What a little Ganesha taught me about letting go
Two words for a great life — Let Go.
In India, we celebrated one of our major and much awaited festivals over the past 12 days. The festival was Ganesh Chaturthi. Here the Elephant headed god is welcomed into our homes, is subjected to daily devotion and at the end, is immersed in a water body.
Even I bought a Ganesha for my office, and he was the cutest of all the idols. The creators decided to make the baby form of the Elephant headed god, and with great results. This is how he looked:
We got him to my office, performed the rites and installed him with pomp and fervor. I mentioned to my colleagues that let us keep him for ever and not subject him to immersion.
Yesterday morning, I received a call from my team member. Since I was busy, I couldn’t take the call. When I called him after a couple of hours, he mentioned the reason for his call. He was immersing his house Ganesha and had also performed the immersion of our Ganesha. He had been requested by a superior to do the same in accordance with he rites to be followed. Since, I had not picked up the call, he went ahead and performed it with all devotion, and in an eco-friendly manner.
Initially, my reaction was one of disbelief.
- I had specifically mentioned that I would like to see him in office and thus need not immerse him.
- I had mentioned that I would like him to grow with us.
- I had mentioned that I would take him home if that was what needed to protect him.
Despite this, my colleague had gone ahead and performed the rites. This meant I would never see him again. Never again. The cute baby Ganesha was now gone, along with the lakhs of other Ganeshas who had been subjected to the same treatment.
My voice choked up. I could feel a knot building up my throat. I felt like crying. I felt like taking it on my colleague who had done the deed. I couldn’t fathom that I wouldn’t see the idol anymore.
Better Sense Prevails:
In a fraction of second, I went through a myriad of expressions.
From waking up fresh from a nap after a after a tough morning, I went through a feeling of shock, disbelief, negation and finally feeling pity for the Ganesha, ending with a hollow feeling in my heart.
My wife, who was watching me, asked what’s wrong? I told her — ’They have immersed our Ganesha’. It was my wife and I who had chosen him and bought him. And we had absolutely loved him. She just asked me one question:
When was he ours to begin with? You bought him for office. Gifts given away aren’t yours anymore.
The truth hit me square in the face. I was being irrational. I was letting emotion cloud my thinking. I was being selfish. I was demonstrating ownership where I had none. I was being such a sentimental fool!
The folks at office had done the right thing. As per the tradition, Ganesha had to be immersed, and they did it in the best possible eco-friendly manner without polluting the environment. In fact our Ganesha would be recycled and used in the construction of houses damaged in the recent floods in Maharashtra. What cause can be more noble?
This had me thinking. Why was it so difficult for me to let go?
I had always prided myself on being detached and never the one to run after material stuff. In fact i had even instituted a minimalism mindset over the past year and had not purchased any new clothes or gadgets.
Letting go works at multiple levels.
Some people find it easy to let go of clothes, some find it easy to let go of food stuff, some find it easy to let go of relations and some are great at letting go of their emotions. An element of selfishness and possessiveness is what underlies the propensity to let go. While possessiveness hinders for material things, selfishness is often the hindrance for relations.
What is amazing is, in this bubble of a life, we hold on to further bubbles such as money, relations and material possessions.
My feelings for Ganesha stemmed from possessiveness. I wanted to keep him with me, albeit at office so that i could ‘possess’ the god. I would be going against traditions and the actual reason he was made, but that seemed to be nothing when compared to my intent and desire to hold on to him.
Where else can we see this:
- Loveless marriages, where partners hold on thinking of the sunk costs
- Closets overflowing closets with clothes that would hardly fit, and yet retained in anticipation of the day when they will
- Worthless gadgets that are now obsolete, but kept for the many hours of entertainment they once provided
- Old cycles and scooters, because we cannot think of selling them after the excellent service that they have rendered
- Toxic relationships that have done more harm than good, retained just to ensure societal status and to avoid snide remarks from others
- Our childhood baubles and that of our children, because they bring back so many memories while taking so much of space
- Love letters and gifts from past relations that you have long moved on from, but still have a minor hook embedded somewhere in your heart
- Traumatic incidents in life that flash every now and then as we still hold resentment and anger against the perpetrators
- And so many more…
The more the strings attached, the more is their controlling influence. The less is our control on our life and emotions. Let Go, looking forward and turning your back on the past. Realize that everything is temporary — nothing actually matters!
Let Go! Live Better!