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Tantric Travel Log:  
How Ganesha Wins the Mango


Illustration of Ganesha

Many know Ganesha as the god of wisdom or the remover of obstacles. I had previously experienced Ganesha as the only religious icon I can teach to young yoga students in both Catholic and public schools without getting in trouble because his physical appearance is so absurd that the authorities couldn't see a cartoon character threatening to their religion.

I had heard Ganesha was popular in India, but I didn't expect he'd be the one constant presence sitting at the entrance of all 30 temples I visited in about 30 days. One day I awoke from my meditation realizing the nature of this purification ritual. In order to truly commune with the divine energy within the temple, one must first be willing to suspend their critical mind and make peace with the cartoon-like god outside the temple. Letting go of judgment is a prerequisite to meditation. Thus it is through Ganesha that one may transcend the mind and deepen the experience of spirit.

Upon awakening from this revelation, I asked my teacher to talk about the significance of deity, and he told me this tantric version of an ancient myth:

One day, Mother and Father Shiva and Parvati make sweet love and their passion produces a mango. They decide to give the fruit to one of their two sons, Lord Ganesha or Lord Muruga. However, they believe the fruit should be eaten and enjoyed in its entirety so they had to decide which son is worthy of such a gift. Shiva asks the boys to go around the earth and whoever came back first was to be the recipient of the mango. Lord Muruga climbed on his faithful peacock and flew around the earth with great strength. Lord Ganesha did not want to climb on his little mouse. He knew he couldn't win so he meditated. And when he awoke he walked around his parents, bowed before them and declared that his parents represented the whole world to him. After this they gifted him the mango!

The tantric interpretation of this tale is that the union of polarities, male and female, produced the entire world. All of life is created and touched by mother earth and father sky. Further, if youčre willing to meditate before a problem, a creative new solution may present itself.

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