Get to Know… GANESH

By Anjali Joshi

By Amy Maranville

Bharat Babies is proud to present some of the heroes (including gods and goddesses) of Hinduism. One of the most famous of these is Ganesh, or Ganesha, who is featured in our book Ganesh and the Little Mouse. Ganesh is one of the most recognizable of the Hindu gods, but how much do you really know about him? 

Ganesh is not just an elephant.

He is a god with a head that resembles an elephant, but he also has a human body. Ganesh is not the only Hindu god with animal features, but his elephant head does make him distinctive.

Ganesh is the Remover of Obstacles.

Hindus always pray first to Ganesh before anything else, clearing the way for success on their journeys. 

Ganesh is part of more than one religious tradition.

Although Ganesh is well-known as a Hindu god, he also appears in Buddhist and Jain stories and worship. 

Ganesh is often depicted with a broken tusk.

In fact, early references to Ganesh name him as “Ekadanta”, or “one-tusked one.” If you look closely at images of Ganesh, you will often see him holding his broken tusk in one of his hands. As with the stories about his elephant head, there are many explanations for how Ganesh’s tusk was broken.

In one story, Ganesh lost his tusk in a confrontation with a god. In another version, Ganesh broke his tusk off himself to use as a writing implement. He had been asked by the Maharishi Veda Vyas to assist in the writing of the Mahabharata, one of the most important epics in Hindu history. Honored by the request, Ganesh broke off a piece of himself to write the words. 

Ganesh rides on the back of a mouse.

If you have read our story Ganesh and the Little Mouse, you know that Ganesh has a vahana (a rideable steed or vehicle).  Ganesh is not the only god depicted on the back of a noble steed, but the mouse is an unusual choice. Read our book to find out more about their friendship.