Since childhood, we have always imagined and worshipped Bhagwan Ganesha as an elephant-faced god. But do you know? Bhagwan Ganesha never had an elephant face. It is to bring out the significance of his formless depiction. It is because nobody knew what his new face looked like for resemblance.
\”अजं निर्विकल्पं निराकारमॆकं\”
It means that Bhagwan Ganesha is Ajam (unborn), he is Nirvikalam (attributeless), and he is Niraakaar (formless), depicting the omnipresent consciousness.
The story we know about Bhagwan Ganesha
As per the story, Bhagwan Shiva chopped Bhagwan Ganesha\’s head in anger. When Mata Parvati came back, she saw her son lying on the ground dead. She cried and told Bhagwan Shiva to bring her son back, which Bhagwan Shiva said was impossible. All the Gunas who were standing there with Bhagwan Shiva became quizzical. Then, Bhagwan Shiva said bring me a head that fits his body from the east. Everyone started looking for a face that fits but couldn\’t find it. They went to a forest and found a baby elephant sleeping with her mother facing opposite him. They brought his head and placed it on Bhagwan Ganesha.
But, this story is very much a misconception that continued over generations. So what is the reality?
The story behind Ganapati?
When Bhagwan Shiva chopped the head of Bhagwan Ganesha, Mata Parvati became furious and asked Bhagwan Shiva to bring her son back to life. It was impossible. Everyone started looking at each other in confusion. Bhagwan Shiva looked to the chief of the Ganas to help him in this situation. Chief Gana chopped off his head to place it in Bhagwan Ganesha.
Now, Bhagwan Ganesha had a human body and a Gana\’s head. Not only was it a Gana\’s head but of the chief. Therefore, Bhagwan Ganesha became the chief of Ganas. Nobody has seen or known the way Ganas looks. To create an idol or depiction, Bhagwan Ganesha became a god with an elephant head. Why only an elephant\’s head? Because following the descriptions and visualizing the god, the human mind could not think beyond that.
Why Bhagwan Ganesha called Gajanana?
A demon with an elephant\’s head began to cause trouble for the Devas in heaven and the people on earth. He even tried to take the place of Bhagwan Indra in Indra Loka. Therefore, all the divine gods proceeded to Mount Kailash and explained their pathetic situation to Bhagwan Shiva. Bhagwan Shiva asked his son Bhagwan Ganesha to kill the demon Gajamukhasura to relieve the Devas of their sorrows. Bhagwan Ganesha readily accepted Bhagwan Shiva\’s orders and bravely fought Gajamukhasura to kill him. Since Bhagwan Ganesha killed the elephant-headed demon Gajamukhasura, he is known as Gajanana.
Today, everyone calls Bhagwan Ganesha Ganpati, not Gajapati. The conclusion is that in our Puranas, there is no mention of killing a baby elephant to replace Bhagwan Ganesha\’s Head. Also, we do not know what the Gana looked like in actuality. It can be similar to an elephant. Still, it was not an elephant\’s head. Further, the name Gajanana is not because Bhagwan Ganesha had an elephant head but because he killed an elephant-headed demon.