The symbolism of Ganesha
Ganesha is a Hindu deity, a human form with the head of an elephant. He is the god of wisdom, intelligence, education and prudence. He represents the power of the Supreme that removes obstacles and ensures success in human endeavours. As such he is normally invoked before the undertaking of any task, whether spiritual or worldly. He is the god of luck, of the household and of writing.
Lord Ganesh’s blend of human and animal parts symbolises the ideals of perfection and concepts of spiritual significance. Ultimately his elephantine head symbolises the intelligence and beatitude of the elephant – powerful yet gentle.
Ganesha is also seen as the embodiment of the cosmos. His vehicle, a mouse (mooshikam), symbolises the intellect – small enough to discover any secret in the most remote of places. In this version, each hand carries a different symbol; an axe (to cut devotees’ attachments), a rope (to carry devotees to the truth) and a sweet dessert – laddoo (to reward devotees for spiritual activity). With his fourth hand, he holds his broken tusk with which it is said he scribed the Mahabharata (a major Hindu text).
Representations of Sri Ganesh are based on thousands of years of religious symbolism. In India, statues are impressions of symbolic significance and thus have never been claimed to be exact replications of a living figure. Ganesha is seen not as a physical entity, but a higher spiritual being, and statues like this one only act as signifiers of him as an ideal.