A common four-armed form of Ganesha. Miniature...

A common four-armed form of Ganesha. Miniature of Nurpur school (circa 1810). Museum of Chandigarh. Martin-Dubost, p. 64. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

‘Ganesa is missing one tusk, a piece of which can sometimes be found in one of his four hands.  In another hand he sometimes holds a hatchet (parasu), which, according to some texts, is for cutting away illusion and false teachings.  Another of Ganesa’s hands often gestures fearlessness and reassurance (varada-hasta-mudra).  He also holds a goad (ankusa) like that used by an elephant trainer, symbolizing his insistence on proper training or spiritual discipline.  He sometimes holds a noose (pasa) used for restraining wild animals, here representing the restraint of passion and lustful desires.  Sometimes he is seen holding sweets (modaka), for which he is said to have an inordinate fondness.  Hence the belly.

Who is this strange-looking god, and what, if anything, does he have to do with the worship of Krsna or Visnu?’