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Ganesh traveling on a mouse, Wikimedia

“Ganapati Bappa Moriya”

Sept 05, 2016: The familiar chant that every Hindu bows their head to! The elephant-headed Hindu God who unites people is worshipped on the occasion of Ganesh Chaturthi. Needless to say that the festival continues for 10 days and the fervour is at its peak among Indians. There are many stories about Lord Ganesha in the Hindu Mythology and this article focuses on why is He ‘elephant-headed’? Why is he worshipped first? Why does he ride on a rat?


There are many stories about Lord Ganesha in the Hindu Mythology and this article focuses on why is He ‘elephant-headed’? Why is he worshipped first and Why does he ride on a rat?

Shiva Purana, Brahmabaibarta Purana narrate different stories about the birth of the son of Mahadev and Devi Parvati and how he became elephant-headed.

Professor Phyllis Lee, a behavioral psychologist at University of Stirling and chair of the scientific advisory committee for the Amboseli Trust for Elephants says, “It is the ability to influence others and sustain friendships are important to an elephant group, while in other animals it is often aggression or dominance.”

Elephants tend to influence the group in the correct direction and they respect the intelligence of the leaders. Ganeshji united people, not in the age of Purana but also at the crucial time of Indian revolution against British.

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Lokmanya Tilak realized this cultural of Ganapati and popularised Ganesh Chaturthi as a National Festival to unite everyone, from brahmins to non-brahmins.’Gana’ means followers of Shiva and Devtas including Aditya (solar deity), Vasu (attendant deity of Indra), Vayu (air), Rudra (deity of storm and hunt) etc. who are led by Ganesh.

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In Hinduism, Lakshmi is worshipped for Dhan (money), Saraswati for Vidya (knowledge), Viswakarma for Shilpa (Art), Kartikeya for Vijay (wining). The deities are worshipped by people for personal gains but Ganesh is the god who brings unity in society. Thus Ganesh is worshipped first in any auspicious occasion like marriage and other pujas.

According to Ganesh Purana, Ganesh is the Omkara. The text utters:
“Omkarrupi Bhagwan Yo Vedado Pratishthita
Yang Sada Munaye Deva Smarantindradayo hridi
Omkararupi Bhagawanuktastu Gananayaka
Yatha Sarveshu Karmshu Pujyatehso Vinayaka”

This means ‘Omkara’ is pronounced before every Mantra is memorising Ganesh as he is Nayak (leader) of Gana.


Ganesh Chaturthi celebration, Wikimedia commons

The presence of rat with Ganesha as the ride is quite significant. The Gajamundadhari (elephant-headed) deity has one of the smallest creature Mushika (rat) as ride which symbolises Ganapati brings everyone under same roof- from big to small, wise to ignorant, sophisticated to Bhuphal (who born from the earth, rat). Rat is the symbol of patience and enthusiasm. Ganeshji is named Abyakt, Sarvesh, Akshar, Nitya which express his glory as Param Brahma. To understand him better- one need realisation, self-restraint and spirit.

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An old text Panchatantra, taught us a very familiar story of a lion and a mouse where the mouse cuts the ropes and frees the lion. In a similar manner, Lord Ganesha too detaches the followers from Ashtapaasha, the eight ties- (Ghrina, Apamana, Lajja, Mana, Moha, Dambha, Dwesha, Baigunya: Hate, Insult, Shame, Standard, Affection, Pride, Grudge, Defect respectively). Thus, he selected rat as his mate to cut the trap and release people from the prejudices.

– by Priyanka Saha of NewsGram. Twitter: @priyanka140490


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