A Thought Provoking story of Shri Ganesh
Before the commencement of any auspicious work it has been a practice to lovingly invoke Shri Ganesh. He is the destroyer of obstacles, wiper of sorrows and bestower of happiness. Siddhivinayak Shri Ganesh is lovingly praised remembered and worshipped. We begin every task only after invoking him. But is it sufficient just to invoke, remember and praise him? Why not take inspiration from him and imbibe his virtues and powers into our own life? Not just praise Shri Ganesh but endeavor to become like him?
It is said that Shankar Ji had gone far off to mountains in order to meditate. While he was away, Shri Parvati took the dust from her body and created a boy out of it. One day, while she had to go for a bath, she made the boy stand at the entrance to guard the place. The boy was instructed not to let anyone inside the house. Unexpectedly, that very day Shankar Ji returned. The boy promptly did his duty as was instructed and did not allow Shankar Ji to enter the house because he did not recognize his own father.
It is believed that Shankar ji was so furious that he lopped off the boy’s head. Parvati ji who came out meanwhile, grieved that Shankar Ji had beheaded his own son. Shankar ji then assured her that whichever creature would pass by that way next, its head would be fixed onto the boy’s torso. Although we have heard this story several times, we haven’t given its teachings enough thought. What exactly has the story been trying to convey to us?
The next creature that passed by was an elephant. So Shankar ji cut the elephant’s head, fixed it to the boy’s torso and named him Ganesh.
Lessons from The story of Ganesh’s birth
The story reminds us how we children have all lost track of who are real Father is. Like the boy Ganesh, we too have lost connect with our one and only Father because of body consciousness.
Why did Shankar Ji cut off an innocent child’s head and replace it with the head of an elephant?
Shankar ji, a deity who had returned after 10 years of meditation shown to be so furious and out of control that he cut a child’s head?
Today, if we meditate for a mere 10 minutes, we experience such calm and peace that we find it difficult to even raise our voice. Being a deity, how come Shankar gets so uncontrollably angry that he lops off the head of a child over a trivial matter? The child was simply discharging his duty. And the child’s head was cut off?
It is never said that Shri Shankar ji killed the child. It is only said that he cut off the boy’s head.
Both actions are completely different. Ordinarily, once someone’s head is cut off, the person dies immediately. However, in this case, it is only said that the boy’s head was cut off and was replaced by another head.
When God descends on Earth, because of being overshadowed by ego or body consciousness, we fail to recognize Him.
Is it even possible for a deity to create a child from dust of the body? Is there so much dirt on our own bodies that we can make a child out of it? Creating a child out of the dirt on the body signifies that bodies are made of mud. Bodies are mere mud; this is body consciousness.
Because of this body consciousness, we fail to recognize God. The first thing which God does, is to cut off our body-consciousness based head. He cuts off our ego which is represented by the human head. Therefore, Shankar Ji cut off the boy’s head.
When God cuts off the head of our ego, then in its place, he replaces a soul conscious head, an intellect filled with wisdom, a head filled with purity and divinity. He fixes a very wise head on our torso. This is why Shri Shankar ji replaced the head of ego with a head of wisdom; and then named the child ‘Ganesh’.
Every part of Shri Ganesh’s body, teaches us the right way to live. It also teaches how to inculcate spiritual wisdom in our daily life.
The forehead of Shri Ganesh is very broad, signifying wisdom and a broad intellect. Lord Ganesh’s face is so huge but eyes are so tiny.
This teaches us to have a wise intellect will exhibit farsightedness. When we try to see an object which is quite far away from us our eyes automatically become smaller. What we learn from his eyes is to look at the distant future (the consequences) and then do our Karma- everything that we think, speak and do is our Karma. Before doing any Karma, it is important to think of the consequences of our actions and then perform a particular Karma.
Speak less with a small mouth. Ears are large, which means listen more.
So talk less and listen more. Ganesh’s ears are not only large, but are shaped like a sieve. What does a sieve do? Its task is to sort and filter out; retains the good and disposes off the rest. Sieve-shaped ears symbolize taking in only the right / healthy information and refraining from any other form of information from entering the ears. It is said “Listen through one ear and let it out through the other.”
But, practically speaking, this does not happen. The moment we let information in; it has already gone inside. Even if we wish to listen through one ear and let it out through the other, the intellect is present in-between the ears. An imprint of whatever is taken in, already gets created on the intellect. So even listening should not be allowed.
Today, we are listening to and absorbing a lot of information from media, social media and people around us. We just keep on listening… Message after message after message….
We are consuming meaningless information and soaking it all up. If we allow ourselves to consume so much unhealthy content, what state do we expect our mind to be in? Our ears therefore, ought to be like sieves – listening only to pure, positive content and only the goodness about other people.
Shri Ganesh is shown to have two tusks, but one of them is broken? What does this ‘Ek-dant’ – one tusk broken symbolize?
Isn’t life full of dualities? Male – female
Religion – Hindu, Muslim, Christian. Duality exists on the basis of age, religion, gender, caste, profession, seniority. Where there is body consciousness, where there is ego, there will be duality. When God gives us knowledge, the first point he teaches is I am a soul; you are a soul. This finishes all duality.
One world, One family. It’s all ONE. Duality can be finished only with Soul consciousness. When this wisdom enters life, duality is finished. That is why ‘Ek-dant’ – one tusk. And not two tusks.
An elephant’s trunk can uproot a massive tree and very lovingly lift a small child as well. Which means a soul which imbibes spiritual knowledge becomes wise can be soft, very loving while simultaneously being very powerful. Sometimes we live in illusions that spirituality makes us very weak.
That when we are positive, people will trample over us, by being simple and straight forward, we get cheated. However, this is not true. Spirituality means the perfect balance of soft but powerful; of love and law. This balance is depicted by the trunk.
Although Ganesh ji is a deity, his stomach is shown to be enormous. All other deities are shown to have perfect bodies (‘Kanchan Kaaya’). But Ganesh’s stomach is shown to be so large.
A wise soul assimilates and retains matters within the self (in the stomach). Ganesh ji’ stomach is shown big, to imply that he keeps all matters within himself.
Listening through one ear and immediately passing it on is not the quality of a knowledgeable soul. A big stomach also signifies the power to accept. We meet so many people, work with them. They all have different Sanskars. We need to keep on accepting everyone. This is what is signified by the big stomach.
Ganesh ji is shown to have four shoulders/arms. Each of them has beautiful objects of significance.
- The axe in one hand
The knowledge we get from God is the axe of wisdom. Using that axe we need to cut and finish our vices, negativity and most importantly, slash past wrong Karmic accounts. Even if consequences of a past Karmic account comes to the forefront, by using knowledge, our present thoughts and behaviors will settle past karmic accounts and finish them.
- A rope in the second hand
Having taken in knowledge and meditated the inculcation happens only when there is discipline in life. Without discipline and self-control, it is not possible to inculcate wisdom in daily life.
We need to tie our life with the rope of discipline. Eat anything, drink anything, sleep any time, wake up any time, speak what comes to mind, and use fair or foul means of earning money. Such an undisciplined soul cannot become wise.
We need to tie our life to the rope of discipline. Right thoughts, right words, right actions, right diet, fair means of earning money; these are disciplines we need to be tied to, with a rope.
- The third hand – giving blessings
The third hand is shown giving blessings. If we look at our life today, throughout the day we want something or the other from people. If not anything else, we want love, respect, trust, acknowledgement, appreciation. So we stand like this. But Shri Ganesh’s hand is not shown like that. He doesn’t want anything, but he is ready to give to everyone. Most importantly, it means we need to keep giving blessings to everyone.
Which means, whoever we meet, however his Sanskars are, however, his behavior is, each person will exhibit his Sanskar, he will do his Karma. But from our side he should receive only pure thoughts, pure words and blessings.
- The 4th hand – holding Modak (a sweet dish)
This implies that applying spirituality in life is simple, but we cannot afford to become careless about it. Constant attention is required. It takes a lot of effort to prepare Modak.
Similarly, this signifies that it takes constant attention and a certain amount of effort, to inculcate complete spirituality in life. But once we put in that effort, then the modak is extremely sweet. Which means the result of hard work is eventually going to be sweet.
Once spirituality is inculcated in life, inevitably appreciation, success and praise are bound to follow. At such moments we need to ensure not to become egoistic, about our wisdom. Let us never become egoistic about our virtues. It is God, getting work done through us, let us not be egoistic about it.
The Modak is ready, it is very sweet, but Ganesh ji does not eat it. He only keeps it in his hand. This means when we get success we should not accept appreciation as ours. We should just hold it, not be consumed by it. No picture or idol of Ganesh ji shows him eating the modak, he is only shown carefully holding it in his hand. This is a reminder, that as we progress along the path of self-transformation, invariably, people will have a lot of nice things to say about us. Be mindful not to become egoistic. The biggest of egos is the ego of wisdom. It is so subtle that one may not even realize it is ego. So the Modak is to be held and not consumed.
Ever wondered why Shri Ganesh ji is always shown seated with one leg folded and the other facing down? Of the leg that faces down, only the toe is shown touching the ground.
In every Idol, one leg is folded and the toe of the other leg is touching the ground. Which means we need to live in this world, so one leg is indicative of touching the ground. Spirituality does not mean move away from the world, neither does it imply moving away from people, nor stop working. No. While doing everything, being with and amongst everyone we continue sustaining beautiful relationships. Even while taking care of our job or business, we stay detached.
Detached but loving. Do everything but do not let anything influence us. It is important to live with everyone. But even while looking at their sanskars, we should not give up our spiritual principles. So while in the midst of everyone, yet uninfluenced by them.
Even after inculcating all these principles and radiating so much divinity in life, what is Ganesh ji’s vehicle
Being a deity so his vehicle is supposed to be very beautiful, isn’t it? But he is shown seated on a mouse. What does the mouse signify? A mouse is typically continually nibbling at something or the other throughout the day. Even if something is not edible, even if it is a wire or plastic, a mouse keeps nibbling constantly. This is symbolic of our sense organs. Throughout the day, meaninglessly we watch and listen to all sort of information, eating and drinking, even when we don’t need to. This means, just like a mouse we have lost control over our sense organs.
So a mouse is symbolic of being a slave to sense organs. Secondly, a mouse enters houses even through extremely tiny holes.
People often wonder how despite doors and windows being shut, it managed to get into the house. A mouse does not need much space; it squeezes in and enters through even a tiny hole. Likewise, when it comes to our vices, weaknesses and distractions, we barely realize when and from where they step in.
Also, just before a mouse is about to bite someone, it creates an anesthetic effect on the body. The mouse bite isn’t felt immediately. It creates numbness around the affected area, so it is only after a while we realize that it has bitten us. This means when vices and distractions attack us, initially we don’t even realize. Sometimes the initial feeling may be misleadingly good, but the pain starts much later.
When we broaden our wisdom, develop farsightedness, use ears to take in only pure information, speak less, speak soft, speak powerful words, keep things to ourselves, walk the path of discipline of wisdom, finish vices using the axe of wisdom, bless everybody, remain rooted in humility and not become egoistic.
When all these are practiced, victory over vices and over the sense organs is gained. This is why Ganesh ji is shown seated on top of the mouse. The mouse is subservient to him (below him).
They are said to be his wives who are always with him. This signifies that a spiritual soul who inculcates all the above mentioned virtues will always have prosperity and success in life alongside. Such a soul need not run after prosperity or success, need not work too hard or struggle. Prosperity and success will always invariably accompany such a soul.
Shri Ganesh ji and his brother were once asked to go around the universe. The brother started to walk around the whole world. What did Ganesh ji do? He just went around his parents once.
This tells us that today all of us are making a lot of effort in life, working toward happiness, health, relationships, career. In our respective worlds we are working very hard, not finding enough time even for ourselves. This is because we are not able to control or get a hold on our own world. But whoever connects with God; which means whoever goes around his Supreme parents by connecting with God, His every thought will be pure, every word will be accurate. For such a soul, happiness, health, harmony in relationships and a beautiful world become natural.
If we focus on going around the world, it is a never-ending task. But if we are connected with God, then our world becomes perfect; because the one, who wins over his mind, automatically wins over his world. So Ganesh ji therefore, teaches us the way of life.
Any person who imbibes all these practices, is said to be Vighan-Vinashak (Destroyer of obstacles). Obstacles cannot enter the life of such a soul, they get destroyed even before entering. Such souls destroy obstacles not only in their own life, but also destroy sorrow in others’ life and bestow them with happiness. So do we only restrict ourselves to worshipping Shri Ganesh ji? And only sing his praises? No. Each of us needs to become like Shri Ganesh ji. We need to become Vighan-Vinashak souls. We need to wipe away everybody’s sorrow and restore happiness in this world.
So let’s not just limit ourselves to praising and worshipping Shri Ganesh ji, we need to inculcate his virtues in our life too. The most important factor to achieve this is ‘connection with God’. Establish a daily connection with God, keep soaking in spiritual wisdom, keep lopping off the head of ego, and fix back the head that is spiritual and soul-conscious. Then we lead a life like Shri Ganesh – where we finish not only obstacles in our way, but also destroy obstacles coming in the way of other people around us. We the souls will be so powerful.
Each of us needs to become like Shri Ganesh ji.