Thursday, July 28, 2022

Life Rhymes: Ganesha in French


I wake from a dream in which a god is standing on the corner of my street.  I turn to the shelf elves for immediate feedback. I grab a volume off my bookcase without looking at the title. I find I have brought down an old French dictionary of symbols by Jean Chevalier and Alain Gheerbrant. The book falls open at an entry about Ganesha. I am not expecting to find an Indian god in the French book, but why not? 

The authors say that elephant-headed Ganesha represents the contradictions of embodied life, riding with his big belly on a mouse or enthroned on a lotus flower. He embodies the principle of manifestation they exclaim in italics. "He evokes all the possibilities of life and all its modes of expression. even the burlesque, in time and space.”

I check in with what my students are sharing online in a private group. One of them has posted a photo of a wondrous image of Ganesha on the back of a tee-shirt. She explains that while waiting for someone in her car, she closed her eyes and sought inner guidance on difficulties her daughter had been facing. When she opened her eyes, the first thing she saw was the popular Gatekeeper of Hindu tradition, the elephant-headed Remover of Obstacles. She lowered her car window to tell the woman with Ganesha on her back, “That’s a great tee-shirt.” To which the wearer responded: “All your obstacles are now removed.”

I could not resist sharing the small synchronicity of Ganesha popping out of the French book. “Oh wow,” my student messaged me back. “My daughter is a high school French teacher.”

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