During our trip to the Rubin Museum as an LC, we were able to walk around and absorb the art. One particular piece that caught my attention was the Ganesha artifact. The fact that he has an elephant head intrigued me and made me want to find out more about the hindu God. He is the Lord of success and destroyer of evils and obstacles. He is also worshipped as the god of education, knowledge, wisdom, annd wealth.
Ganesha’s head symbolizes the Atman or the soul, which is the ultimate supreme reality of human existence, and his human body signifies Maya or the earthly existence of human beings. The elephant head denotes wisdom and its trunk represents Om, the sound symbol of cosmic reality. What intrigued me the most was how Ganesha got his elephant head.
Once goddess Parvati, while bathing, created a boy out of the dirt of her body and assigned him the task of guarding the entrance to her bathroom. When Shiva, her husband returned, he was surprised to find a stranger denying him access, and struck off the boy’s head in rage. Parvati broke down in utter grief and to soothe her, Shiva sent out his squad (gana) to fetch the head of any sleeping being who was facing the north. The company found a sleeping elephant and brought back its severed head, which was then attached to the body of the boy. Shiva restored its life and made him the leader (pati) of his troops. Hence his name ‘Ganapati’. Shiva also bestowed a boon that people would worship him and invoke his name before undertaking any venture. There are multiple versions of how Ganesha got his elephant head which adds to the curiosity.