In the image above, we see the Divine Child in the form of Ganesha. The Sanskrit word Ganesha is from gana meaning “multitude” and isha meaning lord “lord” . Ganesha is half elephant and half human. In the image, Ganesha sits on his mother’s lap. She is Parvati the goddess of love, strength, and spiritual power. Ganesha’s father is Shiva, the great destroyer of ignorance and the image of the supreme Self. The Divine Child Ganesha is born of a divine polarity: the cosmic father and mother as the two poles of the comic Self.
Both the work of Carl Jung (CW 9ii) and Vedanta (Adi Shankara and the Upanishads) agree: the deity image represents the inner Self. In Vedanta, the deity image represents the innermost Self (Ātman)
In my last post, titled Fires of knowledge: Ashes of wisdom, I spoke of ash as a symbol of Shiva, and thus of the supreme Self. In that post, I drew from a passage from the Brahmanda Purana. In this post, I am going to share more from the Brahmanda Purana (Chapter 27). In the story, Shiva makes a strong statement concerning his own nature, and thus the nature of the supreme Self.
Ganesha is an image of the supreme Self as deity; and, he is an image of enlightenment as the divine child.
In the painting above, we see the Ganesha Panchayatana. The Pañcāyatana pūja is a form of worship introduced by Adi Shankara, in the 8th century. In the center of the image, we find Ganesha surrounded by four deities: Shiva, Devi (Parvati), Vishnu and Surya. Adi Shankara, philosopher and theologian, understood that all deities are images or forms of the supreme Self (known as Brahman). In this painting, Ganesha is the central image and thus an image of the supreme Self.
In the above image we see the baby Ganesha, with his parents. Martin-Dubost describes the image:
“This square shaped miniature shows us in a Himalayan landscape the god “Śiva sweetly pouring water from his kamaṇḍalu on the head of baby Gaṇeśa. Seated comfortably on the meadow, Pārvatī balances with her left hand the baby Gaņeśa with four arms with a red body and naked, adorned only with jewels, tiny anklets and a golden chain around his stomach, a necklace of pearls, bracelets and armlets.”
In the image above, we see Uma-Maheshvara. Shiva is an image of the Cosmic Self. His wife Parvati is an image of the primordial mother. We also see Ganesha as the child and Skanda as the image of widsom (the Chandogya Upanishad refers to Skanda as the ‘way that leads to wisdom’). Sometimes in the Hindu images you will see the deity stepping on a demon, an image of the shadow.
Carl Jung spoke of the inner holy family. Jung says: