Many people have asked me who is on the cover of my book, ‘Chasing Marigolds‘ and why I chose him. Much as he is pretty ugly, as well as dark and foreboding, I have always had a soft spot for this lovable guy who is supposed to be endowed with a good sense of humour. If you have been travelling around India, Bali or Thailand you will see have seen many statues of him.
One of the better known Hindu deities, he is the mythical elephant headed, human bodied son of Parvati and Lord Shiva. Sometimes referred to as “Ganesha”, it is said that he was born on the River Ganges in the holy city of Varanasi. When you look closely you will notice certain features such as a broken tusk, a pot belly, long trunk, large ears and sometimes the rat he uses as transportation. So what is the significance of these characteristics?
- the broken tusk symbolises the importance of letting go of the ego but it is also said to have been used in writing the epic story of the Mahabarata
- the tusks show strength, resolve and oneness
- his pot belly is abundant with the seeds of life
- with his long trunk he can breathe in the wisdom of the universe, connecting the inner and and outer worlds
- with a flap of his large ears he can readily dispel untruths as Ganesh hears only the truth
- using a rat as transportation demonstrates overcoming ignorance
- having the head of an elephant and the body of a human, all earth’s creatures are united
Ganesh is traditionally known as the remover of obstacles in one’s life. If however we perceive a situation as an obstacle but Ganesh sees it as an opportunity, the situation remains unchanged to become a learning experience for us. Devotees offer marigold garlands to him which are generally placed around his neck.
It is by working through problems that we gain the knowledge to deal with many difficult situations in life. If someone else tries to solve them for us, we will never learn how to work through any future problems that may arise.
So why did I use him on the cover of my book? I guess there were many times where having tripped over obstacles I picked myself up only to be flung down bruised and beaten once again. I was certainly learning the lessons of life but it is only with hindsight that we appreciate the significance of struggle.
The hardest lesson in life for me was learning to “let go”. My guru used to say, “you need to let go” and I would reply through gritted teeth, “I am letting go”.
While you reflect on this new year and ponder over past experiences, focus on the broken tusk of Ganesh and ask yourself the question “Am I really letting go?”