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The Book of Ganesha Having lived in a city where the elephant headed god is ubiquitous, I was curious to readabout him The Book of Ganesha was an easy way into the topic It showcases myths and stories about Ganesha from different regions and times, and quotes from many sources, thereby presenting different versions of the Ganesha mythology and highlighting various traditions of Ganesha worship This gave me some fascinating insights, for example about the popularity of Ganesha in the region in India where I Having lived in a city where the elephant headed god is ubiquitous, I was curious to readabout him The Book of Ganesha was an easy way into the topic It showcases myths and stories about Ganesha from different regions and times, and quotes from many sources, thereby presenting different versions of the Ganesha mythology and highlighting various traditions of Ganesha worship This gave me some fascinating insights, for example about the popularity of Ganesha in the region in India where I lived Maharashtra Turned out this was the result of a post independence campaign Ganesha was actively promoted because he is a god everyone can pray to Are there Hindu gods with restrictions as to whom is allowed to worship them This book sparks as many questions as it gives answers The cult of Ganesha worship was promoted to create a stronger sense of unity among the different people in the region Moreover, Ganesha is part of both the Hindu, Jain and Buddhist pantheon, so it makes sense to pick the pot bellied son of Shiva and Parvati for that cause.And what a lovely god he is His potbelly gives him the appearance of a toddler, an impression that is strengthened by his alleged mischievousness and his love of sweets Ganesha holds instruments used for taming elephants in his hands, and his vehicle is the mouse, both of which indicate his triumph over dualities He is the god of obstacles, the god of new beginnings, and a companion to travellers I especially enjoyed reading the stories that explain how Ganesha got his elephant head One of those stories narrates how Parvati and Shiva assumed the shape of elephants during their lovemaking, and hence Parvati gave birth to an elephant headed child Apparently it is stressed in many stories that Parvati and Shiva did not actually have intercourse The story that has them become elephants first is only one of the stories that sidetracks intercourse between the gods as gods.I highly recommend this book to anyone interested to learnabout Ganesha O Lord, with a twisted trunk and immense body,Radiant with the effulgence of a million suns O Lord, may all our endeavoursAlways be achieved without obstacles A very light a quick read The book broadly goes over Ganesha s origins, associated myths, and imagery It explores these categories by giving a paraphrasing or highly condensed version of myths that fall under these categories, followed usually by a sentence or two of analysis While I loved how broadly it drew from different myths and traditions, sometimes delving in Buddhism and Jainism, my only critique would be that the book does not cite where the myths come from It s clearly supposed to A very light a quick read The book broadly goes over Ganesha s origins, associated myths, and imagery It explores these categories by giving a paraphrasing or highly condensed version of myths that fall under these categories, followed usually by a sentence or two of analysis While I loved how broadly it drew from different myths and traditions, sometimes delving in Buddhism and Jainism, my only critique would be that the book does not cite where the myths come from It s clearly supposed to be for casual reading, but I often found myself wanting to see the full narrative of some of the very interesting myths it referenced, only to find that the author had moved on without giving a hint of where it was from Still, I enjoyed the book, and I ll probably look into the rest of the series Fascinating I m not particularly Hindu, as I am not particular to Buddhism or even Christianity.I read this book because from August 29th to the 7th of September is Ganesh Chaturthi, the celebration of the birthday of the Hindu god If you don t know Ganesh, he is the cute and onery elephant headed god, the deliverer and remover of obstacles People give Ganesh s chubby statuary offerings of sweets and fruit they also perform rituals to ask Ganesh for a clear path in their life, including blessings but als I m not particularly Hindu, as I am not particular to Buddhism or even Christianity.I read this book because from August 29th to the 7th of September is Ganesh Chaturthi, the celebration of the birthday of the Hindu god If you don t know Ganesh, he is the cute and onery elephant headed god, the deliverer and remover of obstacles People give Ganesh s chubby statuary offerings of sweets and fruit they also perform rituals to ask Ganesh for a clear path in their life, including blessings but also the removal of selfishness, ego, and limited perspective.There are literally hundreds of myths about Ganesh, his birth, his elephant head, his broken tusk, his noose, his axe, his mouse In fact, it seems a new story is simply invented on the spot whenever someone decides they need one It s as if Ganesh is literally used as an exemplification of wisdom, the central figure in fairy tales and legends used to convey bits of wisdom This book covers many, many of the mythologies and symbolisms almost too many.The aspect that fascinates me about Hinduism and Ganesh in particular is the duality of inventing and perpetrating these stories, having hundreds of different versions of spiritual stories, understanding they are merely legends, and yet being so devout and emphatic to the worship of the statue and the performance of the ritual.Hinduism is the oldest religion extending past written history It is also one of the most tolerant of other spiritual beliefs, stating that all paths lead to Enlightenment or to the Divine There is a sense that even the statues and stories are merely symbolic However they are also reverently treated as magical and holy That s a fun and strange dichotomy.One of my friends says that when a statue breaks, they sweep it up in a reglar dustbin and dump it into the nearest body of water There is hardly a ceremony, and the water is only a symbol of Ganesh supposedly stopping floods once and or being birthed by water in his mother s bath and or stopping people from drinking poisoned water, etc., etc., etc., You get the point.I personally believe in the possibility of everything, never mind the probability which is likely limited lucky pennies, ghosts, ESP, alien abductions, pet rocks, virgin births, etc I don t believe human beings with their retarded and extremely limited perspective will ever understand everything about existence Our Empirical language and egocentric perspective are two of our biggest hindrances Religion is merely mythology to disseminate things beyond our understanding to our pea sized brains It s like the old experiment that proved quarks existed Someone found a photosensitive sheet and a method to track, for a moment, the spirally path of quarks crashing into each other That sheet of photo proved quarks existed, as well as gave us a structure for discussion, but we weren t still able to capture quarks Religion is that sheet, except we moronic humans starts worshipping the sheet and calling it law and subjugating each other and causing Crusades and damning our enemies and all that retarded stuff Organized religion is the symbol of our own intellectual limitations and the need for retarded simplicity.Still, I love stories, and Ganesh symbolizes some cool ideas So I enjoyed reading about him Ganesha, the elephant headed god, is easily the most recognizable and loveable of Hindu deities But pinpointing his various attributes is not quite so simple He is at once the portly, merry, childlike god and the sage, complex philosopher He is the presiding deity of material wealth and the lord of spirituality He removes all impediments for his devotees but creates all manner of difficulties for the transgressors, man or god And associated with every aspect of Ganesha be it his extraordinary birth, his elephant head, his broken tusk, his vehicle the mouse , his appetite, his anger are scores of myths, each colourful than the other In this thoroughly researched and delightfully narrated book, Royina Grewal gives us the many stories of Ganesha, exploring their significance and how they reflect the times and the cultures during which they originated

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