The prominent features in the idol of Ganesha is his Elephant head. Elephant
is the biggest mammal of the land referred to in Hindu religious and other
literature as gajam. Gajanana (elephant faced) is one of the names of Ganesha.
Gaja is not a vedic word. In order to understand the esoteric significance
of this word we have to study this word side by side with the vedic word
Ajam or Aja.
Ordinarily Aja means a goat but esoterically it means that which is not
born indicating the infinite Brahman a negative name for a positive principle
which is the repository of Nada Bindu and Kala. We have noted that Kala
is the creative force and Bindu is an impulse from the creative force and
Nada is the sound vibrations from which the phenomenal world appears. Nada
is also called by the name of gao. The word Govinda is familiar to all Hindus
as the name of God the creator of world. Govinda is made up of two concepts
viz. 'Gao' meaning Nada and 'Bindu' meaning the impulse from Kala, the creative
force. According to the Amara Kosa earth is also called by the name 'Gao'
signifying that it is materialisation of sound (Nada) vibrations.
Ordinarily gajam means an elephant. But esoterically it means earth which
is born of gao. 'Gao' as already mentioned means Nada. 'Jam' means that
which is born. 'Ajam' meaning that which is not born is infinite. It has
no form. It is pure spirit. Whereas gajam symbolising the materialised world
is finite. It has form and gajam the elephant is fitted in as an apt and
meaningful symbol for this materialised world. This symbolic meaning is
a latter day development and the elephant has thus secured a place of importance
in the puranas of the Hindus.
In puranic mythology abstract concepts are personified and woven into stories
for the edification of common people and the symbols of elephants are very
much significantly used for this purpose as the Carrytides of the earth
by assigning them this grand role. Eight elephants known as Dikgajams are
said to be carrying the earth on their backs, four of them occupying the
four cardinal points and four others occupying the four intermediary points.
The collapse of these carrytides mean the collapse of the world.