I didn’t choose Ganesha. I got a poster of Ganesha as a gift because, apparently, “she” looked like me.
I would soon discover that this elephant deity was actually masculine, that his name was Ganesha and that he was the Hindu god of beginnings, invoked to remove obstacles. This would explain his immense popularity, as one can always do with a bit of smoothing the path down!
When Ganesha first arrived I thought he was a direct shortcut to the wish-making department. Then I started to get more serious about yoga, and now, a good handful of years later, I see him in a different light. Ganesha is not some kind of exotic tooth-fairy ready to bulldoze anything standing in the way of egoic desires and the consequent satisfaction of our individuality.
Such an interpretation would be completely out of place in a spiritual tradition in which development means raising one’s level of awareness in order to realize that everything is the manifestation of one single universal consciousness. Within this path, all difficulties are seen as opportunities granted by life to work out karma and strenghten the practice of uplifiting consciousness beyond worldly circumstances. From this point of view, there is no reason to wish that anything be other than it is. This doesn’t mean that we like everything that happens, but rather that we accept that something is a challenge when it is and that we rise up to what is required of us while working on retaining our equanimity and our awareness of a higher truth.
The obstacles that Ganesha can help remove are those within us on our way to realization: perhaps revolting against circumstances, perhaps blaming others, perhaps neglectingour dharma (appropriate living, in accordance to the laws of nature and the interconnectedness of life) perhaps distracting ourselves from what the issue at hand really is, perhaps slipping into self-pity and despair… I find it no coincidence that Ganesha is also the god of wisdom, creativity and art. Surmounting these inner obstacles brings wisdom, requires creativity in order to see beyond the obvious and makes it clear that living in accordance to dharma is an art.