The story of Lord Ganesha begins with Goddess Parvati. As legend has it, Goddess Parvati was in need of someone who would be loyal to her, who she could adore, who would not get swayed by other people, and someone who would keep people from invading her space. So, she created Lord Ganesha. He was tired of people encroaching on her space, so she assembled the figure of a young boy out of sandalwood and told him he was her son. He assigned him the duty to safeguard her chambers while she had a bath. Not long after the incident, Lord Shiva arrived to pay a visit to his wife, Parvati, however, he was stopped by the young boy. Unaware of the fact that this was his son, out of anger, Lord Shiva fought against the boy. During their fight, the boy’s head was severed at the hands of Lord Shiva. Goddess Parvati came out of her chambers to see her boy’s head severed. Enraged, Goddess Parvati threatened to destroy the heavens and the earth. Lord Shiva managed to appease her after some convincing and ordered his followers (ganas) to fetch the head of the first living being they found. The first living being they found was an elephant. So, they cut off its head and placed it on Parvati's son’s body. This was how Lord Ganesha was born.
The iconography of Lord Ganesha
In most idols, pictographs and carvings, Lord Ganesha is represented with the body of a man and the head of an elephant. He is depicted with only one tusk, with the other tusk appearing to be broken. The distinctive trademark of Lord Ganesha, apart from his elephant head, is his large stomach that appears to be falling over his lower garment. His sacred thread, sometimes depicted in the form of a snake, lies on his chest, over his left shoulder. His vehicle of choice is the mouse which is seen as a sign of homage to his lord.
The Significance of the Aum Symbol
An analysis of Lord Ganesha always goes hand in hand with the mystical syllable of AUM. The divine AUM is the greatest universal symbol in the Hindu school of thought. Further, it is believed that this was the sound that was heard when the world came into being. When this symbol is manifested into writing and inverted, it forms the shape of Lord Ganesha. Lord Ganesha is the only deity to be linked to this sacred symbol, which speaks of his divine power in the Hindu pantheon.
Q1. What does Lord Ganesha’s elephant head symbolize?
Lord Ganesha’s large elephant head represents spiritual wisdom, understanding and the intellect one needs in order to attain perfection. His wide mouth is representative of a human’s desire to enjoy the things of the world.
Q2. What is the significance of the mouse as Lord Ganesha’s vehicle?
While it might seem bizarre that Lord Ganesha’s vehicle of choice is a mouse, due to its measly appearance and size, however, there is a deeper meaning to this choice. The mouse represents our wandering, wayward mind that is distracted by worldly obsessions and just as the mouse shows subservience to Lord Ganesha, if we do the same, we open up the path to achieving the spiritual intellect that helps us stay on track with our purpose in life.
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