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Lord Ganesh - An Objective View   (contd...)

Before going for a bath Goddess Parvati made an imaginary statue of a gatekeeper from the grime on the body. With her divine power she instilled life in it and this became Ganapati. When Lord Shiva was refused entry, in his anger not recognising Ganapati be-headed him. Then to pacify Goddess Parvati he infused life in the torso and asked Nandi the Bull to bring head of living animal. Nandi in the process brought the head of an Elephant, which was then attached to the torso of a be-headed Ganapati, and Ganapati became Gajamukh i.e. Elephant Headed. Even the child will question rationally of the happening narrated in the story. However, it all happens because of the wrong interpretation of the events and the words used in the story. The underlying fact that the events and the words in the story are all symbolic is forgotten and this results into misinterpretation. If we analyse the story it would become apparent that it is just not possible in the cold weather of Himalayas- an abode of Lord Shiva and Parvati- for Parvati to gather so much grime on her body to make a statue of Ganapati. Moreover, Lord Shiva and Goddess Parvati are taken as ordinary mortals, which is in fact not a case. The entire story is symbolic and as stated by Tulsidas in his Tulsi Ramayan Goddess Parvati and Lord Shiva represent faith and trust. Faith is always born out of innocence but the trust can be acquired only after undergoing certain harsh tests. So in case of Ganapati Faith represents his mother and Trust represents his father.

If we take a literal meaning of the word grime used in the foregoing it is bound to cause confusion. Here the word grime actually conveys the meaning of essence (like cream of milk or a sweet boiled sugarcane juice). This essence is nothing but the faith and trust which has survived the rigours or heat of the effects of life. If we proceed on postulate that Lord Ganesh is basically an embodiment of discretion and wisdom then the simile of "essence" becomes more meaningful because this essence is the result of tough tests of trials and tribulation that one undergoes in daily life.

To know how Lord Ganapati became Gajamukh (i.e. Elephant headed) we have to understand the formation of word Gaja. The word Gaja is composed of two letters of Ga and Ja. Here, Ga indicates the act of going and Ja indicates the germination or of taking Birth. In short these two words indicate the conditions of Birth and Decay of Cosmos. This facet of Lord Ganesh is not new one but appears in the verses extolling the virtues of Ganapati known as Atharvashirsha. Ganapati symbolises the single letter word which in turn symbolises the beginning, middle and end of the cosmic world. The facet of Lord Ganesh called Omkar Swarup is well known.

Practical outlook & logical thinking

While looking at the different stories about Lord Ganesh the different facets of Ganapati's personality has to be borne in mind. Ganapati is the leader of people hence the quality of leadership is one facet. Protector is another facet as he is worshiped before undertaking any activity. Lord Ganesh occupies a prominent place in the spiritual study as well as science of Yoga. A beautiful use of symbols and metaphors to explain these has been prevalent since ancient times. This is very well illustrated in the description of anatomy of Ganapati or even his vehicle. Let us take an example of mouse as a vehicle of Ganapati. The way Ganapati's physique is described the idea of mouse being his vehicle looks very weird. However, we just cannot dismiss it as such because it has a logical rationale behind it. In the Ganesh Purana the Ganapati is called Aakhu vahan. In Sanskrit , word Aakhu has two meanings. One is maya (i.e. creation of illusion or wonder working power) and the other is mouse. In this context if we consider maya as vehicle then Ganapati becomes both owner and driver of this vehicle meaning thereby that He is in absolute control of maya (i.e. power that works wonders). To acquire the ability of discretion and wisdom it is necessary that one should have a control over maya (creation of illusion). When this implied meaning becomes obvious then the doubts like possibility of mouse becoming a vehicle of Ganapati, are automatically dispelled and what remains to be seen is what is the similarity between the mouse and maya. Both the maya and the mouse represent harmful tendencies. Both win over their unsuspecting victims in stealthy manner. Those who are amenable to the temptations of this worldly life become victims of maya. By the time realisation dawns on such victims it becomes too late. Lord Ganapati however, keeps such tendencies fully under His reins. Just as rider or driver keeps the vehicle under his control.

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