Ganah in sanskrit means “multitude”. Isa means ‘Lord’. Ganesha therefore literally means the Lord of all Beings .Ganesha is the first son of Lord Siva. Siva represents the supreme reality, the son of Siva symbolises one who has realized the reality, one who has discovered the Godhood in him, such a man is said to be the Lord of all beings.
Ganesha is known by other names as well, Ganapati, Gajanana, Vinayaka, Vighneswara, etc,.. Ganapati has the same literal meaning as Ganesha, Gajanana means elephant-faced, Gaja=elephant, anana=face, . Vinayaka means the supreme leader, Vigneshwara is the Lord of all Obstacles, worshipped in the initiation of Hindu rituals & ceremonies. As the name suggest Vighneswara removes all the Obstacles, overcomes all challenges of life.
In Hindu litreature Ganesha is described as having a human form with an elephant’s head. One of the tusks in his head is broken,. He has a conspicuously Large stomach, He sits with one leg folded in, at His feet a variety of food is spread,. A rat sits near the food & looks up at Him as if it were asking Him for the sanction to eat the food! This Mystical form of Lord Ganesha represents not only the Supreme state of Human perception but the practical path to reach that state,. The details of his description suggest deep Philosophical significances which can guide you to reach that ultimate state,.
The first step of spiritual education is Sravana which means listening to the eternal truths of Vedanta. The second step is Manana which is independent reflection upon those truths,. The Large ears and the head of Ganesha indicates that he has gained previous Wisdom through Sravana and Manana, An elephant’s Head on a human body in Ganesha is menat to represent Supreme Wisdom.
The Trunk which springs from his head represents the intellect, the faculty of discrimination which necessarily arises out of Wisdom.
Intellect is the discriminating faculty, the discerning ability or the judging capacity in man. Man’s intellect is of two distinct types, namely the Gross and the Subtle,. Gross intellect is that aspect of his discrimination which is applicable to the realm of the terrestrial world, the part of the intellect which distinguishes between the pairs of opposite existing in this world,. Distinguishes day & night, black & white, joy & sorrow etc,. Subtle intellect is the other aspect of his discrimination which distinguishes between Infinite & the Finite, the Real & the Unreal, the Transcendental & the Terrestrial etc,. A Man of realization like Ganesha is one who has fully developed both his Gross and Subtle intellects,. He has perfect understanding & knowledge of the terrestrial as well as transcendental .
The Trunk of an elephant has the unique capacity of performing both gross and subtle activities,. A trunk can uproot a tree, it can pick up a needle from the ground. One rarely finds gross and subtle operations being performed by a single instrument! A spanner which is used for fitting a locomotive is useless for repairing a wrist-watch.. The elephant’s trunk is an exception to this rule.. It serves both the ways, so does Ganesha’s Intellect penetrate the realms of the material & spiritual worlds,. That is the state which man must aspire to reach..
A man of perfection is thus rooted in the supreme wisdom,. He is not victimized by likes ( raga) and dislikes ( dwesha). He is not swayed by agreeable and the disagreeable circumstances, pleasant and unpleasant happenings, good and bad environment. In other words, he is not victimized by the pairs of opposites existing in the world,. Heat & cold, joy& sorrow, honor & dishonor, do not affect him, influence him or harras him. He has transcended the limitations of the opposites in the world. He is dwanda-ateetha, beyond opposites. This idea is well represented I Ganesha by having one of his tusks broken. The common man is tossed between the two opposites (tusks),. He should endeavor to overcome the influence of the pairs of opposites in him. Man ought not to act merely by his likes & dislikes, these are his worst enemies he has to control and conquer. When he has completely mastered the influence of these pairs in him he becomes a Ganesha.
Ganesha’s large belly is meant to convey that a man of perfection can consume and digest whatever experiences he undergoes. Heat or Cold, War or Peace, Birth or Death, and other such trials and tribulations do not toss him up and down. He Maintains an unaffected grace in and through all these fluctuations of the world. Figuratively , he is represented as being able to stomach and digest all types of Experiences..
Kubera, the God of Wealth offered a dinner to Ganesha in his palace, Ganesha ate all the food that was prepared for the entire gathering of guests, thereafter still dissatisfied, he started eating the festive decorations that were used for the occasion. At this juncture his father Lord Siva approached him and offered him handful of roasted rice , Ganesha consumed the roasted rice and his hunger was satisfied immediately . This story is a directive to mankind that man can never be satisfied with the joy’s provided by the world of oblects represented by Kubera’s feast,. Material pursuits can never give peace, contentment, or happiness to mankind. The only way to attain absolute fulfillment or Peace is by consuming your own Vasanas, which are the unmanifest desires in you,. The destruction of Vasanas is represented by the consumption of roasted rice,. When rice is roasted it loses its capacity to germinate,. The consumption of roasted rice indicates the destruction of Vasanas or desires in you. Thereafter you remain in a state of absolute peace and bliss..
Ganesha sits with one leg folded up and the other leg resting on the ground, the leg on the ground indicates that one aspect of his personality is dealing with the world while the other is evr rooted in single-pointed concentration upon Supreme Reality . Such a man lives in the world like anyone else, but his concentration and meditation are ever-rooted in the Atman within himself. This idea is symbolized in the above posture.
At the feet of the Lord is spread abundance of food , food represents material wealth, power & prosperity, when a man follows the high principles of living indicated above he achieves these material gains, he has them always at his command though he has an attitude of indifference towards them.
Besides the food is a tiny Rat looking up towards Ganesha, the rat does not touch the food but waits for the master’s sanction as it were for consuming it, the rat represents desire, a rat has a small mouth and tiny sharp teeth, but it is the greediest of all animals , it’s greed & acquisitiveness are so great that it steals more than it can eat and hoards more than it can remember, often abandoning burrows full of hoarded grains through forgetfulness. This predominant trait in a rat justifies amply its symbolism as desire,. One little desire entering man’s mind can destroy all his material & spiritual wealth earned for many long years, The rat looking up therefore denotes that the desires in a perfect man are absolutely under control, the activities of such a man are motivated by his clear discrimination & judgement rather than by an emotional craving to enjoy the variety of sense objects of the world.
There is a belief amongst Hindus that it is inauspicious to see the Moon on the Vinayaka Chathurthi day, that is the birthday of Ganesha, the puranic story says that the moon saw Ganesha riding on his tiny rat and laughed at the ludicrous scene, for this reason the moon is condemned & people are forbidden to see it on this day,.
Ganesha riding on his rat indicates a man of perfection trying to use his limited body, mind & intellect to convey the illimitable Truth. The body, mind & intellect are finite, they cannot express the infinite Atman,. A man of Realization finds it almost impossible to convey his infinite experience through his finite equipments, hence we find the words & deeds of all spiritual masters are peculiar & incomprehensible, the common man’s intellect cannot comprehend the Truth. The Moon is the presiding deity of the mind, the moon laughing at Ganapati riding on the rat indicates the ignorant scoffing at the man of realization’s attempt to convey the truth, this attitude of scoffing at the spiritual preceptors is detrimental to humanity, the generations are therefore warned not to laugh or scoff at the spiritual messages, if they do they meet with degradation and disaster.
Ganesha has four arms ,the four arms represnts the inner equipments of the subtle body, namely Mind(manas), Intellect(buddi),Ego(ahamkara), and conditioned consciousness(chitta),Ganesha reresents the Pure Consciousness,the Atman which enables these four equipments to function in you,.
In one hand he holds an axe and in another a rope, the axe symbolises the destruction of all desires and attachments and their consequent agitations & sorrows. The rope is meant to pull the seeker out of his wordly entanglements and bind him to the everlasting and enduring bliss of his own self. In the third hand he holds a rice ball –Modhaka, which represents the joyous rewards of spiritual seeking. A seeker gains the joy of satisfaction and contenment as he progress on the path of spiritual evolution. In the fourth hand he holds a Lotus-padma, which represents the Supreme goal of human evolution, by holding the Lotus in his hand he draws the attention of all seekers to that supreme state that each one of them can aspire for and reach through proper spiritual practices . He blesses all his devotees to reach the Supreme State of Reality.
Thus by indicating to mankind the goal of Human evolution and the path to reach the same, Lord Ganesha occupies a place of distinction in the Heart of all the seekers. May he give us all the strength & courage to pursue the path which he has led and may we gain that Supreme Goal.