Sadhguru: In the yogic lore, the ganas are all Shiva’s friends. They were the ones who were always around him. Though he had disciples, a wife and many other admirers, his private company was always ganas. Ganas are described as distorted, demented beings. It is said that they had limbs without bones coming out of odd parts of their bodies, so they are described as distorted and demented beings. They were just different from who we are.
Why could they be so different? This may be an aspect of life that is a little hard to digest now. See, Shiva himself has always been described as a yakshaswaroopa. Yaksha means a celestial being. A celestial being means someone who came from elsewhere. Somewhere over 15,000 years ago, Shiva arrived at Manasarovar, which is a lake in Tibet. It is one of the remnants of the Tethys Sea, which is considered as a crucible of human civilizations. Today, it is at almost 15,000 feet above mean sea level, but it is actually an ocean which has moved up and become a lake now.
The ganas were the ones that Shiva was really close with.
The ganas, Shiva’s friends, were not like human beings, and it is clearly said that they never spoke any of the human languages. They spoke in utter cacophony. When Shiva and his friends communicated, they spoke a language that nobody understood, so human beings described it as total, chaotic cacophony. But the ganas were the ones that he was really close with.
And you know the story of Ganapati losing his head. When Shiva came and this boy tried to stop him, Shiva took off his head. When Parvati became distraught and asked Shiva to replace the head, he took off the head of some other creature and put it on the child. This other creature is described as an elephant. But what you need to understand is, nobody called him Gajapati (Lord of Elephants). We always called him Ganapati (Lord of Ganas). Shiva took off the head of one of his friends and put it on the boy.
The ganas had limbs without bones, so this boy became Ganapati. Because in this culture, a limb without bones meant an elephant trunk, so artists made it into an elephant – but actually, he is not Gajapati, he is Ganapati. He got the head of one of the ganas, and Shiva made him leader of the ganas.