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The Hindu deity Ganesha

Hear the origin story of the Hindu deity Ganesha and learn how to identify depictions of Ganesha with the use of artworks in the Asian Art Museum's collection. Learn more about Ganesha on education.asianart.org.

Video transcript

I now Ganesh is the son of Shiva and Parvati he's worshipped all over India and he is the remover of obstacles and the God of good fortune you recognize him by his elephant head and there is an interesting myth that tells us how he got his elephant head Parvati is alone feeling dejected and lonely Shiva as you know is the is the wild yogi the ascetic who disappeared into the mountains for eons so piratey decides to fashion a clay image of Ganesh and breathes life into him and lovingly she raised him one day before she went into bed she asked Ganesh to guard the entrance to the to the house and as luck would have it Shiva returns from one of his meditation trips and finds Ganesh barring entry into his own home Shiva doesn't recognize who ganesh's and Ganesh has never seen his father before and so in his rage Sheila decides to chop off Ganesha's head why with thee when she realizes what has happened is horrified and asks Shiva to restore Ganesh so Shiva realizing what happened walks out onto the street and grabs the head of the first creature that he sees which happens to be an elephant and so he decides to replace ganesh's head with that of an elephant and here we have a wonderful 13th century stone sculpture of Ganesh you can see it is ornately carved and he holds his many attributes in his four hands in his upper right hand he holds an ad in his lower right hand he carries a broken tusk and in his lower left hand he holds a bowl of sweetmeats and you can see from his rotund belly that he is very fond of eating and it is tied with a cobra to prevent it from bursting you you