Stories of Ganesha, Hindu God of Opportunity
Ganesha, the god of opportunity – a remover of obstacles – is important for Hindus, Buddhists, and Jains. He is considered the god of new beginnings, a patron of the arts and science, and in Bali, his image is everywhere. He’s the stocky god with an elephant head and two to sixteen arms (which may help explain why he can remove obstacles). Each hand holds something of use or significance. He can be sitting in a meditation pose, dancing, or reclining.
We could learn from Ganesha: His big head means think big; his big ears mean listen; small mouth means talk less . . .
Just by looking at Ganesha, you know he must have an interesting past.
Recently in a Yoga Barn class with Noah Muse here in Ubud, Bali, I’ve learned more about Ganesha.
In one of his hands, Ganesha usually holds out a tray of sweets. As you can tell by his big belly, Ganesha loves life.
A story goes that one day long ago, Ganesha managed to eat allllll the sweets he was holding. He couldn’t believe it, and the big, round moon, who had seen him do it, laughed and made fun of Ganesha, which, of course, angered him. Ganesha grabbed his broken tusk that he had been holding in another hand and threw it at the moon– shattering the moon into 18 pieces–giving us the many phases of the moon. Before that, time was linear. Ganesha gave us cyclical time.
Another story is about Ganesha’s sidekick: Musica, the mouse. Most gods and heroes have sidekicks: the Lone Ranger and Tanto, Spiderman and Robin, and Ganesha and Musica, who serves as Ganesha’s mount, his vehicle. Normally, elephants are afraid of mice. And mice can cause a lot of damage to farms, be carriers of disease, and generally are not wanted by anyone. But in choosing Musica, Ganesha brings out his weakness and uses it. Ganesha doesn’t hide his fear or avoid it; he gives it a big job and thus empowers himself (and the mouse) in positive ways. Because Musica has such a challenging job in transporting Ganesha he is unlikely to be causing any trouble. So symbolically, Ganesha is a good model for us not to hide our fears or weaknesses but to make good use of them- put them to work for us.
When you come to Bali, expect to see Ganesha everywhere.
Aloha and sampai jumpa, Renée