Ganesh (Ganesha) is the Hindu God of Obstacles. In particular, removing and placing obstacles.
Ganesh General Info (Detailed history is below)
Many call Ganesh by other names such as Ganesha, Ganesa, or Ganapati.
Ganesh, a Hindu god, first appeared about 2000 years ago.
Over time Ganesh became a very important god. Millions of people believe Ganesh to be the supreme god – mostly in India. There are daily prayers offered to Ganesha from his followers.
Ganesh is the son of Shiva and Vishnu. Shiva is said to have created Ganesh after a frustrating experience where he couldn’t see his own wife – Vishnu – bathing.
Ganesha is the god of obstacles, or, Vighneshvara. He is able to create and remove obstacles in peoples lives. It is said that if one doesn’t worship him correctly he may put obstacles to your life – so Ganesh devotees are very good about honoring him!
Ganesh is important not only in India where he originated, but in Thailand, Cambodia, Vietnam, Afghanistan, and Japan.
In addition to obstacles, it is said that Ganesh can grant success – especially for people carrying his amulets, but also for people who make requests and drop offerings on statues around the city.
Ganesh statues, figurines, and amulets can be found all over Asia. Here in Thailand Ganesh statues share shrines with Buddha and Shiva quite frequently. Ganesh figures can be found in gardens, on the street, on the shore of rivers, at temples, in houses, in businesses, in college dorms, around necks, wrists and fingers, and on shirts!
Ganesh Elephant – God with the Elephant Head
Ganesh is a god that is worshiped by Hindus and to a lesser extent by Jains and Buddhists. He goes under a number of different names (more than 100) including:
- Phra Phikanet (Thailand)
Followers of Hinduism worship many gods, but Ganesh is the most well known to those outside of this religion because of his distinctive look. He has a large elephant head in most amulets. Millions of people in India worship Ganesh as the ultimate god – the Supreme Being.
Is Ganesh the Son of Shiva?
There are a number of legends that describe the birth of Ganesh. He is said to be the son of Lord Shiva – the god of death and destruction. One of the most popular stories of his birth is that he was magically created by Shiva’s wife – the goddess Pavarti. She made her son out of dirt because she needed someone to guard her door. Ganesh took his job seriously and he refused to allow anyone to enter his mother’s apartment. All was well until the Lord Shiva returned home from war unexpectedly. He was so angry about being stopped at his wife’s door by a stranger that he cut off Ganesh’s head. Pavarti was the only person in the world whom Shiva was afraid of, and she was outraged by what he had done to her son. The God of death and destruction become remorseful, and he promised to make amends. He decided to remove the head of the first animal he could find, and then used this to replace Ganesh’s amputated head. The first animal he came across was an elephant.
The Power of Ganesh
Ganesh is worshiped as the:
- Lord of Success
- Destroyer of obstacles
- Lord of elephants
- God of education and wisdom
- God of wealth
- Lord of beginnings
As well as being the destroyer and creator of all obstacles, it is believed that Ganesh will deliberately create obstacles for those who disrespect him. He is also associated with the chakras in Kundalini yoga. He is said to reside in the sacral area – the root (first) chakra.
Image of Ganesha in Amulets
Ganesh is usually depicted with a humanoid looking elephant head, and a curved trunk. He also has a large protruding belly which is said to represent prosperity. Most images will show a small mouse beside his feet – this represents obstacles that need to be overcome. These depictions of Ganesh can be understood as representing his attributes:
The large elephant head represents the wisdom given to him by Shiva
His pot belly represents his ability to create prosperity
The small mouse near his feet represents the many obstacles that need to be overcome
Ganesh and Buddhism
Ganesh is a Hindu god, but he is also on object of veneration for many Buddhists. This is hardly surprising as the Buddha and his early followers would have originally being devotees of Brahmanism (early Hinduism). There are even some Hindus who believe that the Buddha was a direct reincarnation of Ganesh. Some Buddhists believe that Ganesh was a bodhisattva – this is an enlightened being who decides to delay entering final nirvana because they wish to help those who are still suffering.
Ganesha in Thailand
Thailand is a predominately Buddhist country, but great respect is given to Ganesha because he is believed to be a bringer of good fortune. The Thais usually refer to him as Phra Phikanesuan or Phra Phikanet. There are many shrines devoted to him all over Thailand – one of the most prominent statues of him is located in Bangkok outside Central World. People will come to this shrine to make merit by laying flowers, sweets, or other treats. This is a particularly common practice for those who are looking for some luck when starting a new venture or sitting exams. One of the more novel ways that his image is used is that businesses that are going through a tough period will hang his picture upside down to indicate their distress.
Ganesha is seen as a powerful god who can help all humans in need. There are many stories from people who are convinced that he interceded on their behalf. Even people who have no real interest in Hinduism can feel that there is something special about Ganesha, and this is why his fame has spread to every corner of the globe. There are many ways to tap into the power of the elephant god, and in Thailand one of the most popular ways to do this is by wearing Ganesha amulets.
It is believed that those who wear a Ganesh amulet around their neck will be protected from obstacles in life. They will also attract prosperity and benefit from increased wisdom. The fact that Ganesh is so well respected means that there are many amulets that use his image – some of the more expensive ones are made from precious metals – especially silver.
Below we have history about some important Buddhist figures and concepts.