Ganesha is one of the most distinctive Hindu deities with his large elephant head and pot-bellied human body. He plays a dual role of a supreme being powerful enough to remove obstacles and ensure success or create obstructions for those whose ambition has become destructive.
Ganesha is an archetype who you might call upon when you’re about to embark on a new endeavor. As the Remover of Obstacles and the god of success, Ganesha is honored throughout Indian and in Hindu cultures, at both secular and religious ceremonies. When someone launches a new business or moves into a new home, for example, the elephant-headed god is invoked to bless the venture.
Like other archetypes, Ganesha can be a source of inspiration or act as a role model as you try to achieve a goal. Archetypes are found everywhere, including in art, literature, and movies. Archetypes can be anyone who has traits you admire. In the Vedic tradition, they can play valuable roles in your relationships and spirituality as well as help shape your values and potential. Archetypes represent all of our collective soul’s yearnings, imagination, and deepest desires. And these themes have existed forever.
Revered for his cleverness and wisdom, Ganesha is also known as the patron of letters and learning. Ganesha is the scribe who wrote down the legendary Indian epic the Mahabharata, dictated to him by the ancient sage Vyasa, according to some scholars of Hindu literature. It is said that Ganesha agreed to transcribe the epic only if Vyasa would recite the poem without pausing.
In many depictions of Ganesha, he is shown holding a broken tusk in his lower right hand like a pen, perhaps symbolizing the sacrifice he made in feverishly writing the Mahabharata. Another interpretation of the broken tusk is that it’s a symbol of the truth that outward imperfections have nothing to do with inner perfection.
Ganesha is typically the first deity contacted in prayers in Hinduism. Those who seek wisdom and prosperity often call for him.
The Story of Ganesha
The Hindu tradition contains many different versions of Ganesha’s origins. Some stories say that Ganesha was born with an elephant head. Most say that he was born with a human head that was later replaced with the elephant head.
In one version of the story, Ganesha’s mother, the goddess Parvati, created Ganesha from the dirt off her body while she was bathing. She then had Ganesha guard the entrance to her bathroom. When her husband, Shiva, came home, he was angry that a stranger blocked his access and cut off Ganesha’s head in a fit of rage. Parvati was struck with grief, and to console her, Shiva restored Ganesha to life, giving him an elephant head.
The Vahana of Ganesha
Everything in the universe is created by one infinite, divine consciousness known as Brahman. It’s why Hindus see divinity in all living creatures, including animals. As a result, deities are associated with a particular animal or bird that acts as a vehicle—or vahana—to transport the gods and goddesses wherever they need to go.
Ganesha’s vahana is a mouse, which he rides. The mouse is an extension of Ganesha’s powers. It can gnaw through all barriers and it can slide into crevices too tiny for Ganesha to enter. Together the elephant deity and his vahana ensure that obstacles of all sizes can be removed.
Inspiration from Ganesha
When you’re setting goals or seeking wisdom as you pursue them—call upon Ganesha as your guide. Ganesha can be especially helpful for:
- Any big or small endeavor in which you want to succeed.
- Writing and artistic projects.
- Seeking wisdom before making a big decision such as deciding whether to leave a job or change careers.
- Any situation where an obstacle is preventing you from success.
- Cultivating a peaceful household. Ganesha is loving and polite, yet strong.