• Who’s the Goofy Elephant-headed God? ELEPHANT JOURNAL SEPTEMBER 2016

    Posted in Articles by Eric Shaw

    Most yogis know Ganesh is the Lord of Wealth and the “Remover of Obstacles,” but it is by taking apart his myth that we learn what “removing obstacles” really means.

    The father of this elephant-headed guy is the god, Shiva—who symbolizes being—and his mother is the goddess, Shakti—who is doing.


    Shiva is a yogi.

    We see images of him in forests and mountains meditating.

    He is the power of emptiness.

    Shakti is his wife. She acts and creates.

    She is the power of fullness.

    She is the power behind samsara—the “All Flow”—the world we all live in.

    The scriptures tell us Shakti simply wanted a child.

    Desire and wanting are important in Indian philosophy. They call it iccha—a first principle of the universe.

    Shakti created Ganesh with a “virgin birth.”

    Sitting in the bath, she pushed the dirt off her body to form him as if from clay, very much like the way Yahweh created the first man, Adam, as the Bible says.

    She was in the flow, in her bath, in dreamtime. She made the boy up from the ideal world of dreams. She set him up to guard her waters of flow—as we humans do.

    She set him up to protect her dreamy fantasies.

    We try to protect what is meaningful to us with rigid ideas that guard us from what is contrary or real.

    Shiva is emptiness. He is all possibilities that come out of emptiness, all that comes from the abyss of the unknown; hence, he is called The Destroyer. His “Beingness” is greater than anything that is less than being.

    Shiva is the All-in-All, greater than any human idea of the self or the world.

    Shiva and Shakti, being and becoming, the uncreated and created, must move toward each other.

    Shiva loves Shakti. He meets the boy guarding his wife and cuts his head off.

    Upon birth, Ganesh was “headstrong.” Seemingly pure—like an “Ivory Tower”—he expressed a mere ideal. He was his mother’s dream of a perfection (as boys tend to be) and he stood inside his own oedipal dream that he could come between his father and mother.

    He stood for a fantasy. He blocked life’s real flow.

    He prevented the movement of Shiva toward Shakti––never a good idea.

    Shiva destroys every idea.

    In fact, he destroys all that is, was, or will be.

    He is eternity, and eternity swallows everything that has odor, taste, touch, color, sound or thought in this world. All things fade, change, dissolve and disappear. Only being is eternal.

    Shakti was mortified, shocked by the absoluteness of Shiva’s murder of Ganesh. As wives do—she berated Shiva, and—as husbands do, because the grace and flow of the feminine is holy to them—he moved to appease her.

    He found an elephant. One who is said to have also died defending his mother. He chopped that head off, too.

    He melded it to Ganesh.

    “Elephants never forget.” They symbolize the ups and downs of the past, and the wisdom that results from pain and experience. Walking heavy and slow, they represent the reflection arising from the flow of years. “Things are not black and white,” we say. Elephants are gray. They symbolize the retreat from extremism, the lightness of belief in a perfect world. Elephants symbolize the painful heaviness of the real.

    Life is wisdom and experience. Life is the change of ideals into the real—that unexpected, wild and self-contradictory thing that life always is. The surreal elephant, with its tree-legs, butterfly-ears, and a nose that is a snake, represents this.

    When all dualities come together, we have the ultimate.

    Shiva made Ganesh a god.


  • 2 Responses to "Who’s the Goofy Elephant-headed God? ELEPHANT JOURNAL SEPTEMBER 2016"

    1. Jennifer Keeney March 1, 2016 07:13 am

      Love this Eric! Thank you for sharing yourself and your knowledge so enthusiastically and joyfully with us this weekend in Lubbock…

    2. Eric Shaw March 2, 2016 17:01 pm

      Thanks for looking in, Jenny. I hope I see you all again in E. Texas! Cheers, E

    Leave your response

Share This