Ganesha (Gaņeśa)
God of Obstacles

In Hinduism, Ganesha is one of the best known and beloved representations of God. As the lord of beginnings and eliminator of obstacles, he is said to be the most worshipped divinity in India. The popularity of the devotional cult of Ganesha is widely diffused, even outside of India. He is called by many other names, including Ganapati and Vighneśvara. The Hindu title of respect 'Shri' (Sanskrit: श्री; śrī, also spelled Sri or Shree) is often added before his name.

Traditionally he is honored with affection at the start of any ritual or ceremony, even by devotees of other Hindu deities. Whether 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. It is widely believed that "Wherever there is Ganesha, there is Success and Prosperity" and "Wherever there is Success and Prosperity there is Ganesha". By calling on him people believe that he will come to their aid and grant them success in their endeavours. He also is considered the god of intellect and wisdom. As the "Patron of Letters" he is invoked at the beginning of any writing.

He is the Lord of Obstacles both of a material and spiritual order. He can place obstacles in the path of those who need to be checked, and can remove blockages just as easily. The Sanskrit terms vighnakartā ("obstacle-creator") and vighnahartā ("obstacle-destroyer") summarize the dual functions. Both functions are vital to his character, as Robert Brown explains:

Even after the Purāṇic Gaṇeśa is well-defined, in art Gaṇeśa remained predominantly important for his dual role as creator and remover of obstacles, thus having both a negative and a positive aspect.

Paul Courtright says that:

Gaṇeśa is also called Vighneśvara or Vighnarāja, the Lord of Obstacles. His task in the divine scheme of things, his dharma, is to place and remove obstacles. It is his particular territory, the reason for his creation.

Within Hinduism, an Ishta devata is a worshipper's "chosen (or beloved) divinity". Some of Ganesha's devotees identify him as the Supreme deity and they are called the Ganapatya . Their principal scriptures are the Ganesha Purana, the Mudgala Purana, and the Ganapati Atharvashirsa, all of which identify Ganesha as the Supreme embodiment of Brahman.