Hinduism is a major world religion that is still influential in major parts of the world, such as India, Shri Lanka, and much of East Asia. Many of its deities have had an influence on the way of life of its followers. One of these deities, Ganesha, has influenced the way Hindus go about taking on new challenges and enterprises. Although Ganesha is best known as being the primary Hindu god of good fortune, he has also had a great mythological influence on modern day society and has exemplified, through Hindu culture how nature controls life.
Ganesha was born to Shiva, the Hindu god of destruction, and his wife Parvati, he Hindu goddess of fertility and love. (Wickerman). It is said that Ganesha was not born naturally, but instead he was made out of unguents and other things Parvati would use in her bath. She did his because she found it amusing. After being born, created, Parvati made Ganesha guard her home. When Shiva came home Ganesha did not allow him through. In outrage after numerous attempts to enter his own house Shiva knocked Ganesha’s head off.
After learning that Ganesha was in fact his son, Shiva restored Ganesha to life and replaced his head with that of the first animal he found, which happened to be an elephant. Anther story states Shiva gifted Ganesha his elephant head along with his tubby form, and scared snake thread. The Brahmavaiarta Purana states that Ganesha got his elephant head from Parvati being so proud of him that she wanted all the gods to gaze at him including Shani, Saturn. Shani, however bore a terrible curse in which the heads of whom ever he looked at were beheaded.
Ganesha was no different. Later Ganesha’s head was replaced with the king of the elephants. Ganesha is also referenced as being impish and mischievous I early Hindu literature. Ganesha is often portrayed as having an elephant head, one tusk with other being broken, a radish, an ax, his mouse ,which he uses as a vehicle to travel the word, and his sacred cobra thread. He is often associated with the colors red and yellow. He also has been seen with one to six heads and two to even twenty arms, though usually four.
Ganesha can also almost always be seen holding a bowl of sweet dumplings, modaka, which is one of his sacred foods, and when he has more than four arms can be seen carrying an elephant goad and a noose. The reason behind Ganesha’s single tusk is told in many different stories. In one it is said that he used it as a pen to write the Hindu epic Mahabarata as the great sage Uyasa developed it. (“Encyclopedia of India. “127-129). In another it is said that he lost it in a battle with an avatar of Vishnu, Parasurama. (Wickersham).
Ganesha is worshipped as the Remover of Obstacles and decorates the walls, doorways, and entrances of much the world. , for no task should be undertaken without invoking the great Ganesha. This is one of the many ways he has had a mythological influence on today’s society, especially in East Asia. Ganesha has also had a great influence on today’s society. He has a very significant in art, literature, and culture, and he is sometimes shown dancing in Hindu society. He is also on food and incense throughout India and Shri Lanka, and he is located in millions of homes around the world in the form of statues.
He also decorates currency all over Indonesia and Eastern Europe where he is a religious icon in both Buddhism and Hinduism. (“UXL Encyclopedia of World Mythology. ” 424). Ganesha has also come up in many sacred Hindu scriptures and texts including many Puranas, or scared stories made to tell the origin of Hindu deities and the creation and destruction of the universe. (“Worldmark Encyclopedia of Religious Practices. “409). In Hindu society Ganesha, the remover of obstacles, is often invoked before partaking in any task or new enterprise no matter how big or small.
In fact pictures of Ganesha decorate the entrances of businesses, letterheads, and on invitations to most events. (Kindersley 467). Ganesha is also seen as a facilitator of wisdom through Hindu religion and he and his wives ,the goddesses of success and wisdom, are often prayed to for guidance over new endeavors or for advice about almost anything. (“Encyclopedia of India,”129). In Hindu tradition no ritual whether spiritual, family, birth, or death is too big not to pray to him. (“Ganesha, the treasure trove of Guana and Vidya. “).
Ganesha even has his own sacred places and holidays. The nine scared places to Ganesha where people still visit to worship him are Morgaon, Theagaon, Sidhtek, Vorad, Murud, Ganogapur, Lenyadri, Ranjangaon, and Ojhor. These places are located all across India and Eastern Asia. Other areas also worship Ganesha as an important deity in Afghanistan, Japan, Tibet, and other places in that proximity within Southwest Asia. Ganesha also has a sacred day on the fourth day of the second Hindu month of Bhadrapada or between August and September. “Encyclopedia of India. “129).
Ganesha in may peoples lives is seen as a mentor, a teacher, and a friend. (Kindersley 467). Furthermore, Ganesha has truly symbolizes wisdom and great intellect and even today, through the survival of Hinduism as a major world religion, is worshipped as an important deity within the Hindu religion, and he is an icon to many people throughout the world. (“UXL Encyclopedia of World Mythology. “424). Ganesha has also shown, both through his origin as a Hindu deity and significance in society, how nature controls all life.
Ganesha’s origin as a Hindu deity and the significance of his elephant head can be traced back to the worship of elephants in Hindu society. Elephants are seen as some of the smartest animals in the world and as creatures of incredible strength. In ancient a Hindu society elephants were praised for there ability to uproot trees and haul things around for people. Elephants were also seen as extremely peaceful, passive, and viewed as nonthreatening to society, and they were worshipped for there amazing memory.
These reasons for the praise and worship as an important animal in Hindu society is most likely why the incorporated him into one of there most important deities. A deity who incorporates many of the characteristics of how elephants were perceived in Hindu society. (“UXL Encyclopedia of World Mythology. ” 423). Furthermore, besides being known as a remover of obstacles and a god of wisdom and knowledge, Ganesha is also known to preside of the natural world and to be a preserver of the nature.
He even has a festival in Mumbai from September ninth to fifteenth celebrating his role in the natural world. (“Your favorite eco-Ganesha comes back with a bang. “). During festivals to Ganesha his role in nature is considered through meditation on the five elements, fire, water, earth, wind, and ether. Even his offerings during his festivals are completely in tune with nature. Homas offered to him, for example, both purify the air as they are burned and leave a positive energy in the winds. (“Ganesha, a treasure trove of Guana and Vidya. “).
Even children in schools across India, children celebrate Ganesha in an environmentally friendly way and are encouraged to respect and care for the environment to appease Ganesha. (“Ganesha time at the Somaiya School!!!!. “). Known for his mythological influence on today’s society and how he shows that nature controls life, Ganesha is also best known as being the Hindu god of good fortune. Exemplified by his mythological influence on today’s society and shown through how Ganesha influences how nature controls life, Ganesha truly is god to look up too.