Ganesha does not mean only the wall portrait of Ganesha. Ganesha does not mean only the idol of Ganesha. But Ganesha means much more and beyond. Shiva and Parvati do not mean only the wall portraits of Shiva and Parvati. Shiva and Parvati do not mean only the idols of Shiva and Parvati. They mean much more and beyond. There has to be a far deeper meaning to these mythological stories. Let us explore and uncover the myth hidden in these stories.
There are four dimensions to the existence. The first two dimensions are existence and non-existence. Matter is existing and non-matter is non-existing. We can perceive matter but we can not perceive the non-matter. We can perceive the body but we can not perceive the soul. The first two dimensions of the perceivable matter are Physics and Metaphysics. We can see the physical matter but we can not see the metaphysical matter. We can touch and feel the physical matter. But we can not perceive the subatomic and metaphysical world of matter exactly the same way of the matter. In order to perceive the subatomic and the metaphysical matter we have to dive deep into the matter. And this is possible only through sensitive and precise experiments.
In the same way, there are two dimensions of the non-physical. And these two dimensions are Metaphorical and Spiritual. Spirituality is the depth of everything. Spirituality means a path of experiencing the truth or reality as it is. Now this experience of truth can never be expressed directly. This is always expressed indirectly through symbols and myths. We say that reality bites. Reality is always expressed indirectly. A doctor gives us pills when we are sick. All the pills are bitter in taste. Since we can not take them directly the bitter pills are always coated with sugar. So the bitter pills are given to us indirectly. The same is the story with the eternal truth. The sages and Gurus have always given the reality in sugar coated pills. The ancients have expressed the eternal truth through mythology. All mythological stories are symbolic and poetic expressions of the existential reality. Since truth or reality can not be expressed directly it has always been expressed through mythological stories. The research in communication reveals that images and pictures convey seven times more effectively than the words. Expression and communication through images and pictures is more effective and powerful. It seems this was true even in the ancient times and this is also true in the modern times.
Now let us try to understand the story of Ganesha, the elephant head God. Let us uncover the true meaning of the story. Let us uncover the truth hidden in the myth. Let us unlock the truth hidden behind the symbols.
Shiva and Parvati (Shakti) are known as the God and Goddess of Tantra. Shiva is a masculine energy and Shakti is a feminine energy. Shiva is an active energy and Shakti is a passive energy. These two energies are the energies of the whole creation. These two energies are complementary to each other. They are not antagonistic to each other. They are not opposite to each other. They complement and complete each other. Therefore, on the path of Tantra, the two divine energies Shiva and Shakti merge into each other and become one energy. This one energy is called Ekalinga. Ekalinga is a union of Shiva and Shakti. The same duality is again transformed into non-duality. Truth or reality is One but it manifests into two – existence and non-existence, matter and spirit, Prakriti and Purusha, etc. The non-existence in order to manifest as existence has to be always in dialectics.
Parvati is preparing for her bath. She used the bull Nandi, her husband Shiva’s consort, to guard her while taking her bath. But the bull Nandi was always loyal to Shiva. He always allowed Shiva to get in. This has happened every time Parvati took her bath. This is a symbolic story. How bull Nandi can guard Parvati while she is taking her bath? This can not be a true story. She could have just locked the door from inside. This is just a common sense. Then there was no need for the bull Nandi to guard her while she was taking her bath. Moreover, Shiva and Parvati are considered as God and Goddess. Anything could have been possible to them. Please also understand that this story is before the birth of Ganesha. In the life of Shiva and Parvati their son Ganesha has yet not come. It seems they were in their honeymoon days. It appears that they were newly married couple. They must have just started their newly married life. In the life of a newly married couple this thing is quite obvious. During the honeymoon days this thing is quite obvious. The bathing of a woman has always been used historically and portrayed as a sensuous symbol. All the modern movies and films use this method of showing sensuousness. This is also a natural thing in the life of a newly married couple. The man always tries to see his woman draped in sensuous clothes. It is quite natural to see her in drenched clothes. The man wants to see his woman while she is taking her bath. He also wants to see her while she is wearing her clothes. If she does not allow him to see her and bolt the room from inside, he will try to peep her from the peep-hole. Let her do whatever, he will find his own ways and means to see her without clothes. All this is natural on the path of Tanta. The path of Tantra means to move from lust to love. The journey of Tantra means to move from sex to super-consciousness. But just getting stuck only at the level of lust and sex is dangerous. The whole journey of Tantra is to move from Muladhara to Sahasrara. Tantra is an inner journey to move from the lower energy center to the highest energy center. On this path of Tantra, Muladhara is the beginning and Sahasrara is the goal. On this path of Tantra, lust is the beginning and love is the goal. On this path of Tantra, sex is the beginning and super-consciousness is the goal. Shiva says that Shakti is Agama. And Shakti says that Shiva is Nigama. Only through Agama (Tantra), the Nigama (Veda) is explained, understood and experienced. The ultimate knowledge is that of the Vedas. Yoga, Tantra and Upanishads are the detailed explanations, experiments and experiences of the same Vedas.
What does the bull Nandi stand for in this story? The bull Nandi is a symbol for our mind. It is only our mind that can safeguard us on this journey of Tantra. If you ask the psychologists they say that there is no sex in the body but only in the mind. The mind of a man is full of sex. The modern research says that 80% of the man’s mind is occupied with sex. The mind can be a friend and the mind can also be an enemy. It all depends on the individual. Sex and lust are more powerful than the mind. They have always overridden the mind. The history has witnessed wars for want of a woman. The history has witnessed wars for the sake of love. We have a saying that says that everything is fair in love and war. So the bull Nandi represents the mind. But the bull Nandi was Shiva’s consort and hence was loyal to him. It is quite obvious. My mind is loyal to me always. In the past the Nandi has always allowed Shiva to get in. In the past it always happened like that. But this time Parvati wanted a proper safeguard. That means this love affair was going on continuously. Parvati was taking bath and Shiva was getting in. His bull Nandi was always allowing him to get in. It is quite obvious. To control one’s mind is not that easy. To transform one’s mind is not that easy. To transcend sex is not that easy. To go beyond sex is not that easy. But this time Parvati wanted to fix the problem permanently. This time she creates Ganesha out of the turmeric paste of her body. Turmeric paste is used by women for enhancing their beauty. A woman has always been a symbol of love and beauty. God has made her like that. Unfortunately the man has nothing to show but to see her beauty and appreciate. The man always says her : I love you. It is always her choice whether to accept or reject. Man has no other choice really.
Let me reveal some secrets of Tantra. In the beginning the whole existence was in a state of singularity. This was called the non-existence. It was in a state of absolute inertia. This was the initial state of Shiva. The primordial God Shiva was in a state of absolute inertia. The whole non-existence was non-dynamic. It was in a state of eternal rest and relaxation. Shakti came and started dancing around Shiva. Shiva could not bear his inertia. He had to praise her dance. He had to praise her beauty. He had to accompany her in her dance. He being a man had to appreciate and reciprocate her love and beauty. Shiva comes out of his state of inertia and starts doing Tandava Nritya. They together dance to create the whole visible and perceivable existence from the non-existence. This is how the existence has emerged out of the non-existence.
Carl Sagan was a great cosmologist. I am a great fan of this guy. He was a great cosmologist but he died of cancer at an young age. He said that the whole existence is a dance of Shiva as Nataraja. Now the string theory says that the whole existence is an interconnected vibration of invisible strings. These invisible strings are dancing all the time. These invisible strings look like the rubber bands. The vibrations are like the octaves of music. One vibration gives rise to another vibration. One octave gives rise to another octave. This is how from the vibration of these invisible strings the atoms and other subatomic particles are formed. String theory is also one of the emerging models of explaining the creation of the universe. This is how the universe is born out of the dance of Shiva and Shakti. This is how the creation is born out of the intense love of the two energies – masculine energy and feminine energy.
This is how Parvati gave birth to Ganesha from the turmeric paste of her body. Giving birth to a baby out of the turmeric paste can not be acceptable to the biologists. This goes against our science of biology. This must be a metaphor. Let us try to decode it. The whole human body is made of billions of cells. Each cell in the body is a body itself. The cells of the body have immense power. There is a far bigger program embedded in the cell of a body. The test tube baby and a baby out of a surrogacy are becoming old concepts now. The scientists have now discovered that a baby can be created out of the individual cells of a woman. A man is no more needed to create a baby. All men, please beware! The one aspect of this story is that this technology must have existed at that time in some form. But this must be far from the truth. Because if this is true then Parvati could have bolted her bathroom from inside. This is a much smaller technology. There would have been no need of a Nandi and Ganesha for Parvati to safeguard her while taking her bath. That means there must be a metaphor here also. Let us unlock it. Let us unlock the metaphor. The birth and reproduction involves the Muladhara Chakra. All new life is out of the sex energy. In some Tantric scriptures this Muladhara Chakra has been depicted by a yellow colour. This yellow turmeric paste is a metaphor for this Muladhara Chakra. On the path of their life journey they might have decided to give birth to their child. It is quite possible that Parvati must have given birth to a baby boy. This is again a strategy on the path of Tantra. In order to deviate oneself from sex the couple on the path of Tantra can think of giving birth to a child. This is a good strategy to transform the energy flowing at the Muladhara Chakra. It can now flow to other higher chakras. The highest chakra, Sahasrara Chakra is a chakra of infinite love and compassion. You may then ask, how giving birth to a child is a strategy on the path of Tantra? Just think! When a wife gives birth to a child she is no more a wife but becomes a mother too. And when a husband gives birth to a child he is no more a husband but becomes a father too. The old energies of the old husband and wife move into a totally different dimension. The energies move in the direction of parents. This is a shift that happens in the earlier energy field. This is a turning point in the life of the couple on the path of Tantra. This is what should happen actually.
Please remember that Shiva and Parvati both knew the whole secret of the Tantra. They both are simply sharing the secrets to the whole world for the benefit of the mankind out of their love and compassion. This is how the Gurus and sages of the Upanishads and Puranas have created these stories for the common benefit of the mankind.
Now the second hurdle starts. Sex does not ordinarily go out of the mind so easily. After the childbirth a woman is more engrossed in the upbringing of the child. More of her energies are involved in the growth of the child. And she shows less interest towards sex. But the small child sometimes comes in the way of the man. The man feels that his woman is not giving much attention to him. He feels that much of her attention is moving towards the child. Sometimes the child becomes a bone of contention between the couple. Through this process also the man learns. Both the husband and the wife have to be very careful while planning for their child.
In the above story, the child Ganesha must have come in the way of the lust of Shiva. It may be such that Shiva was behaving in the same old fashion. It is a scientific fact that most of our habits are robotic. It appears that our instincts and habits are programmed. This time his bull Nandi (his own mind) could not do any trick because the child was in the way. The child was not an ordinary child. The child was Ganesha. The child was born out of the purest love of Shiva and Shakti. The child must have been immensely intelligent. It is a fact that the children are normally very honest and straightforward. They say whatever comes to their mind. They don’t think twice. Ganesha must have been intelligent but must have been immature being a small child. There must have been some discussion and argument between the father and the child. As a child Ganesha might have argued with his father with lot of intelligence. The word Ganesha is made of two words – Gana and Isha. Ganas means the followers. Ganas means all the resources at the bottom of the pyramid. Isha means the supreme commander. Isha means the Master. Isha means the supreme God. Isha means the Leader. Let us just peep into our own being and understand as to who is the Master and who are the Followers. Our soul is the Master and all the other parts of the body are the Followers. The mind is a follower of the soul. The soul is the master and the mind is a follower. The soul is the Leader and the mind is the Follower. But unfortunately we have made our mind as the master. The mind has its own misery. The mind is like a monkey. This is really a sad story. The mind has to be transformed from a smaller mind to a bigger mind. The mind has to be transformed from a lower mind to a higher mind. What is the bigger mind? What is a higher mind? A mind that is calm, composed and centered must be a bigger mind. A mind that is blissful and compassionate must be a higher mind. A mind that has experienced Isha or the Supreme God must be a higher mind.
There are three metaphors here. The one is the chopping of the head of boy Ganesha. The second is chopping of the head with a favorite weapon of Shiva called the Trishul. And the third is substituting the head of baby Ganesha with the head of a baby elephant. These are the three metaphors here which need to be understood. You will be surprised to know that in India you can not even kill the mad dogs in the street. The animal lovers will drag you to the court if you kill the mad dogs or other animals. The local municipal corporations are not able to take any action on the mad dogs in the streets. And all over India there are many cases of dog-bite-deaths. Very recently the Supreme Court of India has expressed shock at all this. And Shiva being a God, there does not arise any question of killing an animal or a boy. And Shiva being a God there does not arise any question of killing his own son even without the knowledge of Ganesha being his son. If the God can kill then He is not a God. Shiva being a God can not even think of killing an animal. God gives us only life. God gives us life to know and experience that the source life is immortal and deathless. God means life and life means God. As an intelligent boy, Ganesha must have defeated and refuted all the arguments of Shiva. Shiva must have noticed the intelligence within Ganesha. But Shiva must have also noticed that his mind is innocent and immature. As a father and Guru, Shiva must have given all the divine knowledge and wisdom to Ganesha. In Indian scriptures they have used a very mysterious word called Dwij. This word Dwij means twice born. One birth is the physical birth that we get through our parents. And by default there is an ego and ignorance. Nobody is enlightened by birth. This ego in a human being can become as big as infinity. A Guru can come in our life to kill this ego. The death of the ego is the beginning of a new life. And with the death of the ego we are again born anew. This new birth is a birth of Enlightenment. When the ego is out, the God is in. When I am not, the God is. And when I am, the God is just impossible. This is the whole mystery. Ego and God can not stay together. The first metaphor of chopping the head of Ganesha means that Shiva must have killed the ego of Ganesha. Shiva must have helped Ganesha in transforming his mind. Shiva must have been a Catalyst and a Change Agent in transforming the lower mind of Ganesha to a higher mind. The weapon that is used to chop the head is called the Trishul. This is a favorite weapon of Shiva. Trishul is a metaphor for three Gunas or attributes. The three Gunas are Tamas, Rajas and Satva. Tamas means inertia, Rajas means motion, and Satva means balance. Tamas means motion, Rajas means acceleration, and Satva means Dynamic Equilibrium. Satva means a higher state of the mind. The head of a baby elephant is a metaphor for this higher mind. Look at the elephant. He has a big head. This is an indication of a higher mind and an evolved mind. The ears of the elephant are very big. This is a metaphor for listening-ears. We have ears but we don’t listen. And if we don’t listen silently to a Guru then the knowledge of the Upanishads is not possible. The very literal meaning of the word Upanishad means sitting down under the feat of a Guru or Master. This is a listening quality that is needed on the path of divine knowledge. The elephant has very large eyes. The large eyes is a metaphor to see the invisible. This is a metaphor to see the non-existence. With the help of the perceivable existence we have to see the non-existence. With the help of the eyes we have to see the invisible. With the help of the outer eyes we have to move to the inner eye. The big eyes of the baby elephant is a metaphor for the inner eyes. The inner eyes means the third eye. Look at the scientists. They are all scratching their heads. In the recent CERN experiments they have reached to the Boson. In the ancient scriptures they have talked about Dur Drishti and Divya Drishti. Dur Drishti means a distant vision and Divya Drishti means a divine vision. Divine vision means to see the invisible. Divine vision means to see the seer who is seeing through our being. Look at our being. It is not the eyes who are looking outside. Somebody is looking from within. The God is looking from within. The creator has created the creation and looking at his own creation. The creator is creating and looking at his own creation. The large eyes of the baby elephant are a metaphor for this vision. The large eyes of the baby elephant is a metaphor for an Enlightened Vision. The baby elephant has a large mouth but with one teeth. Ganesha has also been called an Ekadanta. This is another name of Ganesha. He is formless and yet has many forms. He is nameless and yet has many names. Ekadanta means the one who is having only one tusk. This one tusk is a metaphor for One Truth. There is only one science on the earth but there are more than 300 religions. There is only One Truth but there are hundreds of scriptures. The big mouth or throat is a metaphor for the realization of the Throat Chakra or Vishuddha Chakra. It is said that one must speak only after the realization of this Chakra. With the realization of this Vishudha Chakra one will be capable of speaking only one truth and the eternal truth. The one tusk is a metaphor for One truth and the big mouth is a metaphor for the Vishudha Chakra. So we have covered all the metaphors that are involved in the head of the baby elephant.
This is how Shiva has helped Ganesha to transform himself to a higher level of consciousness. This is how Ganesha has acquired the divine knowledge through their parents. He was young and also intelligent. He was a young enlightened being. Through his parents he became an Enlightened Leader. He was innocent but with lot of awareness. He was innocent and intelligent. He was a young God. This is the reason why Ganesha is worshiped during the school and college days. He is worshiped during the learning days of life. Life is in fact an endless learning. Ganesha is a God of knowledge and wisdom. He is not only a God of the young but also a God of the old. He is not only a God of the beginnings but also a God of the endings.
This is the reason why in India we begin everything with Ganesha and end everything with Ganesha.
Let us uncover the last metaphor. All Gods including Ganesha have four hands. This is a metaphor for having multiple skills. This is a metaphor for doing multiple tasks. This is a metaphor for multi-lateral thinking. This is a metaphor for multi-dimensional knowledge. The four hands indicate the knowledge of the four Vedas. The four hands indicate the four dimensions of existence – Physical, Metaphysical, Metaphorical and Spiritual.
Ganesha has the knowledge of all the four dimensions of existence. Such is the greatness of Ganesha. Jai Jai Ganesha!