Indian Culture

Ganesha: The elephant God

Ganesha is one of the most popular God in India. Its statue has body of a chubby child and head of an elephant. You can find it everywhere. Almost all sects of Hinduism worship Ganesha. For foreigners, this God is cute and comic, which fits with current standards of coolness. Sometimes, you can find his picture in adverts in Europe.  Here is a picture, in which Ganesha is advertising for a super market.

promoting Migros
Ganesha promoting Migros

So recently, I went to an Indian restaurant. I found a picture of Ganesha on the menu and  I started telling his elephant head story to others. I made grave mistakes in my story and an Indian intern caught me. I was bit embarrassed. Then, I went back and read about Ganesha. I found amazing things about Indian scriptures. I mainly read this book.

Ganesha was not the main God in early vedic tradition. Some claim that he didn’t even exist then. The main evidence is that he wasn’t mentioned in Ramayana and Mahabharata at all. His myths were invented in 5th century and became the pop God of the time. The puranas(mythical books) were written about him. Someone also came up with Ganesh GITA. There was also a cult which believed that Ganesha was the highest God.

The most interesting fact is that these puranas are inconsistent with each other. There are multiple versions of same mythical events.  For example, how was Ganesha born? Some sources say, his mother Parvati wanted a child but father Shiva didn’t. In a sex session, Shiva somehow feeds his semen to mouth of god of fire instead of her womb. This act made Parvati angry and she created Ganesha out of her neckless. From other sources, the sex session was interrupted by Vishnu, another God, and semen falls on the floor. This time Vishnu was complicit with Parvati. So, he does some magic and that semen drop became a child. This is one example. Every small piece of detail about him has multiple versions.

Its interesting! Next time I will tell people the correct story.


4 thoughts on “Ganesha: The elephant God

  1. Dear Mr. Ashutosh,

    i found your blog in google while making search for my name. its really nice to see that you are keen to know about the real facts, this i noticed when i read your comments about ganesha. the fact that ganesha is not mentioned in ramayana or the mahabharat was never noticed by me though i have heard the story of ganesh utpatti from my elders.

    no doubt there are several god and godess in hindu religion but recently i saw a very popular picture of ‘virat swaroop” of Sri Krishna in cover page of a very well know book ” akhand jyoti” (hope u know about it) there one can see how only one god exists and all others are various parts of it. this picture alone discribes whole thought of hindu religion about existence GOD and various other God n Godess. This is what i think!

    Ashutosh Srivastava

  2. Hello Ashutosh Srivastav,

    Thank you for your comment. I am not an expert on hindu scriptures. I have cited the source, which I was quoting. There are myths about Ganesha being involve in writing first copy of Mahabharata but still he is not mentioning within it.

    Hindu thought didn’t emerge from single place, person, and time. It is a result of thousands of years of work of a civilization. In India, there has been great process of reconciling all the differences by reconceptualizing religious beliefs. The culture(religion) we have got is the result of this historical process.

    The interpretation of Hinduism you are supplying is one of the great synthesis of our culture. I am not challenging the greatness of this idea but the surrounding myths. For example, purana about Ganesha has no more value than Harry Potter. There are some Hindu scriptures filled with wisdom. Why dont we simply restrict ourselves to those books???


    1. it may not value for you but it is! for others! if you don’t understand something it doesn’t mean it doesn’t exists…. there is always a world beyond our thinking or imagination.

  3. it may not value for you but it is! for others! if you don’t understand something it doesn’t mean it doesn’t exists…. there is always a world beyond our thinking or imagination.

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