GANESA. Ganeaa, also called is one of the gods of the Hindus. He is one of the sons of Siva (q.v.). His worshippers once formed one of the great Hindu sects. The name Canaan means " lord of hosts," and the god was so called because he was supposed to be in command of the hosts of messengers and servants which surrounded Siva, that is to say, of the evil demons and the good angels. But he is not a fighting commander, a god of war; he is simply a tutelary village deity, a god of luck and misfortune. He seems in particular to be in charge of those spirits who contrive obstacles and difficulties. He is invoked to remove these. Thus, at the literary festival on the 2nd of February, Ganesa is invoked, not as a god of learning corresponding to Saras vati (q.v.), the goddess of learning, but as the god who might put obstacles in the way of literary accomplish ment. At the present day Ganesa is worshipped in con junction with all the other gods, and his images and shrines are found throughout India. " What the GaneSa or Gana-pad of the present day really represents is a complex personification of sagacity, shrewdness, patience, and self-reliance of all those qualities, in short, which overcome hindrances and difficulties, whether in perform ing religious acts, writing books, building houses, making journeys, or undertaking anything. He is before all
things the typical embodiment of success in life; with its usual accompaniments of good-living, plenteousneas, prosperity, and peace. This is the true secret of his popularity " (Monier-Williams). But though he is mainly a god who removes obstacles, he may become a god who brings them. Hence his names VighneAa and Vighna-raja, " lord of obstacles." In sculpture Ganesa is figured with the bead of an elephant and riding on a rat. Both elephant and rat are emblems of wealth. The elephant is a great consumer of grain, and the rat is associated with overflowing granaries. See Monier Williams; E. W. Hopkins; J. A. Dubois and H. E. Beau champ; R. V. Russell.