Historic Origins

    Ganesa’s historic origin is however not as straightforward as his mythical roots and still poses to be an enigma to historians, anthropologists and devotees alike, a view shared by most scholars. Despite many a speculation, there seems one that is a somewhat commonly accepted theory on his historic origin. It claims that traces of Ganesa's first inclusions into Brahmanic religion came from the interaction between the Aryans and non-Aryans even before the Puranic period, in the Vedic period. In the Rg Veda  there is an epoch in which there are several references to an elephant demon, Vinayaka (another of Ganesa’s many names) who is slain by Siva, as seen in the figure, left. Some scholars assert that this is actually a symbolic reference to the actual historic account of the Aryans coming into contact with the aboriginal tribes whose totemic emblem was an elephant. This reference to  Siva’s slaying of the elephant demon hence, is a symbolic representation of the Aryans’ perceived superiority and contempt for the aboriginal tribes. They also theorize that, later in history during the Puranic period, the Aryans wanting to absorb the tribal people into their race but of a lower caste, elevated the tribal elephant god into Lord Ganesa by Siva’s adoption, but first symbolizing the tribal people as being defeated, i.e. beheaded and then transformed into a devotee of Lord Siva, reminding the lower castes that “Lord Ganesh’s powers are delegated to him by his conquerors”. The process of rehabilitation from demon to God at the level of the myth is seen to parallel the sociohistorical process in which tribal, South Indian or lower caste groups were assimilated into the caste hierarchy as part of the Brahmanic synthesis.

The Symbolism of Elephants in Indian Culture
Elemental representation of Ganesa
Mythical Origins
The Lord Dranketh