Lord Ganesha

Discussion in 'Lord Ganesha' started by Speechless world, Dec 27, 2015.

  1. Speechless world

    Speechless world New Member

    Ganesha Symbolism (Scientific view)
    GANESHA SYMBOLISM ---- What the Ganesha Pictures Mean.

    WE ALL KNOW GANESHA IS FAT AND HAS AN ELEPHANT'S HEAD -- but what does this all mean on a symbolic level?
    It turns out that the way in which Ganesha (and the many other Hindu god) is depicted in carvings and illustrations has a symbolic tale to tell.
    Look at the image below to see what Ganesha's body and gestures mean, in a nutshell:

    Ganesha - The Lord of Beginnings
    Lord Ganesha, popularly known and easily recognized as the Elephant-God, is one of the most important deities of the Hindu patheon. Before every undertaking, be it laying of the foundation of a house, or opening of a store or beginning any other work, Lord Ganesha is first worshipped so at to invoke his blessings.

    Ganesha has many names. The main ones are Ganapati (lord of the ganas, or attendants), Vighneshwara (controller of all obstacles), Vinayaka (the prominent leader), Gajaanana (elephant-faced), Lambodara (pendant-bellied), and Ekdanta (having one tusk).

    Lord Ganesha, also called Ganapati or Vinayaka, is presented in the form of a human body with the head of an elephant. This blend of human and animal parts is a symbolic representation of a perfect human being, as conceived by Hindu sages. His head symbolizes wisdom, understanding, and a discriminating intellect that one must possess to attain perfection in life. By worshipping Ganesha, a Hindu seeks God's blessings for achieving success in one's endeavors in the physical world and for attaining perfection thereafter.

    Hence, Hindus worship Ganesha to seek God's blessings before beginning such activities.

    Lord Ganesha is the son of Lord Shiva and Goddess Parvati (a form of Goddess Durga). The other son of Lord Shiva is Karttikeya also known as Muruga, Skanda, Subramanya, Shanmukha.
    Ganesha has got two wives, one named Siddhi (Success) and the other named Riddhi (Prosperity).
    One who pleases the Lord, automatically comes in the good books of his two wives. Ganesha, the embodiment of wisdom, is also depicted as the scribe to whom sage Vyasa dictated the Mahabharata.
    He is accepted as the god of learning and the patron of letters.

    The ancient sages, in their infinite wisdom, have designed Hindu deities with specific Vedantic attributes in mind.

    That the Supreme can be worshipped in any form is a concept unique to Hinduism."

    “What greater freedom than to experience God with such a great variety of creative expression?” -

    Vighneshwara (Remover or controller of all obstacles), Who is Ganapati/Ganesa? Ganapati is the Self.

    In a sentence, Ganesa simply means
    "Self-realization is but the removal of obstacles to the recognition of the eternal, immanent, inner self, here and now."
    Significance of the Ganesha Form
    Ganesha's head symbolizes the Atman or the soul, which is the ultimate supreme reality of human existence, and his human body signifies Maya or the earthly existence of human beings.
    The elephant head denotes wisdom and its trunk represents Om, the sound symbol of cosmic reality.
    In his upper right hand Ganesha holds a goad, which helps him propel mankind forward on the eternal path and remove obstacles from the way.
    The noose in Ganesha's left hand is a gentle implement to capture all difficulties.

    The broken tusk that Ganesha holds like a pen in his lower right hand is a symbol of sacrifice, which he broke for writing the Mahabharata.
    The rosary in his other hand suggests that the pursuit of knowledge should be continuous.
    The laddoo (sweet) he holds in his trunk indicates that one must discover the sweetness of the Atman.
    His fan-like ears convey that he is all ears to our petition.
    The snake that runs round his waist represents energy in all forms.
    And he is humble enough to ride the lowest of creatures, a mouse.

    Ganesha is usually depicted either as a pictograph or as an idol with the body of a man and the head of an elephant, having only one tusk, the other tusk appearing broken.
    His unique feature, besides the elephant head, is the large belly practically falling over his lower garment. On his chest, across his left shoulder, is his sacred thread, often in the form of a snake.
    The vehicle of Ganesha is the mouse, often seen paying obeisance to his lord.

    According to the strict rules of Hindu iconography, Ganesha figures with only two hands are taboo. Hence, Ganesha figures are most commonly seen with four hands which signify their divinity. Some figures may be seen with six, some with eight, some with ten, some with twelve and some with fourteen hands, each hand carrying a symbol which differs from the symbols in other hands. There are about 57 symbols in all, according to the findings of research scholars.

    The physical attributes of Ganesha are themselves rich in symbolism. He is normally shown with one hand in the abhaya pose of protection and refuge and the second holding a sweet (modaka), symbolic of the sweetness of the realized inner self. In the two hands behind him he often holds an ankusha (elephant goad) and a pasha (noose). The noose is to convey that worldly attachments and desires are a noose. The goad is to prod man to the path of righteousness and truth. With this goad Ganesha can both strike and repel obstacles. His pot belly signifies the bounty of nature and also that Ganesha swallows the sorrows of the Universe and protects the world.
  2. Speechless world

    Speechless world New Member

    The image of Ganesha is a composite one. Four animals - man, elephant, the serpent and the mouse - have contributed for the makeup of his figure. All of them individually and collectively have deep symbolic significance. The image of Ganesha thus represents man's eternal striving towards integration with nature. He has to be interpreted taking into consideration the fact that though millenniums rolled by, man yet remains closer to animal today than he was ever before.

    The most striking feature of Ganesha is his elephant head, symbolic of auspiciousness, strength and intellectual prowess. All the qualities of the elephant are contained in the form of Ganpati. The elephant is the largest and strongest of animals of the forest. Yet he is gentle and, amazingly, a vegetarian, so that he does not kill to eat. He is very affectionate and loyal to his keeper and is greatly swayed if love and kindness are extended to him. Ganesha, though a powerful deity, is similarly loving and forgiving and moved by the affection of his devotees. But at the same time the elephant can destroy a whole forest and is a one-man army when provoked. Ganesha is similarly most powerful and can be ruthless when containing evil.

    Ganesha's large head is symbolic of the wisdom of the elephant. His large ears, like the winnow, sift the bad from the good. Although they hear everything, they retain only that which is good; they are attentive to all requests made by the devotees, be they humble or powerful.

    Ganesha's trunk is a symbol of his discrimination (viveka), a most important quality necessary for spiritual progress. The elephant uses its trunk to push down a massive tree, carry huge logs to the river and for other heavy tasks. The same huge trunk is used to pick up a few blades of grass, to break a small coconut, remove the hard nut and eat the soft kernel inside. The biggest and minutest of tasks are within the range of this trunk which is symbolic of Ganesha's intellect and hiss powers of discrimination.
    An intriguing aspect of Ganesha's iconography is his broken tusk, leading to the appellation Ekdanta (Ek meaning one and danta meaning teeth). It carries an interesting legend behind it:

    When Parashurama one of Shiva's favorite disciples, came to visit him, he found Ganesha guarding Shiva's inner apartments. His father being asleep, Ganesha opposed Parshurama's entry. Parashurama nevertheless tried to urge his way, and the parties came to blows. Ganesha had at first the advantage, seizing Parashurama in his trunk, and giving him a twirl that left him sick and senseless; on recovering, Rama threw his axe at Ganesha, who recognizing it as his father's weapon (Shiva having given it to Parashurama) received it with all humility upon one of his tusks, which it immediately severed, and hence Ganesha has but one tusk.

    A different legend narrates that Ganesha was asked to scribe down the epic of Mahabharata, dictated to him by its author, sage Vyasa. Taking into note the enormity and significance of the task, Ganesha realized the inadequacy of any ordinary 'pen' to undertake the task. He thus broke one of his own tusks and made a pen out of it. The lesson offered here is that no sacrifice is big enough in the pursuit of knowledge.

    An ancient Sanskrit drama titled "Shishupalvadha," presents a different version. Here it is mentioned that Ganesha was deprived of his tusk by the arrogant Ravana (the villain of Ramayana), who removed it forcefully in order to make ivory earrings for the beauties of Lanka!

    The little mouse whom Ganesha is supposed to ride upon is another enigmatic feature in his iconography. At a first glance it seems strange that the lord of wisdom has been granted a humble obsequious mouse quite incapable of lifting the bulging belly and massive head that he possesses. But it implies that wisdom is an attribute of ugly conglomeration of factors and further that the wise do not find anything in the world disproportionate or ugly.

    The mouse is, in every respect, comparable to the intellect. It is able to slip unobserved or without our knowledge into places which we would have not thought it possible to penetrate. In doing this it is hardly concerned whether it is seeking virtue or vice. The mouse thus represents our wandering, wayward mind, lured to undesirable or corrupting grounds. By showing the mouse paying subservience to Lord Ganesha it is implied that the intellect has been tamed through Ganesha's power of discrimination.
    No analysis of Lord Ganesha can be concluded without a mention of the mystical syllable AUM. The sacred AUM is the most powerful universal symbol of the divine presence in Hindu thought. It is further said to be the sound which was generated when the world first came into being. The written manifestation of this divine symbol when inverted gives the perfect profile of the god with the elephant head.

    Ganesha is thus the only god to be associated in a "physical" sense with the primordial sacred sound AUM, a telling reminder of his supreme position in the Hindu pantheon

    Ganesha found Globally
    Ganesha has been a major deity, since the seventh and eighth centuries, in Thailand, Cambodia and Vietnam.
    Ganesha Buddha - as he is also known as Shoden in Japan.
    It is from Vinayaka that the old Myanmar name for Ganesha, Mahapinary purha, was derived.
    Other names with a similar meaning occur frequently in Cambodian inscriptions, such as Vighnesha and Vignesvara, both of which mean "Lord of removing obstacles".
    A popular temple at Futako Tamagawa, Tokyo, Japan, displays Ganesha far more prominently than Buddha.
    Ganesha was extremely popular in the art of Indonesian islands, especially of Sumatra and Java and compare favorably with the eighth-century Ellora caves, in images, style and iconography.
    At Chandi Sukuh in central Java, a remarkable fifteenth century relief shows three figures, with a dancing Ganesha in the centre.
    There are paintings and stone sculptures of the deity found in China, apart from the textual references to Ganesha in the Chinese Buddhist canon.
    In Japan, there is the Shingon ritual practice that centers on Ganesha, with texts tracing back to China.
    To some Chinese He is Kuan-shi t'ien or Ho Tei, the large-bellied God of Happiness.
    To the Polynesians He is God Lono. The Tamils call him by the affectionate term Pilliar, Noble Child.
    The Tibetians know Him as ts' ogs-bdag, and the Burmese worship Maha-Pienne.
    In Mongolia His name is Totkhar-our Khaghan.
    Cambodians offer worship to Prah Kenes, and the Japanese supplicate Vinayaksa or Sho-ten.
    By some He is envisioned as the feminine Mother Nature, and even non-believers seek to understand Him through personifying His great powers as Fate, Destiny or Numen.
    The Greeks called Him Janus and sought His blessings at the outset of any new venture.

    Ganesha Ancient Archeology
    Ganesha is the most widely worshipped deity in India , Ganesha also becomes the most versatile in appearance. The lack of restrictions on his iconography means that each Ganesha can reflect local aspirations.
    But Ganesha was not restricted to India alone. There was a time when there were as many foreign versions as Indian, and some of the earliest images of Ganeshas are found outside India .

    The earliest elephant-headed human figure appears on a plaque found in Luristan, in Western Iran. Dating back to between 1,200-1,000 BC, this proto-Ganesha stands dressed as a warrior, holding a sword and a snake in one hand and a quill in another, a multi-hooded snake at his feet.
    A marble Maha Vinayaka (today partly destroyed) was consecrated by King Shahi Khingala in the 5th century AD in Gardez in Afghanistan, and an earlier undated Ganapati was worshipped in Sakar Dhar.
    Since Afghanistan was once a land of Hinduism and Buddhism, there were probably other Ganesha images in Afghanistan that were later destroyed.

    According to legend, Asoka’s daughter Charumati built a temple for Ganesha in Nepal, and the earliest surviving Ganeshas in Nepal belong to the 8th century.
    Vinayaka dances, a rat or lion under each foot, multi-armed, carrying several Tantric symbols including a radish, and is canopied by the snake. T
    his form is also found in Mongolia, where Ganesha travelled with the Tibetan monk P’agspa.

    In Tibet, Ganesha is placed above the entrance of Buddhist monasteries or painted on the doors, often holding a trident and identified with Shiva.

    In Khotan, or Chinese Turkestan, Ganesha was painted on wooden panels and bronze tablets at Khaklik, the Endere stupa and the rock-cut temples of Bezaklik.

    From Khotan, Ganesha reached China, and the earliest Chinese image of Ganesha is found at Kung-hsien, a two-armed seated figure holding a lotus and the chintamani jewel. Dated to AD 531, this image is described as the ‘‘Spirit King of Elephants’’.
  3. Speechless world

    Speechless world New Member

    The Chinese and Japanese knew two forms of Ganesha: Vinayaka and Kangiten, the latter being a secret esoteric form of the deity. Kangiten symbolised the union of the Individual with the Universal Spirit and consists of two Vinayakas embracing each other. Another form, Vajra Vinayaka or Kakuzencho, had three heads with three eyes, holding a sword, radish, sceptre and modak.
    Kabul Ganesh (Khingla)

    Tibetian Ganpati
    In the Gupta period, Ganesha travelled east to Burma, Thailand, Cambodia, Indonesia and Borneo — with Hinduism and Buddhism.
    In the Tibetan Buddhism, the practice associated with Ganesha, as Buddhist Tantric deity, survives up to this day.
    In Jainism, Ganesha occasionally found a place alongside Mahavir.
    The Tibetan Ganesha appears, besides bronzes, in the resplendent Thangka paintings alongside the Buddha.
    In a single Kathmandu valley of Nepal, there are four principal manifestations of "Binayak" in a protective role: Ashok, Surya, Chandra and Bighna. In that valley, Ganapati guards the Buddhist viharas where bhajans are sung in his praise.

    In Greece, Janus, the god in Greek mythology after whom the month of January was named, has the head of an elephant.
    Sometimes, he is depicted as a two-headed deity.
    Like Ganesha, Janus is worshipped at the beginning of any auspicious occasion.

    In Sri Lanka, the oldest image of Ganesha is found in the Kantak Chaitya in Mihintale which is dated to 1st century BC.
    The Ganesha idol at Subrahmanyam temple in Katargama town is still worshipped. People who do not practice Hinduism also visit this temple for this Ganesha is believed to grant the wishes of his devotees.
    Ganesha is a vibrant presence whose benediction is sought by traders, travelers, artists and statesmen. As lord of business and diplomacy, he sits on a high pedestal outside Bangkok's World Trade Centre, where people offer flowers, incense and a reverential sawasdee. A gilt Ganesha presides over the bustling charivari of lucrative tourism in the lobby of the Rama Hotel.
    Even Muslim Indonesia reveres him and European scholars call him the 'Indonesian God of Wisdom'.
    Bandung boasts a Jalan Ganesa, and his image adorns 20,000 rupiah notes.
    The Indonesian Government’s 20,000 rupiah note has Lord Ganesha's picture. According to the Finance Minister of Indonesia - The biggest Islamic Nation- the reason for putting Ganesha picture is to "remove all obstacles from the financial development of the State, whose economy during the last ten years has suffered many a crises."
  4. Speechless world

    Speechless world New Member

    Mongolian Buddhist Ganesha

    Ganesha on Thailand Postal stamp
    Ganesha in Vietnam
    Eighth century Cham stone statue of Hindu god Ganesha at Danang Museum
    This stone statue of the Hindu god Ganesha, located at the Danang Museum, was carved by Chams during the eighth century. The statue portrays Ganesha standing erect with his elephant head and human body. He is barefoot, Ganesha holds a bowl in his left hand.

    Kyhmer Ganesha
    Khmer refers to the predominant ethnic group of Cambodia, as well as the official language spoken in Cambodia. The language is heavily influenced by the ancient Sanskrit of India, particularly as a vehicle to transmit Buddhism and Hinduism. While there are similarities to Thai, Lao and Vietnamese, it is a distinct language of Southeast Asia.
    Ganesha – Indonesia Majapahit empire,
    Java, 14th Century, stone

    Note Ganesha’s crown is so different when compared to regular images
    Vyasa Narrating Mahabharata to Ganesha carved in Angkor Wat ,Combodia

    Beyond India and Hinduism
    Commercial and cultural contacts extended India's influence in western and southeast Asia. Ganesha is one of many Hindu deities who reached foreign lands as a result.

    Ganesha was particularly worshipped by traders and merchants, who went out of India for commercial ventures.The period from approximately the 10th century onwards was marked by the development of new networks of exchange, the formation of trade guilds, and a resurgence of money circulation. During this time, Ganesha became the principal deity associated with traders.The earliest inscription invoking Ganesha before any other deity is associated with the merchant community.

    Hindus migrated to the Malay Archipelago and took their culture, including Ganesha, with them. Statues of Ganesha are found throughout the Malay Archipelago in great numbers, often beside Shiva sanctuaries. The forms of Ganesha found in Hindu art of Java, Bali, and Borneo show specific regional influences. The gradual spread of Hindu culture to southeast Asia established Ganesha in modified forms in Burma, Cambodia, and Thailand. In Indochina, Hinduism and Buddhism were practiced side by side, and mutual influences can be seen in the iconography of Ganesha in the region. In Thailand, Cambodia, and among the Hindu classes of the Chams in Vietnam, Ganesha was mainly thought of as a remover of obstacles.Even today in Buddhist Thailand, Ganesha is regarded as a remover of obstacles, the god of success.

    Before the arrival of Islam, Afghanistan had close cultural ties with India, and the adoration of both Hindu and Buddhist deities was practiced. A few examples of sculptures from the 5th to the 7th centuries have survived, suggesting that the worship of Ganesha was then in vogue in the region.
  5. Speechless world

    Speechless world New Member

    Ganesha appears in Mahayana Buddhism, not only in the form of the Buddhist god Vināyaka, but also as a Hindu demon form with the same name.His image appears in Buddhist sculptures during the late Gupta period. As the Buddhist god Vināyaka, he is often shown dancing. This form, called Nṛtta Ganapati, was popular in northern India, later adopted in Nepal, and then in Tibet. In Nepal, the Hindu form of Ganesha, known as Heramba, is very popular; he has five heads and rides a lion.Tibetan representations of Ganesha show ambivalent views of him. A Tibetan rendering of Ganapati is tshogs bdag. In one Tibetan form, he is shown being trodden under foot by Mahākāla, a popular Tibetan deity. Other depictions show him as the Destroyer of Obstacles, sometimes dancing. Ganesha appears in China and Japan in forms that show distinct regional character. In northern China, the earliest known stone statue of Ganesha carries an inscription dated to 531. In Japan, the Ganesha cult was first mentioned in 806.

    The canonical literature of Jainism does not mention the worship of Ganesha.However, Ganesha is worshipped by most Jains, for whom he appears to have taken over certain functions of Kubera. Jain connections with the trading community support the idea that Jainism took up Ganesha worship as a result of commercial connections. The earliest known Jain Ganesha statue dates to about the 9th century. A 15th century Jain text lists procedures for the installation of Ganapati images.Images of Ganesha appear in the Jain temples of Rajasthan and Gujarat.

    "Why is Ganesh Worshipped First Among All Gods?"

    Ganesh or Ganapati is worshipped before starting or initiating any puja or ritual as per Hinduism. Lord Ganesh is also called as Vinayaka, Vigneshwara, Vignahantri, Gajanana, Ganadhipa, Gananayaka, Lambodara and Ekadanta.

    Not only in India but in China, America, Tibet, Japan, Burma, Nepal and Iran Lord Ganesh is worshipped. In every puja, all energies are dedicated mainly to Ganapati. Ganesha is elephant headed with elephant ears and huge stomach. As per the Rig Veda, Ganesha is described as ‘Sarvagna (the one with full of wisdom).

    Elephant is considered as the most intelligent animal which can guide its fellow animals. Elephants ears are so wide that can hear a sound from even 10 Km distance. It can predict the forthcoming obstacles and solve that obstacle with foresight. Hence Ganesha is called as Vignahantri and Vigneshwara.

    Ganesha is the God who can guide his devotees to success with predicting the forthcoming obstacle and destroying the evil forces. This is the reason why Ganesha is worshipped first of all Gods.

    Ganesha in world religions

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