I was reading an interpretation of the birth of Ganesha from Amma's website this evening, and I could not help myself, I have to share ...
The Birth of Ganesha
One day goddess Parvati was at home preparing for a bath. She told Nandi, Shiva's (her husband) bull, to guard the door and to let no one pass. Nandi intended to carry out her request with all sincerity. Yet, when Shiva came home and wanted to go inside, Nandi, being loyal to Shiva first and foremost, had to let him pass.
Parvati was angry at this slight on Nandi's part. Yet, she was even more enraged by the fact that she had no one as loyal to her as Nandi was to Shiva. So, Parvati took the tumeric paste (that she was using for bathing) from her body and breathed new life into it to create Ganesha...declaring him to be her own loyal son.
The next time Parvati wished to bathe, she posted Ganesha on guard duty at her door. In due course, Shiva came home, only to find this strange boy telling him that he could not enter his own house!
Furious, Shiva ordered his army to destroy the boy. But they all failed. Seeing that this was no ordinary boy, the usually peaceful Shiva decided he would have to fight himself. Shiva's divine fury severed Ganesha's head, killing him instantly.
When Parvati learned of this she was enraged and decided that she was going to destroy all of Creation. Lord Brahma, The Creator, naturally had his issues with this and pleaded with her, asking that she reconsider her drastic plan.
She said that she would, only if two conditions were met...
1. That Ganesha be brought back to life, and
2. That he be forever worshipped before all other gods.
Shiva, having cooled down by this time, and realizing his mistake, agreed to these conditions. He sent Brahma out with orders to bring back the head of the first creature he crossed that was lying with his/her head facing North.
Brahma soon returned with the head of a strong and powerful elephant, which Shiva placed on Ganesha's body. Breathing new life into him, he declared Ganesha to be his own son as well and gave him the status of being foremost among the gods and the leader of all the ganas (classes of beings), Ganapati.
Significance of the Story
Parvati is a form of Devi, the Parashakti or "Supreme Energy". In the human body she resides in the muladhara chakra (root chakra), where the kundalini shakti resides.
It is said that when we purify ourselves, ridding ourselves of the impurities that bind us, than Shiva automatically comes into us. As in the story, Shiva arrives un-announced while Parvati is bathing (is purifying herself). Nandi, Shiva's bull, represents the "Divine Temperament". So devoted to Shiva that his every thought is directed to Him.
This shows that the attitude of the spiritual aspirant is what gains access to Devi's, Kundalini Shakti's, abode. One must first develop this attitude of the devotee before hoping to be qualified for the highest treasure of spiritual attainment, which Devi alone grants.
Ganesha is the deity who guards the muladhara chakra. Devi, Parvati, needed to create Ganesha as he represents the earthbound awareness: a shield to protect the divine secrets from unripe minds. It is when this awareness begins to turn away from things of the world and points to the divine, as Nandi had, that the great secret is revealed.
Shiva is the supreme teacher. Ganesha here represents the ego-bound Jiva (jee-va) or "living being". When Shiva comes, the Jiva - surrounded by murky clouds of ego - usually doesn't recognize Him and even ends up fighting with Him!
It is the duty of Shiva, in the form of a teacher/guru, to cut off the head of one's ego.
Parvati's threat to destroy creation indicates that when the ego dies, the liberated being loses so much of their interest in the material world and merges more closely with the Divine.
Shiva restoring life to Ganesha and replacing his head with an elephants means that before we can fully let go of these attachments to the material world we must identify with the Universal Self rather than the individual self. In this way our life is renewed.
Ganesha is given dominion over the ganas (classes of beings) manifest for example as insects, animals, humans, etc. These beings all contribute to the government of creation. If we can honor the ganas than we are treating all life as sacred. In this honoring we bow to Ganesha, in this way we receive the grace of Ganesha and he removes any potential obstacles, enabling us to succeed!