Last Updated: August 26, 2016

Definition - What does Ganesh mean?

Ganesh (or Ganesha) is a Hindu god, and the son of Shiva and Parvati. He is the god of wisdom, the lord of good fortune, and is also regarded as the remover of obstacles.

Ganesh is depicted as a short fat man with the head of an elephant. He is one of the most popular and widely worshiped Hindu deities. Worship of Ganesh is thought to bring prosperity, success and protection.

In yoga, Ganesh is said to be connected to the root chakra, which represents survival and material well-being. There is a yogic mudra associated with Ganesh, called the Ganesha Mudra. It is said to help motivate the practitioner to keep going when they are down.

Yogapedia explains Ganesh

Ganesh's association with the first chakra means he's connected to the seat of one's primordial force and is the manifestation of its Divine energy. In Kundalini yoga, Ganesh is said to reside in this chakra. In this way, he is the foundation and support for all of the higher chakras.

In Hatha yoga, there are three asanas associated with activating the root chakra and connecting with Ganesh's energy:

  1. Sukhasana (easy pose)
  2. Balasana (child's pose)
  3. Trikonasana (triangle pose)

Ganesh’s elephant head symbolizes his wisdom and the knowledge that can be gained through listening and reflection. He is often portrayed with his vehicle, a mouse, which is said to symbolize Ganesha’s ability to overcome desire and selfishness.

There are many stories about how Ganesha got his elephant head. One of the most popular stories says that his mother, Parvati, created the boy to guard her door while she bathed. Upon returning from battle, Lord Shiva tried to enter the bathroom, but was stopped by Ganesh. So Shiva cut off Ganesh’s head with his sword. After learning what Shiva had done, Parvati was very distressed. To appease her, Shiva sent his warriors to fetch the head of the first creature they found. This happened to be an elephant, so Shiva attached the elephant’s head to Ganesh, bringing him back to life.

In Hindu mythology, Ganesh’s roles also include being the destroyer of vanity, pride and selfishness, as well as being a patron of the arts and sciences.

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