Ganesha, the beloved Elephant God, also known as Ganpati or Pratham Pujniye, is known as the remover of obstacles. It is not uncommon for new ventures or new chapters in life – be it a wedding or a birth – to begin with a prayer to the energy of Ganesha, in the hope that his grace will ensure a smooth, obstacle free road ahead. Photographs of this much adored deity often hang on the entrances of homes and offices, as his energy is believed to ward off negativity.
Much like other deities, Ganesha’s face, body, objects and accessories signify something deeper and more spiritual.
The elephantine head symbolises intelligence, thinking and wisdom. Ganesha is also the patron saint of letter writing.
The large ears encourage the practice of listening and absorbing, and in turn extending a kind ear to those who need it thereby encouraging empathy while his small mouth signifies the habit of speaking less, measuring your word while listening more.
The broken tusk represents the throwing away of what is not needed; essentially retaining only that which is needed for spiritual progress.
His small eyes denote a single minded focus to achieving spiritual goals.
His round stomach symbolises the ability the digest all that life throws your way – the good, the bad and the ugly, as well as contentment.
Ganesha holds in his hands many accessories and objects that are indicative of how his energy can help one’s progress. The rope that he holds in one hand is to pull one away from a world of distraction and desire, towards self-realisation and spiritual oneness; while the axe he holds in the other, symbolises the need to sever emotional ties and practice unequivocal detachment by letting go of the ego that binds one to a sense of “I”ness. In his third hand, he holds a bowl of sweets which represent the fruits of spiritual progress.
His fourth hand forms a mudra, a yogic hand gesture. The Ganesha mudra helps the practitioner develop self-confidence and courage to face whatever obstacle that he is destined to with calm, and a sense of resolute faith & acceptance. The position of the hands clasped in front of the chest with the elbows wide, also signifies that the biggest impediment to our spiritual evolution is our inherent attitude and conditioning. It is therefore necessary to invoke the energy of Ganesha to propel ourselves towards a greater understanding and realisation of our true spiritual nature.