Ganesha (Gaņeśa)
God of Obstacles




Common attributes

  • He has the head of an elephant.
  • He has a single tusk, the other being broken off. The earliest Sanskrit name that we know of that was used to refer to Ganesha is Ekadanta (One Tusk), referring to this distinctive attribute. Some of the earliest images of Ganesha show him holding his broken tusk. The name of Ganesha's second incarnation is Ekadanta according to the Mudgala Purana.
  • He has a pot belly. The protruding belly appears as a distinctive attribute in the earliest Ganesha statuary, which dates to the Gupta period (4th to 6th centuries AD). The Brahmanda Purana says that he has the name Lambodara because all the universes (cosmic eggs, brahmāṇḍas) of the past, present, and future are in Gaṇeśa. The name of Ganesha's fifth incarnation is Lambodara ("Pot Belly") according to the Mudgala Purana.
  • The number of arms and what each hand carries has symbolic meaning, there being a large number of symbols in all. The best-known forms of Ganesha have anywhere between two and sixteen arms. Lesser-known forms with fourteen and twenty arms appeared in Central India in the 9th and 10th century. In modern depictions of Ganesha, it is most common to see him with four arms.
  • A hand turned towards the devotee is often in the gesture of protection or "no fear" (abhaya mudra).
  • The colors associated with Ganesha are most often red and yellow, but specific forms have other colors.