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Symbolic Description of Lord Ganesha

By Ritu Shukla — Jul 12, 2017
Son of Lord Shiva and Devi Parvati Ganesha is popularly worshipped under the names of Sumukha, Ekadanta, Kapila, Gajakarna, Lambodara, Vikath, Vidhnanashaka, Vinayaka, Dhumraketu, Ganadhayaksha, Bhalchandra and Gajanana.

His Symbolic gesture has deeper meaning. The description of various characteristics and attributes of Lord Ganesha can be found in the Ganapati Upanishad, in which Ganesha is identified with Brahman and Atman. The figure of Lord Ganesha has multiple meaning that express state of perfection and means to obtain the same.

1. Symbolically, the large elephant head of Lord Ganesha symbolizes wisdom, understanding, and a discriminating intellect that one must possess to attain perfection in life.

2. The wide mouth represents the natural human desire to enjoy life in the world. The large ears signify that a perfect person is the one who possesses a great capacity to listen to others and assimilate ideas.

3. The trunk can hold anything and everything existent in this universe. Likewise, the individuals should possess qualities of high adaptability and efficiency in life. This in other words can make them attune to any circumstances of life. It also represents OM the sound symbol of cosmic reality

4. The two tusks denote the two aspects of the human personality, wisdom and emotion. The right tusk represents wisdom and the left tusk represents emotion. The broken left tusk conveys the idea that one must conquer emotions with wisdom to attain perfection.

5. The elephant eyes are said to possess natural deceptiveness that allows them to perceive objects to be bigger than what they really are. Thus it indicates to surrender one's pride and attain humility.

6. The Trishul (weapon of Shiva, similar to Trident) over forehead symbolises time (past, present and future) and Lord Ganesha's mastery over it.

7. The four arms of Lord Ganesha represent the four inner attributes of the subtle body, that is: mind (Manas), intellect (Buddhi), ego (Ahamkara), and conditioned conscience (Chitta). Lord Ganesha represents the pure consciousness - the Atman - which enables these four attributes to function in us. The hand waving an axe is a symbol of the retrenchment of all desires, bearers of pain and suffering.

With this axe Lord Ganesha can both strike and repel obstacles. The axe is also to prod man to the path of righteousness and truth. The second hand holds a whip, symbol of the force that ties the devout person to the eternal beatitude of God. The whip conveys that worldly attachments and desires should be rid of; the third hand, turned towards the devotee, is in a pose of blessing, refuge and protection (abhaya); the fourth hand holds a lotus flower (padma), and it symbolizes the highest goal of human evolution, the sweetness of the realized inner self

8. The human body possesses a human heart, which is a symbol of kindness and compassion toward all. Lord Ganesha's is usually portrayed wearing red and yellow clothes. Yellow symbolizes purity, peace and truthfulness. Red symbolizes the activity in the world. Thus an individual should perform all duties in the world, with purity, peace, and truthfulness.

9. Lord Ganesha’s belly represents the whole cosmos, the seven realms above and below and the seven oceans are inside Ganesha’s cosmic belly. These are held together by the cosmic energy (kundalini) symbolized by the huge snake around him. The snake that runs round his waist represents energy in all forms. The big belly signifies that a person should face all pleasant and unpleasant experiences during his life span with patience and calmness.

10. The mouse represents ego. Lord Ganesha using the mouse represents the need to control ego and so it’s said that one who controls his ego has Ganesha consciousness. Ganesh Chaturthi is a celebration of The Lord who controls the universe.

11. The right foot dangling over the left foot illustrates that in order to live a successful life one should utilize knowledge and reason to overcome emotions.

12. Mouse symbolizes uncontrolled desires and ego that can nibble all that is good and noble in a person. A mouse sitting near the feet of lord Ganesha and gazing at the Laddus denotes that with purified or controlled desires one can live in the world without being affected by the worldly temptations.

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