Sunday, August 23, 2009

Symbolism of Lord Ganesha

Today is the festival of Ganesh Chathurthi. A day to worship the God who removes all obstacles.During my recent visit to Norwich, U.K, my daughter and her troupe performed a dance drama “Shiva’s third eye” in classical Bharathanatyam style. The story is very relevant to today’s festival and tells how Ganesha got his elephant head.
The story goes as follows:
“Though Ganesha considered as son of Shiva and Parvati, the Matsya Purana, Shiva Purana, and Skanda Purana ascribe the birth of Ganesha to Parvati only, without any form of participation of Shiva in Ganesha's birth.
Once, while Parvati wanted to take a bath, there were no attendants around to guard her and stop anyone from accidentally entering the house. Hence she created an image of a boy out of turmeric paste with which she was preparing to cleanse her body, and infused life into it, and thus Ganesha was born. Parvati ordered Ganesha not to allow anyone to enter the house, and Ganesha obediently followed his mother's orders. After a while Shiva returned and tried to enter the house, Ganesha stopped him. Shiva was infuriated and severed Ganesha's head with his trishula (trident). When Parvati came out and saw her son's lifeless body, she was very angry and sad. She demanded that Shiva restore Ganesha's life at once. Unfortunately, Shiva's trishula was so powerful that it had hurled Ganesha's head so far off that it could not be found. Finally, an elephant's head was attached to Ganesha's body, bringing him back to life.”

There is a great spiritual revelation in this story.
First, Ganesha symbolizes a pure Sakthi (energy) creation. It denotes that every creation is untainted and pure. This is the ‘Original Blessing’ that Christian mystic Matthew Fox talks about in propounding his philosophy of creation.
Second, Ganesha fails to recognize the divine arrival (consciousness) in the act of denying access to Shiva, the true consort of Sakthi (Parvati). This is the ego dominated state of consciousness which becomes rooted in action oriented awareness.
Third, Shiva’s act of decapitating Ganesha denotes the removal of the ego dominated human mind. The human mind has become conditioned through evolutionary consciousness not to recognize the divinity that is present close to us and within us. True divine action totally eradicates the ego, symbolized here by the human head being dispatched to a location where it can not be found and
Fourth, is the act of bestowing of an elephant head by Shiva, the deity who bestows higher and transformative consciousness through his third eye.
The myths involving Elephant have profoundly influenced humanity through history. In depth psychology, dreams filled with Elephant carry messages of transformation and spiritual power. Elephant in one’s dreams can signify the emergence of one’s Highest True Self. The Self, deep within the Collective Unconscious, only emerges when one has done one’s shadow work and integrated the contents of the Unconscious with Conscious Mind. This cannot be done by oneself, but is a sign of the Grace of the Divine and gift of Love of the As Above.

This whole episode is a beautiful depiction of transformation towards higher consciousness. This is the reason that Ganesha is offered a primal place of worship so that he removes all the impediments due to our ego so that we can approach the divine for offering our supplications.

Love to you all

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