Ganesha

Other names: Vinayak (knowledgeable), Vighneshwara (remover of obstacles), Gajanana (elephant faced) or Ganapati (a leader). He has leadership qualities and, with His grace, it is believed that no undertaking can fail due to subjective or objective obstacles.

Ganesh has an elephant's head which symbolizes sharp intelligence and big thinking. An elephant's life is full of radiance, which comes from dignity and self-esteem. Also, the elephant shares his food by scattering some around, indicating the sense of generosity.

Large ears and a small mouth indicate that one should talk less and listen more, retaining only the positive and constructive things. The large ears also represent continuous and intelligent listening to the teacher while the small eyes indicate sharp vision, concentration and foresight.

Ganesh's trunk is the symbol of high strength, efficiency and adaptability. It can move the biggest obstacles and yet be infinitely gentle in handling delicate objects. Even the tusks on Ganesha are used as symbols for deeper meaning. The partial tusk signifies intelligence and the full tusk represents faith. Both intelligence and faith are needed to progress in life. However, the intelligence often falls short in providing answers to life's burning questions. When it falls short, faith in God and ourselves can lead us in life successfully.

People do not worship idols, icons, picture or statues. They use these to focus their minds upon higher, nobler qualities and cultivate them, or to cultivate mental powers to overcome negative qualities and habits.

Ganesh's four hands have four objects:

  • Ankush (Elephant driver's iron rod or axe) it indicates to us to cut off all bonds of attachment and restrain desires and passions
  • Paash (cod or rope) symbol of restraint and punishment it represents pulling you nearer to the truth
  • Modak a food which is dry and hard from the outside and sweet from the inside as well as nourishing. This signifies that hard work brings joy, satisfaction and nourishment to our souls.
  • Aashirwaad (blessings) illustrates that Ganesha blesses and protects us on our spiritual path to the Supreme.

A man of perfection must have a “big belly” to stomach peacefully, as it were, all the experiences of life. Ganesh is able to digest all good and bad things without losing control. The small legs indicate that one should not move hastily or rush into anything. Each step must be slow, deliberate and well thought out.

The mouse sitting by the beautiful, fragrant ready-made food is looking up at Ganesh, shivering with anticipation, but not daring to touch anything without His command. Although a mouse is a small animal with tiny teeth, it can bring disastrous losses by gnawing and nibbling. Similarly, there is a “mouse” within each personality, which can eat away even a mountain of merit in it and this mouse is the power of desire. Ganesh is one who has so perfectly mastered this urge to acquire, possess and enjoy this self-annihilating power of desire, that the mouse is completely held in obedience to the will of the Master.