Ganesha: God of Good Forture, Destroyer of Obstacles
One of Hinduism's most popular Gods
In Hinduism, Ganesha, also spelled as Ganesa and Ganesh ( or referred to as Ganapati) is one of the most popular and venerated Gods. He is the first son of Shiva and Parvati, and the 'consort' of Buddhi (also called Riddhi) and Siddhi. 'Ga' symbolizes Buddhi (intellect) and 'Na' symbolizes Vidnyana (wisdom). Ganesha is thus considered to connote intellect and wisdom. He is depicted as a big-bellied, yellow or red god with four arms and the head of a an elephant, riding on, or attended to by, a mouse. He is frequently represented sitting down, with one leg raised in the air and bent over the other.
Ganesha is worshipped in different avataras such as Krishna, Sage Parashurama, Naga (the snake god). He is also depicted as a warrior king and at times in a playful mood with dandiya sticks, the symbol of the navaratri festival. Ganesha is one of the five prime Hindu deities (Brahma, Vishnu, Shiva and Durga being the other four).
The popularity of Ganesha is significant, even outside of India. Some of his devotees identify Ganesha as the Supreme deity. Perhaps the reason for the adulation and popularity is this God's connection with good fortune. Ganesha is considered by many to be the source of prosperity and wealth. Some refer to Ganesha as the Lord of Good Fortune and also the Destroyer of Obstacles. Because of this, Ganesha's favor is sought at the outset of any important or difficult challenge. Throughout India, Ganesha is the first icon placed into any new home with strong hope that He will bring good fortune to its inhabitants.
He is also revered in Jainism, and he is important in the art and mythology of Asia. He was popular with Indian nationalists, who struggled to free India of British colonial rule.
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The Rev. Charles P. Henderson is a Presbyterian minister and author of Faith, Science and the Future, published in 1994 by CrossCurrents Press. He is also the author of God and Science (John Knox / Westminster, 1986) which he is now rewriting to incorporate more recent developments in the conversation taking place between scientists and theologians. He has also written widely for such publications as The New York Times, The Nation, Commonweal, The Christian Century and others.