The Hindu divinity Sri Ganesha Ji, also known as Ganesh ji, or Ganapati. (“Sri” and “Ji” being signs of respect in Hindi) is the symbol we connected to at vedaHEALTH, based on both pers
onal and philosophical reasons. Ganesha is powerful, wise, complex: the story of his origin reflects many facts of human nature and spirituality. As such, he represents a guide for vedaHEALTH’s work. He was the source for our founder, Natalie Geary, and continues to be our source as we refine and redefine our role as healers.
As the god with the elephant head, he has become internationally recognized as a token of the “mindful” and “wellness” culture, idols and statues of the “cute chubby elephant” adorned with a mouse and jewels. However, the full story of his tragic transformation, and the wisdom and power he symbolizes, is worthy of a true pause to acknowledge.
He was widely believed and worshipped as the remover of obstacles, the god of knowledge, intellect, wisdom, science, and art. He is also conjured as the muse and the patron of writing. He makes space and clears pathways for us to move forward. His grand elephant head echoes the sentiments of the intelligent giant creatures, known for their memory and their communal tribes. His head is a symbol of keen intelligence, wisdom, and understanding; things to lead you towards inner peace and enlightenment. His ears are enormous for the listening of prayers, desires, and voices of his followers. He has big eyes to acquiesce to humility and his four arms represent the Linga Sarira, meaning “subtle body” and “impermanence” (it is a psycho-spiritual understanding of the bodily systems and consciousness); in this philosophy the earthly human beings’ body is a vehicle for consciousness. The arms symbolize the mind (manas), intellect (buddhi), ego (ahamkara), conditioned conscience (chitta). In seeking spiritual clarity, yogis and monks will try to balance their various “bodies,” systems, and mind, with meditation (dhyama), pranayama, and asana (movement, positions, yoga).
His belly is an embodiment of the entirety of the cosmos, the 7 planes (lokas) above and below our earthly dimension, as well as the 7 oceans. The cosmic energy holds them all in place in his belly, while a snake (divine animal - naga) surrounds. His axe can repel and knock obstacles and his trishal (Shiva’s trident-like weapon) is a symbol of time and his “mastery” over it (Rita Shukla); amongst the various symbols he is shown holding in his hands through the centuries.
Sri Ganesha and Sri Dinka
Lastly, Ganesha ji’s “vehicle” or “mount,” also known as vahana, is a mouse. The vahana is intertwined in the mythology of the deity. The mouse, sometimes known as, Sri Dinka, is a symbol of speed, acuity, and sharpness. He was once a celestial musician but during a moment on Earth, he was cursed and transfigured into a mouse (a story for another time!).
Oral traditions are wisdom traditions that continue throughout healing communities. There is a version where Ganesha ji was born with his elephant head, but the more widely understood story is that he was born a child (with a human head) to the goddess Parvati. Parvati is said to have created Ganesha ji with excretions from her body, while she was bathing, all alone, in order to be a companion for her and to protect her while her husband Shiva was away. Shiva came home to find a child there. Fearing infidelity, Shiva cut off the baby’s head in rage. Parvati became hysterical with grief, and explained that the child was their son. Frantic, Shiva went into the woods desperate to rectify his horrific act of violence. An old elephant, the symbol of wisdom and familial devotion, offered his own head in sacrifice to save the boy. Parvati and Shiva embraced him as their son, the boy with the elephant head. It’s a story about violence, forgiveness, and innocence. And how this boy became the remover of obstacles.
Parvati ji, Ganesha ji, and Shiva ji
Ganesha is a non-sectarian divinity. Hindus of all sects and persuasions, even Buddhists, call upon him at new beginnings: new efforts and ventures, important family rites of passage, and as protection against failure during uncertainty and change. Ganesha is honored at both religious and secular rites. For us at vedaHEALTH, he symbolizes a commitment to the honoring of traditional wisdom traditions, and a symbol of the potential we all have to expand, heal, and thrive. He symbolizes the human capacity for resilience and acceptance, the frailty of the human form, and the power of inclusion. The remover of obstacles.
Difficult moments make for space to grow, and to cultivate an inner reflection. Reflecting on sources of inspiration can be a way for you to connect, identify, and connect with your hopes. We can look for sources of inspiration in many areas, to inspire our paths, to guide us, to give us some clarity - but true transcendence stems from the self. A mindful, conscious, and intentional life (free of noise and pollution) is always the goal. We are reminded that we are all one, we are “eternal, uncreated, infinite, transcendent, the cause, the foundation, the source, the goal of all existence” (Doniger, W. 1999.)
Guided by Ganesha ji, the patron of new beginnings, vedaHEALTH embarks on an expanded commitment to healing. We are restructuring the internal matrix of our practice, finding new ways to commit to our community, and to keep ourselves accountable. Ganesha ji represents a symbol of that commitment: to guide us and remind us to maintain our connection to the source, to ancient wisdom teachings, and to the traditions of healing, access, humility, and the divine.