Ganesha, lord of beginnings and remover of obstacles, is probably the most worshipped divin-ity of the Hindu pantheon. With the head of an elephant and a human body that shows a pro-truding belly—the sign of Ganesha’s fondness for sweets—the god is a central figure in the cult of SHIVA, as the elder son of Shiva and PARVATI. He is also worshipped as a deity on his own, as is shown in Ganesha PURANA. Nearly every Indian PUJA or worship service commences with verses to and adoration of Ganesha. The figure of the sitting Ganesha and his incongruous vehicle, the rat, is found near the entranceway or one of the entranceways of many, many Hindu temples.
   As is usual in Hindu mythology and lore, there are many and various stories about the events of Ganesha’s life. The most common story of his ori-gin is that he was made by Parvati, who rubbed off material from her skin and formed it into a shape of a person. She set this “child” Ganesha to guard her shower or inner chamber. Shiva, unaware of this, found Ganesha at his post and thinking that he was a lover or intruder he cut off the child’s head. Scolded by an angry Parvati, Shiva hastily rushed off to find a new head for the child and returned with the head of an elephant.
   In one popular story Parvati declares a race around the universe between the ponderous Gane-sha and his younger brother, Skanda or KARTTIKEYA. The younger boy takes off on his swift peacock vehicle swift as lightning, leaving the slow Gane-sha with his pitiful rat vehicle far behind. Thinking a moment, Ganesha realizes that his mother and father themselves constitute the entire universe. He simply walks around his mother and father Lord Ganesha, the elephant-headed god, is the son of Lord Shiva and known as remover of obstacles. (Saiva Siddhanta Church, Kapaa, Kauai, Hawaii) and wins the race. Ganesha is also said to have written down the MAHABHARATA epic as quickly as its reciter VYASA was able to tell it. For this Gane-sha broke off one of his tusks to use as a stylus. In South India Ganesha is known as a bachelor, but in other parts of India he is seen as married.
   Iconographically Ganesha appears in many poses and forms, but he is most often sitting, accompanied by the rat, with one tusk broken. Most often he is shown with two arms, but he is also depicted with several pairs. In his hands are sweets, his tusk, an axe, a noose, or an elephant goad.
   After his popularity had been well established in the Brahminical tradition, Ganesha appeared in Jain tradition as well (see JAINISM), in which he was seen as a remover of obstacles. Outside India Ganesha is found in Buddhist contexts as a TA N-TRIC deity, with sometimes unbenign characteris-tics. He is found in Southeast Asian art, in Tibet, in China, and even in Japan.
   The cult of Ganesha is probably quite old, originating in the worship of the elephant, but its actual origin is difficult to determine. The cult is visible in extant sources dating from the fourth century C.E. He is not mentioned at all in earlier texts such as the Mahabharata or the RAMAYANA, in which Shiva and VISHNU and their emerging cults are developing.
   Further reading: Robert L. Brown, ed., Ganesh: Studies of an Asian God (Albany: State University of New York Press, 1991; Paul Courtright, Ganesha: Lord of Obsta-cles, Lord of Beginnings (New York: Oxford University Press, 1985); Satguru Sivaya Subramuniyaswami, Lov-ing Ganesha, Hinduism’s Endearing Elephant-Faced God (Kapaa, Hawaii: Himalayan Academy, 1996).

Encyclopedia of Hinduism. . 2007.

Look at other dictionaries:

  • Ganesha —   [ ʃ ; Sanskrit »Herr der Schar«, d. h. des Gefolges von Shiva], Ganapạti, indische Gottheit, gilt als Beseitiger aller Hindernisse und als Beschützer der Gelehrsamkeit; in der indischen Mythologie Sohn Shivas und Parvatis. Ganesha wird in der… …   Universal-Lexikon

  • Ganesha — Vinayaka redirects here. For other uses, see Vinayaka (disambiguation). Ganapati redirects here. For Hindu Vedic Deity and God of planet Jupiter, see Brihaspati. For other uses, see Ganesha (disambiguation). Ganesha …   Wikipedia

  • Ganesha — Estatua de Ganesha del siglo XIII, creada en el distrito de Mysore en Karnataka. Ganesha es una de las deidades más conocidas y adoradas del panteón hindú.[1] gaṇeśa, en el sistema AITS (alfab …   Wikipedia Español

  • Ganesha — Zeitgenössische Ganesha Statue Ganesha (Sanskrit: गणेश Gaṇeśa  [gʌˈɳeːɕʌ]) (Gana: Gefolge , Schar , Isha …   Deutsch Wikipedia

  • Ganesha — /geuh nay sheuh/, n. the Hindu god of wisdom. * * * or Ganesa Elephant headed Hindu god, the son of Shiva and Parvati. He is also revered in Jainism, and he is important in the art and mythology of Buddhist Asia. As the remover of obstacles,… …   Universalium

  • Ganesha — Ganesh  Cet article concerne la divinité hindoue. Pour le logiciel, voir Ganesha (logiciel). Ganesha Père Shiva …   Wikipédia en Français

  • Ganesha — Ganesa Ga*ne sa, Ganesh Ganesh, Ganesha Ganesha, prop. n. (Hindu Myth.) The Hindu god of wisdom, prudence and prophesy; the remover of obstacles. Syn: Ganapati. [1913 Webster WordNet 1.5] Note: He is represented as a short, fat, red colored man,… …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • Ganesha —    or Ganesa    The Hindu god of good fortune, he is the son of Shiva and Parvati. He is typically depicted as elephant headed, and credited with the elephant s good nature and great strength. The remover of obstacles, Ganesha is the god to… …   Glossary of Art Terms

  • Ganesha — En el hinduísmo, Ganesha o Ganesh (en sánscrito, señor de los ganas) es hijo de Shiva y Parvati. Dios de la sabiduría y de las letras. Su montura o vahana es un ratón. Normalmente es representado con cuatro brazos, gran barriga y cabeza de… …   Enciclopedia Universal

  • Ganesha — noun a) A Hindu god of intellect, wisdom, gates and beginnings, son of Parvati and Shiva. b) used in India. Syn: Aumkara, Ekadanta, Gajanana, Ganapati, Lambodara, Shurpa Karna, Umaputra, Vakratunda, Vighnaharta, Vinayaka …   Wiktionary

Share the article and excerpts

Direct link
Do a right-click on the link above
and select “Copy Link”

We are using cookies for the best presentation of our site. Continuing to use this site, you agree with this.