vishnu, Lakshmi, Parvati, Ganesha, Kartikeya etc and their properties are told as human stories to simplify the complicated stories of evolution.

Earliest mention of Ganapati is found in Rig Veda, hymn 2.23.1.
Siva Purana, Rudra Samhita – Kumara Khanda, chapter-13 describes birth of Ganesha.
In multiple kalpas, Ganesa evolved differently. That is the reason behind multiple stories of his birth.
In present Sweta Varaha Kalpa, his head was cut off by Siva.
Parvati created a person from her body scurf and grime to obey her orders and be her gatekeeper. Parvati says “You are my son. You are my own. I have none else to call my own. Without my permission, no one, by any means, shall intrude.

When Parvati went to take bath, Siva came and was blocked at entrance by this kid.
During the battle, Ganesa hit all gods including Vishnu, with his shaft.
Vishnu said : “I shall cause him delusion (maaya). Then let him be killed by you, O lord. Without deception he cannot be killed. He is of Tāmasika nature and inaccessible.
During this battle with Vishnu, Siva came there and cut off his head with his trident (Trisool).

Seeing this, parvati ordered Saktis to destroy all gods present over there. Karālīs (the Terrific), Kubjakās (the humpbacked), Khañjās (the lame), Lambaśīrṣās (the tall-headed) the innumerable Śaktis took up the gods with their hands and threw them in their own mouths.
It appeared as if parvati would create an untimely dissolution (Pralaya).
To please her, Siva sent his men to cut off any living being sleeping with head towards north direction.
They bring elephant head and Siva attaches it to Ganesa’s body.

Siva Sakti energies created Kundalini together, but Siva replaced human level energy with elephant level energy to help awakening of Kundalini.

The fact that one should not sleep with his/her head placed towards north (body aligned in straight line with north and south pole of earth) is told in allegoric manner here.
Also, Siva wanted a head which is in alignment with one of the four elements, Earth (North). Parvati, the female energy or Yin, tried to create Mooladhara Chakra with human energy (told as human head symboliically) to hold Kundalini energy.
In the center of the mooladhara square, below the seed syllable, is a deep red inverted triangle. The kundalini sakti is said to sleep here, waiting to be aroused and brought back up to Brahman, the source from which it originated. It is represented by a snake wrapped three and a half times around a smoky grey lingam.
Goddesses Bhairavi and Kubjika are associated with Kundalini energy, which was told in a story above.
This Kundalini, when cultivated and awakened through tantric practice, leads to spiritual liberation (moksha or niravana).
For this to happen, kundalini (serpent energy), which is upside down, needs to be flipped vertically and then sent upwards through the spine.
All this happens in split second and kundalini reaches sahasrara chakra (crown) within no time. But for that, all chakras need to be activated and aligned with spine.

The way Om is written in Sanskrit (ॐ) shows the three-and-half matras of Kundalini Sakti potentially present in the breath of every human being. Om means the eternal, pure Self. Om is the first cosmic sound, the ruler of all basic elements and creation. It looks like the head of a happy elephant with a raised trunk trumpeting joyfully and is represented by the Sanskrit script ॐ.
This is Lord Ganapati, the son of Siva and Shakti. As a son is the pure quintessence of the parents, so is Lord Ganapati, who is represented by the Sanskrit letter ॐ.
This is why Ganapati has the head of an elephant and the body of an innocent, young baby. The body of the baby symbolises the microcosm or man and the head of the elephant, the macrocosm or the universe. Thus, there is a union of the universe and man in the embodiment of Lord Ganapati. He is the monarch of Kundalini and that is why he wears a cobra as a belt around his waist. Kundalini remains dormant in most people but becomes awakened with spiritual development.

Kundalini creates a strong desire to make love, ejaculate sperm and serves the meeting of the male seed and female egg. Thus, the conception, implantation and growth of a foetus is regulated by Kundalini.
During pregnancy, Kundalini remains in the crown chakra of the foetus and keeps the baby in the passive state of a blissful life.
There is no consciousness of the physical body at that time. But, during the hour of delivery, Kundalini assists the baby to come out of the womb.
Gradually the baby comes out, air touches the baby’s skin, Kundalini stimulates respiration, and the baby breathes.
As this is happening, Kundalini moves down to the sacral plexus (sahasraha chakra) and brings physical consciousness to the child.
Baby forgets its blissful state and starts crying. At this moment, the parents become happy but the child looks unhappy, because it has lost state of bliss.
Crying baby lies on the three-fold lap (the three matras) of the Mother Kundalini.
Without her blessings, no one attains the spiritual state of bliss.
In the true sense, Kundalini is the Divine Mother of all creatures.
All our happiness, unhappiness, health, ill-health, creativity, passivity and total span of life is managed by Kundalini.
Ganapati, who evokes kundalini is thus regarded as Vighna-Nasaka or Vinayaka (obstacle destroyer), to attain brahman.

Siva replaced human head with elephant head because, kundalini requires strength of an elephant to get activated. Original human level energy cannot awaken it.
But, the original ganapati, also known as Aadi Vinayaka is still worshipped with human head in a temple near Koothanur, Tamil Nadu.

This is probably from one of previous kalpas, where Vinayaka has grown into an adult and his head not yet replaced.

Moola+Adhara means the root cause or basis of of our existence.
It is seat of the KARMAS from earlier lives and our destiny in present life.
Only when elephant energy is used to activate kundalini in it, our karmas start to get destroyed and we attain salvation.
A person with displaced or imbalanced mooladhara chakra, will not be grounded, will be detached to or not have proper relation with mother, father, family, environment, home, workplace, boss, job, career, money.
Only an elephant headed Ganesa at Mooladhara chakra can help us attain that balance and upliftment.

Our obstacles (Vighna) in this life are due to effects of past karmas, which can be nullified by evoking Ganesha at Mooladhara. That is why this energy is called Vighnadhipati or Vighna-Nayaka or Vinayaka.
Siva’s ganas are his forces surrounding him, which act upon his command.
When Siva replaced human head of parvati’s son with that of an elephant (Gaja), the kid was called Ganapati or Ganesha, or Gajapathi or Gajesha.
Head of one of the ganas (Gajasura) was used as replacement and the kid was made leader of Ganas (Ganesa or Ganapathi).
Gana is actually multitude in sanskrit and Ganesa is leader of them.

Ganapati Atharvashirsa, an upanishad attached to Atharva Veda, asserts that Ganesha is same as the ultimate reality, Brahman.
It is also called as the Ganapati Upanishad.
त्वं मूलाधारस्थितो॑‌सि नित्यम् , which means that You continually dwell in the mūlādhāra chakra.
Bija mantra, gam is used in Ganesha Purana.

Ganesa lives in turiya sthiti (4th state), which is Bliss, while earlier 3 states being Jagrat (awake/conscious), swapna (dream), sushupti (deep sleep), which are common for all living beings.

All You Need to Know About Hinduism

Hinduism is a mixture of sects, cults and doctrines which have had a profound effect on Indian culture. In Spite of this diversity, there are few of its aspects which do not rely in some way or the other on the authority of Indian religious literature – the Vedas, the Epics and the Puranas.

Ganesha elephant’s head God

Ganesha elephant’s head God Ganesha has an elephant’s head , four to ten arms, a pot belly, and is usually red or yellow in colour. His vehicle is a rat . In his hands he holds a rope, an axe, a goad, a dish of sweet-balls etc. The fourth hand is in the boon giving position. It is said that with the axe Ganesha cuts off the attachment (to worldly things) of his devotees and with the rope pulls them nearer to the Truth.

A son of Shiva , he is one of the most popular gods and is called ‘ the remover of obstacles ’. He is worshipped at the start of a ritual or the beginning of a journey. Endowed with a gentle and affectionate nature he is also known as a god of wisdom . His images are found in practically every household and also on the outskirts of villages, as a guardian deity .

He is the Lord of the Brahmacharis (celibates). There are several accounts of Ganesha’s birth. According to one, Parvati , wife of Shiva created him from the scruff of her body to guard her door and when Ganesha refused to admit Shiva, the god cut off his head. On seeing Parvati distressed about this, Shiva promised to replace the head with that of the first living being he would chance upon. This happened to be an elephant. According to another account, Ganesha was conjured out of a piece of cloth by Shiva to produce a son for Parvati. Later Shiva brought about the boy’s death by decapitation, and then in order to placate Parvati, he called on the gods to find him a new head. After much searching they gave him an elephant’s head. The tusk broke when it was cut from the elephant’s body, therefore Ganesha is normally shown with a broken tusk.

The symbolism sometimes alluded to him is that his obesity contains the whole universe, his trunk is bent to remove obstacles and his vehicle the rat can creep through small holes to achieve the same goal i.e. remove obstacles to reach religious ends.

Manifestations of Ganesha

According to the Ganesha Purana, Lord Ganesha had four manifestations.
In the manifestation Mahakota Vinayaka he has ten hands, is riding a lion and is dazzling with brilliance. Shri Mayuresh has six hands, is fair complexioned and is riding a peacock. Shri Gajaanana has four hands, is riding a mouse and is crimson coloured. Shri Dhoomraketu has two hands, has a smoke-coloured complexion and is riding a horse.

Another group of eight incarnations are:

(1) Vakratunda, riding a lion.
(2) Ekadanta
(3) Mahodara
(4) Gajaanana
(5) Lambodara, all riding on a mouse
(6) Vikata, on a peacock
(7) Vighnaraja, riding on the serpent Sesha
(8) Dhoomra Varna, like Shiva.

Apart from the above, Ganesha has thirty-two other manifestations. Popular amongst them are

Vighnesh (remover of obstacles),
Ekadanta (the one-toothed one),
Modakpriya (one who loves sweets),
Ganapati (head of the semi-divine Ganas).

The most fearsome incarnation of Ganesha is that of Vinayaka, who is said to bring about catastrophe, madness and misfortune if he is displeased.

Ganesh-chaturthi (August-September) is observed all over India, particularly in Maharashtra state to celebrate the birth of Ganesha . A clay idol of Ganesha, sometimes eight metres high, is brought in the house, worshipped for two to ten days and then taken out in a procession and immersed in the sea or a lake. Coconuts and sweetened flour-balls are offered to him. Devotees are advised not to look at the moon on this day as it had behaved unbecomingly towards Ganesha once. The moral interpretation of this symbolism is that one should avoid contact with people who have no faith in God and religion .

Birth and Elephant Head

Ganesha's birth is the subject of many tales. He is usually considered the son of Shiva and Parvati, with many tales describing him as created by one parent only. In a common account, Parvati created Ganesh to guard the door while she bathed. She had previously asked her husband's servant Nandi, to do so. However, he was loyal first to Shiva himself and, when Shiva asked to enter, Nandi let him pass. Enraged at this, Parvati created Ganesh out of turmeric paste

As she was taking a bath, her husband came to see her. Ganesh, not knowing who he was, stopped Shiva from entering the cave where they lived, claiming his mother was inside. Shiva, angered by his insolence and insubordination, immediately beheaded him. When Parvati finished, she came outside and saw her dead son upon the ground. She asked Shiva to bring him back to life and, having cooled down, he complied. He sent Garuda to find the head of the first animal he saw and bring it to him. This head was that of an elephant. Thus Ganesh was brought back to life with an elephant head.

Watch the video: Fortellingen om Ganesha


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