Part animal and part intellectual, an image found in virtually every Indian home, Ganesa, the elephant-headed god, is one of the most important and popular gods throughout India and Hindu Southeast Asia. In this, the first comprehensive, full-length study of Ganesa, Courtright covers notmerely the mythology but also the ritual, the political uses, and the modern as well as the Vedic manifestations of the god. The book begins with a consideration of the various myths of Ganesa, stories of his birth, his beheading by his father Siva, and his subsequent restoration as the lord whogives, or withholds, success in undertakings. In the end, the author turns to the role Ganesa has played in recent Indian history as the patron deity of some formulations of neotraditionalist values and ideology. Throughout the book, Courtright portrays both the complexity of the deity's many rolesand stories and the integrated manner in which they come together. Excerpt from the Preface by Wendy O'Flaherty: "Ganesa has everything that is fascinating to anyone who is interested in religion or India or both: charm, mystery, popularity, sexual problems, moral ambivalence, political importance, the works. One can start from Ganesa and work from there in an unbroken line to almost any aspect of Indianculture."