Ganesa

    When one enters the holy Hindu shrine of any one of 330 million deities, one cannot fail to notice the presence of one particular deity placed at the very entrance or “dhwara” of that temple. Indeed, a Hindu worshipper must first pay homage to this God, before proceeding further into the inner sanctum to address the actual Lord of the temple.

    Those familiar with Hinduism will know this deity to be Lord Ganesa. Those less familiar will probably know him to be the Hindu God with an elephant’s head and human body or simply as “the Elephant God”. Despite his omnipresence in every Hindu temple in his privileged position and his immense popularity among the Hindu populace, little is exposed or known of his historic origins nor his iconographic symbolisms, often being overshadowed by the Hindu Trinity of Lord Shiva, Lord Vishnu and Lord Brahma.

    Being a Hindu myself, I acknowledge my lack of knowledge on Ganesa. Hence to assuage my curiosity, I embark upon a brief study on the historic origins of this so-called “Elephant God”. In this quest, I referenced several books on Lord Ganesh, the primary one being a text titled Ganesa by Paul B. Courtright . As suggested, his bibliography produced several more references and leads, of which I read Ganesh: Studies of an Asian God which was co-authored by eleven authors, Song of the Self by John A. Grimes and Hinduism & Symbol Worship by B.C. Sinha.

    I express my gratitude to the above-named authors and all others not mentioned herein for granting me the knowledge and to share it by publishing this web-site. I dedicate this site to my :

Mata, Pita, Guru, Devo-Maheshwaraha
 

Contents :
The Symbolism of Elephants in Indian Culture
Elemental representation of Ganesa
Mythical Origins
Historic Origins
Iconography
The Lord Dranketh

Sources :
Courtright, P.B.
    1985 Ganesa. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Robert, L.B., ed.
    1991 Studies of an Asian God. Albany, New York: State University of New York Press.

O'Flaherty, W.D.
    1973 Asceticism & Eroticism in the Mythology of Siva. London: Oxford University Press.

Grimes, J.A.
    1995 Ganapti: Song of the Self. Albany, New York: State University of New York Press.

Sinha, B.C.
    1983 Hinduism and Symbol Worship. New Delhi, India: B.N. Priniters

A Project by:
                    Vinod Karmegam
                    Asian Studies, ASST001
                    California State University, Chico