Meet A God: Ganesha

Ganesha, I think it is safe to say, is the most beloved of all Hindu Gods and Goddesses. He is loved by everyone who comes into contact with him, whether Hindu or not. Ganesha is known as the remover of obstacles and so he is usually the very first God you will pray to no matter the circumstance.

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It’s easy to find a lot of information about Ganesha, from stories to images.  Here are some sites with a lot of stories about Ganesh:

There are several explanations for how Ganesha came to have an elephant’s head. In all of them, he started out all human (often crafted by Parvati out of clay). In some versions Shiva cuts off his head in anger, in others just the sight of Shiva causes his head to explode. Shiva saves the child’s life by giving him the head of a nearby elephant instead.

My favorite story is the one where Ganesha and his brother have a contest to see who can race around the world the fastest (the brother being in much better physical shape than Ganesha, he is certain that he will win). While the brother rushes off, Ganesha slowly walks around his parents: Shiva and Parvati. In some versions he declares that his parents are his whole world. He is declared the winner. This story illustrates how Ganesha finds creative solutions to problems.

Here are some verses to sing for Lord Ganesh 

My friend, Jeramy, though he is an atheist, still has this bumper sticker:

I think in my house I have at least six images of Lord Ganesh!

More information on Ganesha including how he is worshiped at my subscription-based blog


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  • Please check my understanding for me. It is my understanding that Ganesha has to do with obstacles, in that he will set up obstacles in front of people who are evil, lazy, or simply not ready to progress in their journey to moksha, so as to teach them lessons along the way, and he will remove obstacles for such people as they learn. Is this right?

    Edit: I just noticed that it is said that Ganesha is depicted riding a rat – is this why there exists a western caricature of elephants being fearful of mice?

    • Ambaa

      I’ve never heard that Ganesha puts in obstacles, only that he removes them. My understanding is that obstacles appear because of our own karma and not decided upon by a God, but that may depend on sect and teaching.

      That’s an interesting question about the elephants and the mice. I don’t know if there is a connection!