The fourth god in my Top 10 Hindu Gods is Lord Ganesha. Even though he ranks fourth in importance, he is the most loved deity of all. Ganesha is known as the Remover of Obstacles. He is also regarded as the god of New Beginnings, Good Fortune and Success, which explains his popularity.
Ganesha is the elephant headed son of gods Shiva and Parvati. His other well-known names are Vinayak and Ganapati.
Symbolism: The elephant is revered as a symbol for strength, for obvious reasons, and wisdom because they never forget anything. Ganesha has one broken tusk, which indicates that a wise man is beyond duality.
His vehicle is a rat or a mouse, depending on which texts you read. Originally rodents were a pest to agriculture and if you could control them, you were more likely to have a better crop. This is how the mouse/rat become a symbol of desire and greed, but Ganesha is able to control this. The tray of offerings at Ganesha’s feet is there as a symbol of temptation (material goods), but the rodent will not touch them while Ganesha is in charge.
In one had Ganesha holds an axe – to cut off all bonds of attachments, in the second he carries a rope – to draw a devotee closer to their goal, in his third hand he carries sweet dessert balls (laddoo) – to reward hard work, and his fourth hand shows the mudra of no fear, which is a gesture of blessing.
The mantra: Aum Ganesha namah translates as: In what we are about to do, let wisdom be our guide.
Lakshmi is regarded as the essential Mother Goddess and the highest aspect of Shakti (female energy).
She is traditionally worshipped on a Friday and plays a key role in the Diwali festival in India.
The relationship of Lakshmi and Vishnu is a paradigm for marriage in India. The red dress worn by Lakshmi as a symbol of abundance and prosperity is also worn by Indian brides.
Her vehicle is a while owl, which is a symbol of fearlessness, wisdom and night vision. The material world (tattva) is said to be created by her.
Traditionally she is considered the source of eight forms of wealth, namely creativity, stability, courage, strength, progeny, victory, knowledge, wealth.
Symbolism in her picture: Goddess Lakshmi’s upper left back hand represents Dharma (duty). The lower left frontal hand represents Artha (material wealth). The right lower frontal hand represents Kama (desire) and the upper back right hand represents Moksha (salvation).
the pot of money represents material/monetary wealth. Not all pictures of Lakshmi feature elephants, but Gaja Lakshmi is just one of eight forms of Lakshmi and she has the elephants included in her picture.
Lakshmi is seen in conjunction with the titles Shri (title of respect), Mata (mother) or Maha (big).
Saraswati is not only a deity, but also the name of the mythical river, which is supposed to be the mother of all rivers and therefore she is also referred to as the river goddess. And of course water being essential to all creation of life on earth, it is a major symbol for nourishment, creativity, purification and also for the ability to go with the flow.
The musical instrument she holds in her hands is the Veena, symbolising harmony, intelligence and the intellect.
Saraswati is the wife of Lord Brahma. Her 4 arms represent omnipotence as well as our 4 elements of our inner personality: mana (=mind), bhuddi (=intellect), chitta (=alertness) and ahamkara (=ego).
The predominant colour of her picture is white – she wears a white dress and has a white swan as her vehicle – which symbolises purity. The peacock at her feet represents beauty and dance but in other texts it says the peacock represents unpredictably, fear and fickleness which can only be overcome by true knowledge.
Gayatri as the incarnation of Saraswati, was so much attracted by the brilliance of Sun God Surya, that she dissolved herself to become the Gayatri Mantra dedicated to Surya.
This week we’ll have the opportunity to engage with the soothing sounds of this mother of all mantras.