Ganesha and Management- The story of supreme Leader


Prof. Hari Sundar.G.Ram
Associate Professor
CARE School of Business Management

The Vedas, Upanishads, Puranas and Epics of India are famous all over the world. They contributed much to the survival and sustained progress of Indian ethos and dynamic upsurge of the revivalist movements. Quite a number of characters have been part of the Vedas, Epics, etc.  As such, knowing about Vedas, Upanishads, Puranas and Epics is not wrong and we should feel ashamed that while research is being carried out on our Vedas in countries like Germany, we are not doing much in that direction.

One of the important characters of our spiritual wealth is Vinayaka - also called Vigneshwara, Ganesha, Ganapathi and also known by 108 names, literally means, 'a born and supreme leader'. He is without a parallel in prowess, intellectual eminence, philosophical prudence and attainment of perfection. In India, hardly there is a town or village or lane or by-lane without the image of Vinayaka installed in a point of vantage. He is worshipped before any auspicious or inauspicious rite like marriage, house warming ceremony, naming ceremony, conferences, seminars, workshops and even when performing last rites at the time of cremation of dead bodies. Vinayaka is also worshipped in several countries like Myanmar, Thailand, Cambodia, Persia, Nepal, Tibet, China, Turkistan, Mangolia, Japan, Bulgaria, Mexico, Peru, Sri Lanka, etc. People belonging to other religions also do pray Vinayaka. There are historical evidences of Buddhists and Jains worshipping Vinayaka. In fact, Buddha is said to have taught a sloka called   'Ganapathi Hrudayam' to one of his disciples by name, Anandudu.

Vinayaka is the first to be worshipped in Hindu religion as precedence over every other God or Goddess. He is said to be the remover of all obstacles in the world. He is also described as a Vachaspathi who served as a steno to Maharshi Valmiki. He is Akasa (Ether), subtlest of five pre-mordial tatvas. His physical structure is a combination of an elephant and human form.

Noted philosopher and the former President of India, Dr. S. Radhakrishnan in his Introduction to Brahmasutras, writes about Vinayaka - "Vighneswara is Ganesa, the Lord of hosts (Ganas). By his aid, we overcome obstacles. He removes all barriers from the path of a devotee. He clears the way by putting aside whatever lies across the road. He is said of the form of an elephant, for the elephant forges ahead even through pathless thickets and jungles. It can swim rivers and lakes and with its trunk tears down the branches that block the way and even uproot trees. The print of the feet is the target of all footprints. When an elephant has trod, other animals can follow.  Ganesa's vahana is the rat which finds and makes the way subtly".

Vinayaka's physical structure portrays a number of qualities of leadership In fact, the very name Vinayaka means that He is the Supreme leader i.e., there is no leader above Him. The other name "Ganapathi" means, he is a leader (Pathi) of Ganas (hosts union of angels). While many Gods and Goddesses have mostly human form of body, vinayaka portrays the combination of animal and human, indicating that there are many things that we have to learn from both animals and human beings.

The body of Ganesa- its symbolizations

Ganesa's Head  His elephantine head reflects many leadership qualities. Elephant is said to be the highest state of evolution among the animals as per the Darwin's Theory of Evolution. Elephant is known for dynamism, power, freedom, knowledge and even loyalty. Big head of elephant indicates that a leader has to think big. The leader has to strive hard for fulfillment of the chosen goals. When we look at what has been written by Dr. S. Radhakrishnan mentioned earlier, the elephant is a path layer, pathfinder and path leader. The elephant's power and strength are such that it can carry and remove big stones, trees and removes any type of obstacles. The elephant is said to be thick skinned and it is not worried to face any problems. At the same time, elephant is endowed with lot of sensitivity to understand any problem. We generally say that a dog is a very loyal servant to the owner. But it is said that as far as loyalty to the owner is concerned, no animal can surpass an elephant. This indicates that a leader should be loyal to his organisation as an elephant to its owner. The trunk also indicates that a leader has to go to his followers and shall not expect his followers to come to him. The trunk is said to have the capability of sensing even minute things and even from long distance.

Teeth- The teeth of elephant represent the combination of pleasure and pain that a leader can experience. The one broken tooth of Vinayaka reflects creativity, It is said that Vinayaka used his tooth as a pen to take the dictation of Maharshi Valmiki. It is also said that Vinayaka used his tooth as a weapon to kill Mushikasura This indicates that even teeth can be used as weapons in crisis management.

The meat of elephant is said to taste differently in different parts. It is also understood that the elephantine trunk tastes like human flesh. There is evidence of fights taking place between people in Africa and the winner is given the elephantine trunk.

When we look at the structure of the human part of Vinayaka, the following leadership qualities can be understood:

Four Hands

The shoulders of Vinayaka consist of not two hands, but four hands which indicates that Vinayaka leads and administers Dharma, Artha, Kama and Moksha. Four hands also indicate span of management wherein a leader is supposed to bring cooperation and coordination among the different followers/ subordinates. One hand holds book which indicates that the leader has to be knowledgeable. Another hand holds lotus which is known for a selfless character of a leader. Bhagwad Gita says - "see the flower, how generously it distributes its perfume and its honey. It gives to all, gives freely of its love. When its work is done, it falls away quietly. Try to be like a flower unassuming, despite its qualities." The lotus, though born out of mud-waters, reaches the feet of the Almighty. The leader has to be like a lotus, with the qualities of honesty, integrity, character, sacrifice and modesty. The third hand of Lord Vinayaka holds a weapon which indicates that a leader has to be with the necessary armoury and be courageous to defend the followers from any possible enemy attack. The fourth hand holds Prasadam in the form of "kozhukattai" or "modakam" which are made up of rice starch, jaggery and gingelly seeds. These are cooked with steam and no oil is used. This type of prasadam is said to be best form of food material that a leader should rely upon. Rice is easily available anywhere and the most nutrient food. Jaggery is said to improve the eye sight of human beings. Gingelly seeds are said to help proper digestion and also purify the blood. All these materials are easily digestible. A leader who depends on such good food, will be healthy and will be able to discharge his duties properly. The prasadam may also mean in another way. The accumulated prosperity should not be pocketed by the leader himself and he should distribute the same among his followers equitably as we distribute prasadam to our friends, relatives and neighbours.

Big Belly

Vinayaka has a big belly. This indicates that the leader should have necessary and adequate digestive system which helps him digest properly the voluminous food of information that he has got by listening more and keep the suitable and desirable and leave the unsuitable and undesirable material.


Vinayaka wears serpents as sacred threads and ornaments around his shoulders, hands and even belly. Serpents represent creativity. If you look at the brain, it looks like a bundle of serpents. So, a leader should have the creative talents. These serpents may also indicate that when you lead a group, there can be some dangerous people like serpents who are to be controlled. A leader has to be watchful of such dangerous serpent like followers, control them and make them as ornaments.

Small Legs

With a huge physical structure, Vinayaka has small legs. This indicates that a leader has to be a strong footed man even if his legs are small. Nobody can move away the strong footed leader from his position.


Mouse represents one of the least status among animals in the Darwin's Theory of Evolution. Vinayaka is said to use his mouse as a vehicle to keep moving.  But he has to achieve gigantic task with limited means. He should try to achieve the maximum output with the minimum input. The tool that is used to activate computers in the field of Information and Technology today, is called the mouse. Mouse is also called a rat. Rat runs in the dark without any destination. A leader has to put under control such destination less and purposeless activities.

Siddhi and  Buddhi

Vinayaka is said to have two wives - Siddhi and Buddhi. They are not fleshy human wives. Siddhi implies fulfilling capability. Buddhi means wisdom. The leader should possess both these qualities.

As seen above, Vinayaka portrays innumerable qualities of leadership. Vinayaka is casteless, creedless, nationless and frontierless. He is the God of common man. We can make the icon of Vinayaka with earth that costs nothing. We can perform puja of Vinayaka with leaves, flowers, stems, raw fruits, etc., which children collect from different sources. The collection of such things itself makes them aware of the nature. When we pray to Lord Vinayaka, it is not just that we pray to him to remove the obstacles but to bless us with all his qualities of leadership so that all of us become good leaders.

Prof. Hari Sundar.G.Ram
Associate Professor
CARE School of Business Management

Source: E-mail May 13, 2012


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