Mumbaikar of All..
Huge and Tall
Hears you Cry
Hears Your Call
Saves you each Time
before You Fall
whatever your religiosity
he removes obstacles
he sees there are no pitfalls
no terrorists can breach
our city's walls
Be Proud Indians
on our Souls he scrawls
our greatest enemy
our narrow mindedness
our hate for each other
that hits the nation
first of all
a hindu muslim christian
be an Indian
says it all
miljul ke rehne
main hi bhaliee hai
the greatest cure all
dont sell your country
for american dollars
or saudi riyal
Ganesha (Sanskrit: गणेश; Gaṇeśa; listen (help·info), also spelled Ganesa or Ganesh) is one of the best-known and most worshipped deities in Hinduism. Although he is known by many other attributes, Ganesha's elephant head makes him easy to identify. Several texts relate mythological anecdotes associated with his birth and exploits, and explain his distinct iconography. Ganesha is worshipped as the lord of beginnings and as the lord of obstacles (Vighnesha), patron of arts and sciences, and the god of intellect and wisdom. He is honoured with affection at the start of any ritual or ceremony and invoked as the "Patron of Letters" at the beginning of any writing.
Ganesha appears as a distinct deity in clearly-recognizable form beginning in the fourth to fifth centuries, during the Gupta Period. His popularity rose quickly, and he was formally included as one of the five primary deities of Smartism (a Hindu denomination) in the ninth century. During this period, a sect of devotees (called Ganapatya; Sanskrit: गाणपत्य; gāṇapatya) who identify Ganesha as the supreme deity was formed. The principal scriptures dedicated to his worship are the Ganesha Purana, the Mudgala Purana, and the Ganapati Atharvashirsa.
Ganesha is one of the most-worshipped divinities in India. Worship of Ganesha is considered complementary with the worship of other forms of the divine, and various Hindu sects worship him regardless of other affiliations. Devotion to Ganesha is widely diffused and extends to Jains, Buddhists, and beyond India.
Ganesha has many other titles and epithets, including Ganapati and Vighneśvara. The Hindu title of respect Shri (Sanskrit: श्री; śrī, also spelled Sri or Shree) is often added before his name. One popular form of Ganesha worship is by chanting one of the Ganesha Sahasranamas, which literally means "a thousand names of Ganesha". Each name in the sahasranama conveys a different meaning and symbolises a different aspect of Ganesha. There are at least two different versions of the Ganesha Sahasranama. One of these is drawn from the Ganesha Purana, a Hindu scripture that venerates Ganesha.
The name Ganesha is a Sanskrit compound, joining the words gana (Sanskrit: गण; gaṇa), meaning a group, multitude, or categorical system and isha (Sanskrit: ईश; īśa), meaning lord or master. The word gaņa in association with Ganesha is often taken to refer to the gaņas, a troop of semi-divine beings that form part of the retinue of Shiva (also spelled "Śiva"). The term more generally means a category, class, community, association, or corporation. Some commentators interpret the name "Lord of the Gaņas" to mean "Lord of created categories," such as the elements, etc. The translation "Lord of Hosts" may convey a familiar sense to Western readers. Ganapati (Sanskrit: गणपति; gaṇapati) is a synonym for Ganesha, being a compound composed of gaṇa, meaning "group", and pati, meaning "ruler" or "lord").
Vināyaka is a common name for Ganesha both in the Purāṇas and in Buddhist Tantras. This name is reflected in the naming of the eight famous Ganesha (aṣṭavināyaka) temples in Maharashtra. The name Vignesha, meaning "Lord of Obstacles", refers to his primary function in Hindu mythology as being able to both create and remove obstacles (vighna).
One of the main names for Ganesha in the Tamil language is Pille or Pillaiyar, which means "Little Child". A. K. Narain differentiates these terms by saying that pille means a "child" and pillaiyar a "noble child", and adds that the words pallu, pella, and pell in the Dravidian family of languages signify "tooth or tusk of an elephant" but more generally "elephant". In discussing the name Pillaiyar, Anita Raina Thapan notes that since the Pali word pillaka has the significance of "a young elephant" it is possible that pille originally meant "the young of the elephant".
Ganesha is a popular figure in Indian art. Unlike some deities, representations of Ganesha show wide variation with distinct patterns changing over time. He may be portrayed standing, dancing, taking heroic action against demons, playing with his family as a boy, sitting down, or engaging in a remarkable range of contemporary situations.
Ganesha images were prevalent in many parts of India by the sixth century. The figure shown to the right is typical of Ganesha statuary from 900-1200, after Ganesha had been well-established as an independent deity with his own cult. This example features some of Ganesha's common iconographic elements. A virtually identical statue has been dated between 973-1200 by Martin-Dubost and another similar statue is dated circa twelfth century by Pal. He has the head of an elephant and a big belly. This statue has four arms, which is common in depictions of Ganesha . He holds his own broken tusk in his lower-right hand and holds some form of delicacy, which he samples with his trunk in his lower-left hand. The motif of Ganesha turning his trunk sharply to his left to taste a sweet which he holds in his lower-left hand is a particularly archaic feature. A more primitive statue in one of the Ellora Caves with this general form has been dated to the 7th century. Details of the other hands are difficult to make out on the statue shown; in this standard configuration, Ganesha typically holds either an axe or a goad in one upper arm and a noose in the other upper arm as symbols of his ability to cut through obstacles or to create them as needed.
The influence of this old constellation of iconographic elements can still be seen in contemporary representations of Ganesha. In one modern form, the only variation from these old elements is that the lower-right hand does not hold the broken tusk but rather is turned toward the viewer in the gesture of protection or "no fear" (abhaya mudra). The same combination of four arms and attributes occurs in statues of Ganesha dancing, which is a very popular theme.
Ganesha has been represented with the head of an elephant since the early stages of his appearance in Indian art. Puranic myths provide many explanations for how he got this form. One of his popular forms (called Heramba-Ganapati) has five elephant heads, and other less-common variations in the number of heads are known.
While some texts say that Ganesha was born with an elephant head, in most stories he acquires the head later, with several accounts given. The most common motif in these stories is that Ganesha was born with a human head and body and that Shiva beheaded him when Ganesha came between Shiva and Parvati. Shiva then replaced Ganesha's original head with that of an elephant. Details of the battle and where the replacement head came from vary according to different sources. In another story, when Ganesha was born his mother Parvati showed off her new baby to the other gods. Unfortunately, the god Shani (Saturn) – who is said to have the "evil eye" – looked at him, causing the baby's head to be burned to ashes. The god Vishnu came to the rescue and replaced the missing head with that of an elephant. Another story tells that Ganesha is created directly by Shiva's laughter. Shiva became concerned that Ganesha was too alluring, so he cursed Ganesha to have the head of an elephant and a protruding belly.
The earliest name referring to Ganesha is Ekadanta ("One Tusk"), noting his single tusk; the other is broken off.  Some of the earliest images of Ganesha show him holding his broken tusk. The importance of this distinctive feature is reflected in the Mudgala Purana, which states that the name of Ganesha's second incarnation is Ekadanta.
Ganesha's protruding belly appears as a distinctive attribute in his earliest statuary, which dates to the Gupta period (4th to 6th centuries). This feature is so important that according to the Mudgala Purana two different incarnations of Ganesha use names based on it, Lambodara ("Pot Belly", or literally "Hanging Belly") and Mahodara ("Great Belly"). Both names are Sanskrit compounds describing his belly (Sanskrit: udara). The Brahmanda Purana says that he has the name Lambodara because all the universes (i.e., cosmic eggs; Sanskrit brahmāṇḍas) of the past, present, and future are present in Ganesha.
The number of Ganesha's arms varies; his best-known forms have between two and sixteen arms. Many depictions of Ganesha feature four arms, which is mentioned in Puranic sources and codified as a standard form in some iconographic texts. His earliest images had two arms. Forms with fourteen and twenty arms appeared in Central India during the 9th and 10th century.
The serpent is a common element in Ganesha iconography, where it appears in many forms. According to the Ganesha Purana, Ganesha wrapped the serpent Vāsuki around his neck. Other common depictions of snakes include use as a sacred thread (Sanskrit: yajñyopavīta), wrapped around the stomach as a belt, held in a hand, coiled at the ankles, and as a throne. Upon Ganesha's forehead there may be either a third eye or a sectarian mark (Sanskrit: tilaka) of Shiva showing three horizontal lines. The Ganesha Purana prescribes both a tilaka mark as well as a crescent moon for the forehead. A distinct form called Bhālacandra ("Moon on the Forehead") includes that iconographic element.
The colors most often associated with Ganesha are red  and yellow, but specific other colors are prescribed in certain forms. Many examples of color associations with specific meditation forms are prescribed in the Sritattvanidhi, a treatise on iconography that includes a section on variant forms of Ganesha. For example, white is associated with his representations as Heramba-Ganapati and Rina-Mochana-Ganapati.("Ganapati Who Releases From Bondage"). Ekadanta-Ganapati is visualized as blue during meditation on that form.[
The earliest Ganesha images are without a Vahana (mount). Of the eight incarnations of Ganesha described in the Mudgala Purana, Ganesha has a mouse in five of them, but uses a lion in his incarnation as Vakratunda, a peacock in his incarnation of Vikata, and Shesha, the divine serpent, in his incarnation as Vighnaraja. Of the four incarnations of Ganesha listed in the Ganesha Purana, Mohotkata has a lion, Mayūreśvara has a peacock, Dhumraketu has a horse, and Gajanana has a rat. Jain depictions of Ganesha show his vahana variously as a mouse, an elephant, a tortoise, a ram, or a peacock.
Mouse as vahana
Ganesha riding on his mouse. A sculpture at the Vaidyeshwara temple in Talakkadu, Karnataka, India. Note the red flowers offered by the devotees.Ganesha is often shown riding on, or attended by a mouse. Martin-Dubost says that in central and western India the rat began to appear as the principal vehicle in sculptures of Gaṇeśa in the 7th century A.D., where the rat was always placed close to his feet. The mouse as a mount first appears in written sources in the Matsya Purana, and later in the Brahmananda Purana and Ganesha Purana where Ganesha uses it as his vehicle only in his last incarnation. The Ganapati Atharvashirsa includes a meditation verse on Ganesha that describes the mouse appearing on his flag. The names Mūṣakavāhana ("Mouse-mount") and Ākhuketana ("Rat-banner") appear in the Ganesha Sahasranama.
Devotee literature provides a variety of interpretations regarding what the mouse means. Michael Wilcockson says it symbolizes those who wish to overcome desires and be less selfish. Martin-Dubost thinks it is a symbol of the fact that Ganesha, like the rat, penetrates even the most secret places. Krishan gives a completely different interpretation, noting that the rat is a destructive creature and a menace to crops. The Sanskrit word mūṣaka (mouse) is derived from the root mūṣ which means "stealing, robbing". It was essential to subdue the rat as a destructive pest, a type of vighna (impediment) that needed to be overcome. In this theory, showing Ganesha as master of the rat proclaims his function as Vigneshvara and gives evidence of his possible role as a folk grāmata-devatā (village deity) who later rose to greater prominence.
Ganesha is considered to be the Lord of Intelligence. In Sanskrit, the word buddhi is a feminine noun that is variously translated as intelligence, wisdom, or intellect. The concept of buddhi is closely associated with the personality of Ganesha, especially in the Puranic period, where many stories showcase his cleverness and love of intelligence. One of Ganesha's names in the Ganesha Purana and the Ganesha Sahasranama is Buddhipriya. This name also appears in a special list of twenty-one names that Gaṇeśa says are of special importance at the end of the Ganesha Sahasranama. The word priya can mean "fond of", but in a marital context, it can mean "lover" or "husband". Buddhipriya probably refers to Ganesha's well-known association with intelligence.
This association with wisdom also appears in the name Buddha, which appears as a name of Ganesha in the second verse of the Ganesha Purana version of the Ganesha Sahasranama. The positioning of this name at the beginning of the Ganesha Sahasranama reveals the name's importance. Bhaskararaya's commentary on the Ganesha Sahasranama says that this name means that the Buddha was an avatar of Ganesha. This interpretation is not widely known even among Ganapatya. Buddha is not mentioned in the lists of Ganesha's incarnations given in the main sections of the Ganesha Purana and Mudgala Purana. Bhaskararaya also provides a more general interpretation of this name as simply meaning that Ganesha's very form is "eternal elightenment" (nityabuddaḥ), so he is named Buddha.
Ganesha (Devanagari) Aum jewelGanesha is identified with the Hindu mantra Aum (ॐ, also called Om, Omkara, oṃkāra, or Aumkara). The term oṃkārasvarūpa ("Aum is his form") in connection with Ganesha refers to this belief that he is the personification of the primal sound. This association is attested in the Ganapati Atharvashirsa. The relevant passage is translated by Paul Courtright as follows:
You are Brahmā, Vişņu, and Rudra [Śiva]. You are Agni, Vāyu, and Sūrya. You are Candrama. You are earth, space, and heaven. You are the manifestation of the mantra "Oṃ".
A variant version of this passage is translated by Chinmayananda as follows:
(O Lord Ganapati!) You are (the Trinity) Brahma, Vishnu, and Mahesa. You are Indra. You are fire and air. You are the sun and the moon. You are Brahman. You are (the three worlds) Bhuloka, Antariksha-loka, and Swargaloka. You are Om. (that is to say, You are all this).
Some devotees see similarities between the shape of his body and the shape of Om in the Devanāgarī and Tamil scripts.
 First chakra
Ganesha is associated with the first or "root" chakra (mūlādhāra). This association is attested in the Ganapati Atharvashirsa. As translated by Courtright this passage reads:
You continually dwell in the sacral plexus at the base of the spine [mūlādhāra cakra].
A variant version of this passage is translated by Chinmayananda:
You have a permanent abode (in every being) at the place called "Muladhara".
 Family and consorts
Shiva and Pārvatī giving a bath to Gaṇeśa. Kangra miniature, 18th century. Allahbad Museum, New Delhi.For more details on this topic, see Consorts of Ganesha.
While Ganesha is popularly considered to be the son of Shiva and Parvati, the Puranic myths relate several different versions of his birth. These include versions in which he is created by Shiva, by Parvati, by Shiva and Parvati, or in a mysterious manner that is discovered by Shiva and Parvati.
The family includes his brother Skanda, who is also called Karttikeya, Murugan, and other names. Regional differences dictate the order of their births. In North India, Skanda is generally said to be the elder brother while in the South, Ganesha is considered the first born. Prior to the emergence of Ganesha, Skanda had a long and glorious history as an important martial deity from about 500 BCE to about 600 CE, when his worship declined significantly in North India. The period of this decline is concurrent with the rise of Ganesha. Several stories relate episodes of sibling rivalry between Ganesha and Skanda and may reflect historical tensions between the respective sects.
Ganesha's marital status varies widely in mythological stories and the issue has been the subject of considerable scholarly review. One pattern of myths identifies Ganesha as a brahmacharin (brahmacārin; celibate). Another pattern associates him with the concepts of Buddhi (intellect), Siddhi (spiritual power), and Riddhi (prosperity); these qualities are sometimes personified by goddesses who are considered to be Ganesha's wives. A third pattern couples Ganesha with the goddess of culture and the arts, Sarasvati, and the goddess of luck and prosperity, Lakshmi, symbolically indicating that these qualities always accompany one other. A fourth pattern mainly prevalent in the Bengal region links Ganesha with the banana tree, Kala Bo.
 Buddhi, Siddhi, and Riddhi
Shri Mayureshwar, MorgaonThe Ganesha Purana and the Mudgala Purana contain descriptions of Ganesha flanked by Buddhi and Siddhi. In Chapter I.18.24-39 of the Ganesha Purana, Brahmā performs worship in honour of Ganesha. During the puja, Ganesha himself causes Buddhi and Siddhi to appear so that Brahmā can offer them back to Ganesha. Ganesha accepts them as offerings. In a variant, the two are born from Brahmā's mind and are given by Brahmā to Ganesha. Buddhi and Siddhi are best identified as his consorts in the Shiva Purana, where Ganesha cleverly wins the two desirable daugters of Prajāpati over Skanda. The Shiva Purana version says that Ganesha had two sons: Kshema (Kşema, prosperity) and Labha (profit). The 1975 Hindi film Jai Santoshi Maa shows Ganesha married to Riddhi and Siddhi and having a daughter named Santoshi Ma, the goddess of satisfaction. However, this story has no Puranic basis. Anita Raina Thapan and Lawrence Cohen cite Santoshi Ma's cult as evidence of Ganesha's continuing evolution as a popular deity.
Representations of Ganesha's consorts can be found aside from Puranic texts. In the Ganesha Temple at Morgaon (the central shrine for the regional aṣṭavināyaka complex), Buddhi and Siddhi stand to the right and left sides of the Ganesha image. In northern India, the two female figures are said to be Siddhi and Riddhi; Riddhi substitutes for Buddhi with no Puranic basis. The Ajitāgama describes a Tantric form of Ganesha called Haridra Ganapati as turmeric-colored and flanked by two unnamed wives distinct from shaktis. The word "wives" (Sanskrit: दारा; dārā) is specifically used (Sanskrit: दारायुगलम्; dārāyugalam).
 Interpretations of relationships
Ganesha with the Ashta (meaning eight) Siddhi. The Ashtasiddhi are associated with Ganesha. Painted by Raja Ravi Varma (1848-1906).In discussing the Shiva Purana version, Courtright comments that while Ganesha is sometimes depicted as sitting between these two feminine deities, "these women are more like feminine emanations of his androgynous nature, Shaktis rather than spouses having their own characters and spouses." Ludo Rocher says that "descriptions of Gaṇeśa as siddhi-buddhi-samanvita 'accompanied by, followed by siddhi and buddhi.' often seem to mean no more than that, when Gaṇeśa is present, siddhi 'success' and buddhi 'wisdom' are not far behind. Such may well have been the original conception, of which the marriage was a later development." In verse 49a of the Ganesha Purana version of the Ganesha Sahasranama, one of Ganesha's names is Ŗddhisiddhipravardhana ("Enhancer of material and spiritual success"). The Matsya Purana identifies Gaṇesha as the "owner" of Riddhi (prosperity) and Buddhi (wisdom). In discussing the northern Indian sources, Cohen remarks:
They are depersonalized figures, interchangeable, and given their frequent depiction fanning Gaṇeśa are often referred to as dasīs — servants. Their names represent the benefits accrued by the worshipper of Gaṇeśa, and thus Gaṇeśa is said to be the owner of Ṛddhi and Siddhi; he similarly functions as the father of Śubha (auspiciousness) and Lābha (profit), a pair similar to the Śiva Purāṇa's Kṣema (prosperity) and Lābha. Though in Varanasi the paired figures were usually called Ṛddhi and Siddhi, Gaṇeśa's relationship to them was often vague. He was their mālik, their owner; they were more often dasīs than patnīs (wives).
His relationship with the Ashtasiddhi — the eight spiritual attaintments obtained by the practice of yoga — is also of this depersonalized type. In later iconography, these eight marvellous powers are represented by a group of young women who surround Ganesha. Raja Ravi Varma's painting (shown in this section) illustrates a recent example of this iconographic form. The painting includes fans, which establish the feminine figures as attendants.
 Motif of shaktis
Ganesha in his form as Mahāganapati with a shakti. From the Sritattvanidhi (19th century).A distinct type of iconographic image of Ganesha shows him with a single human-looking shakti (śakti). According to Ananda Coomaraswamy, the oldest known depiction of Ganesha with a shakti of this type dates from the sixth century. The consort lacks a distinctive personality or iconographic repertoire. According to Cohen and Alice Getty, the appearance of this shakti motif parallels the emergence of tantric branches of the Ganapatya cult. Six distinct forms of "Shakti Ganapati" can be linked to the Ganapatyas. Of the thirty-two standard meditation forms for Ganesha that appear in the Sritattvanidhi (Śrītattvanidhi), several include a shakti. A common form of this motif shows Ganesha seated with the shakti upon his left hip, holding a bowl of flat cakes or round sweets, with him turning his trunk to his left to touch the tasty food. In some tantric forms of this image, the gesture is modified to take on erotic overtones. Some tantric variants of this form are described in the Śāradātilaka Tantram.
Prithvi Kumar Agrawala has traced at least six different lists of fifty or more aspects or forms of Ganesha each with their specific female consorts or shaktis. In these lists, goddess names such as Hrī, Śrī, and Puṣṭī are found. However, Buddhi, Siddhi, and Riddhi do not appear on any of these lists, which also do not provide any details about the personalities or distinguishing iconographic forms for these shaktis. Agrawala concludes that all of the lists were derived from one original set of names. The earliest of the lists appears in the Nārada Purāṇa (I.66.124-38), and a similar list with minor variations appears in the Ucchiṣṭagaṇapati Upāsanā. These lists are of two types. In the first type the names of various forms of Ganesha are given with a clear-cut pairing of a named shakti for that form. The second type, as found in the Brahmāṇḍa Purāṇa (II.IV.44.63-76) and the commentary of Rāghavabhaṭṭa on the Śāradātilaka (I.115), gives fifty or more names of Ganesha collectively in one group, with the names of the shaktis provided collectively in a second group. The second type of list poses problems in separating and properly connecting the names into pairs due to ambiguities in the formation of Sanskrit compound words.
 Worship and festivals
Celebrations of Ganesh by the Indian and Sri Lankan Tamil community in Paris, FranceWhether the reason has to do with a religious ceremony, a new vehicle, students taking exams, sessions of devotional chanting, or beginning a business, Ganesha is worshipped. Throughout India and the Hindu culture, Ganesha is the first icon placed into any new home or abode. Devotees widely believe that wherever there is Ganesha, there is success and prosperity. By calling on him people believe that he will come to their aid and grant them success in their endeavours.
The worship of Ganesha is considered complementary with the worship of other deities. Hindus of all sects begin prayers, important undertakings, and religious ceremonies with an invocation to Ganesha. Ganesha is also adored by dancers and musicians, who begin their performances of arts such as Bharatnatyam dance with a prayer to him, particularly in South India. Mantras such as Om Shri Gaṇeshāya Namah ("Om, salutation to the Illustrious Ganesha"), and others, are often used. One of the most famous mantras associated with Ganesha is Om Gaṃ Ganapataye Namah (literally, "Om, Gaṃ, Salutation to the Lord of Hosts").
Devotees offer Ganesha various sweets, such as modaka, small sweet balls (laddus) and others.. He is often shown carrying a bowl of sweets, called a modakapātra, which is one of his iconographic elements. Because of his identification with the color red, he is often worshipped with things such as red sandalwood paste (raktacandana), or red flowers. Dūrvā grass (Cynodon dactylon) and various other materials are used in his worship.
 Ganesh Chaturthi
A large Ganesha statue at a Chaturthi festival in Mumbai, 2004There is an important festival honouring Ganesha that is celebrated for ten days starting from Ganesh Chaturthi. This festival culminates on the day of Ananta Chaturdashi when images (murtis) of Ganesha are immersed into the most convenient body of water.
The Ganapati festival is celebrated by Hindus with great devotional fervour. While it is most popular in the state of Maharashtra, it is performed all over India. In Mumbai, the festival assumes huge proportions. On the last day of the festival, millions of people of all ages descend onto the streets leading up to the sea, dancing and singing, to the rhythmic accompaniment of drums and cymbals.
In 1893, Lokmanya Tilak reshaped the annual Ganesh festival from private family celebrations into a grand public event.  He did so "to bridge the gap between the Brahmins and the non-Brahmins and find an appropiate context in which to build a new grassroots unity between them" in his nationalistic strivings against the British in Maharashtra. Thus, Tilak chose Ganesha as a rallying point for Indian protest against British rule because of his wide appeal as "the god for Everyman". Tilak was the first to install large public images of Ganesha in pavillions, and he established the practice of submerging all the public images on the tenth day.
 Rise to prominence
 First appearance
Ganesha appears in his classic form as a clearly-recognizable deity with well-defined iconographic attributes from the early fourth to fifth centuries. Shanti Lal Nagar says that the earliest known cult image of Ganesha is in the niche of the Shiva temple at Bhumra, which has been dated to the Gupta period.. By about the tenth century his independent cult had come into existence. Narain sums up controversy between devotees and academics regarding the development of Ganesha as follows:
[W]hat is inscrutable is the somewhat dramatic appearance of Gaņeśa on the historical scene. His antecedents are not clear. His wide acceptance and popularity, which transcend sectarian and territorial limits, are indeed amazing. On the one hand there is the pious belief of the orthodox devotees in Gaņeśa's Vedic origins and in the Purāṇic explanations contained in the confusing, but nonetheless interesting, mythology. On the other hand there are doubts about the existence of the idea and the icon of this deity" before the fourth to fifth century A.D. ... [I]n my opinion, indeed there is no convincing evidence or the existence of this divinity prior to the fifth century.
 Possible influences
Courtright reviews various speculative theories about the early history of Ganesha, including supposed tribal traditions and animal cults, and dismisses all of them in this way:
In this search for a historical origin for Gaņeśa, some have suggested precise locations outside the Brāhmaṇic tradition.... These historical locations are intriguing to be sure, but the fact remains that they are all speculations, variations on the Dravidian hypothesis, which argues that anything not attested to in the Vedic and Indo-European sources must have come into Brāhmaṇic religion from the Dravidian or aboriginal populations of India as part of the process that produced Hinduism out of the interactions of the Aryan and non-Aryan populations. There is no independent evidence for an elephant cult or a totem; nor is there any archaeological data pointing to a tradition prior to what we can already see in place in the Purāṇic literature and the iconography of Gaņeśsa.
Thapan's book on the development of Ganesha devotes a chapter to speculations about the role elephants had in early India, but concludes that:
Although by the second century AD the elephant-headed yakṣa form exists it cannot be presumed to represent Gaṇapati-Vināyaka. There is no evidence of a deity by this name having an elephant or elephant-headed form at this early stage. Gaṇapati-Vināyaka had yet to make his debut.
One theory of the origin of Ganesha is that he gradually came to prominence in connection with the four Vināyakas. In Hindu mythology the Vināyakas were a group of four troublesome demons who created obstacles and difficulties, but who were easily propitiated. The name Vināyaka is a common name for Ganesha both in the Purāṇas and in Buddhist Tantras. Krishan is one of the academics who accepts this view, stating flatly of Ganesha that "He is a non-vedic god. His origin is to be traced to the four Vināyakas, evil spirits, of the Mānavagŗhyasūtra (7th-4th century B.C.) who cause various types of evil and suffering."
 Vedic and epic literature
5th C Ganesh by Shahi King Khingala, found at Gardez, Afghanistan now at Dargah Pir Rattan NathGanesha as we know him today does not appear in the Vedas. The title "Leader of the group" (Sanskrit: gaṇapati) occurs twice in the Rig Veda but in neither case does it refer to the modern Ganesha. The term appears in RV 2.23.1 as a title for Brahmanaspati, the teacher of the gods. H. H. Wilson translates the Sanskrit verse "gaṇānāṃ tvā gaṇapatiṃ havāmahe kaviṃ kavīnāmupamaśravastamam" (RV 2.23.1 ) as "We invoke the Brahmaṇaspati, chief leader of the (heavenly) bands; a sage of sages". While there is no doubt that this verse refers to Brahmanaspati, the verse was later adopted for worship of Ganesha even to this day. In rejecting any claim that this passage is evidence of Ganesha in the Rig Veda, Ludo Rocher says that it "clearly refers to Bṛhaspati - who is the deity of the hymn - and Bṛhaspati only." The second passage (RV 10.112.9) equally clearly refers to Indra. Wilson translates the Sanskrit verse "ni ṣu sīda gaṇapate gaṇeṣu tvāmāhurvipratamaṃ kavīnām" as "Lord of the companies (of the Maruts), sit down among the companies (of the worshippers), they call you the most sage of sages".
Ganesha does not appear in epic literature. There is a late interpolation to the epic poem Mahabharata, saying that the sage Vyāsa asked Ganesha to serve as his scribe to transcribe the poem as he dictated it to him. Ganesha agreed, but only on the condition that Vyasa recite the poem uninterrupted, without pausing. The sage agreed to this, but found that to get any rest he needed to recite very complex passages in order to get Ganesha to ask for clarifications. This is the single passage in which Ganesha appears in that epic. The story is not accepted as part of the original text by the editors of the critical edition of the Mahabharata, where the twenty-line story is relegated to a footnote to an appendix. Ganesha's association with mental agility and learning is one reason he is shown as scribe for Vyāsa's dictation of the Mahabharata in this interpolation to the text. Richard L. Brown dates the story as 8th century, and Winternitz concludes that it was known as early as c. 900 but he maintains that it had not yet been added to the Mahabharata some 150 years later. Moriz Winternitz also notes that a distinctive feature of Southern manuscripts of the Mahabharata is their omission of this Ganesha legend.
 Puranic period
Stories about Ganesha often occur in the Puranic corpus. Brown notes while the Puranas "defy precise chronological ordering", the more detailed narratives of Ganesha's life are in the late texts, circa 600- 1300. Yuvraj Krishan says that the Puranic myths about the birth of Ganesha and how he came to acquire an elephant's head are in the later Puranas composed from about 600 onwards, and that references to Ganesha in the earlier Puranas such as the Vayu and Brahmanda Puranas, are later interpolations made during the 7th to 10th centuries.
In his survey of Ganesha's rise to prominence in Sanskrit literature Ludo Rocher notes that:
Above all, one cannot help being struck by the fact that the numerous stories surrounding Gaṇeśa concentrate on an unexpectedly limited number of incidents. These incidents are mainly three: his birth and parenthood, his elephant head, and his single tusk. Other incidents are touched on in the texts, but to a far lesser extent.
Ganesha's rise to prominence was codified in the 9th century when he was formally included as one of the five primary deities of Smartism. The ninth-century philosopher Śaṅkarācārya popularized the "worship of the five forms" (pañcāyatana pūjā) system among orthodox Brahmins of the Smārta tradition. This worship practice invokes the five deities Ganesha, Vishnu, Shiva, Devī, and Sūrya. Śaṅkarācārya instituted the tradition primarily to unite the principal deities of these five major sects on an equal status. This formalized the role of Ganesha as a complementary deity. The monistic philosophy preached by Śaṅkarācārya made it possible to choose one of these as a preferred principal deity and at the same time worship the other four deities as different forms of the same all-pervading Brahman.
 Ganesha Scriptures
Statue of Ganesha with a flowerFor more detail see: Ganesha Purana and Mudgala Purana
Once Ganesha was accepted as one of the five principal deities of Brahmanism, some brāhmaṇas chose to worship Ganesha as their principal deity. They developed the Ganapatya tradition as seen in the Ganesha Purana and the Mudgala Purana.
The date of composition for the Ganesha Purana and the Mudgala Purana, and their dating relative to one another, has sparked academic debate. Both works developed over periods of time and contain age-layered strata. Anita Thapan reviews different views on dating and provides her own judgement. She states that it appears likely that the core of the Ganesha Purana came into existence around the 12th and 13th centuries but was subject to interpolations during the succeeding ages. Lawrence W. Preston considers that the period 1100-1400 is the most reasonable date for the Ganesha Purana because that period agrees with the apparent age of the sacred sites mentioned by it.
R. C. Hazra suggested that the Mudgala Purana is older than the Ganesha Purana which he dates between 1100 and 1400 A.D. However Phillis Granoff finds problems with this relative dating and concludes that the Mudgala Purana was the last of the philosophical texts concerned with Ganesha because, among other internal evidence, the Mudgala Purana specifically mentions the Ganesha Purana as one of the four Puranas that deal at length with Ganesha (these are the Brahma, the Brahmanda, the Ganesha, and the Mudgala puranas). The Mudgala Purana, like many other Puranas, contains multiple age strata. While the kernel of the text must be old it continued to receive interpolations until the 17th and 18th centuries as the worship of Ganapati became more important in certain regions. Another highly regarded scripture, the Ganapati Atharvashirsa, was probably composed during the sixteenth or seventeenth centuries A.D.
 Beyond India and Hinduism
For more on this topic, see Ganesha outside Hinduism.
Tibetan depiction of Dancing Ganesha This form is also known as Maharakta ("The Great Red One")India had an impact on the regions of West and Southeast Asia as a result of commercial and cultural contacts. Ganesha is one of many Hindu deities who reached foreign lands as a result. The worship of Ganesha by Hindus outside of India shows regional variation.
Ganesha was particularly worshipped by traders and merchants, who went out of India for commercial ventures. The period from approximately the tenth century onwards was marked by the development of new networks of exchange, the formation of trade guilds, and a resurgence of money circulation. It was during this time that Ganesha became the principal deity associated with traders. The earliest inscription where Ganesha is invoked before any other deity is by the merchant community.
Hindus spread out to the Malay Archipelago and took their culture with them, including Ganesha. Statues of Ganesa are found throughout the Malay Archipelago in great numbers, often beside Shiva sanctuaries. The forms of Ganesha found in Hindu art of Java, Bali, and Borneo show specific regional influences. The gradual emigration of Hindus to Indochina established Ganesha in modified forms in Burma, Cambodia, and Thailand. In Indochina, Hinduism and Buddhism were practiced side-by-side and mutual influences can be seen in the iconography of Ganesha in the region. In Thailand, Cambodia, and Vietnam, Ganesha was mainly thought of as a remover of obstacles. Even today, in Buddhist Thailand Ganesha is regarded as remover of obstacles and thus god of success.
Before the arrival of Islam, Afganistan had close cultural ties with India, and the adoration of both Hindu and Buddhist deities was practiced. A few examples of sculptures from the period 5th-7th century have survived, suggesting that the worship of Ganesha was in vogue in the region at that time.
Ganesha appears in Buddhism, not only in the form of the Buddhist god Vināyaka, but also portrayed as a Hindu demon form with the same name (Vināyaka). His image appears in Buddhist sculptures during the late Gupta period. As the Buddhist god Vināyaka, he is often shown dancing, a form called Nṛtta Ganapati that was popular in North India, later adopted in Nepal and then in Tibet. In Nepal, the Hindu form of Ganesha known as Heramba is very popular, where he appears with five heads and rides on a lion. Tibetan representations of Ganesha show ambivalent views of him. In one Tibetan form, he is shown being trodden under foot by Mahākala, a popular Tibetan deity. Other depictions show him as the Destroyer of Obstacles, sometimes dancing. Ganesha appears in both China and Japan in forms that show distinct regional character. In North China, the earliest known stone statue of Ganesha carries an inscription dated 531 CE. In Japan the Ganesha cult was first mentioned in 806 CE.
The canonical literature of Jainism does not mention the cult of Ganesha. However Ganesha is worshipped by most Jains, for whom he appears to have taken over certain functions of Kubera. Jain connections with the trading community support the idea that Jainism took up the worship of Ganesha as a result of commercial connections. The earliest known Jain Ganesha statue dates to about the 9th century. A 15th century Jain text provides procedures for the installation of Ganapati images. Images of Ganesha appear in the Jain temples of Rajasthan and Gujarat.