[Advaita-l] An interesting description of Lord Ganesha

V Subrahmanian v.subrahmanian at gmail.com
Wed Sep 7 02:03:48 CDT 2011


Even as many of us are savoring the latest post of Sri Anand Hudli ji on
Lord Ganapathi, I am sharing with members here what a friend sent me :

An elephant's trunk has the strength to uproot a tree as well as the
finesse to pick up a needle.

Ganesha's trunk symbolises the fact that the wise person has both
immense strength and fine discrimination. Ganesha 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 h...e holds a
hatchet. That is, the old karma, all your sanskars, the accumulated
good and bad of past deeds get cut when enlightenment comes.

The third hand holds laddus, the round sweet-meats. They are the
rewards of a wise life. Ganesha 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.

Ganesha 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 Ganesha symbolises this
non-duality. Wisdom allows us to see all as one and ourselves an
integral part of the whole.

Ganesha 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.

Ganesha is shown seated on a rat. The reason for saying that Ganesha
'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.

Ganesha is often shown seated in front of a tray of sweets. In these
images the rat is shown sitting in front of Ganesha, 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 Ganesha.

Ganesha is the son of Shiva and Parvati, the God governing the
life-force and the earth-mother. This symbolises the spirit and body
of the wise person. Finally, the wise person has the dignity of an

When we say "Aum Ganeshaya 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, Ganesha is our most powerful god, and he is usually
remembered before starting any rituals for other deities.

Hear this hymn on Ganesha by Shankaracharya:


Here is the lyrics of the song:


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