One of the largest faiths in the world is Hinduism. It is derived from the earlier Vedic civilization of India and has grown many branches and schools of philosophy. What most westerners don’t realize is that this faith is primarily monotheistic – that is, one God. However, that one God appears in many forms. People simply choose the appropriate form or aspect to pay their respects to. The famous sage Shankara defined 6 forms of God – nirikar, the formless, and 5 primary forms. Those 5 we could say define the primary qualities of God. All other forms and qualities are derivations of those 5.
Durga for example is a fierce female aspect of Shakti who destroys evil. Shakti is another name for Parvati, the wife of Shiva. Male forms may also have female counterparts and so forth. The ‘family tree’ is very complex. Some of this has influenced Buddhism. And there are of course branches that are not monotheistic.
Another useful way of understanding this approach is what one may call the personal and impersonal. In the west, we tend to view the world impersonally. Our science has developed a perspective of the world as a machine following specific laws of nature. An impersonal mechanism. In the east, they may follow the personal approach, where every law of nature and object is personified. That is to say, has a being associated with it. Saturn is both a planet and a god. Basil is both a plant and an angel/deva.
Both are conceptual frameworks of mind but neither is better than the other, nor more or less real. For someone with well developed subtle or celestial perception, they can literally switch visual gears and see the world filled with other beings. Every form of action, object, and event is done by someone. This has nothing to do with belief. What we believe and the culture we were raised in will ‘colour’ how we see these personalities (or resist seeing them), but they will remain as they are.
For Hindu’s around the world, one of the most popular of the gods is Ganesha, the elephant-headed one. He is the son of Shiva and Parvati, and the god of wisdom, education, intelligence and prudence. But most frequently, he is called upon as the remover of obstacles.
The amusing irony of this is there are no obstacles. Any barriers to our progress exist because we put them there. With resistance, ego grasping, or expectation. And past consequence, otherwise known as karma. All of these exist only in the field of mind. So all Ganesh need do is dance and celebrate the boundlessness of being. The closer we come to that, the closer we will share his experience.