Harness Your Inner Ganesha

Several years back, I wrote a blog for a year, where I “tried on” different religions each month and described my experiences. For the month of November 2010, I was Hindu, and one of my favorite posts from that month was about the Hindu god Ganesha, who quickly became my favorite deity.

Why? It’s a good question—and an easy one to answer.

For starters, he’s got the head of an elephant stuck on top of a human body—a great big, roly-poly body (see the photo, which is a picture I drew of Ganesha myself; and no, I’m not an artist, obviously).

As someone who has long struggled with the ups and downs of weight loss and (more often) weight gain, I can appreciate the notion of an overweight god. Plus, I’ve read that Ganesha is the only known fat deity in any religion. I don’t know if that’s actually true, but I like the idea that it is. (And, as I stated in my blog the first time around, before you bring up the Buddha to try to prove the theory wrong, remember that the Buddha was NOT a god, just an enlightened person.)

Ganesha is the god of success and the destroyer of obstacles. That’s another reason I like him so much. I have plenty of obstacles—all writers do, don’t we? And I can use whatever help I can get destroying them.

I almost forgot to mention one other bizarre thing about Ganesha: He’s got four arms attached to that big ole body.

In one hand, he holds a goad—a stick that he uses to prod human beings along the eternal path.

In another hand, he holds a noose, which he uses to catch any difficulties that his followers might face.

In another hand, Ganesha holds a rosary, to remind us that we should always continue our quest for knowledge.

And in his fourth hand is a part of his own tusk, which he uses as a pen.

And that is the whole point of this story: The god Ganesha is supposed to be a writer, just like us.

Legend has it that Ganesha broke off the tusk himself to use as a pen in a fever of inspiration while he was writing the Mahabharata, one of the great Sanskrit epics.

What writer wouldn’t love the image of people (or gods) being so caught up in literature that they have to use part of their own body to keep on writing? It’s pure genius.

And that is what I wish for you, this holiday season: the kind of flow and passion in your writing where you lose track of time, where you forget all about the world around you, where the words pour out of you almost like you have nothing to do with the process, where (if you were Ganesha) you’d tear off your own tusk just to keep going.

This holiday, no matter what your religion (if any), I hope you find a way to harness your inner Ganesha.

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