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Invoke The Vighna Vinashak Ganesh Within

Before we begin any auspicious task, we lovingly invoke  Ganesh ji and hail him as the destroyer of obstacles, wiper of sorrows, and bestower of happiness. Once we understand the significance behind his birth, form and qualities, it becomes easy to realise that we must not just praise him but must endeavour to imbibe his qualities and powers into our own life. 

The story of  Ganesh ji’s birth holds several lessons for us. 

It is said that Shankar ji had gone to the far off mountains to meditate. One day  Parvati ji wanted someone to guard the gate when she wished to bathe. So she created a child from out of the dust on her body, breathed life into him and instructed him to stand guard. Unexpectedly that day,  Shankar ji returned home from an intense meditation of 10 years, but the child denied him entry as he did not recognise his own father. It is said that Shankar ji was so annoyed that he cut off the child’s head. Parvati ji who came out and saw the scene grieved that  Shankar ji had beheaded his own son.  Shankar ji then assured her, “Whoever will pass by our home next, I shall cut his head and affix it to our son’s torso.” It was an elephant that passed by their home.  Shankar ji cut that elephant’s head, fixed it to the boy’s torso and named him Ganesh.

Although it is an interesting story, we need to pause and question the flow of certain events in it. 

  • How did the deity,  Parvati ji have dirt on her body, so much as to create a child out of it? 
  • How was it possible for the deity,  Shankar ji to become so angry soon after returning from years of meditation? 
  • Also, when he is said to be a merciful deity, why did he kill an innocent child for a trivial reason? 
  • Why did  Ganesh ji get an elephant’s head and not his own head back?

Introspecting on the essence behind the story, shows that answers to the above questions are relevant to our own life. What is the story teaching us? Let us understand.

  • It is never said that  Shankar ji ‘killed’ the child. It is only said that he ‘cut off the boy’s head’. Both are completely different. Ordinarily, once somebody’s head is cut, the person gets killed immediately. But here it is only said that the boy’s head was cut and then replaced with another head. 
  • Why is it said that  Parvati created the boy from all the dirt present on her body? Is it even possible for a deity to have so much dirt on the body? Is there so much dirt on our own bodies today that we can make a child out of it? Creating a child out of the dirt on the body signifies that this body is made of mud, symbolising body consciousness. 
  • The child did not recognise his own father. This signifies that when our Supreme Father, God descends on Earth, because of our ego or body consciousness, we children fail to recognise Him. So God cuts off our body-conscious heads. In other words, He cuts off our ego represented by our head. This is why it is said that  Shankar ji cut off the boy’s head. 
  • Shankar ji could have fixed back the same head. What was the need to trouble another life? When God cuts off the head of our ego, then in its place, he replaces a soul-conscious head or a head filled with divinity, wisdom and purity. That is why it is said that  Shankar ji replaced the head of ego with a head of wisdom and gave him the name ‘Ganesh’. Wisdom gives us the strength to destroy all our obstacles.

If we observe every part of  Ganesh’s body, every aspect teaches us the right way to live; it also teaches how to inculcate spiritual wisdom in our daily life:

  1. The large forehead signifies wisdom and a broad intellect. When we study the spiritual knowledge imparted by the Supreme Father and inculcate it in our every thought, word and action, we invoke our wisdom.
  2. His face is large but eyes are tiny. Anyone with a wise intellect exhibits farsightedness. When we try to see an object that is at a distance, our eyes automatically become smaller. It teaches us to foresee the future consequence of every karma – everything that we think, speak and do. 
  3. A small mouth is a reminder for us to speak less and each word should be a blessing for ourselves and others.
  4. Broad ears remind us to listen more. The ears are shaped like sieves (filters); which implies that we must consume only that which is good in every person and situation. Imbibing pure information keeps the mind clean. We need to make our ears like sieve – and listen only to pure content, positives, goodness about other people. 
  5. Ganesh is shown to have two tusks, but one of them is broken and hence he is referred as ‘Ek-dant’ as one tusk is broken. What does this symbolise? One tusk implies no dualities. It teaches us to remain stable in appreciation and criticism; in good and bad times; in success and failure. But today our life is full of dualities on the basis of age, religion, gender, caste, profession, seniority. Wherever there is body consciousness and ego, there will be duality. God gives us the knowledge that each of us is an equal soul. This finishes duality. When this wisdom enters our life, duality gets finished. 
  6. The trunk is powerful enough to uproot trees and soft enough to lovingly pick a child. This means we need to be soft and strong emotionally. We need to balance love and law while discharging our responsibilities. When we inculcate spirituality and become soul conscious, we will be very soft, very loving and at the same time, very powerful. At times we believe spirituality makes us weak and that by being simple and straightforward, we get deceived. That is not true. Spirituality brings a perfect balance of softness and power, of love and law. This balance is depicted by the trunk.
  7. The large stomach represents the power to accommodate and retain matters within the self. Ganesh ji is the only deity who is shown with a big stomach. It teaches us that we should not talk about people’s weaknesses or about their problems. Today if somebody spreads gossip, we say, “His stomach just cannot retain information.” The large stomach also signifies the power to accept people having different Sanskars. 
  8. Ganesh ji is shown to have four shoulders/arms, each of them holding beautiful objects of significance. 
    • An axe is held in one hand. The knowledge we get from God, it is an axe of wisdom. Using that axe we need to cut out our vices, negativity and past wrong Karmic accounts. Even if consequences of a past Karmic account comes up, our present thoughts and behaviours (wisdom) will settle the account and finish it. 
    • A rope is shown in his second hand. Rope is symbolic of remaining tied to discipline of a pure lifestyle. Inculcation of knowledge is possible only with discipline and self-control. Such discipline enables right thoughts, right words, right actions, right diet, and fair means of earning money. 
    • The third hand is shown giving blessings. If we look at our life today, throughout the day we want something from people. If not anything else, we want love, respect, trust, acknowledgement, appreciation. But Ganesh ji’s hand is depicted as giving, teaching us also to keep giving. We need to keep giving blessings to everyone, no matter who they are and what they do. He/she will exhibit their sanskars, do their karmas, but from our side they should get only pure thoughts, pure words and blessings.
    • The fourth hand is shown holding a Modak (a sweet dish), representing success as a result of hard work. But he is never shown eating it. He only keeps it in his hand. This teaches us to achieve success but not to take credit for it. It also signifies that it takes constant attention and a certain amount of effort to inculcate spirituality in life. Modak also symbolises unity and co-operation since all 5 fingers are needed to make a modak. This means when we get success, we should not consume appreciation or become egoistic. The biggest of egos is the ego of wisdom. 
  1. Ganesh ji is always shown seated with one leg folded and the other facing down, with only the toe touching the ground. This teaches us that we need to be with everyone and do everything, sustain beautiful relationships, but at the same time remain emotionally detached. Nothing should influence our state of mind; looking at the sanskars of all around us we should not give up our spiritual principles. Ganesh ji is shown sitting with one leg touching the ground and other folded. It is also a reminder for us to remain grounded and humble. 
  2. Even after inculcating all these principles and radiating so much divinity in life, a mouse is shown to be  Ganesh ji’s consort (vehicle). A mouse typically nibbles constantly. This is symbolic of our sense organs. Throughout the day we are speaking, eating, watching or listening to what is not right for us. This means, just like a mouse, we have lost control over our sense organs. A mouse is symbolic of us being a slave to our sense organs. 

Secondly, a mouse can enter our homes even through an extremely tiny hole. Likewise our vices, weaknesses and distractions come into our life without our awareness. When a mouse is about to bite someone, it first creates an anaesthetic effect on our body so we don’t realise the mouse bite immediately. Likewise, when our vices and distractions attack us, we don’t even realise their harm immediately. But the pain starts much later. When we broaden our wisdom, develop farsightedness, we use ears to listen only pure information, we speak less, speak soft, speak powerful words, we keep things to ourselves, we walk the path of discipline of wisdom, we finish our vices using the axe of wisdom, we bless everybody, we remain humble and not become egoistic; when we do all this, we will gain victory over our sense organs and vices. The one who wins over his mind automatically wins over his world. This is why  Ganesh ji is shown sitting on top of the mouse. The mouse is subservient to him (below him).

  1. Riddhi and Siddhi are depicted sitting on either side of  Ganesh ji. They are said to be his wives. This signifies that when we imbibe his qualities, prosperity and success will always be on our side. We will not need not struggle or chase after prosperity and success. 

There is another beautiful story in which Ganesh ji and his brother were once asked to go around the universe. His brother Karthikey ji started to walk around the whole world. But  Ganesh ji just went around his parents once. This reminds us that today we are working hard for happiness, health, relationships, and career. But if we connect to our Supreme Parent God, then our every karma will be accurate. Happiness, health, harmony in relationships, success and a beautiful world will come naturally. 

Thus  Ganesh ji teaches us to lead a life like him. Any one who does all these things is said to be Vighna- Vinashaka (Destroyer of obstacles); obstacles cannot enter his life, they get destroyed even before entering. Such people will be so powerful that they don’t just destroy the obstacles in their life, but also destroy the sorrow in others’ life and bestow them with happiness. When we start experiencing and expressing the divine qualities as symbolised by  Ganesh ji in our every thought, word and action, our obstacles get destroyed. We enjoy a life filled with divinity and prosperity.

Summary :

Who is Lord Ganesh, and why is his birth story significant?

Lord Ganesh is a revered deity in Hinduism, known for his distinctive appearance with an elephant head and human body. He is celebrated as the remover of obstacles, the patron of wisdom and intellect, and the bestower of happiness and success. His birth story, often referred to as the legend of Ganesha’s birth, carries immense spiritual significance and serves as a source of inspiration for devotees.

The story of Lord Ganesh’s birth imparts several profound lessons. Firstly, it highlights the symbolic significance of the elements involved. The notion of creating a child from dirt on the body signifies that our physical existence is transient, and our true essence is spiritual. The child’s failure to recognize his father, Lord Shiva, symbolizes how our ego and material consciousness often blind us to the presence of the divine. Lord Shiva’s act of beheading and then replacing the child’s head signifies the necessity of transcending ego and embracing wisdom and divinity to overcome obstacles.

Lord Ganesh’s distinctive appearance is rich in symbolism. His large forehead represents wisdom and a broad intellect. His tiny eyes signify farsightedness, encouraging us to foresee the consequences of our actions. His small mouth reminds us to use words sparingly and constructively, blessing ourselves and others. His broad ears, shaped like filters, teach us to listen more and absorb only pure and positive information. The presence of two tusks, one broken, symbolizes the elimination of dualities and the pursuit of stability in all aspects of life.

Lord Ganesh’s posture teaches us valuable life lessons. His seated position with one leg touching the ground and the other folded signifies the need to balance engagement with the world while remaining emotionally detached. This stance encourages humility and stability, reminding us not to let external factors sway our inner state of mind.

Lord Ganesh’s association with a mouse carries a symbolic message. The mouse represents our sense organs and distractions, symbolizing our vulnerability to external influences. Lord Ganesh’s mastery over the mouse signifies the importance of self-control and victory over our sense organs and vices. By riding atop the mouse, he establishes dominion over these distractions.

The presence of Riddhi and Siddhi, depicted as Lord Ganesh’s consorts, signifies that by embodying Lord Ganesh’s divine qualities, individuals naturally attract prosperity and success. It emphasizes that one need not chase after external achievements but should focus on inner transformation and virtuous living.

To apply Lord Ganesh’s teachings, one can start by internalizing the virtues and qualities symbolized by his form. This includes embracing wisdom, speaking thoughtfully, listening attentively, practicing humility, and maintaining emotional balance. By imbibing these qualities in daily life, individuals can overcome obstacles, experience spiritual growth, and enjoy prosperity and happiness. Lord Ganesh’s teachings serve as a guide for leading a harmonious and fulfilling life.

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