The body is made up of five elements and will finally merge into the five elements. But through this body, we can attain God. When you know that your body is a chariot and take it on the path of dharma, you will reach divinity. There are two wheels for the chariot of life – love and service. There are also the 5 horses which draw the chariot, these are the 5 senses. There is also a charioteer who controls the 5 horses, which is our mind. If we can control the mind, through the mind we can control the senses and see that these senses will take us in the right direction. The master who is travelling in this chariot is God in the form of Atma. You may have the horses, the charioteer and the Master, but if the chariot does not have wheels, you cannot move forward. Only when you have these two wheels can you move on the road. The first is love and the second is sacrifice. You may purchase a very beautiful and expensive car but can you spend all your life sitting in the car? We purchase the car in order to travel. The body is like a chariot. Using this body we must reach the destination. The festival of Vinayaka Chaturthi demonstrates this truth very well.
Everybody has seven chakras or wheels. The spiritual journey starts with the muladhara chakra and ultimately merges in the sahasrara chakra. For this spiritual journey, first we have to worship Ganapathi, the God of the muladhara chakra. When you make the Ganapathi idol out of clay, it signifies that the body is made up of nothing but clay. That is what Ganapathi is also demonstrating. Finally this body also must merge in the soil. To love and have attachment to this temporary body is not right. Ganapathi teaches us every moment that we are not the body but God Himself. As this inert idol of Ganesha becomes full of divine life because of the worship we offer, we should consider our body as the temple of God, worship the God who is the resident of this temple and ultimately attain Him. To know that everybody is divine, love everybody and serve everybody. This is the secret of life. Only when you celebrate the festival knowing the inner significance, you will get the right kind of reward. There is an inner significance pertaining to the rat and Ganesha also. The rat is symbolic of tamo guna or inertia or darkness. The body, which is inert, is full of tamo guna or inertia. When the mind is full of body consciousness it is full of darkness. Ganapthi rides on this rat so that it is under control. Ganapathi is the One who has conquered body consciousness and the darkness of ignorance.
When you celebrate the Ganesha festival, it should not be confined to chanting names and eating food. If you want to cross over this ocean of samsara of birth and death, it is not by penance but by service alone. When you love all and serve all, I would deem it that you have understood the inner significance of the festival. Worship Ganapathi in order to enter the spiritual path and ultimately reach the destination of divine bliss.