As there are no matter-of-fact inspired utterances attributed to the Hindu pantheon of gods and goddesses, except Lord Krishan thru his Gita sermons, the symbolic representation of each of them thru their statued or graphic images convey a lot of interpretations covering their collective or individual roles which appeal to varied and reverent prayers and adorations of devotees.
In this iconography, Lord Ganesh occupies a popular place among the primary deities in the Hindu religion as his clearly recognizable elephant tusk-hooded form portrays an array of virtues.
According to some Hindu scriptures, “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. On the other hand, the rosary suggests that the pursuit of knowledge should be continuous. The laddoo (sweet) he holds in his trunk indicates that one must discover the sweetness of the Atman. His fan-like ears convey that he is all ears to our petition. The snake that runs around his waist represents energy in all forms. And he is humble enough to ride the lowest of creatures, a mouse.”Ganesha’s head symbolizes the Atman or the soul, which is the ultimate supreme reality of human existence, and his human body signifies Maya or the earthly existence of human beings.
The elephant 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 left hand is a gentle implement to capture all difficulties”.
Ganesh is popularly worshipped as the god of Beginnings. “Sri-Ganesh” is the common expression for any new event, purchase or startup enterprise and at the beginning of rituals and ceremonies.
The humble Ganesh’s picture or moorti beside being inside a Hindu temple, is often seen at the entrance of homes as a “doorkeeper” to keep out adversary, analogous to the legend that his mother, Parvati, conceived him in clay and placed him at her door for protection. And the anecdote continues that Lord Shiva beheaded him out of anger and later restored Ganesh’s head with that of an elephant baby.
These days the “doorkeeper” is mostly placed as decorative adoration at the entrance. He is the Lord of Obstacles, Vighaneshvara or Viganharta, to remove obstacles. One belief is that he even puts “obstacles in the path of those who need to be checked,” and “his task in the divine scheme of things, his dharma, is to place and remove obstacles.
It is his particular territory, the reason for his creation”.Besides being bestowed upon with mythical powers or symbolic interpretations over his unique figure, Ganesh is a popular deity in the contemporary spiritual world as the lord of knowledge, intellect and wisdom. Here Ganesh captures the most imaginative and creative art for his portrayal. Versatile Ganesh is drawn in many actions from sitting, dancing, playing and in contemporary visionary situations like working on a computer with the mouse in his hand. In contrast, his lifelong mouse companion jealously looks on.
In modern Indian art, Ganesh is one of the most favoured and trendy subject matters taken up by artists to create their artwork, be it in metal or stone statues, traditional drawings or ingenious materials like pipal leaves or even fruits and vegetables. Handling this multi-facet divinity by artists in their own imaginative ways and thru their own selected tools creates an innovative and popular Ganesh art. And over the years, innumerable artwork has been produced just on the figure of Ganesh so that an extensive exhibition can be organized to recognize artists’ talent and works. Sure, Ganesh’s visionary and artistic study makes him the most interesting, lively and art-inspiring deity emerging in the art world as a playful secular god beyond the Hindu religion.
-By Promod Puri
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Thank you for this explanation of Lord Ganesha ‘s features. Thank you also for liking my post, “The end was just the beginning”. I bought your book and it will be my next read. Thank you for your great work!
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