Ganesha, also known as Vinayaka (the prominent leader), is the
elephant-headed Hindu god of wisdom, literature and worldly
Ganesha is a propitious god, promising success, prosperity,
and peace and he is invoked before any sort of venture. It is his
responsibility to decide between success and failure, to remove
obstacles or create them as necessary.
Ganapati is not only the God of Beginnings, he is the defacto
God of Learning and Wisdom, as befits his elephant head. The
better attributes of the elephant are that it lives long, forgets
nothing and it is brave, loyal, kind, strong and gentle.
An explanation to his missing tusk is that Ganapati is
considered to have taken down the Mahabharatha at the dictation
of its composer, the poet-saint Vyasa. He broke off one of his
tusks to write it with, in honor of the great epic he was
privileged to set down.
Ganapathi laid a condition that he will quit his assistance
once he found that the flow of vyasa's dictation is broken.
Vyasa laid a counter condition that Ganapathi would not write
down anything that he did not fully comprehend so that he can get
some breathing time when Ganapathi comprehends the versus.
The symbol of Aum represents the elephant head and the trunk
of Ganesha. It is noteworthy to mention the fact that the Tamil
symbol for Aum does look very similar to the Ganapati head
Ganesha is depicted with having four arms. These symbolize him
as the universal ruler establishing four categories of beings --
firstly those who can live only in water, secondly those who can
live in water and earth, thirdly those who can live only on earth
and lastly those who can fly in the air. Moreover it is also
Ganesha who instituted the four castes and four Vedas.
The vehicle of Ganesha is a rat or mouse. As rats generally
succeed in gnawing their way through every obstruction, the rat
symbolizes this god's nature of destorying every
As the Lord of Obstacles and the personification of those
qualities which surmount all difficulties, Ganesha is often
honored at the outset of any project or venture and consequently
has become particularly popular with businessmen and students. He
is the typical lord of success in life and its accompaniments of
good living, prosperity and peace. In all ceremonies, Ganesha is
first invoked. He is revered by all Hindus and Budhists, whether
followers of Shiva, Vishnu or Budha.
Ganesha represents the unity of the Small Being, the rat with
the Great Being, the elephant. It is the blending of the
microcosm with macrocosm, of drop of water with the ocean and of
individual soul with divinity
The Mudgala Purana gives eight Inner Avatars of Ganapati.
These avatars can be understood to symbolize abstract qualities
which triumph over similar personifications of evil and weakness.
The Purana explicitly states that the stories are to be meditated
upon for their inner meaning, which will be revealed according to
the inner development of each individual and are not meant to be
understood as literal narratives.
The first of these is Vakratunda (twisted trunk) an embodiment
of the Absolute Impersonal aspect of Godhood called Brahman in
the form of Ganesha. He defeated a demon called Matsaryasura,
'Envy-Jealousy', born amazingly from the fact that Indra,
king of the gods, was absent-minded and lost control of his
faculties of mind! This lapse in awareness resulted in this
impossibly powerful demon coming into being, and he defeated all,
as there is nothing that envy cannot overpower in the long run.
Only the pure abstract form of god, hence without qualities that
can be overcome by Envy, could beat him. The myth is of course an
allegory on the yogic belief that in the end all the qualities of
the mind have to be transcended for liberation.
The next incarnation was in the form of Ekadanta (single
tusked) who defeated the demon Madasura. This is purely an
allegorical story as Madasura gained power by meditating on the
famous Shakti mantra, 'Hrim', revealing its essentially
tantrik source. The form of Ekadanta has been interpreted to mean
Eka, 'one', but also creative power of matter, Maya and
Danta stands for 'truth'. Ekadanta is thus the Supreme
Truth that wields Maya. Madasura was let off with the admonition
that he could benefit from all the demonic desires manifest in
the universe, but he could not harass those with pure intentions
and actions, an obvious statement of the fact that evil can enter
only when it is invited in.
The next was Mahodara who vanquished Mohasura, the demon of
Delusion and Confusion.As Lambhodara, the Essence of Sattva, he
defeats Krodhasura (Anger).
As Vikata (Intelligence) he defeats Kamasura (Lust).Vignaraja
(Lord of Obstacles) defeated the demon Mamasura (Possessiveness).
It is a not so subtle attempt to convey that the major roadblock
to spiritual evolution is the desire to possess.Dhumravarna , the
destructive power of Brahman, overcame the demon Abhimanasura
All these demons are known as the Inner Enemies, and represent
the qualities that one needs to get rid of, as one grows in the
spiritual life. They are in a real sense obstacles, and Ganapati
is the best qualified to remove obstacles from any life.
Each one of these qualities are part of the Shadow, a vital
aspect of our personas, providing great energy if they are
controlled, but wreaking disaster if they are allowed to become
dominant in the psyche. They are to be subdued not destroyed, for
in the famous words of Jung, "How can I cast a Shadow if I
am not substantial?" The more you develop as a human being,
the more the potential for these qualities to manifest and drag
you down is enhanced. But recognizing that they are within you
and refusing to let them take charge is the way forward. It is
not surprising that the mere sight of Ganapati, Awareness,
renders these demons impotent and powerless. Once they are
recognized and acknowledged for what they are, they lose their