The Powerful Elements Of Lord Ganesh-Part 2
June 3, 2007
The significance and symbolic interpretations of every element of our Lord helps to understand Him. It is for us to learn, understand and hopefully imbibe some of His attributes and get closer to Him.
Lord Ganesh’s head symbolizes the soul and also denotes wisdom. When the sacred symbol of Om is inverted, it gives the perfect formation of His head. Ganesh is depicted with several heads and each of them signifies different understandings which help in the attainment of Ganesh consciousness.
Dwi means two and Mukha stands for head / face. These two heads signify the microcosmic and macrocosmic aspects of the Universe. It also denotes Brahmanda, which is known as the cosmic egg or the golden matrix, Hiranyagarbha. It is the source of all creations.
This three-headed form represents the three states of being called the Gunas (Qualities and Attributes). They are Sattva, Rajas and Tamas. Sattva is the mode of goodness and equilibrium, Rajas denotes passion, effort and action or activity and Tamas depicts ignorance, lack of action or inertia. In its purest state, the mind is pure Sattva and the two sources of mental disturbances are Rajas (Excess activity) and Tamas (Inactivity).
The four-headed Lord Ganesh represents Manas (Mind), Chitta (Individual Consciousness), Buddhi (Intellect) and Ahamkara (Ego). These are also used to name His arms. This form is compared with that of Lord Brahma who also has four heads and they represent the four Vedas – Rig Veda, Vajur Veda, Sama Veda and Atharva Veda.
These five heads of Ganesh symbolize the five elements – Maha Bhuta namely earth, air, water, fire, and ether. The fifth head is located above the four heads and it denotes the highest level of pure consciousness or Sat- Chit-Ananda or Anandamayakosha.
Man and animal both perceive their environment through their eyes. They are able to see things as they are. The animal that lacks this capacity is the elephant. It sees everything bigger than itself. This implies that one should not discriminate, but regard everyone bigger, better and more virtuous than oneself. Sometimes Lord Ganesh is depicted as red-eyed because He killed the demon, Sindhura. (Sindhur denotes vermilion) Trinetra (A third eye which is placed on His forehead between the eyebrows) is seen in His other forms.
The elephant uses its trunk for various tasks like carrying load, uprooting trees, to pick thin blades of grass or fruits from trees. Thus the trunk has the unique capacity of performing both gross and subtle activities. This is a symbolic representation of Lord Ganesh’s intellect and His powers of discrimination. We too should train our minds to handle both big and small challenges of life.
The dangling trunk between the tusks signifies the discrimination between the worldly and the spiritual matters. But the Lord is beyond dualities.The deity’s trunk when curved to the left side, He is known as Idamburi Vinayaka and when on the right, He is known as Valamburi / Valampuri Vinayaka. The Siddhivinayak Swaroop (Form) has the trunk on the right.
The positioning of the trunk is associated with the Nadis (It means what is flowing through the channels of the body). Ida Nadi is associated with the moon and symbolizes the trunk placed on the left side. This denotes the guna of Tamas. While performing Puja (Rituals for prayers / Method of worshipping) of Idamburi Vinayaka, the rules are simple and if one is not able to follow the accurate and detailed mode of worship, one is pardoned. Pingala Nadi is associated with the sun and the trunk here is placed on the right. Special care is taken when one offers puja to Valamburi / Valampuri Vinayaka. This represents the Rajas guna.
Usually people do not consecrate the deity of Valamburi / Valampuri Vinayaka at home as all are not able to perform His worship as per scriptures. It is said that if the rules are not followed correctly then the heat and brightness of the sun can affect the worshipper. So it is best left in the hands of knowledgeable priests. When the trunk is in the centre between His tusks, it symbolizes that the Sushumna Nadi is open. This nadi is related to the Sattva Guna. Such idols are very rare. The deity’s trunk when raised in the air, it means that the Kundalini Shakti has reached the Sahasra permanently. This form is fairly uncommon.
Kundalini literally means coiling like a snake. The energy and consciousness moves in a spiraling motion situated at the base of our spine. There are seven chakras (Energy Points). It starts at the Muladhara Chakra at the base of the spinal column, near the anus, passing through five other chakra namely Svadisthana-placed a little above the point of origin, Manipura – located at the gastric plexus, Anahata-situated on the level of the heart plexus, Vishuddhi-placed at the throat level, Ajna located on the forehead and finally Sahasrara at the top of the head. Lord Ganesh is the controller of the Muladhara chakra and governs the power or Shakti that is dormant.
Other interpretations state that the positioning of His trunk on the left denotes success and symbolizes Grihasthas (The Householder. In Hinduism, human life is classified into four Ashramas or stages. Brahmacharya is the stage where one studies scriptures under a guidance of a Guru and leads a celibate life. In Grihasta Ashrama, one marries and leads a householder’s life. In Vanaprastha Ashrama, one completes all his duties as a son / husband / father and leaves to spend a life in the forest which involves in meditation. The final Ashrama is Sanyasa where one severes all ties with the material world and works towards spiritual enhancement to achieve salvation.) The trunk on the right denotes worship and prayers symbolizing Moksha (Liberation) and renunciation of the world.
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