The Hindu elephant God Ganesh is known as the remover of obstacles. Removing obstacles of both material, and spiritual aspects of life. Ganesha is son of Lord Shiva and Devi Parvati, brother of Muruga, and he is revered across India by Hindus, Jains, Buddhists and more.
He is the God of plenty, wisdom, learning, good fortune, peace and spiritual success. Ganesh is also patron of letters and of learning. Using his broken tusk, he wrote down parts of the Mahabharata.
Pleased by our prayers, He removes all obstacles in the path of any work we undertake, in Hindu ceremonies it is common to begin with a prayer to Ganesh’s before the main puja. The elephant’s trunk resembles the curve of the OM symbol. Therefore he is also called Pranava Swaroopi (Pranava – OM, Swaroop – Truth, Lover of Beauty.)
The Hindu elephant god’s large ears indicate continuous and active listening to the teachings of the Guru. His trunk can pick up a pin and uproot a tree, therefore no work is too big nor too small for Lord Ganesh.
The deep symbolism of this Hindu elephant God
In the upper left hand he holds an axe signifying the cutting of worldly attachments and desires, both of which cause suffering.
The upper right hand holds an elephant goad (Ankusha) which represents anger. Ganesh uses an elephant goad to remind us (sometimes painfully) when we go astray from righteousness. These reminders can appear as obstacles placed in our path, preventing us from believing that our ego or mind knows what is best for us.
The lower right hand holds a Modaka – A dessert made from freshly grated coconut and jaggery (raw cane sugar) with an outer soft shell of rice or wheat flour mixed with grain flour. Why you ask? Because Ganesha loves sweets!
The bottom left hand is a blessing for humanity.
The Four Arms of Ganesh
Meaning of the name Ganesh
A common word for elephant in Sanskrit is ‘gaja’. Ga means the ‘gati’ or the final goal towards which the entire creation is moving. Ja stands for ‘janma’, birth or origin. Hence ‘gaja’ is God from who these worlds emerged and towards whom they are moving to merge at the end.