Posted in mythology

Ganesha’s Symbolism

Happy belated Ganesha Chaturthi!

Writing this blog post as I travel back from my business trip from the Nordic countries.

I turned on my Indian mobile yesterday and saw this SMS from a friend of mine.

Wishing you happiness as big as Ganesha’s stomach, life as long as his trunk, troubles as small as his mouse and moments as sweet as his laddu”


It is so inspiring.

Lord Ganesha’s figure is a philosophical symbol.

In another book I read, the author talks of Ganesha’s symbolism as follows. Here the author equates Lord Ganesha as a personification of the universal primordial sound, Om, represented in Sanskrit with the symbol:

“His pot-belly signifies that the universe is within him, and he stands transcending it. The similarity of the elephant-face and the figure of Om is quite evident. He easily rides or controls the troublesome Maya, represented by the small but mischievous mouse, his mount.”

It is for not for no reason that we first pray to Lord Ganesha before starting any activity – he symbolizes the primordial sound – the first sound emanated, which is the manifestation of the Reality.

Rather than being too intellectual and snobbish about the symbolism of our Hindu pantheon, it is important to understand that everyone is different and most people (read 99.9999% of people) can’t understand or not able to focus their attention on something that is “not concrete”/ which is “abstract”. Hence we have probably as many “Gods” in our Hindu pantheon as there are people!

It really doesn’t matter how one interprets a symbol – all we need to do is to do is appreciate that some deep thought has gone in behind every form of symbolism in our religion. Interpret the symbolism in whatever way is convenient /understandable to your mind and lastly, let’s not be dogmatic and ridicule others who interpret it differently than you!

Love to hear from you,

Write to me about your interpretations of religious symbolism. Leave your thoughts in the comments here.


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3 thoughts on “Ganesha’s Symbolism

  1. Such a beautiful interpretation.. U r right, everything about our religion is symbolism and some where in between, we lost track of that. Hopefully, with “intellectuals” like u giving different perspective to things, we will all move towards the reality..



  2. This post on Ganesha’s symbolism has been one of the most highly read posts in my blog.
    This has inspired me to share something more that I recently read:

    During Ganesha Chaturthi, we are supposed to pray to Lord Ganesha with “Durva” grass and 21 modaks (sweets that Ganesha supposedly loves).
    Durva grass denotes humility.
    Modaks denotes all the pleasures we receive from the world.

    The idea is to submit ourselves with all humility to the Lord Ganesha.

    Now for the reason to offer 21 modaks:
    Each modak denotes an aspect of our personality:
    – 5 modaks for the five sense organs – hear, see, touch, smell, taste
    – 5 modaks for the five organs of action – walking, handling, talking, excretion, procreation
    – 5 modaks for the five ‘vital’ air (Prana) – prana, apana, samana, vyana, udana
    – 5 modaks for the five basic elements that we are made of – earth, water, fire, space, wind
    – And lastly 1 more modak for the mind



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