With an elephant’s head, a large belly, and four hands, Lord Ganesha appears different from any other deity. He is the perennial child, who is the seeker of knowledge and wisdom, and the epitome of devotion towards his parents.
Although this is how Ganesha is often depicted and perceived by us, there are many other values we can learn from him.
1. Be innovative and resourceful: Once Lord Shiva asked Ganesha and his brother Kartikeya to circle the world thrice. While Kartikeya immediately started off on his vehicle, the peacock, Ganesha thought for some time and then circled his parents. Do you know why he did so? Because, he loved and respected his parents, and to him they represented the Universe. But it also shows how resourceful Ganesha is, for when faced with a crisis, he was quick to innovate and come up with a solution to his problem.
2. Be a good listener: To gain knowledge and wisdom, and to communicate effectively, an individual should be a good listener. The large ears of Lord Ganesha symbolise that one should listen attentively, especially to those who are more knowledgeable. This helps us analyse information more effectively and make better decisions, which, in turn, makes us wiser.
3. Be adaptable: Being able to adapt helps us understand various situations from different perspectives and act accordingly. This makes it possible to spot opportunities offered by a situation and take advantage of them. Ganesha’s flexible trunk symbolises the fact that an individual should have the quality of adaptability, for it is a quality that is essential for success.
Message for children:
None of us have ever seen God, but our parents are the embodiment of God. They love us and are concerned about us, but we tend to neglect them. Treat your parents well, love and respect them. The act of circling the parents shows that parents represent the world for Ganesha.
Also, the more knowledgeable a person, the more humble he should be. So, children should try and gain knowledge and learn humility.
Children should also try to focus on what they are doing and not let unnecessary thoughts bother them. They should take a tip from the small eyes of Ganesha, which symbolises concentration.
Message for parents:
Parents should also learn how to treat their children well. They should understand the capabilities of their child and not push them too hard.
—Priest Rangarajan, hereditary priest of Chilkur Balaji Temple
4. Exercise self-control: Not being able to control our desires and powers can lead us astray and create numerous problems. Self-control helps us keep our impulsive behaviour in check, prevent indiscriminate use of our powers, and stay focussed. The slightly curved trunk of Ganesha points towards the fact that we should have control over our desires and powers.
5. Be humble and respectful: Being humble and respectful is a quality that is appreciated and liked by everyone. Such individuals are very popular. They have better awareness of their strength and weakness, and are not scared of admitting their mistakes and correcting themselves. They have better self-control, are better leaders, and cope better with problems. Although Lord Ganesha has a huge physique, he still rides a puny mouse. This symbolises the fact that one should be humble and respectful, even towards the tiniest creatures.
6. Develop leadership ability: Having leadership skills helps an individual set clear goals, work independently, and come up with ways of achieving her goals. It also helps a person stay focussed in the face of obstacles and find solutions to problems that are hindering progress. Lord Ganesha is also called Vinayak and is worshipped before all the other gods, as he is independent and has leadership qualities, which helps him surmount any difficulty that comes in his path.
Lord Ganesha is one of the most beloved deities of the Hindu religion. In fact, every auspicious event begins only after praying to Lord Ganesha and seeking his blessings. This year, while we celebrate Ganesh Chaturthi again and seek his blessings, let’s also go beyond the celebrations and try and develop those qualities that Lord Ganesha symbolises.