Decrypting the Arcane Symbology Shrouded in Ganesha Paintings

Lord Ganesha holds the foremost position in the Ganas of Lord Shiva. He is above the cycle of birth and death. He is Vinayaka i.e. one who is born without a husband. He is Achintya, Avyakta, and Anata i.e. unaffected by the ego, cannot be expressed due to his mystical power, and free from the circle of life and death. Shiva’s Ganas include every mortal, immortal, animate, inanimate, mundane and celestial being who are manifestations of matter present on Mrityulok or Earth.

Being the Esha or leader of the Ganas, by worshipping him we take the blessings of all the Ganas and thus he becomes the remover of all the obstacles. There is a hidden symbology in Ganesha Paintings that we will try to understand in this post.

Understanding the Iconography in the Ganesha Paintings

  1. Ganesha’s potbelly–Ganesha is always drawn or carved with a big potbelly. This signifies that he is generous and accommodating. He accepts you without judging.
  2. Hands bestowing blessings—His upraised palm towards the devotees signifies that everyone is under the protection of the king of Ganas. His lowered palm means that he is the bestower of boon and privileges. This also signifies the cycle of birth in which we all live. Our souls will leave our body and become with the supreme one and mortal remains will wither on earth.
  3. Ganesha’s broken tusk leaves him with only one- This signifies that one should always walk on the right path.
  1. Ganesha’s accessories- He carries Ankusa in his hands which means spiritual awakening and destruction of ego. Another accessory adorned by him is Paasa which signifies control. When one loses his ego and is awakened spiritually, a large amount of energy is released. If this is not controlled, it may destroy the being.
  1. Ganesha’s Mushaka or rat-vehicle- The rat is cursed with nibbling and biting everything he gets. Though he does so because of his survival instinct. But. Under Hindu mythology, a rat is the manifestation of greed. The greed is controlled by wisdom which is Ganesha. This is the reason that rat is always portrayed as gazing towards his lord and holding a Modak but never eating it signifying that wisdom keeps greed in check.

Other amazing facts about our sweet Lord

  1. The tale of curse-boon

Tulsi plant could be found being worshipped in almost each and every household across the length and breadth of India. It is also planted because of its medicinal properties. It is used in worshipping Hindu gods. But, many people are unaware of the fact that Tulsi is not used while worshipping Ganesha. The tale goes like this-

Once, Ganesha was meditating by the bank of a river and Tulsi’s gaze fell upon him who was instantly mesmerized by him. She immediately showed interest in marrying him. Ganesha politely declined. This enraged Tulsi and she cursed Lord Ganesha that he will be married soon even if he doesn’t want (which I would say was more of a boon). Ganesha also cursed Tulsi to become a plant. After realizing her folly, Tulsi immediately tried to appease him and in turn, he modified her curse on the condition that she would not be included while worshipping him.

  1. He is Vaktratunda Mahakaya

वक्रतुण्ड महाकाय सूर्यकोटि समप्रभ।

निर्विघ्नं कुरु मे देव सर्वकार्येषु सर्वदा॥

You all must have come across this incantation usually written upon the wedding invitations of Hindus marriages. The first invitation for doing any auspicious work is sent to Lord Ganesha so that he could come and remove all the obstacles one might face in starting any work. He is invoked by this hymn which means that-

The Lord with curled trunk

Whose form is prodigious

Who has countenance as that of Sun

Always bless me, so that

I may complete my work without obstacles

The interesting thing to note here is, if the trunk is curled clockwise, the idol can be worshipped in a household. It is curled anti-clockwise, the idol is perfect for being installed in a temple for worshipping.

  1. His altercation with Chandra Devta or Moon

In some of the paintings and sculptures of Ganesha is shown wearing a snake around his belly. This connects to an interesting tale of Ganesha’s altercation with Moon. One day, Ganesha was returning to his home on his Mushaka-rat vehicle whose name is Krauncha having a big meal of laddoos. His large belly was overstuffed with them. The rat got startled by a snake that was passing by.

Eventually, he dropped Ganesha there and ran away. Ganesh’s belly burst from the impact of the fall. All his laddoos fell and scattered everywhere. He picked all the laddoos and put them back in his belly. He caught that snake and tied him around his belly like a belt. Moon was watching this and had a hearty laugh. Ganesha broke his tusk and threw it at Moon. Therefore his tusk was broken.

Let us celebrate this Ganesh Chaturthi with the blessing of Lord Ganesha and bring his painting to keep him with us all the time.

Written by 

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *