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Buddhist Ganesha: popular Ganapati’s many forms include enlightened emanation of Avalokiteshvara

Ganesh’s appeal is wide-reaching, not just amongst the spiritual. Ganesha tatoos and t-shirts are very popular worldwide. There is, a “life-affirming” quality about his image, even for the non-religious. Ganesha has star power. He even appears in brands, marketing, pop culture and fashion. And, of course, to a billion or more people, he is a precious deity.

To many Mahayana Buddhists, Ganesha is more than just a guardian at the entrance of home or temple; he is a Bodhisattva, a wrathful protector deity — and he takes on many other roles.

Important: This is a “wiki-like” feature, with Ganesh’s many aspects introduced. However, only your own tradition or teacher or school should ultimately define how you view Ganesh. We collected all references in a Buddhist context. Ganesh would only appear in various Mahayana and Vajrayana traditions. In some Buddhist traditions Ganesh is worldly, period. In others, he’s never spoken of. In one tradition, Buddhist Ganesh and Hindu Ganesh are not even related. In others, a Buddha might manifest as Ganesh (emanate as). In some Mahayana traditions he is viewed as a god. Sometimes as a demon. In others as a Bodhisattva. There is no universality. We’re highlighting all the various aspects. In other words, there is no right, or wrong, in these various views, and ultimately, for practice, one should only be guided by your own tradition and teacher.

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