The Dancing Ganesha comes in many forms and can be seen in pictures, scriptures and statues throughout the world. He is one of the more known of the Indian deities, recognized by his elephant head, he is prayed to before any new venture to dispel any obstacles that might get in the way. This is why he is known as the ‘Destroyer of obstacles and difficulties’.
Ganesha has many attributes and names, he is the Patron of arts which dance comes under. In many of his depictions he is seen dancing, usually in a happy ecstatic state raising his many arms in reverence as his feet pirouette him about, his left foot on the earth, his right foot raised to show how graceful he is.
He has rings on the fingers of his four hands and each arm’s position has a significant meaning. He holds an elephant’s broken tusk in one hand, an elephant’s goad in another, the third hand holds an axe and the fourth a noose. The broken tusk is in fact his own, it was broken in a fight that he had with Parashurama. The noose represents one’s worldly desires that try to trap us and tie us to this earthly realm, it can be used to catch the negative forces that come to lure us away from our true path. The axe is there to cut the ropes and cords that tie us to the earthly realm and distract us from the gods and the heavens. The elephant goad represents the power that Ganesha can wield for he does not only obstruct obstacles, he can also create them.
Dancing Ganesha is dressed as a Rangaraj, the dress of a performer of dance. The dancing Ganesha is known as Nritya-Ganapati, ‘nritya’ meaning dance and Ganapati being another form of Ganesha’s name. Maghnakshara is another name for Ganesha and is used when he is seen dancing under a tree that grants wishes and joy, this tree is known as kalpavriksha.
Ganesha performs a synthesis of two dance forms; Tandava which comes from his father Shiva and Lasya from his mother Parvati. These dance forms that he choreographed he would then perform, as a child, to the other gods of the Indian pantheon and also performs for us when we send him greetings and adorations.
Another dance form of Ganesha is the Kalinga Ganesha, also known as ‘Fearless Ganesha’. For this one Ganesha is seen dancing upon the heads of the snake Sheshnag whilst holding its tail in one of his left hands. This poisonous serpent, Sheshnag, has five heads and has come to spread chaos with its negative energy. The five heads of the snake represent the many desires that are sent to tempt us and Ganesha defeats these by trampling down the negative energies, which is a representation of what we have to do in our everyday lives when we too encounter negative energies, temptations and desires that are put before us to distract us from our spiritual paths.
Ganesha dances desire and temptations away and I recommend that we do that too. As dancing Ganesha represents energy and vigour, that is what we need to create to remove evil and difficulties from our own paths. Ganesha uses the form of dance to gather good positive energy for creative ventures and for new projects. His statues are showing us how to use our bodies to dance away the bad and bring in the good. These forms of Ganesha raise up lots of energy and power, so maybe not the kind of statue to have in restful places. There are other forms of Ganesha one can use for those situations. If you have a Ganesha dancing statue keep it in the office or living room, where it will bring success and proficiency.
“I sing about the Dancing Ganesha, who is of yellow golden colour, who sits below the wish-giving tree, who holds the noose, goad, the axe, tusk, shining divine rings arranged on his fingers.”
Laird Scranton in his book ‘Ganesha: The Scientific Symbolism of a Hindu God’ looks at the myths and symbolism of Ganesha and what they could mean in scientific terms. His study of the old language and symbolism of past civilizations such as the Dogon and the hieroglyphics of old Egypt has brought him to the conclusions that pictorial writings does explain the scientific way that the universe was brought into creation. Scranton asks-
Was Ganesha originally an energy force that was intrinsic in the creation of the universe and that was later anthropomorphized into the elephant god that we know and love today?
Om Lambodaraya Namah. Love and be one with the universe.
Om Gan Ganapataye Namah