Ganesha and Steven Universe: The Removers of Obstacles
by Brandon Closson
Ganesha and Steven Universe
By: Brandon Closson
Introduction: Viewing the Vedanta through the Lens of Pop CultureMy favorite way to conceptualize philosophical, theoretical or spiritual literature is through pop culture. Artists distill incredibly complex ideas or feelings through words, musical notes, imagery and symbols we all recognize to invoke a certain emotion in the audience or to provoke the audience to think in new ways.
Popular art expands our Universal Consciousness in the sense that millions of people know and love shows like Steven Universe and come together to celebrate that shared love. New friends are made from this common interest, budding artists are inspired to recreate their favorite characters or invent their own and many people find parts of themselves within the show. Anyone who watches Steven Universe can’t help but hope to be a little more like Steven.
Puranas are stories, often of the Gods and Goddesses of Hinduism, that expound upon the incredibly complicated, near mathematical verses of the four Vedas in order to make their core principles more relatable and garner the interest of a wider audience. Things like the Puranas are of course more powerful and popular than a TV show that ended just last year. They have persisted throughout time and reached billions of people. But ancient writings and popular culture do both share that same intent to expand shared consciousness.
To even further solidify the universality of symbols, you can take something like the show Steven Universe and the stories of the God with the elephant head named Ganesha, compare and contrast them, and possibly find even more meaning in them both.
The reverence Steven and Ganesha both hold for delicious food is incredibly endearing and pretty funny. It also reminds us that food that tastes good is a gift and should be cherished.
I’d like to share some commonalities I found between Steven and Ganesha with a quick introduction for each.
The Remover of Obstacles: Ganesha, Ganapati, Vighnaharta, Vighneshvara, Pillai...
This God has so many names and that’s because he is so complicated! But also so simple. Ganesha is the word we know as OM or AUM. He is the Lord of All Categories, meaning the Lord of Knowledge. Knowledge is what unlocks more of life for us, and for that reason, Ganesha is Vighnaharta, the Remover of Obstacles.
Ganesha and Knowledge come to us from the Universe to expand our minds, make us think from new perspectives and hopefully give us the tools to make future decisions or overcome a particular challenge with clarity.
We will never stop exploring Ganesha in this blog. He comes in tens of thousands of ways in dozens of countries and in thousands of religions and cultures. He has endless forms.
What is important to know today is that Ganesha is a prankster, he is a lot of fun, he is a comedian, he loves all of us more than we could ever know and he is the God with the Elephant Head who comes to show us new paths forward with the gift of OM and Knowledge. Ganesha is called the Noble Child. He is a boy among Gods but is often the most level-headed Deity around.
Even Shiva, Ganesha’s father who mistakenly cut off Ganesha’s original head and replaced it with an Elephant’s, learns from his son. Ganesha’s mom, Parvati, made it clear to her husband and the Other Gods that Ganesha and Knowledge are the first God invoked in any form of worship.
Like always when dealing with Ancient texts, the concept of Ganesha is so multi-layered and overwhelming at first glance. Just remember this above all:
Ganesha = Knowledge = OM or AUM or 🕉
Steven Universe and the Crystal Gems
Steven Universe is simultaneously a powerful superhero and a young child coming of age who is anxious about finding his place in the world. He is not just human. Steven is part Human and part Crystal Gem. The Crystal Gems are ancient aliens who came to Earth long ago to take it over. They are Crystals like Amethyst and Garnet and Pearl who can shapeshift and take the form of humans or whatever they choose.
The Crystal Gems are fierce warriors and one Crystal Gem, Rose Quartz, is Steven’s mother who is clearly now gone from Earth in the first episode of the show. Rose Quartz dedicated herself to fighting against her own kind, the Crystal Gems, because of her boundless love for humanity even though humans are quite simple compared to Crystal Gems.
The Crystal Gems’ technology from thousands of years ago outmatches our technologies today. Yet Rose Quartz and Steven care so much for humans, they cannot think of themselves before they think of others. They are Gods among Men, Women and All of Humanity, yet do not hold themselves above their more “simple” friends and family.
Steven is a fun-loving, gender-bending, frozen food connoisseur. You watch him episode after episode stick by people’s sides in times of need. He drops hints and clues to grant people Knowledge that can give them a boost on the path towards happiness. He relentlessly stays present until danger and anxiety and stress and sadness have been annihilated . At the end he will look at the human he helped and say “Look at what YOU have done” or “YOU DID IT!”.
This is just like Ganesha and this is just like Eternal Knowledge because they all stay with us and then, after they have been the primary catalyst for change in our lives, they remind us in an act of pure selflessness that they were inside of us the entire time. Ganesha and Steven are incredibly inspiring entities, separated by thousands of years, but forever linked by an Eternal Love for All.
Steven, Ganesha and the Chakras
Ganesha resides in the Muladhara Chakra, located at the end of the spinal column. It is the root chakra and therefore lends its powers to all of the Chakras.
In the Ganapati Atharvashirsa it is said that "Lord Ganesha continually dwells in the sacral plexus at the base of the spine, Mūlādhāra Chakra. He resides permanently in every living being at the Muladhara. He guides all other chakras, thereby leading the forces that propel the wheel of life”. And really this power of all Chakra is due to Ganesha being Knowledge. He is the foundation which we act as independent individuals in the world and is how we contextualize our Universe.
Steven’s powers come from his Crystal Gem, located where his belly button would have been. This is indicative of his powers’ maternal origins. Just like Ganesha, Steven was born as a part of his Mother. Both Ganesha’s mom Parvati and Steven’s mom Rose Quartz are leaders of the Goddesses in their respective worlds and take part of themselves to create a son that will take on their mission to unblock Humanity from connecting to the primal sources of Bliss, Salvation, Moksha, Nirvana and Creation.
Although Steven’s Gemstone is located on his belly button which is not the location of a specific Chakra, the connections to Chakras are clear. Steven’s Gem is a place on his body that he has to learn to harness through a process similiar to Yoga. His Gem is a constant connection to the untapped Shakti (energy or power) of all Crystal Gems and, most importantly, his mother Rose Quartz.
When you use tools like meditation, breathing, postures and focus to unlock this energy inside you, you are using your Crystal Gem to release Shakti into the Universe in the form of Compassion and Truth.
Steven is a little more lucky then us. His belly button Chakra produces a magical pink shield that can protect Humans and Crystal Gems. When Steven resides in a meditative state, monofocused on the Eternal concept of Protective (and perhaps Maternal) Love, he releases the power that existed before him in his Mother to protect All Worlds. Steven, once again, manifests Ganesha. His love for us is conditioned on just one thing: we have to agree to try, not just depend on him for all answers.
There is a lot to say about Steven Universe, the Crystal Gems and their connections to the Vedanta. Even if the very talented creator of Steven Universe did not necessarily base Steven on the God Ganesha, the parallels are clear.
Talking about the Vedas and Pop Culture in juxtaposition to one another is another tool we will be using to solidify the concepts of Chakras and Shakti in our lives in our order to attain the blissful state of being at one with our Universal Consciousness.
Jai Ganesh! And shout out to Rebecca Sugar and their friends and colleagues for the gift of Steven Universe.