Ganesha: The Elephant-Headed God Who Removes Obstacles

99 Thoughts on Ganesha, Stories, Symbols and Rituals of India’s beloved elephant-headed deity tells us about some known and some unknown facts about God Ganesha without whom any ritual wouldn’t start in Hinduism.

In Sanatan Dharam, or Hinduism, there are 330 million Gods and Goddesses, unlike other major religions of the world like Christianity, Islam, and Judaism, where there is a concept of One God and One Holy book.

Out of those 33 Crore Gods and Goddesses, each of them represent an idea. Be it the Trinity of Hinduism,

Brahma ( The Creator)

Vishnu ( The Preserver)

Mahesha, or Shiva ( The Destroyer)

But, there is an one particular deity without his blessings you can’t initiate any kind of ritual in a Hindu household. In fact, Hindus invokes his name whenever and wherever they start something auspicious. He is none other than, Lord Ganapati.

Book on Lord Ganesha

99 thoughts on Ganesha, Devdutt Pattanaik

So, let’s discuss about the God who removes obstacles and bring joy and happiness in one’s life.


Who is Ganesha?

Ganesha is the son of Lord Shiva and Godess Parvati ( Shakti).

He is also known as Ganapati, leader of the Ganas. In fact, his mother gave him the name of Vinayaka. Because, the way he was born is quite interesting.


The Birth of Vinayaka –

Godess Shakti wanted a child but Lord Shiva didn’t want to be a father. So, Mother Parvati made a paste of turmeric and oil, and she applied that paste on her body. When the paste was dried she removed it and from that she created a baby and named it Vinayaka.

In fact, the name Vinayaka means, a child created without the help of a man. Vina (without) and nayaka (A Man).

Image of Lord Ganapati

Ganapati, The God Who Removes Obstacles

That’s how Ganesha was born. He is an organic God. Even today on the occasion of Ganesha Chaturthi, Hindus bring statutes made of clay and after one, three, five, seven or ten days they submerged it either in a river or inside their home.

In fact, how Vinayaka became Ganesha is as fascinating as his birth story.


From Vinayaka To Ganesha –

As, Mother Parvati created Vinayaka. So, she told her son that don’t let anyone inside her cave. As, neither God Shiva was aware about his son nor Vinayaka knew anything about his father.

So, God Shiva tried to enter the cave of Goddess Shakti. But, Vinayaka didn’t let him in. That infuriated Shiva. Out of anger, he threw his Trident towards Vinayaka and chopped his head off.

When Parvati came out of her cave, she saw the lifeless body of her son. She told Shiva that she will destroy the entire world if he don’t give her son back to her. 

So, Lord Shiva told his followers to go towards the North direction and bring back the head of the first moving creature they encounter.

So, Shiva’s followers saw an elephant and brought his head to Shiva. The latter put that head on the lifeless body of Vinayaka and resurrected him. And Shiva also gave him the name of Ganesha, or Ganapati, leader of the Ganas.

That’s how Vinayaka became Ganesha, or Ganapati.


The metaphor behind the elephant head –

In fact, some of you might be thinking that why they used the head of an elephant, isn’t it. So, the answer to this query can’t be explained in black and white terms, to understand the metaphor behind using the elephant head lies in the grey area which can be interpreted in ‘n’ number of ways.

Hinduism is all about interpretation. Each symbol here represents something. Be it the worshipping of nature, or animals. You will find creatures of all shades available in the abode of Sanatan dharam (or eternal religion).

As we all know that elephant is the most powerful animal present in the jungle. In fact, he is a beast. Nor he has any natural rivals. He also represents abundance and prosperity. Because, you won’t find an elephant at a place where food and water are in scarcity.

So, by giving Vinayaka the head of an elephant. Shiva and Shakti, created a symbol which represents uncountable number of things. Like, we all know that inside a human body there is a beast which resides within us. And the head of an elephant represents that beast and the human body symbolises the power that can overcome that beast and bring the best out of himself or herself, isn’t it.

Similarly, the elephant head also represents the material reality. And the human body represents spiritual reality. And Lord Ganapati, is the combination of both. It tells us that in one’s life a balance is a prerequisite for success.

From nowhere to everywhere –

Ganapati was not the primary deity during the ancient India. But, with time he gained
prominence and slowly and steadily his reach extended not only in India but also to countries like Nepal, Tibet, Cambodia, Indonesia and even Japan.

In fact, during the 18th and 19th century, Ganesha became the primary deity of the Peshwas (Maratha Rulers of India). And this legacy was turned into a social event of cultural gathering by one of the fierce freedom fighters of India, Bal Gangadhar Tilak.

It was Tilak who capitalised the festival of Ganesha Chaturthi which was till then not a pan Indian festival. He used this festival to spread the message of Swaraj ( Self Rule) amongst the people of Colonial India.

So, in some ways Gajanan also gave his blessings to free India from the clutches of British colonialism.

I’ll conclude with this bon mot of the The First Sikh Guru, Guru Nanak ji –

Even Kings and emperors with heaps of wealth and vast dominion cannot compare with an ant filled with the love of God.

I hope you like this, Thanks for reading, Jai Hind.

My Ratings: ⭐⭐⭐ (3/5) 

Order your copy from here- 99 thoughts on Ganesha

Yash Sharma

Namaste reader, My name is Yash, and books for me are like a medicine, which removes my ignorance and also helps me in behaving more like a human.Though I live in the world’s largest democracy, India, but when I look around, I realized that this democratic nation of mine has turned into a kind of feudal oligarchy or kleptocracy, where people from a particular community or I would say particular surname has hijacked this democracy, and the political parties in India has turned itself into a kind of family enterprises where the family members are the only shareholders. And I want to change this, and books are a weapon which is helping me, so that I can help others and my nation.Shukriya for reading this Thought of mine.

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8 Responses

  1. Tyra says:

    Well written. Interesting information from birth till became Lord Ganapati. Continue introducing Hinduism to us, readers. Eager to know other Gods that people are praying for. Keep it up Yash.

  2. Prabal Singh Nain says:

    Well written brother. Keep it up. And Happy Ganesh chaturthi. Why this book have a title of 99 thoughts of Ganesha? Can you explain. I think this book is based on knowledge given by lord Ganesha.

    • Thanks, Prabal for your feedback. And Happy Ganesha Chaturthi to you also. As you’ve asked about the title of this book. So, 99 Thoughts on Ganesha means, ninety nine facts related to Lord Ganapati That’s why the author decided to go with this title. I hope you got the answer of your query.

  3. Sinthiya Oishi says:

    Nice one. But I already know this story. You know brother when I was in school I always took my Hindu friends religion book to read. I like to read others religious topics to increase my knowledge. After reading this article I am missing my those friends. It remembers me those old days….Thank you

  4. Aishwarya says:

    Really a fascinating one. I was totally unaware of the fact that it was Bal Gangadhar Tilak who capitalized Ganesh Chaturthi a popularly celebrated festival. This book must be enriched with many such unknown interesting facts. There’s so much to learn and explore about Hinduism.

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