Worshipped by millions of Hindu followers across the world, Ganesha is one of the popular Hindu gods. It might be surprising to say that Ganesha has played a great role in unifying the religious sentiments of Hindus in India during the British rule and also symbolized the national aspiration in the critical time of Indian history. During Hindu festivals today where Ganesha is worshipped, Hindus across the world gather and participate in the public festival.
Ganesha in some way also symbolizes intelligence in the body. According to Hindu dharma, he represents Mahat, the highest form of Prakriti in the process of creation. In the modern parlance, intelligence represents the higher mind and is crucial for reasoning and discernment. “Ganapati is the lord of universal intelligence (mahat-tattva),” says Bhagavata Tattva.
Sanatana Dharma has it that intelligence is the first and highest form of finite realities in nature. However, finite realities are perishable compared to the infinite, indestructible realities. Next to Shiva and Parvati, Ganesha is also considered to be first among to gods who embody intelligence.
Intelligence, as per the Hindu dharma, is the reflection of the self or the Isvara in the body. The self-represents Shiva and the body represent nature or Parvati. Only when both of them are present, intelligence can exist. Otherwise, it disappears when the self-departs from nature. Intelligence can manifest in creation only when Purusha and Prakriti are together. Just as Ganesha, that is the true child.
So, what does intelligence do? It has the capacity to distinguish gods and humans from animals. Intelligence provides the discerning power and the ability to participate in God’s creation. In case, it gets clouded by earthly desires, attachments, ignorance, then one becomes deluded to the cycle of births and deaths. One can attain siddhi – the perfection – through yoga and self-transformation where the intelligence is purified and perfected.
In the scriptures, Ganesha is considered to be the one who can clear obstacles, and it is because he personifies intelligence that is key in problem-solving skills to overcome problems and difficulties. Without it, a person remains stuck in the unending cycle and cannot achieve liberation.
Should you seek success, peace, and happiness, Ganesha can grant us those wishes. Ganesha is also associated with other deities – Buddhi and Siddhi. Buddhi refers to pure intelligence that can guide us in darkness, and assist us to discern things and dualities. Siddhi is perfection, success, and attainment of yoga and supernatural powers. Siddhi can only be achieved with Buddhi. This is why Ganesha is associated with them.
Since Ganesha is the son of Shiva, Ganesha has the traits of manifested Brahman. The intelligence of Brahman is transcendental, self-existent and beyond the realm of physical mind and body. Just how the sun can be reflected on water, the intelligence of living being can be reflected in the body. Hence, intelligence is reliant on soul and body.
Intelligence is where nature manifests the power of the mind (chit-shakti) and the power of will (Atma-shakti). Intelligence separates humans from animals, and it is because of intelligence that a human awakens from the animal body and transforms to human, later into a god.
Ganesha also plays an important role in spiritual transformation and moksha (liberation). In the material world, we require this role to achieve the aims of dharma (duty), Artha (wealth) and kama (enjoyment) by performing actions with intelligence. In the higher life of spirituality, we need it to free ourselves from ego, attachment, delusion so that we can achieve liberation.
Ganapati is the doorkeeper in the chamber of Prakriti, whereby the soul (Shiva) cannot communicate with Parvati (body). The soul can communicate only through intelligence, and the connecting link is the child Ganesha. Ganapati is the creation of Parvati, which she had made with material that she had gathered herself.
Thus, the legends of the birth of Ganapati symbolizes him as the true and only creation of Parvati. The conflict between Shiva and Ganesha during the birth is also a symbol and reflection of Shiva (the light of the chidakasam) in the field of creation (materiality of the earth). This goes on to prove that intelligence arises in the field of Prakriti only.
Since Ganesha is the son of both Shiva and Parvati, he represents both the eternal realities. He is the lord of an internal organ (Antahkarana) that operates our perception, cognition, and awareness. These are the operations that personify the gods in heavens. The supporting power is the breath and soul (Shiva and the resting place is the body (nature). The action can only be, however, controlled by intelligence.
At the highest level, Ganesha signifies human intelligence, and as a son of Parvati, Ganesha represents all tattvas or realities. Anyone can worship him if they want to solve the problem, achieve goals, success and find happiness and peace.