What is it that you know of Lord Ganesha till now except for the fact that he is Lord Shiva and Goddess Parvati’s son and that his name is chanted prior to any important work; and that he is bestowed upon with the head of an elephant, has a large belly and loves ‘modak’.
The unique body parts of Ganesha are a description of his character and also of the qualities that humans must adopt for spiritual growth.
An elephant is strong enough to uproot trees. It sustains on leaves and grass. An elephant makes multiple use of its trunk – to take shower, have its food, reach out to the branches for leaves and even offer something to someone. Likewise, Ganesha’s trunk is a symbol of strength and wisdom. A wise mind can penetrate far and wide and thus help in making correct decisions.
The large, majestic ears of Lord Ganesha indicates that he listens to the prayers of every single human being who is devoted to him.
Ganesha is always depicted as having four hands, with one bearing lotus, one holding a hatchet, one hand carrying sweetmeats and the fourth hand is always seen in an ‘Aashirwad Mudra’.
The lotus symbolises enlightment and the hatchet symbolises that enlightenment can cut off all bonds of attachment with the material world.
The sweetmeats are the symbol of sweet gains reaped by practising good deeds.
The ‘Aashirwad Mudra’ or the blessing pose means that an ideal person will always wish for the well-being of one and all.
Also, Ganesha is always portrayed with one foot on the ground and the other resting on his knee. This posture is symbolic of the fact that the enlightened person lives on earth without any attachment to material life.
We also see Ganesha as riding on the back of a rat. The rat usually stands for greed. The mind of a wise person must always control his senses. A human being’s desire or greed must never control him. This is the message Ganesha gives by sitting on a rat.