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Is lord ganesha God and worthy of worship
Posted By Sarin on Sep 22, 2012     RSS Feeds     Latest Hinduism news
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Few days back, I got a tag by one of my friend in  which there was a mention of a challenge by some Islamic scholar of proving lord Ganesha as a bhagwan (god) and some derogatory comments were made about lord Ganesha by making some false references and citing some illogical offensive quotes. So, I thought, in this festive season, it would be ideal to write an article which would give more realistic explanation behind the story of lord Ganesha existence.
Before starting with the story let me tell you that this story is from the text (Puranas) which is not considered sacred and authentic in Hinduism. There are many evidences to prove that many texts have been added later in the original puranas and the puranas we read today is interpolated and adulterated. Still, these adulterated texts written by our sages have a deep spiritual meaning which we shall see in this article.
Word Ganesha is made up of  gana (Celestial followers of lord Shiva) and  isha (lord) which precisely means lord of the ganas. Ganesha is also known as Ganapati, the God of wisdom, prudence and salvation.  
Now there are many more divine characteristics and names of lord Ganesha, but let us focus only on the topic of lord Ganesha divine existence. So, I would directly jump to show how lord Ganesha was born:
How Ganesha Got His Head
As per shiva purana, the story of lord Ganesha birth goes like this:  
Once goddess Parvati was alone in her house (Since lord shiva meditates for eons) and wanted someone whom she spends her time and share her feelings, ideas etc. So, she rubbed  paste of sandalwood on her body dirt to create a magical figure of a young boy. She infused life to that creature and told him to guard the entrance like her son while she baths. When her husband lord Shiva returned, Ganesha obstructed him in entering his wife chamber. Unaware of the lad being his son, Shiva became furious and fired his powerful weapon to behead the young boy.  

Angry lord shiva cutting off Ganesha head
Returning from bath, Parvati saw her headless son and in extreme grief threatened Shiva to destroy whole universe. To soothe her, Shiva asked his celestial armies (Ganas) to search for Ganesha head. Unfortunately, Shiva Trishul strike was so powerful that Ganesha head was hurled beyond the reach of Shiva celestial armies. Lord Brahma then suggested Ganesha head to be replaced with the first living being with head facing north (since north is associated with wisdom). Shiva asked his celestial armies (ganas) to get the head of any living being facing north. Ganas were not able to find a sleeping human being but found a sleeping elephant. So, they brought elephant head which was later attached to the headless body of the boy. Shiva restored the life of the boy and made him the leader (Pati) of his follower. Hence, he was given the 'Ganapati'. Another name Ganesha is made up of  gana (Followers) and  isha (lord) which precisely means lord of the ganas.  
So now the questions arise about our faith of worshipping an elephant-headed, broken-tusked, pot-bellied god having mouse as his vehicle. Besides, there are many other questions like
Why should  Parvati  have dirt on her body?
Shouldn't the all-knowing  Shiva  realise His own boy?
Was  How Shiva, the epitome of peace became so short-tempered to cut off head of a young boy?
Why only an elephant head was chosen for  Ganesha?

You need to think deeper to understand the illusion played in our mind. One reason for elephant headed god was that lord Vishnu (Preserver) wanted animals not to be treated as slaves by humans and they should also be respected, loved and even worshipped. So, an illusion was created in shiva, parvati etc mind and the rest happened as depicted in the above story and all animals including ‘Mouse’ and ‘Elephant’ got respect of humans.
This I have explained in more details in the following post:
Why Animal worship in hinduism
Another reason is
Parvati  symbolizes Shakti (energy) and also represents the celebrative aspect of our consciousness.  
Mother Parvati becoming dirty means that celebrations had gone out of life, feeling of sadness, etc had arisen and mind easily become  feverish (Rajasik) to divert away into the worldly desires.
When you are sad or are not feeling good, you say to others “leave me alone, give me space” etc.
Being a husband, Shiva is the protector of mother Parvati. So, when he sees her ego taking guard, Shiva did what any husband would have done. Remove Ego. First Shiva tried to remove that ego by mutual conversation but ego didn’t go. So, he fired his weapon to remove that ego.

Lord shiva negotiation with mother parvati Ego (Ganesha)
  
Beheading the boy means killing the ego. When you trample upon someone ego, that person is more hurt, bewildered and angry.  This is where Parvati flares up to destroy the whole universe. To calm her and teach her, Shiva replaces Ego head with elephant head.
Since olden times, elephant has been regarded with great reverence and respect. Big head symbolizes Knowledge. Elephant eyes are beautiful, kind and depict compassion and innocence. So Shiva replaces the head of ego (ignorance) with Knowledge and Innocence. Nothing can stop the elephant and elephant removes all the obstacles coming his way with his strength and power. i.e Shiva replaced head of ego with Strength and supreme power.  
Lord Shiva then names the child, Ganesh - The Lord of Knowledge and Wisdom.
  
In short, the summary of the above story is:
Dirt she gives life to is Ego. She tells Ego to not let anyone disturb me till I am not feeling good. Here, dirt symbolizes ignorance, and lord Shiva symbolizes Supreme Innocence, Knowledge and Peace.
So Ganesha  stopping Shiva means ignorance (an attribute of mind (head)), does not recognize knowledge. If ignorance doesn’t recognize knowledge, then knowledge has to overcome ignorance. This is symbolized by lord Shiva  chopping off the boy head. Anger should be replaced by calmness, wisdom and knowledge. So, chopped head is replaced by elephant head which signifies wisdom, knowledge, calmness and strength.
Some more reason on why the elephant head?
Elephant signifies both  karma shakti and  gyan shakti. (Note Ganesha is son of Goddess shakti)
Main qualities of elephant are effortlessness and wisdom. Elephant hand signifies Knowledge and Wisdom. Elephants are not stopped by obstacles nor do they walk around obstacles. They just move ahead removing all the obstacles coming their way. (Note Ganesha is known as remover of obstacles).  

Elephant headed lord ganesha

What to learn from this incident?
Now, this incident of fixing an elephant head preaches the common people that they should not interfere in other matters and should behave calmly under all circumstances. Otherwise, there will be nothing but loss of life, money and happiness. The softest organ of any living being is testes. Unlike other animals, elephant testes are located in the head. It is the softest spot of all huge body organs of elephant because of which, an elephant does not hit his head against anything. To preach the same to all humans, Lord Ganesha is shown with an Elephant head.  
The elephant is the strongest and largest of all animals. Yet he is gentle, affectionate and loyal to his keeper and is greatly swayed if kindness, care and love are extended to him. Similarly, Ganesha is a powerful deity, yet loving, affectionate, forgiving and moved by the devotion of his devotees. At the same time, the elephant has the power of destroying the whole forest and has the capability of handling the whole army single handedly. Similarly, Ganesha can be destructive for evil minded individual and affectionate to his sincere devotees.
Significance of the Ganesha Form
Ganesha's elephant head symbolizes that the soul(Atma) exist in every living and his trunk represents om, the symbol of cosmic universe, his human body symbolizes  Maya(illusion)  or the earthly existence of human beings. Ganesha holds a goad in his upper right hand, which removes obstacles from the path of his devotees helping them to follow the divine eternal path. All the obstacles removed by Ganesha goad is capture by his left hand.
Ganesha broken tusk in his lower right hand, which he broke while writing Mahabharata, represents symbol of sacrifice. Rosary in his lower left hand specifies that the pursuit of knowledge should be ever-lasting. The laddoo  (sweet) in his trunk indicates that one must realize the sweetness of the soul (Atman). His fan-like ears conveys that he listens to everyone problems and hence, resolves their problem. hence rightly called as vignaharta(Removber of obstacles). Mouse as his riding vehicle represents that the lord Ganesha is humble and loving to even lowest of the creatures.
Unlike today foolish Indians indulging in material senses, our ancestral sages and seers (Rishis) were very intelligent to express Divinity as symbols instead of words, since words(Languages) change over time, but symbols remain unaltered. Let us all acknowledge the deep symbolism in our materialistic mind to experience the omnipresent form of the elephant God. Such should be the wisdom one should carry while celebrating Ganesh Chaturti.

Lord Ganesha with Lord Shiva and goddess parvati
When anyone worships Lord  Ganesha, only aims should be to acknowledge above mentioned  elephant qualities within our soul on the way to spiritual enlightenment.  
Let me conclude by saying that lord Ganesha is not the bhagwan (Supreme god) because a son of a supreme deity (Shiva) cannot be considered as the supreme god but he indeed is very close to the supreme God (Bhagwan) and hence, should be revered and worshipped as one of the most powerful deity. In short, he deserves worship and devotion of each human beings of this universe.  
Also read this
How Many gods in Hinduism
To say more on why lord Ganesha should be worshipped let me inform you at this moment that there are many spiritual significance of lord Ganesha and there is a deep spiritual meaning for each organ of elephant head which I shall be discussing in my next article tomorrow.
Wishing all of you a very happy Ganesh chaturthi.
  



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