Sri Vakra Tunda Mahaa kaaya,
Koti Surya Sama Prabhaa,
Nir vighnam Kuru me Deva,
Subha karyeshu Sarvada.
I seek the blessings of Lord Ganesha in all of my actions that intend to promote my well-being or help in promoting the well-being of others.
While reflecting upon Lord Ganesha it is important to understand the ‘zoomorphic’ form represented in Indian Culture. He is popularly known as the God with Elephant’s head. There are two species of elephants. Elephas maximus is native to India and Southeastern Asia. Loxodonta africana, the second elephant species is known as the African elephant. The ears of the Indian elephant are considerably smaller than those of the African elephant which has large ears with a flatter head.Indian elephants are extensively used as ceremonial animals and are also widely drafted for a variety of purposes. African elephant is never used as a ceremonial animal and used as a draft animal to a very small extent. Lord Ganesha cannot be portrayed with the head of an African elephant. He cannot be depicted with two tusks. He has one tusk and it could only resemble the tusk of an Indian elephant. The long, flexible snout known as ‘trunk’ of Ganesha must always show a bend in its curvature and is never depicted straight and hence the hymn identifies Him as “VAKRA TUNDA”. Some European artists who had no clue about the differences between the two elephant species had depicted Lord Ganesha with the head of an African elephant. The Lord is connected to the Land of India and only the Indian elephant has the honor to represent His zoomorphic form.
Please also read the related blog post titled ‘ A prayer to Lord Ganesha for success with humility’
Dr. R. Rudra Narasimham, B.Sc., M.B.B.S.,
Kurnool Medical College, Kurnool, Andhra Pradesh, India,
M.B.B.S., Class of April, 1970