LIFE is both fun and sorrow. Life is full of excitement or it can be downright boring. At times, we are full of life, living in the present and at times we wish to withdraw from it all. Our ancestors too experienced this and decided there were only two ways to live – become a hermit who steps back and contemplates on life or live as a householder who stays in the world and experiences all it has to offer. Our ancestors visualised the hermit as Shiva, the male form of divinity or God and the householder as Shakti, the female form of divinity, that is, goddess. Shiva did not want to be a father as he said, “I am God. I will never grow old or die. Why do I need children?” He did not want to deal with the trials and tribulations of worldly life. Shakti wanted to be a mother and engage in all things worldly, but this she could not do without Shiva’s active participation. From the tension between the hermit and householder, that is God and Goddess, Ganesha was born – his animal head representing material joys and his human body representing spiritual bliss. In Ganesha, God and Goddess attain balance, maternal pleasures and spiritual wisdom in harmony.
The author tells stories from Ganesha’s life, some of which are commonly told and heard and some are not so common. “Ganesha is an organic God, transforming over space and time, geography and history. In Vedic times, he was known by his name alone, but “later, the name came to be associated with malevolent spirits who had to be appeased,” the author adds. Then Ganesha came to acquire a form connected with forest beings before becoming a benevolent spirit associated with vegetation, betel leaf, areca nut, turmeric, hibiscus and grass where his name is invoked at the start of every ceremony.
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