Ganesha is a very unique deity and his physical aspects are of great significance. All of his features symbolize or represent something. Ganesha is the elephant headed son of Shiva and Parvati. He is singlle-tusked, has four hands, one holds a noose and another goad. He is pot bellied and has huge ears which resemble grain-winnowing baskets.
He has a red complextion, is smeared with red paste, wears red garments, and is worshipped with a red flower. He also has a mouse banner which represents wisdom. These are the obvious appearances, but there are some that are a little subtler.
There is a geometric tantric representation of Ganesha in the embodiment of the five great elements (manabhutas). Those five great elements are earth, air, fire, water, and space. From top to bottom, the geometric representation is as follows: a flame on top of a cresent on top of an inverted triangle, on top of a circle on top of a rectangle. The flame represents space, the true self, the cresent represents air, the third eye, the triangle represents fire, his tusk, mouth and upper trunk, the circle represents water, his pot belly, and the rectangle represents earth and Ganesha seated with his legs crossed.
Ganesha is red because he is described as ” occupying the sacred triangle of fire “, and represents the fire of spirituality, the fire of aspiration, and the fire of kundalini sakti. His curved trunk shows that he is associated with the fire of energy. His most obvious physical feature is his elephant head and is has long been argued what it represents. Some common representations are that it represents the macrocosm of the Divine and the eternal witness.
It is also very symbolic of strength, intellectual power, and auspiciousness. Ganesha is also single tusked and there are stories about who ripped it out, either Shiva or Ganesha himself pulled it out and made it into an ascetic’s staff. It represents discrimination, or the uprooting of one’s ignorance, and the ability to distinguish betweent he real and unreal.
Lord Ganesha Aspects – Ganpati Aspects: Ganesha’s huge pot belly is big enough to contain the entire universe. His belly is the cosmic womb of the universe and heis the Lord of Beginnings and Obstacles. He can stomach anything; digest all that life presents, and swallow all the so rrows of the world. Before, it was said that Ganesha is holding a noose and a goad. They are both weapons of a sort.
Lord Ganesha Aspects – Ganpati Aspects: The noose is symbolic of bondage and he uses it to direct one along the right path and pull his devotees closer to the truth In time, he will use it to tie a devotee to the highest truth. The goad is usually in his upraised right hand while the noose is held in the upraised left hand. The goad is his fierce weapon and he uses it to remove obstacles from one’s path and cut people from their attachments their own initiative.
His large ears are big enough to hear the prayers of all and hear so well as to separate the essential from the nonessential. Before it was also said that his ears represent a winnowing or separating basket for grain. This is so he can ” separate the chaff of falsehood from the grains of truth “(Grimes, pg.85)1. They are also a symbol of wisdom and can hear the Vedas.
Lord Ganesha Aspects – Ganpati Aspects: Ganesha is sometimes depicted as mounted on a mouse. This huge mouse he has made his vehicle and it represents the carrier of the Divine covered by darkness and hidden in the earth’s bowels. This mouse has a heart larger than the earth and can therefore carry the great weight of Ganesha.