We invoke you with offerings, Ganesha, making offerings to you as Love
Invoking you with offerings, He of Plentitudes
We invoke you with offerings, Ganesha, making offerings to the Sage great and wise
Invoking you with offerings, He of Rulers
Come to us quickly and join our gathering, be among us!
Listen to the mantra:
Ganesha is a popular deity, a delightful and bold god who offers insight into any dilemma. He is depicted with an elephant head…but why an elephant head?
Certainly, there are at least a couple of stories to explain this oddity, but one myth tells how Shiva came home one day and didn’t realize that it was his own son guarding the doorway to their house. He quickly beheaded the mistaken intruder, but replaced it upon Parvati’s all-consuming grief over his mistake. An elephant was the first north-facing sleeping creature they found, and their son thus came to wear the elephant countenance.
And what does that really signify? On the one hand, it is easy to see that everyone loves the playfulness and intelligence of elephants. These creatures are docile and unthreatening despite their enormous size, and they are vegetarians.
Philosophically, however, Ganesha’s elephant head denotes the capacity we have on the spiritual journey to leave the mundane world and enter the world of unseen mysteries. In the mudgala purāṇam, one of Ganesha’s two most sacred texts, his eight incarnations help devotees realize that All is One. The head is part of reality (some say it represents that which is outside of the self while others say it represents Atman), his body is part of reality (some say it represents one’s egoic sense of self), and the two cojoined create all that exists in Truth.
And why does Ganesha have a rat for a mount? The rat (or mouse) is a symbol that lets us know how close to us Ganesh really is. He experiences life in the mundane world much in the same way as a rat does, up close and personal. Therefore, he understands our troubles and obstacles. In this way, with his head disconnected from the Maya of the world yet with intimate understanding of our difficulties, he can best discern the ‘way out’ and help guide us further on our journey. Chant this mantra to welcome him and let him know you’ve made a space for him in your heart.