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“The rat sits at the feet of Ganesh, staring at the heap of ladoos but dare not eat, unless it is so allowed by The Lord Ganesh- A lesson to mankind to curb desires.”

In the characterization of the form of Lord Ganesh he is shown as having a rat for his vehicle. Indeed the deities are generally shown to have animals for their means of transport. At a general level, this indicates two important facets of human existence. Firstly, man should live in an interdependent relationship with non human forms of life, particularly animals. Indeed, as one of the five daily yagnas (sacrifices), which Hindus are asked to perform, the care for non human forms of life is advocated as a yagna. Indeed, there are many ways in which man depends on animals, For example the cow, the bullocks and the elephant are known for their usefulness to man. Secondly, at a spiritual level by showing the deities riding the animals, it indicates to man that he must always be in control of himself.

Every human being has the potential to regress from national, humanistic and moral value driven existences. The animal urges in man must always be controlled and the energy harnessed therein must be positively expelled. The divine in man must always prevail over the undivine.

In the form of Ganesh, a rat which is his vehicle is seen sitting at his feet looking up to his face. Close by to the rat is a heap of sweet ladoos which the rat dare not touch. A rat is a very destructive rodent. Small as it is, if it is allowed into a box of grains, the grains are very soon eaten up. The rat of desires exists within all persons. Desires unchecked can destroy the spiritual merit that has been accumulated with hard work. This merit is indicated by the sweet ladoos. But like Lord Ganesh, we must not allow our desires to govern our lives and drive our existences. Instead, our desires must be at our command, just as the rat is shown looking up at the feet of God waiting to be commanded.

At the same time, where should our desires be truly directed? The rat symbolic of our desires is looking at the face of Ganesh, at the Lord, indicating that our desires should be for God realization, for the experience of the Divine.

Putting a ceiling on our desires and as well redirecting our desires to God realization is also about the worship of Lord Ganesh. Our desires can grow us spiritually, as much as they can, if not properly harnessed, focused and controlled , lead to human regression.

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