Remove all obstacles , Including you
The concept of Ganesha is your willingness to remove all the obstacle in YOUR way. He will remove all obstacles until nothing is left but YOU and he will remove YOU (as in the identities we attach ourselves with) to serve the purpose of your life. Aren’t your fears, judgement, ego, attachments and your identities - the biggest obstacle in your way. Ganesha is one of the most popular deities in Indian culture. To give you a pretext, there are about 3 million deities we embrace and worship. Indian culture has always created deities for what they are seeking. An idol of Ganesha sits on the dashboard of our car, grocery store cash register, on our desk and in our alter where we seek to be guided and remove all that is unnecessary.
I would like start with a story about the birth of Ganesha and how he got his Elephant head. There are as many version of this story as Ganesha’s arms but for now, we will go with the one I like to tell. This story is based on my memories from childhood and some I have picked up while reading mythological books.Shiva and Parvati( also known as Shakti) are Ganesha’s parents. Shiva is responsible for transformation in the trinity of creation in Indian Mythology. Parvati was a beautiful princess who married Shiva and was living in a cottage up on the mountains. She was born as a princess but had to give up all her luxuries to marry Shiva and live with bare minimum. Shiva was a minimalist if there was one. One of the pleasures she truly enjoyed was a long luxurious bath. But that would always be interrupted as someone always needed help from Shiva or Parvati and they would barge into their home.
So one day, while Shiva was on a hunting trip, Parvati was looking forward to her long luxurious bath.Women in India make herbal paste using turmeric and apply on their body to enhance their beauty. So, she gathered some of the turmeric paste on her body and created Ganesha and breathed life into him. She asked him to guard her door while she bathed.After several days , Shiva returns backs from his hunting trip and is stopped by Ganesha at the door. He says that he has instructions from his mother to not let anyone inside the house. Shiva first is amused but then soon gets angry as the boy calls him out to a fight. Shiva takes out his trident and severe Ganesha head off. Hearing the scream Parvati comes running outside and is devastated to see her son who is bleeding and has no head.
Shiva in Indian stories is known for his temper but Parvati when challenged becomes Shakti, a power to beckon with. She personifies a true power of everything feminine and can be formidable. Shiva foresees the consequence and decides to rectify the situation immediately. He sends one of his aids to bring him back the head of the elephant he had just killed during hunting and attaches to Ganesha’s body. As Shiva breathes life back into his son, Ganesha now becomes a boy with human body and an elephant head.
Now why Elephant head , not a cow , goat or a bear. As Parvati created Ganesha with turmeric paste which is used to enhance beauty and put all her powers in, Ganesha became formidable and unstoppable. His head had be severed to make him more humane.See in Yogic texts, an elephant or Hastin in Sanskrit represents wisdom , acute memory and compassion. The large elephants have managed to survive without killing other animals through the evolution of spices. That is the quality we seek, not to crush another form for our survival. So, Ganesha now represents a force created by Shakti and Shiva but having the compassion and wisdom of an Elephant. He then becomes a deity to be worshipped who removes all obstacles including your own ego.
What practices do you have to remove YOU from you. Through these Yoga practices we long to peel the layers and see who we truly are. We have caught a glimpse of that possibility and we try test new boundaries. So, grow your elephant head and call upon the wisdom which is in that belly of information. Ask that force to guide you to remove all that in unnecessary.