25 Aug 2017   Shanti Gowans

The myriad Hindu gods and goddesses hold the key to understanding wholeness, authentic power and the ability to manifest their gifts in the world. Each one expresses different behaviours and personality traints, which need to surface or be tempered, and thus the universe evolves.

Ganesh is the elephant-headed, younger son of Shiva and Parvati.

There are numerous and varied myths and stories regarding Ganesha’s birth in India, but the most well known one is that Shiva’s wife Parvati wanted to take a bath while Shiva was away. As there was no one to guard the entrance, Parvati formed a little boy from clay and breathed life into him. She instructed him not to let anyone in while she bathed.

Some time later Shiva returned and was furious that the boy at the door would not let him in to see his wife. In his rage, he cut off the boy’s head. Parvati came rushing out and was horrified by what Shiva had done. She told him that Shiva had beheaded their son.

Filled of remorse Shiva hurried to find a replacement head and a young elephant was the first creature he came across. So he placed the elephant’s head on the body of Ganesh to restore Ganesh and brought him back to life.

The elephant head symbolised intellect, and the elephant trunk is symbolic of the ability to discriminate between things. Ganesha is called by 108 different names and is the patron of arts and sciences and the deity of wisdom. He is honoured at the start of rituals and ceremonies as he is considered the go-to, aiding one in new beginnings. It iscustomary to have a Ganesha revere an entrance way.

Ganesh Chaturthi is a ten-day Hindu festival celebrated to honour the birthday of Ganesh.


Elephants have been around for a long time. The fossil record indicates that more than 300 species have walked the earth over a period of 55 million years.

They are among the most intelligent of the creatures with whom we share the planet, with complex consciousnesses that are capable of strong emotions and good long-term memories.

Elephants are the largest animals currently living on land, and are a keystone species, playing an important role in maintaining the biodiversity of the ecosystems in which they live.

During the dry season, they create water holes by digging in dry river beds.This not only allows the elephants to survive in dry environments and when droughts strike, but also provides water for other animals that share harsh habitats.When forest elephants eat, they pull down trees and break up thorny bushes, creating gaps in the vegetation. As a result, they create grasslands and allow new plants to grow, and salt licks in order to make other animals’ lives easier to survive in their environment, and pathways for other smaller animals to use. They are also one of the major ways in which trees disperse their seeds; some species rely entirely upon elephants for seed dispersal.

The Indian elephant has been relatively easily domesticated and there are historic records to show that elephants were used as beasts in agriculture and forestry in the Indus Valley civilisation that thrived 4,000 years ago.  Hannibal used African elephants in his famous battles against the Romans 2,000 years ago.

Elephants breed slowly, and take many years to reach maturity. It is an unfortunate fact that in most, if not all, cases, keeping domestic elephants totally disrupts their social lives and they do not breed well in captivity. Therefore most captive elephants are collected as young elephants from the wild. Hopefully, soon, human beings will be more considerate of the feelings of others, and animals such as elephants will suffer less 

Elephants live in complex social groups. They need a lot of room to live happily and easily consume 100 kg or 220 lbs of vegetation a day. In India the main threat from elephants is habitat destruction. This combined with their ivory has brought them into conflict with humanity.

All three species are considered endangered today.

As with all ecological problems, understanding and loving the truth is the key to successfully addressing the problem of elephants, their ivory and the lust for it that infests many human minds. For now the best thing you can do is to make sure you do not buy any ivory products until the illegal poaching has been stopped once and for all.

The Vedic spiritual mentors of the time advocated that human beings celebrate Ganesh as a symbol of reverence for the species of elephant.


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About Shantiji

Shanti Gowans is the globally recognised author and founder of Shanti Yoga™, Meditation and Ayurveda for the self, family and community.

Shantiji has brought the concepts and practices of a healthy body and a still mind to thousands of Australians through her Yoga and Meditation programs on national television... Read more about Shantiji's biography

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