Lord Ganesha, the destructor of all obstacles, is a true global Indian deity, worshipped as the First god ‘nirvighanam kuru me dev, sarva karyeshu sarvada’ to get rid of all hindrances before beginning of any task. His infinite glory is beyond confines of time, circumstances, political and geographical boundaries of nation states.
- Prof. Rakesh Mohan Joshi & Dr. Indu Joshi
The present-day concept of globalization largely based on economic might is too myopic that grossly undermines India’s rich cultural heritage and its vast pervasion across geographies and cultures. Masses in India often confuse globalization with economic liberalization in the recent decades especially some economic measures taken in 1991. Not only Indian cultural practices but Indian deities are also revered and worshipped beyond boundaries since time immemorial.
Lord Ganesha, the destructor of all obstacles, is a true global Indian deity, worshipped as the First god ‘nirvighanam kuru me dev, sarva karyeshu sarvada’ to get rid of all hindrances before beginning of any task. His infinite glory is beyond confines of time, circumstances, political and geographical boundaries of nation states. The influence of Lord Ganesh is explicitly reflected during out travel across the world for our research expeditions mainly aimed at exploring cross-country Art, Culture and Markets.
Western educated intellectuals including historians, archeologists, scientists and theologists alike, either abroad or under the India’s education system conceptualized by Macaulay, would leave no stone unturned to grossly undermine Indian culture and its reach. Even economically, India was the most powerful country in the world with over 32% share in the world GDP, at a time when the America was not even conceptualized, and the Europe was also in formative stages. However, besides trade, Indian culture and deities did have an international reach and acceptance.
Even today, pseudo-intellectuals often make futile attempts to confine Ganesh in the boundaries of their thoughts. Indeed, the so-called scientific research methodologies involving complex mathematical modeling using a cobweb of statistics hampers the creativity in real sense. Ganesh is beyond abilities of human beings of logic and intellect, ‘yo buddhe partastu sah’. As envisaged in the fourteenth verse of the eighteenth chapter of the Bhagavad-Gita, 'devam chaivatra panchamam' meaning that the final success of any work is only when 'God' is wanted. Even a leave does not move without compassion of the ubiquitous Ganesh, in the living or non-living world.
Ganesh in Americas:
Epitome of auspiciousness (Mangal-murti) and destruction of obstacles (Vighna-vinashak), Lord Ganesh is revered and worshipped not only India but beyond boundaries as well. The Roman god 'Janus' has also been described by many historians as the form of Ganesha. In 'Inca' and 'Aztec' civilizations of South and Central American countries, such as Mexico, Peru, Guatemala, Bolivia, and Honders, the Hindu deities' assemblages are displayed on seeing temples and museums. The Ganesh-idols in the temple of Diego Riviera of Mexico City, and several Ganapati images in the Vera-Cruz and Quiragua of Guatemala explicitly proves the ubiquitous Ganapati in ancient America.
The gobal Ganesha (Sho-ten) as a revered deity in Japan
Ganesh in South East Asia:
Mangalmurti Ganesha's statue has been prominently installed in government institutions, even military undertakings and public places in many Asian countries. Ganapati is famous by different names in different countries across South East Asia. In Japan, Ganesha is known as 'Sho-ten' while Tantric Buddhists worship Ganapati under the name 'Maha-Rakta'. Ganesha is known as 'Mahakaal' in Tibet, 'Ho Tei' in China and 'Phra Phikanet' or 'Phra Phikanesuan' in Thailand.
The influence of Lord Ganesh is explicitly reflected during out travel across the world for our research expeditions mainly aimed at exploring cross-country Art, Culture and Markets.
Ganesh in Japan:
Ganesha (Sho-ten) in Japan symbolizes the joy of life that rises from the power rooted in the virtues of wisdom and compassion. Elderly people worship the deity to get prosperity and money (Figure 7.5) whereas the young Japanese boys and girls worship him to achieve success in love. There are more than thirty styles of Ganesha in Japanese painting, in which the embraced 'Kangi' style is very popular.
Ganesh depicted on Islamic Indonesia’s currency
Ganesh in Indonesia:
Ganesh-temples are not only visible in every corner of Indonesia, the world's most Muslim populated country, but also finds space in personal life of its citizens irrespective of their religion. Ganesh idols, images and souvenirs are sold and bought for personal use by its predominantly Islamic population revealing their strong cultural association with Indian deities despite their switching over to the religion and their worshipping practices. Interestingly, image of Ganesh shares the space along with the Indonesian President Kl Hadjar Dewantara on its currency note.
The day Indian government also realizes the power of ‘sarva vighnogh-vinash daksh, siddhi-vinayak Ganpati, casting off its pseudo-secularism and places Ganesh at public places and the government offices similar to several South Asian countries, the ‘golden’ days of India would return.
School Children learning about their forgotten First deity, Ganesh in Islamic Indonesia (Photo, Prof. Joshi, in Jakarta)
Ganesh in Thailand:
Ganesh is the most revered deity in Thailand and known as 'Phra Phikanet' or 'Phra Phikanesuan'. Sight of Grandiose statues of Ganesh across Thailand, both in public and private places reveals the deep impact of Indian religion and culture. A grand statue of Ganesh in the Central Word (Word Trade Center) of Bangkok, has been installed on the high throne as the god of business and diplomacy, where flowers, incense sticks and other items are offered to him with great reverence.
In contrast to many South Asian countries, statues of Ganesh or any other Hindu deities are rarely visible in the government buildings and public places of ‘secular’ India, whereas entering into Bangkok’s Swarnbhoomi (Golden Land) International Airport, the sight of its spectacular massive statue of ‘samudra manthan’ (churing of oceans) brings one into Hindu mythological era. There exists a strong belief in the Buddhist Thailand the Airport is being protected by the massive statues and idols of Hindu deities including Ganesha besides several others and group of yakshas.
The day Indian government also realizes the power of ‘sarva vighnogh-vinash daksh, siddhi-vinayak Ganpati, who is proficient in eradicating all the troubles, obstacles and sins and bestower of success and accomplishments, casting off its pseudo-secularism and places Ganesh alongwith other Hindu deities at public places and the government offices similar to several South Asian countries, the ‘golden’ days of India would return.
(Prof. Rakesh Mohan Joshi is (Chairperson (Research) at Indian Institute of Foreign Trade, New Delhi. Dr. Indu Joshi is Head, Dept. of Fine Arts, Agra College, Agra)