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Vahanas of Ganesha (Eng)




The earliest Ganesha images are without a Vahana (mount). Of the eight incarnations of Ganesha described in the Mudgala Purana, Ganesha has a mouse in five of them, uses a lion in his incarnation as Vakratunda, a peacock in his incarnation of Vikata, and Shesha, the divine serpent, in his incarnation as Vighnaraja. Of the four incarnations of Ganesha listed in the Ganesha Purana, Mohotkata has a lion, Mayūreśvara has a peacock, Dhumraketu has a horse, and Gajanana has a rat. Jain depictions of Ganesha show his vahana variously as a mouse,an elephant, a tortoise, a ram, or a peacock.

Mouse or rat as vahana

Ganesha is often shown riding on or attended by a mouse or rat. Martin-Dubost says that in central and western India the rat began to appear as the principal vehicle in sculptures of Ganeśa in the seventh century A.D., where the rat was always placed close to his feet. The mouse as a mount first appears in written sources in the Matsya Purana and later in the Brahmananda Purana and Ganesha Purana, where Ganesha uses it as his vehicle only in his last incarnation. The Ganapati Atharvashirsa includes a meditation verse on Ganesha that describes the mouse appearing on his flag. The names Mūsakavāhana ("Mouse-mount") and Ākhuketana ("Rat-banner") appear in the Ganesha Sahasranama.
There are a variety of interpretations regarding what the mouse symbolizes. According to Grimes, "Many, if not most of those who interpret Ganapati's mouse, do so negatively; it symbolizes tamoguna as well as desire." Along these lines, Michael Wilcockson says it symbolizes those who wish to overcome desires and be less selfish. Krishan notes that the rat is a destructive creature and a menace to crops. The Sanskrit word mūsaka (mouse) is derived from the root mūs which means "stealing, robbing." It was essential to subdue the rat as a destructive pest, a type of vighna (impediment) that needed to be overcome. According to this theory, showing Ganesha as master of the rat demonstrates his function as Vigneshvara and gives evidence of his possible role as a folk grāmata-devatā (village deity) who later rose to greater prominence. Martin-Dubost notes a view that the rat is a symbol suggesting that Ganesha, like the rat, penetrates even the most secret places.

Associations
Obstacles

Ganesha is Vighneśvara, the Lord of Obstacles, both of a material and spiritual order. He is popularly worshipped as a remover of obstacles although traditionally he also serves the dual role of one who places obstacles in the path of those who need to be checked. Paul Courtright says that:
Gaṇeśa is also called Vighneśvara or Vighnarāja, the Lord of Obstacles. His task in the divine scheme of things, his dharma, is to place and remove obstacles. It is his particular territory, the reason for his creation.
Krishan notes that some of his names reflect shadings of multiple roles that have evolved over time. Dhavalikar ascribes the quick ascension of Ganesha in the Hindu pantheon, and the emergence of the Ganapatyas, to this shift in emphasis from vighnakartā ("obstacle-creator") to vighnahartā ("obstacle-averter"). Both functions however continue to be vital to his character, as Robert Brown explains:
Even after the Purātic Ganeśa is well-defined, in art Ganeśa remained predominantly important for his dual role as creator and remover of obstacles, thus having both a negative and a positive aspect.

Buddhi

Ganesha is considered to be the Lord of Intelligence. In Sanskrit, the word buddhi is a feminine noun that is variously translated as intelligence, wisdom, or intellect. The concept of buddhi is closely associated with the personality of Ganesha, especially in the Puranic period, where many stories showcase his cleverness and love of intelligence. One of Ganesha's names in the Ganesha Purana and the Ganesha Sahasranama is Buddhipriya. This name also appears in a special list of twenty-one names that Gaṇeśa says are of special importance at the end of the Ganesha Sahasranama. The word priya can mean "fond of," and in a marital context it can mean "lover" or "husband," so the name may mean either "Fond of Intelligence" or "Buddhi's Husband".



Aum

Ganesha is identified with the Hindu mantra Aum (ॐ, also called Om). The term omkārasvarūpa ("Aum is his form") when identified with Ganesha refers to the notion that he is the personification of the primal sound. This association is attested to in the Ganapati Atharvashirsa. The relevant passage is translated by Paul Courtright as follows:

You are Brahmā, Vişņu, and Rudra [Śiva]. You are Agni, Vāyu, and Sūrya. You are Candrama. You are earth, space, and heaven. You are the manifestation of the mantra "Om."
A variant version of this passage is translated by Chinmayananda as follows:
(O Lord Ganapati!) You are (the Trinity) Brahma, Vishnu, and Mahesa. You are Indra. You are fire and air. You are the sun and the moon. You are Brahman. You are (the three worlds) Bhuloka, Antariksha-loka, and Swargaloka. You are Om. (that is to say, You are all this).
Some devotees see similarities between the shape of his body in iconography and the shape of Om in the Devanāgarī and Tamil scripts.

First chakra

Ganesha is associated with the first or "root" chakra (mūlādhāra). This association is attested to in the Ganapati Atharvashirsa. As translated by Courtright this passage reads:
You continually dwell in the sacral plexus at the base of the spine [mūlādhāra cakra].
A variant version of this passage is translated by Chinmayananda:
You have a permanent abode (in every being) at the place called "Muladhara,"

Family and consorts

While Ganesha is popularly considered to be the son of Shiva and Parvati, the Puranic myths relate several different versions of his birth. These include versions in which he is created by Shiva, by Parvati, by Shiva and Parvati, or simply appears in a mysterious manner and is then discovered by Shiva and Parvati.



The family includes his brother Skanda, who is also called Karttikeya, Murugan, and other names. Regional differences dictate the order of their births. In northern India, Skanda is generally said to be the elder brother, while in the south, Ganesha is considered the first born. Prior to the emergence of Ganesha, Skanda had a long and glorious history as an important martial deity from about 500 BCE to about 600 CE, when his worship declined significantly in northern India. The period of this decline is concurrent with the rise of Ganesha. Several stories relate episodes of sibling rivalry between Ganesha and Skanda and may reflect historical tensions between the respective sects.

Ganesha's marital status varies widely in mythological stories, and the issue has been the subject of considerable scholarly review. One pattern of myths identifies Ganesha as an unmarried brahmacārin. This view is common in southern India, but it is also held in some areas of northern India. Another pattern associates him with the concepts of Buddhi (intellect), Siddhi (spiritual power), and Riddhi (prosperity); these qualities are sometimes personified as goddesses who are considered to be Ganesha's wives. He also may be shown with a single consort or a nameless servant (Sanskrit: daşi). Another pattern connects Ganesha with the goddess of culture and the arts, Sarasvati or Śarda (particularly in Maharashtra). He is also associated with the goddess of luck and prosperity, Lakshmi. Another pattern mainly prevalent in the Bengal region links Ganesha with the banana tree, Kala Bo.
The Shiva Purana says that Ganesha had two sons: Kşema (prosperity) and Labha (profit). In Northern Indian variants of this story, the sons are often said to be Śubha (auspiciouness) and Lābha. The 1975 Hindi film Jai Santoshi Maa shows Ganesha married to Riddhi and Siddhi and having a daughter named Santoshi Ma, the goddess of satisfaction. This story has no Puranic basis and Anita Raina Thapan and Lawrence Cohen cite Santoshi Ma's cult as evidence of Ganesha's continuing evolution as a popular deity.

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