GANESHA

GANESHA is one of the oldest and most widely worshiped of the Hindu deities. His image is found throughout the world, from Hindu temples,
to taxi driver dashboards, to living room walls. With the body of a man (with a very pudgy tummy) and the head of an elephant, he is instantly
recognizable. A mouse or rat is also often pictured with him, and is his companion in many legends.
There are numerous stories of Ganesha’s origin and the reason for his unique physiognomy. In one of the most well known stories, the goddess Parvati creates Ganesha from her own flesh, to serve as a guard for her bath. When her husband Shiva returns home and tries to enter the
bath, Ganesha refuses to let him pass. Enraged, Shiva wages a fierce battle against Ganesha and in the end beheads him with the blade of his
trident (trisul). Parvati emerges and, seeing her son slain, unleashes a torrent of fury against Shiva. Realizing his mistake (and hoping to put a
stop to Parvati’s world-ending, cataclysmic mother rage) Shiva sends his servants out to the forest with instructions to return with the head of
the first creature they come upon. They soon meet an elephant, behead it, and return to Shiva who affixes the new head to Ganesha.
In popular tradition, Ganehsa brings good luck and clears obstacles, as symbolized by the ax he carries. For these reasons he is worshipped
before important events and rituals. Ganesha also has a sweet tooth, though he is missing one of his tusks. He used it to help write the epic
legend The Mahabharata, but that’s another story…

GANESHA

GANESHA

is one of the oldest and most
widely worshipped of the
Hindu deities. His image is found throughout the world,
from Hindu temples to taxi dashboards to living room walls.
With the body of a man (with a very pudgy tummy) and the head
of an elephant, he is instantly recognizable. A mouse or rat is also
often pictured with him and is his companion in many legends.

Parvati emerges and, seeing her son slain, unleashes a torrent
of fury against Shiva. Realizing his mistake (and hoping to put a
stop to Parvati’s world-ending, cataclysmic mother rage), Shiva
sends his servants out to the forest with instructions to return
with the head of the first creature they come upon. They soon
meet an elephant, behead it, and return to Shiva, who affixes the
new head to Ganesha.

There are numerous stories of Ganesha’s origin and the reason
for his unique physiognomy. In one of the most well known, the
goddess Parvati creates Ganesha from her own flesh, to serve
as a guard for her bath. When her husband, Shiva, returns home
and tries to enter the bath, Ganesha refuses to let him pass.
Enraged, Shiva wages a fierce battle against Ganesha and in
the end beheads him with the blade of his trident (trisul).

In popular tradition, Ganesha brings good luck and clears
obstacles, as symbolized by the ax he carries. For these reasons
he is worshipped before important events and rituals. Ganesha
also has a sweet tooth, though he is missing one of his tusks. He
used it to help write the epic legend The Mahabharata, but that’s
another story. . . .

© Sanjay Patel
From The Big Poster Book of Hindu Deities, published by Chronicle Books

GANESHA

GANESHA is one of the oldest and most widely worshiped of the Hindu deities. His image is found throughout the world, from Hindu temples,
to taxi driver dashboards, to living room walls. With the body of a man (with a very pudgy tummy) and the head of an elephant, he is instantly
recognizable. A mouse or rat is also often pictured with him, and is his companion in many legends.
There are numerous stories of Ganesha’s origin and the reason for his unique physiognomy. In one of the most well known stories, the goddess Parvati creates Ganesha from her own flesh, to serve as a guard for her bath. When her husband Shiva returns home and tries to enter the
bath, Ganesha refuses to let him pass. Enraged, Shiva wages a fierce battle against Ganesha and in the end beheads him with the blade of his
trident (trisul). Parvati emerges and, seeing her son slain, unleashes a torrent of fury against Shiva. Realizing his mistake (and hoping to put a
stop to Parvati’s world-ending, cataclysmic mother rage) Shiva sends his servants out to the forest with instructions to return with the head of
the first creature they come upon. They soon meet an elephant, behead it, and return to Shiva who affixes the new head to Ganesha.
In popular tradition, Ganehsa brings good luck and clears obstacles, as symbolized by the ax he carries. For these reasons he is worshipped
before important events and rituals. Ganesha also has a sweet tooth, though he is missing one of his tusks. He used it to help write the epic
legend The Mahabharata, but that’s another story…

NATARAJA

NATARAJA

is Shiva’s manifestation
as the cosmic dancer
who balances the cycle of the creation and destruction of the
universe. His classic pose is carefully constructed to display
the opposing forces that he balances and perpetuates. In his
raised right hand he holds a drum, the sound of which is the
source of all creation. His opposing left hand holds a flame,
which signifies destruction. His lower right hand makes a
gesture of blessing, symbolizing preservation and protection

© Sanjay Patel
From The Big Poster Book of Hindu Deities, published by Chronicle Books

from evil and ignorance. His left arm held across the body and
pointing at his foot is a reminder of Nataraja’s kindness toward
and liberation of his devotees. He stands with one foot on a
dwarf demon, representing his victory over ignorance and
ego. As he dances, his long hair (usually kept in a tidy bun on
top of his head) flies loose. Through all of this dancing
and gesturing, Nataraja remains stoic and neutral, forever
in motion but always perfectly balanced.

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